That doesn't mean the Eagles (14-7, 4-2 in ACC) haven't gone down in history here. The team's 1990 visit to Durham, 316 Duke home games ago, was the last time Cameron wasn't sold out.
On this night, though, a packed house witnessed the Blue Devils (19-1, 6-1 ACC) lay down a balanced beat-down, 84-68.
Nolan Smith, continued to make his case for ACC Player of the Year and notched 28 points.
Seth Curry poured in a season-high 20 and went 5-7 from beyond the arc.
Ryan Kelly played so well that the Cameron Crazies began broadening "R Kelly." He did made it rain all night.
RALEIGH—Nobody knows what will happen.
The fans have been perched on the edge of bar stools in watering holes, and tweeting back and forth in their cubicles when they should actually be working, taking turns with buddies in one speculative mock draft after another. Heck, the players not participating have been doing the same thing, often hilariously and on-air.
The team captains—hometown Carolina Hurricane Eric Staal and Detroit Red Wing Nicklas Lidstrom—might know whom they each will choose first (though they haven't spilled even a single bean about it), but after that, they'll be pretty much making it up as they go.
Will Staal pick teammates Cam Ward and Jeff Skinner? If so, which one will he pick first? Will Lidstrom swoop in and poach the leftover Cane just to make Staal sweat? What about Eric's brother Marc Staal? Does he pick teammates or brother first?
And, perhaps most importantly, which All-Star will end up in the shameful position of last picked? Several players have come out this week, announcing that they would be happy to take one for their brothers and bear that embarrassing yoke.
UNC will be looking to get the ship righted tonight at 6:30, as the No. 15 Tar Heels take on long-time ACC women’s basketball rival Virginia.
The game will be shown live on FSN South.
The Tar Heels (17-3, 3-2 ACC) are 3-3 over their last six games including an 88-65 loss at then No. 15 Maryland on Sunday. Virginia (12-9, 1-4) is in an expected rebuilding season under veteran coach Debbie Ryan.
Virginia beat the Tar Heels 82-78 last season in double overtime, snapping a 13-game losing streak in the series. UNC leads the series 44-32.
It’s the opener of a two-game homestand for UNC, which will host Virginia Tech on Sunday at 2.
N.C. State made a good run on the road at No. 16 Miami on Thursday night, but ACC scoring leader Riquna Williams responded with 27 points as the Hurricanes won 84-77.
Bonae Holston led the Wolfpack (9-11, 1-5) with 22 points. Marissa Kastanek added 14 points and Brittany Strachan and Kody Burke 11 each for State, which has lost four straight.
Today, without talking to the media, the club made the biggest statement it could.
They put the “Carolina RailHawks” trademark for sale on eBay and posted all of their other assets—jerseys, desks, computers, TVs, memorabilia, even the mascot’s uniform—on Craigslist and eBay. (The Craigslist posting seemed to be down Friday morning. You can also try here.)
Bidding on the RailHawks name starts at $500. At the time of this post, there were three bids. The other items, ranging from a train horn sounded when the team scored to a set of crutches to all of the scarves collected from opposing teams, are available for viewing at the soccer park until Sunday, when bids must be finalized.
Cary might still have a team to call its own, though. Traffic Sports USA, part of a Brazil-based sports management firm, has been negotiating to run the franchise. If they buy the Carolina club, they would own four of the eight teams in the NASL, which is still fighting to earn sanctioning from the United States Soccer Federation for the 2011 season.
The new owners must reevaluate the business model, though. Under the ownership of majority stakeholder Selby Wellman these last two years, the team’s roster ballooned to 30 players in a sport that permits only 18 players to suit up for games. That’s thousands in additional salary, insurance, housing and, in the case of foreign players, immigration fees.
In professional soccer, there’s often little correlation between sane business practices and success on the field. European giants like Manchester United and Barcelona often have chaotic, debt-ridden books, generally because they spend imprudently on top talent. But big clubs can get away with it because there’s usually someone to bail them out.
In the small-time world of North America’s lower leagues, however, managing the expenses is more difficult, especially given the size of the continent: Away games in Vancouver can cost as much as $15,000 for team travel. That adds up quickly because the team has competed in leagues with Montreal, Puerto Rico, Seattle, Miami and Austin, Texas.
With the slate wiped clean, and with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers providing a prominent example in advance of next week’s Super Bowl, perhaps its time for the Triangle’s soccer supporters to consider a community-owned nonprofit model. Such a model would be difficult to capitalize, of course, but at a minimum, it would prevent a club from amassing major debt on the player side and it would better cater to fans at the gate.
As one longtime Triangle-based soccer executive told us recently, “A soccer team can be more than just casual entertainment; it can mean something much deeper to a community.”
That’s the take of Jim Houghton, who was the RailHawks’ chief operating officer in 2010, following a career that includes stints with the Carolina Courage women’s soccer team, which lasted for three seasons in the Triangle.
Houghton spoke to us for the first time since his departure from the RailHawks in this story we published in our print edition this week. In addition to Houghton, we spoke with two other prominent local soccer community members: former RailHawks player Caleb Norkus and Triangle Soccer Fanatics founder Jarrett Campbell, who coined the team nickname that is now for sale online.
But despite Miami’s fevered intensity and a hostile road environment, Carolina shrugged off a couple of poor offensive stretches to prevail over the ‘Canes 74-71 to improve their own conference record to 4-1, and 14-5 overall.
Continuing the season’s strange pattern, freshman Harrison Barnes played very poorly for most of the game but hit a couple of critical shots late, including the game-winning three-pointer. The Tar Heels were a turnover machine through the early portion of the contest but settled down thereafter, and despite some rough patches they out-rebounded Miami 34-30.
There were widespread — and entirely understandable — concerns that UNC would falter back to last season’s patterns upon encountering the inevitable adversity of conference play. Yet despite yet another sluggish start on offense and problems all night getting out-muscled in the frontcourt, UNC hung around and relied on its defense — which stiffened in the second half, holding the Hurricanes to 38 percent shooting — to claw back.
The Heels’ perimeter offense is improving, as the club hit a respectable 38 percent on three-point shots. Freshman wing Reggie Bullock has blossomed into a key figure, knocking in 2-for-5 from deep and adding five rebounds and a couple of clutch defensive plays. The high school All-American was overshadowed completely by Barnes in the preseason, but during the past two games he has outplayed his fellow freshman.
N.C. State’s killer January schedule in women’s basketball continues tonight, when the Wolfpack visits No. 16 Miami for a 7 p.m. contest.
Meanwhile the Wolfpack is recovering from some major heartbreak, having seen a 20-point second half lead disappear in a 65-64 loss to visiting No. 3 Duke on Sunday.
N.C. State has won all but one of 10 meetings with Miami, prevailing 66-64 last season in the Wolfpack’s annual “Hoops for Hope” breast cancer awareness game.
The Wolfpack returns home on Sunday at 1 for this season’s “Hoops for Hope” game against FSU.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke will take on rebuilding Clemson tonight in another ACC contest, and the big test for the No. 3 Blue Devils will be to avoid “looking ahead.”
Duke is coming off the sixth biggest comeback in NCAA women’s basketball history, recovering from a 20-point second-half deficit to knock off N.C. State 65-64 on Sunday in Raleigh. And the next game after tonight is the Blue Devils’ nationally televised game at defending national champion Connecticut on Monday.
Duke has won 18 straight home games and 13 straight in the series with Clemson (9-12, 2-4), which has lost 50 straight games against ranked teams.
The Tigers, under first-year coach Itoro Coleman, have a Triangle player on the roster in junior point guard Bryelle Smith out of Cary Academy.
Duke responds to it all with its most comfortable ACC victory in a long time, rolling to a 92-37 blowout.
RBC CENTER, RALEIGH—The rest of the hockey world now knows what Carolina Hurricanes fans have known all season. Jeff Skinner is an All-Star.
And on Wayne Gretzky's fiftieth birthday, to boot.
It's been on Skinner's mind, no doubt. He stood at his locker after practice last Thursday, trying to focus on the battle a few hours later with the Rangers. Instead, he was answering questions about the SuperSkills competitions, in which players will compete to be known as the league’s hardest or most accurate shot and fastest skater. But Skinner, modestly laughing about his skating and shooting prowess compared to the veteran stars, was anticipating the breakaway competition.
If the No. 3 Blue Devils can prevail, it will be their fourth 20-0 start in the last nine seasons. Duke has won 19 straight home games and 17 straight home conference games.
The series is tied 32-32, but Duke has won 13 straight games against the Tigers. Former Clemson player Itoro Coleman is the Tigers’ head coach.
Following tonight’s game, the Blue Devils’ next contest is on the road Monday night against defending NCAA champion Connecticut.