N.C. State got coach Tom O’Brien his 100th career victory in pretty impressive fashion on Tuesday night.
Wilson completed 28 of 45 passes for 276 yards without an interception and rushed 14 times for 42 yards, passing for the clinching score on a seven-yard toss to Jarvis Williams after a scramble that lasted 11 seconds. That was set up when the Wolfpack recovered a muffed punt at the WVU 7.
The Wolfpack took a 7-0 lead with 2:00 left in the first quarter on Wilson’s 16-yard pass to Mustafa Greene followed by a Josh Czajkowski boot.
Waltiea Rolle had 15 points and four blocked shots, leading three players in double figures as No. 10 UNC topped the visiting College of Charleston 75-49 in women’s basketball at Carmichael Arena.
Latisha Harris led the Cougars (4-7) with 11 points and 15 rebounds, while Brianna Davie added 11 points and Megan Fischer 10.
N.C. State looks to hit its high water mark in the Tom O’Brien era on Tuesday night, when the Wolfpack takes on Big East power West Virginia (9-3) in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando.
State last won a bowl game in 2005, when the Wolfpack blanked South Florida 14-0 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte.
Led by quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Nate Irving, who recovered to play a solid senior campaign after being seriously injured in a car accident in the summer of 2009, the Wolfpack came within one win of playing in the ACC championship game after being picked to finish fourth in the Atlantic Division.
“We have a special group of guys that has never really had a chance to show how good they were or what they could accomplish,” said O’Brien, who is in his fourth season at the helm and needs one victory for his 100th as a head coach. “This year was the first year they really had that opportunity, and that’s really what coaching is all about, taking young men who come to us as boys and making them leave as young men.
UNC gets back into action in women’s basketball Tuesday afternoon, taking its unbeaten record and No. 10 ranking against the College of Charleston.
The No. 20 jersey of former Tar Heel forward Camille Little will be honored at Tuesday’s contest.
N.C. State forward Kody Burke has been named the ACC women’s basketball rookie of the week, while Georgia Tech’s Alex Montgomery was chosen as player of the week by the ACC’s "Blue Ribbon Panel."
She then had 10 points and eight rebounds in a 92-72 win over host Long Beach State in the final that improved NCSU to 7-6 on the season.
RBC CENTER, Raleigh — Tim Gleason must have been on Santa's naughty list.
Undeservedly assessed a game misconduct after his clean check bloodied Mathieu Perreault, Gleason watched the rest of the Hurricanes' 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals from a similar vantage to that of the 10,477 fans who braved a seven-inch snowfall to attend the Southeast division tilt. Down to five defensemen, the Canes couldn't mark the Caps' talent, as Alex Ovechkin tallied a goal and an assist.
Although dominating the period, the Canes found themselves down 1-0 in the waning minutes of the first when Gleason shouldered Perreault as he backhanded the puck up the boards. Perreault, who had scored the earlier goal, spun from the force of the blow. His stick kicked up and broke in half across his nose. Perreault crumpled to the ice in a dark pool of blood.
The game had been chippy to that point — John Carlson did some gratis chiropractic work to Jeff Skinner's back after a rush, and Eric Staal taught Marcus Johansson a lesson about skating up ice with his head turned — but both teams turned more serious as the Caps focused on taking advantage of the power play time and the Canes on killing it off.
RBC Center/ Raleigh—And the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor goes to… Jaroslav Spacek for his part in the Montreal Canadiens’ 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
Spacek’s brilliant performance as an almost-fatally wounded defenseman—lying face-down on the ice, his head buried in his hands, perhaps even crying “Why? Why?” a la Nancy Kerrigan—milked a five-minute major boarding penalty to Erik Cole out of the sympathetic officials, and spoiled a tightly skated game as well as stalwart efforts by Cam Ward in his 300th game with the Hurricanes and Chad LaRose, who broke a 15-game goal drought.
Each team had notched a goal early in the period, and the new line of Cole, Eric Staal and Chad LaRose took a draw in the Habs’ zone. A beat before the official dropped the puck, Staal glanced over his shoulder at Cole as if to say “Go.” Cole bolted at the goal while the puck was still in the air. Staal chopped the puck forward and it leapt toward the crease. Cole batted it out of the air on net, and tucked the rebound beneath netminder Carey Price before most other players had reacted. It was the kind of bull-rush from Cole that Montreal fans have seen in their nightmares for years.
Leading 2-1 despite being outshot by about the same margin had to feel good for Carolina, but that feeling only lingered for nine seconds. After the ensuing center-ice face off, Spacek moved the puck up the boards with Cole in pursuit. Cole checked him solidly from behind and Spacek went face-first into the low boards in front of the benches. He lay motionless on the ice, amid a forest of skates, as the trainer knelt beside him.
“Terrible play on my part. We’re not even supposed to be finishing our hits there,” Cole said after the game. The boarding penalty was so obvious that Spacek’s teammates didn’t even bother with the obligatory vengeful scrum around Cole.
Instead, they waited for the officials’ verdict—would it be a minor or major penalty? As soon as the “5:00” went up next to Cole’s number on the scoreboard, Spacek hopped up like a kid on Christmas morning and took his place on the bench. Bravo.
Major penalties are hard to kill, particularly in the second period when it’s more difficult to change players because your team’s bench is not in your defensive zone. Even when the Canes were able to ice the puck, they had to frantically change in order to counter Montreal’s speed. After some patient perimeter passing, Tomas Plekanec clacked a pass in off Andrei Kostitsyn’s stick. Kostitsyn, who had been a healthy scratch in the Habs’ previous game, had muscled Joe Corvo out of the crease.
If that goal didn’t sting enough, the next one did, giving Montreal the lead it wouldn’t relinquish with a minute left in the period. Montreal runs an umbrella power play—a pentagonal formation not unlike the basketball alignment with a point guard, two guards to the sides, and two forwards. After a hypnotic display of triangular passing atop the formation, Alexandre Picard potted a slapshot off the post from the point. The miraculously rejuvenated Spacek received the secondary assist on the play.
“I think it’s a penalty in the league. I don’t feel it’s a five,” Coach Paul Maurice ruminated on the boarding major after the game. “It’s like arresting a telephone pole after a drunk driver hits it. I understand why there’s an issue here but there’s no way that Spacek doesn’t know that hit’s coming because Cole’s chasing him up the ice. There’s no invitation—dear sir, I’m going to hit you. Would you please mind keeping your shoulders square to me so that I don’t get a five-minute penalty?”
The third period felt like a playoff game as the Hurricanes came in waves into the Montreal zone. On an early power play, the Canes chose to attack on the rush instead of setting up in Montreal ice. Unfortunately, they found the shin pads of defensemen or Price’s glove on each scoring chance.
Five minutes in, Joni Pitkanen authored his most inspiring shift of the season, knocking down a Hab forward at center ice, taking the puck, and skating a complete circle through the Montreal zone. But the Canadiens are a great skating team. Rarely out of position, their legs always churning, they give no quarter at even strength.
To punctuate the Hurricanes’ frustration, LaRose went off for tripping Brian Gionta as Carolina was on the verge of pulling Ward for the extra attacker with a couple of minutes left. Thus, the finish was not as frantic as they would have liked it to be. After this loss, and the 5-1 drubbing in Tampa this week, the Canes will have visions of goalie gloves and faceoff losses in their heads this holiday break, rather than sugarplums and their recent four-game win streak.
We were willing to accept his tall tales until he started telling us about European basketball.
He told us all about the supposed best player in the world—Toni Kukoc—and how the EuroLeague was stocked with teams that could dust any NBA team.
We outright rejected the notion that any NBA of our teams would be threatened by a lowly squad like ASK Riga. Moreover, with Euro-star Drazen Petrovic languishing on the Trailblazers’ bench and Arvydis Sabonis still a pipe dream based on a few grainy videos, there was no reason at all to think that any European player had the pedigree to even be on the same court with the likes of Jordan, Magic and Pippen. The Dream Team’s annihilation of the competition at the Barcelona Olympics seemed to confirm this point.
Twenty years later, I found myself in a bar Johannesburg bar on the night before the United States was set to play its World Cup opener against England. Over the course of a conversation with England fans, I began to get a little annoyed. The English are nothing if not gifted at the art of snark, and hearing them assure me, “Stick with your team, you’ll get there… eventually,” was too much to bear. I trotted out the same old tired arguments that every American fan deploys: Donovan tore it up during his stint in England, we drew with Argentina (in a friendly), we made it to the final of the Confederations Cup …
I knew, though, that I was making arguments scarcely stronger than my old friend Alpert’s defense of European basketball in the early 1990s. As I thought about it later, it struck me how much American soccer of today is like European basketball 20 years ago. We have players that, given the right system, can succeed in the best leagues (just as Petrovic failed in his first stop, so too did our best player, Donovan, flame out multiple times in the German Bundesliga). We tend to put too much stock in the outcomes of games that we really care about but our opponents do not. MLS backers will too-proudly tout our All All-Star team beating a top English team that was just tuning up in its preseason.
These conversations remind me of watching the old McDonald’s Open, a preseason tournament in the early ’90s in which NBA teams played against top European teams. The NBA teams were looking to coast through what they saw as meaningless preseason warmups, but to a skinny balding point guard from Split, Croatia, this was the opportunity of a lifetime, and he played like it.
Given that European basketball has obviously progressed, this comparison would seem to augur well for American soccer. Our Olympic team, composed of NBA players, is no longer a lock to win major international tournaments and several of the top players in the NBA cut their teeth in the Spanish league. Given the success that European basketball has had, there are several lessons that American soccer can take away.
1. Develop your own style. There is no European equivalent of Lebron James or Kobe Bryant, but it is also true that there is no American equivalent to Dirk Nowitzki. European development programs stressed teamwork, the ability of all five guys to step out and hit long jumpers and passing. (The only American-born player whose game even remotely resembles this European model is Kevin Garnett.) Guys like Petrovic and Vlade Divac carved a place for themselves in the NBA because they offered skills—shooting and passing—that were in short supply in the league.
RBC CENTER/RALEIGH N.C. State is back home again, looking to get turned in the right direction against MEAC power Delaware State.
One fun fact is that both head coaches are alumni of St. Paul’s College, where Jackson was the best player in school history and has his jersey retired. Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe finished his bachelor’s degree work at the tiny Lawrenceville, Va., school.
The Wolfpack will again go without its dominant post player, Tracy Smith, who remains out with soreness from arthroscopic knee surgery despite being cleared by doctors.
NCSU pulls an escape act this time, as Scott Wood’s jumper gives the Wolfpack the go-ahead points with 2.1 to go and Jay Threatt’s 60-footer rims out at the buzzer in a 72-70 victory for the hosts.
Carolina’s offense once again was insufficient, however. Against an inferior opponent, the Heels shot just 44 percent from the field and 30 percent on three-pointers. UNC forced 21 turnovers but didn’t convert many of those errors into buckets because players struggled to finish at the rim.
William & Mary was UNC’s first round opponent in the postseason NIT last spring, and the Tar Heels needed a spirited crowd at Carmichael Arena to outlast them. The Tribe are down in talent this year, and they simply weren’t able to match Carolina’s size and speed.
Sophomore guard Dexter Strickland continues to shine on defense, and in the past two games he has found his offensive game as well. The New Jersey native led the team with 19 points on 8-for-12 from the field, including 2-for-2 from deep. Fellow sophomore wing Leslie McDonald also enjoyed a good shooting night, hitting for 14 points on 2-for-5 on threes.
John Henson’s thumb served up the game’s most drama. He has nursed a painful jam for a couple weeks, and toward the end of the first half he took a shot to that injured area that sent him to the sideline for the remainder of the contest. UNC officials varied in their estimates of the injury’s severity, but Roy Williams said after the game that the thumb had become swollen and that the medical staff would conduct tests to determine the best way to proceed.