RALEIGH—Tim Gleason threw the punch heard 'round the hockey world last night. Here's how it went down.
Kulemin initiated contact with Gleason at the edge of the scrum and rabbit-punched him in the face several times. Gleason didn't at first retaliate. But after sustaining three or four punches of increasing intensity, Gleason dropped his gloves and delivered a single uppercut, breaking Kulemin's nose. Kulemin went limp and covered his face as Gleason eased his fall to the ice.
Kulemin did not return to the game. Neither did Gleason. The Canes defender was issued a game misconduct penalty, which carries with it an automatic ejection.
RBC CENTER, RALEIGH—Shhhhh. Don't jinx it.
There were goals—seven of them in the third period alone, and two each by Brandon Sutter and Toronto's Tim Brent. Goals can be scored five ways in the NHL, and this game checked off four of them—even strength, power play, shorthanded, and empty net—everything but a penalty shot.
UNC had a long evening in Maryland in women’s basketball Sunday night.
Diandra Tchatchouang added 13 points, Lynetta Kizer and Alicia DeVaughn 12 each and Laurin Mincy added 10 points for the Terps (16-3, 3-2 ACC).
Italee Lucas led all scorers with 17 points for UNC (17-3, 3-2), which is 3-3 over its last six games. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt added 11 points and Chay Shegog 10 for the Tar Heels.
Visiting today is Triangle ACC rival Duke, which is ranked No. 3 and the only remaining unbeaten Division I women’s team in the country. It’s a rematch of last season’s ACC championship game.
And tickets are on sale for just $1, with anyone holding a stub from the men’s basketball win over Miami at the RBC Center admitted free for the “Pack the House” promotion.
Duke (18-0, 4-0 ACC) will be heavily favored over the Wolfpack (9-9, 1-3), despite having to go to overtime to win 61-58 in Reynolds two years ago.
Duke trails by as much as 20 points early, but Chelsea Gray’s layup with 12 seconds left gives the Blue Devils a 65-64 win before a raucous crowd of 5,134.
It was very nearly a disaster. N.C. State, up 17 at home midway through the second half, blew the lead, trailed by one with a minute left, but rallied to beat lowly Miami 72-70 thanks to heroics by Tracy Smith, Ryan Harrow and C.J. Williams and another solid all-around performance by Rich Howell.
Howell led State scorers with 17 and had five rebounds. Smith had 16 points and seven rebounds. Harrow missed some easy shots and finished with just five points, but he had seven assists and three steals, including a critical theft in the final minute. Without Harrow's offensive leadership, State loses this game. But then you could say the same about Williams' defensive leadership. Lorenzo Brown had a nice game off the bench, including some stretches where he subbed for Harrow at the point. He had 10 points, six (!) rebounds and four assists. Box score is here.
After Smith's three-point play on a nice feed from Harrow put State ahead 69-66, Miami scored on a Malcolm Grant jumper and a Durand Scott put-back after Scott's own miss and a follow-up miss by Miami big man (as in 300 lbs. worth) Reggie Johnson. At that point, Miami led 70-69.
On State's next possession, Harrow penetrated and put up a floater in the lane that was much too hard. Tracy Smith managed to keep the rebound alive over the massive Johnson and then grab it and score to put State up 71-70. It was pure, unadulterated effort by Smith and a bit of luck that Harrow's miss caromed high enough that Smith could even — and just barely — get a hand on it without fouling Johnson.
Miami pushed downcourt and Scott, now being guarded by Williams in an effort to keep him from penetrating, came off a pick and drove only to have Harrow sneak in from behind to pick his pocket. Harrow pushed the ball to Williams who was fouled with 15.9 seconds remaining.
Williams hit the first free throw, but the second rimmed out, giving Miami a chance to win. But again, good defense led by Williams forced Scott to deliver the ball to Grant where he didn't want it deep on the left baseline. Grant drove on Wood, who was trying — he told the press afterward — to commit a foul that State, with just five team fouls in the second half, could afford to give. But the refs called nothing and Grant in desperation attempted to shuffle the ball along the baseline to Johnson, who had Smith and Williams all over him. The ball went to the floor with Smith and Williams on it, and in the scrum, time expired.
Coming in, State and Miami were tied for next-to-last place in the ACC at 1-3. The only other team with fewer than two wins is Wake Forest at 0-5. So today's loser rests in 11th place, not where an NCAA-hopeful team like State wants to be. Emphasis on the word hope.
Moreover, today was the day State celebrated 100 years of basketball, a lot of it damned good in the Everett Case-Norm Sloan-Jim Valvano era. Not so long ago, State's Red Terrors — under Case — dominated the old Southern Conference, virtually willing big-time college basketball into existence in the South and with it the creation of the ACC. State then dominated the ACC and won national championships in the '70s, under Sloan, and the '80s, under Valvano. It can be done. In fact, Coach Sidney Lowe used the occasion to take his players to the grave sites of Case, Sloan and Valvano this weekend, underscoring for them the tradition they're supposed to be upholding. (Actually, renewing. State's last ACC title came in 1987—24 years ago.)
At the start of the game, it seemed like the Pack had the message, jumping out to a quick 12-2 lead. As advertised, Lowe started a "big" lineup, but in a bit of a surprise, the "C.J." who started at the small-forward position was Williams, not Leslie — the latter missed practice Saturday due to illness and played just 14 minutes today off the bench. With Harrow and Scott Wood in the backcourt and C.J. Williams, Rich Howell and Tracy Smith up front, State looked was in control briefly, but then the Pack starting jacking up bad shots while Miami, which began with 6-for-20 shooting from the floor, nonetheless pushed back and took a 21-20 lead at one point.
At that stage, Lorenzo Brown provided a spark with a couple of high-flying rebounds (he had six for the game) and five quick points (of his 10 total). But State wasn't comfortably ahead until C.J. Williams tracked down a long rebound off a Harrow miss and tossed up a 35-foot rainbow that swished as the halftime buzzer sounded. 37-30, State.
In the second half, a couple 3s by Wood and some neat screen-roll plays by Harrow to Smith and Howell, respectively, sparked a 14-4 State run and the Pack led 55-38 about eight minutes in. But in the next eight minutes, State gave it all back, and it wasn't hard to see why. State got its lead playing hustling, trapping defense, usually led by Williams, who was all over the place creating trouble for Miami's quick guards Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant.
But when State's defense relaxed, as it did periodically, Miami got easy shots. They missed a bunch of them early on, but in the second half, Grant in particular heated up with three 3s (he was 5-for-5 for the game from the arc) and 15 of his game-high 23 points. State cannot defend good guards man-to-man. It must scramble, chase and trap in the backcourt to be effective, and that's hard work. C. J. Williams, in his 23 minutes, played hard and smart (no fouls, two blocks). Not to say Harrow, Brown and Wood didn't play hard too, but they were more effective defensively when C.J. was in. Seemed like State's big men played with more energy too behind Williams (i.e., they were quicker stepping out and back again versus Miami's screen-roll plays).
It creates an issue for Lowe, because C.J. Williams, though not ineffective offensively, is not the scoring or offensive rebounding threat that C.J. Leslie is. But they can't both play the small-forward position, or at least they can't play it at the same time.
Lowe is frankly "battling to get wins," and he said he'll "go with the players who are getting it done." Yes, Leslie was under the weather a bit, but Lowe said the main reason C.J. Williams logged 23 minutes and Leslie just 14 was the quality of Williams' play. At the end of the game, Lowe did a bit of offense-defense substituting, bringing Williams and Rich Howell in for defense and Leslie and Brown for offense. Expect to see more of that while the latter two work to improve, not their defensive hustle so much as their defensive technique. As Lowe said, Williams and Howell are better schooled in HOW to defend quick guards and big screeners. At the end, those two helped get it done.
If you’re interested in seeing some high-level women’s college basketball today, either grab a dollar or grab the remote.
No. 3 Duke (18-0, 4-0 ACC), the nation’s only undefeated Division I women’s team, will visit a Triangle rival at 5 p.m. when the Blue Devils take on N.C. State (9-9, 1-3) at Reynolds Coliseum.
Meanwhile at the same time, No. 10 UNC (17-2, 3-1) will visit No. 15 Maryland (15-3, 2-2) at the Comcast Center at the exact same time.
Both games will be cablecast live nationally, with the Duke-State game on Fox Sports Net and UNC-Maryland on ESPN2.
It’s a “Pack the House” promotion, with tickets available to the public for $1. And anyone with a ticket stub from today’s 1 p.m. NCSU men’s home game with Miami gets in free.
FSN SOUTH (TV)—One of the dirtiest words you can utter in hockey is "almost."
The Penguins turned the tables on Carolina Saturday night. Two days earlier in Raleigh, the Canes emerged from uncertain waters in their playoff drive with a decisive win against the Rangers after being swept by Boston in a home-and-home series by a combined score of 10-2. But Pittsburgh was the more desperate team this night, missing All-Stars Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Evgeni Malkin (knee, illness) and coming off a 2-0 loss to cellar dweller New Jersey.
In a flurry of posts yesterday, Brian Quarstad of Inside Minnesota Soccer broke the news that the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) Board of Directors voted Thursday to deny the sanctioning they had provisionally granted the North American Soccer League (NASL) last November to operate as a Division 2 soccer league this season.
In an online and e-mail response sent to the media late Friday, NASL vowed to continue seeking D-2 sanctioning, calling these latest events “a temporary setback.”
NASL has two main alternatives: To reapply for D-2 sanctioning or to operate as a Division 3 league.
The second option, to operate in the less restrictive, less prestigious third division seems to be off the table for NASL. According to the release, the league “will not pursue sanctioning as any other division under the USSF bylaws,” meaning sanctioning as a D-3 league.
Any final decision of sanctioning for this season would have take place at the USSF Annual General Meeting to be held in Las Vegas on Feb. 11—12.
Last August, the USSF approved a new set of heightened standards for D-2 pro leagues. On Friday, Neil Buethe, USSF’s Media Relations Director, told Quarstad that in the time since the Federation granted NASL provisional sanction, “There’s been significant changes in respect to NASL’s application.”
Although Buethe declined to get into specifics, he said that the “biggest hurdle was really some of the financial requirements” of the NASL clubs.
The most significant change in the NASL landscape since last November was the upheaval in ownership of the Carolina RailHawks. Last month, the team’s then-president Brian Wellman confirmed that the club’s “current owners just don’t want to be involved anymore.” He said that the new majority owner would likely be Traffic Sports USA, the American subsidiary of a Brazil-based sports management company.
On Dec. 31, majority owner Selby Wellman filed documents with the N.C. Sec. of State dissolving Triangle Professional Sports, L.L.C. and its subsidiary, Carolina RailHawks, L.L.C.
The dissolution of Triangle Pro. Sports, L.L.C. effectively dissolved the club’s lease with the Town of Cary for the use of WakeMed Soccer Park, according to Danny Hopkins, Director of Parks and Recreation for the town. As of Friday, however, the team continues to use the park facilities as its main office. The first game of the new league was scheduled to be at WakeMed on April 9, to be contested between the RailHawks and the Puerto Rico Islanders.
Triangle Offense has forwarded several requests for updated information to officials for the RailHawks and NASL that remain unanswered. A Jan. 13 e-mail from Hopkins to the town’s mayor and city council, which Triangle Offense obtained via a public information request, states that a press conference had been tentatively planned for Jan. 18 to announce the RailHawks’ new ownership group and front office staff. This press conference was never publicized to the media and did not take place.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM No. 3 Duke has the only remaining unbeaten women’s basketball team in the country in Division I, but the Blue Devils (17-0, 3-0) should have a strong challenger tonight in front of its largest crowd of the season.
Duke has had the upper hand in this series, leading it by a whopping 53-7 including a 31-game winning streak over the Yellow Jackets. And the Blue Devils should be deeper, as every healthy player on the roster generally gets into every game.
And Joanne P. McCallie is seeking her 100th win as Duke coach.
She gets it in shocking fashion, as Duke gets a balanced effort and dominates every phase of the game in a 69-32 rout in front of 6,744.
RBC CENTER, RALEIGH—It wasn't an elimination game. It wasn't a playoff game. It wasn't one of the final, frantic games of the regular season. But it was a must-win game for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Henrik Lundqvist made 35 saves and Brandon Prust scored the lone goal for the blueshirts after they demolished the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-0 the night before in New York. Responding to a benching, sniper Marian Gaborik scored four goals in that game on a line with Artem Anisimov and agitator Sean Avery. But Sutter's line kept them in the minus column on this night.