CARTER-FINLEY STADIUM/RALEIGH N.C. State has three major motivations as the Wolfpack hosts No. 7 Clemson on one of those beautiful fall days for football.
1. It’s homecoming.
2. It’s the annual “Textile Bowl,” and
3. If State doesn’t win today, this will be its only bowl game this season.
Should State pull off the big upset and then win one more, the guess here is a trip to the Belk Bowl in Charlotte on Dec. 27.
But first things first.
And what happens is one of the biggest shockers in college football this season, not that the Wolfpack just wins but that the 37-13 contest is an utter annihilation.
Duke women's soccer? Wait, isn't Anson Dorrance's UNC juggernaut the only game in town?
Not likely. Duke is ranked third in the country (but No. 1 on the RPI) and the holder of the top seed in its 16-team bracket. Last night, the Blue Devils notched a convincing 3-1 second-round victory over a decent Georgia Bulldogs team from Athens, Ga.
The 11 women who started last night for Duke had a total of 101 points between them (two points for a goal, one for an assist). Four players are responsible for 82 of them. And those four are comprised of three sophomores and a freshman.
Against the Bulldogs, those four players again rose to the occasion: A goal for sophomore Laura Weinberg (19 pts now), a goal for sophomore Kaitlyn Kerr (23 points); an assist for sophomore Mollie Pathman (18 pts); and an assist for freshman Kelly Cobb (28 pts).
Duke's third goal was its first of the game, an own goal by Georgia's Bailey Powell, who turned a dangerous cross from the right by Molly Lester, subbing for Weinberg late in the half, into her team's goal (it was harsh outcome for Powell, who otherwise was a strong presence for her team). Georgia's Nicole Locandro grabbed a late consolation goal for the visitors, unleashing a 20-yarder strike from the semicircle that seemed to catch newly substituted players and goalkeeper Tara Campbell off-guard.
What was so pleasurable about Duke was their utter confidence in their 4-3-3 formation. The solid back four held its line, calmly moving the ball through the middle, which in turn found outlets in a dangerous trio of attackers.
Georgia had a couple of dangerous weapons, including Locandro and especially sophomore Alexis Newfield, who started the game as an undersized, isolated striker up top. When the long balls forward weren't reaching Newfield, she began drifting into deeper positions in search of the ball. Her talent was obvious, but Duke's defenders denied her space for 90 minutes.
Newfield and her teammates could not mount credible threats against a Blue Devil back line that's anchored by the formidable Natasha Anasi (a sophomore, of course). This Texan won every 50/ 50 ball, calmly backpassed long balls or turned on them and starting a new attack. She made driving runs from the back, forcing Georgia's winded forwards to track her. She's an impressive player, and it was obvious why she was named the ACC's defender of the year.
Equally influential was Kerr, an attacking midfielder with unerring possession and distribution skills. Despite laboring with a bulky brace on her left knee, her box-to-box work rate was impressive. The wide wingers, Weinberg and Pathman, are a dangerous duo. Weinberg is the speedy one who either races down the right flank with the ball, or makes a far post run when Pathman is in possession on the left. Pathman, a Durham native, isn't fast, but her crossing from her powerful left leg is exquisite. Duke's second goal came from just such a play, a menacing cross from Pathman that Weinberg met at the far post with her head.
The freshman Cobb, from Chugiak, Alaska, leads the team with 28 points on 10 goals and eight assists, including last night's. She's a classic No. 9, less technically flashy but a strong hold-up target woman who also makes aggressive runs with the ball.
This is the Duke squad that will face Ohio State in the round of 16 at 1 p.m. Sunday at Koskinen Stadium. The Buckeyes were 2-1 victors over University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and enter the game with a record of 12 wins, eight losses and two draws.
Of the 16 teams still standing in the 64-team field, eight are ACC schools. A ninth, Miami, lost yesterday to Long Beach State. In addition to Duke, the ACC survivors are:
1. UNC (5-0 victors over Baylor)
2. Wake Forest (2-0 over Boston University)
3. Boston College (0-0 shootout over Cal)
4. Maryland (1-0 over Auburn)
5. Virginia (3-0 over Washington St.)
6. Virginia Tech (3-1 over Texas A&M)
7. Florida State (3-1 over Portland)
Clearly, the ACC is the most competitive league for college soccer, probably for men as well as women. And the best team on the women's side is Duke. It remains to be seen if this squad of youngsters—there are no senior starters—can take the title Dec. 4 in Kennesaw, Ga.
But the freshman Rivers misunderstood his assignment. Instead he made a bounce pass to Kelly. Kelly, of course, wasn't looking for it, and it went behind him and out of bounds for a turnover. "Up!" he admonished Rivers, too late.
Davidson guard Tom Droney took the ensuing inbounds pass, dribbled down the court and penetrated all the way inside the three-point line, with Miles Plumlee trailing him after a midcourt screen. Plumlee couldn't stop his momentum in time to keep from bumping Droney as Droney put up a last-second shot. With 0.08 seconds to go, Droney made two free throws, and what probably should have been a 36-33 Duke lead at the intermission became instead a 35-34 Davidson advantage.
The Blue Devils had made two mistakes in less than five seconds, lost what little momentum they'd built—Duke actually trailed for nearly all of the first half—and headed into their home locker room losing to an unranked team. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski stalked off the court looking a little less than pleased, to put it mildly.
It was just the kind of early-season moment a growing top-ten team needs.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke finally opens at home with an unusual noon game, a week after the No. 9 Blue Devils’ road victory at Brigham Young.
Nell Fortner’s Tigers are the best visiting team to come to the Triangle so far this season, going 16-16 and playing in the WNIT last season. Duke leads the all-time series 4-0 after winning 75-62 on The Plains last season.
No. 8 Duke gets a dominant game from freshman sensation Elizabeth Williams, using a big second half to roll to a 73-50 victory.
The classic road-trip carol "Over the River and Through the Woods" has taken on a new meaning for the Carolina Hurricanes this Thanksgiving. It describes the route they'll have to take to get back to respectability in the National Hockey League.
It also might describe where authorities will be looking for coach Paul Maurice next week.
Will there be a big trade? Will Paul Maurice be fired? With my complete lack of insider information, I will go out on what I think is a pretty short limb and say to both questions: yes.
Let's take stock of the season through 19 games. The Canes have won only 6 thus far. They've not just fallen off the playoff bus; they can't see that bus' tail lights anymore. Their Vezina-worthy goaltender sees more shots per night than bartenders do. Their big free-agent pickup plays defense as soft as the marshmallow topping on a sweet potato casserole. And their captain, who once racked up 100 points in a season, is reportedly breaking bread with Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Hoffa, and D.B. Cooper this holiday.
Following UNC’s near upset in the 24-21 loss at No. 9 Virginia Tech Thursday night, the Triangle’s other two ACC teams will also be underdogs when they hit the field Saturday.
Before that one kicks off, Duke (3-7, 1-5 ACC) will look to get some momentum for its season finale against the Tar Heels when it hosts Georgia Tech (7-3, 4-3) at 12:30 at Wallace Wade Stadium.
UNC will be going to a bowl game this season, something that’s assured since the Tar Heels have a 6-4 record (2-4 ACC).
The Tar Heels will be at Lane Stadium to take on No. 9 Virginia Tech (9-1, 5-1), which is looking to take a big step toward a Coastal Division title.
The Hokies, 10 1/2-point favorites, lead the series 17-10-6. Tech won 26-10 last season in Chapel Hill, but the Tar Heels won 20-17 in Blacksburg on a Thursday night in 2009.
RBC CENTER/ RALEIGH—Three stars of the 60-58 win by the N.C. State Wolfpack men over Princeton tonight:
3) Alex Johnson, whose 5 points all came in the final four minutes, including State's only 3 of the game. It came with 1:57 left and broke a 55-55 tie. Johnson, pressed into service for 37 minutes after Scott Wood limped off with a sprained ankle after just two minutes, is a graduate student who came to State from Cal State-Bakersfield with his fourth year of eligibility in his pocket.
2) Lorenzo Brown, without whom there wouldn't have been any last-minute heroics. He finished with 16 points (including a driving 2 sandwiched in between Johnson's buckets at the end), 8 assists, 5 steals, 5 rebounds and just 3 turnovers in 37 minutes under pressure.
1) DeShawn Painter, who popped in the winning 2 from about 18 feet with 4.2 seconds remaing. Painter, a 6'9 center, came from inside out as Brown ranged to the left with the clock ticking down and the score tied at 58. Brown drew the defense, and flipped a pass to Painter who turned and fired without hesitation. Not the guy you'd expect to be putting up the last shot, from the outside anyway, but he said he was looking for it all the way. It's a shot he makes in practice, "a good shot for him," Coach Mark Gottfried said.
Painter's numbers for the game weren't huge, but the fact is, he joined with Rich Howell, Jordan Vandenberg and freshman Tyler Harris to dominate the backboards in this one: State out-rebounded Princeton 40-24, with a dozen offensive boards to Princeton's half-dozen.
Fans who booed the officials repeatedly may want to ponder this. After Painter's basket, Princeton called timeout and set up a play for Ian Hummer to take the inbounds pass at his own foul line and push up-court as far as he could before taking the final shot. 4.2 seconds is plenty of time to get off a good shot, and Gottfried knew it, so he told his team to foul. Which they did, mugging Hummer as he caught the ball. No call. Hummer stumbled out of their grip, but his chances of getting anything better than a 60-foot prayer from the wrong side of half-court were gone. His shot was online, but short.
If we had four stars, we'd be hard-pressed to choose between C.J. Williams and Vandenberg. Williams played a solid all-around game, with 10 points and excellent defense on Hummer, who finished with 15 hard-earned points. The 7'1 Vandenberg had a breakaway dunk after he tipped a shot at the top of the key and ran out for a lead pass from Johnson. It was part of a 14-7 run at the start of the second half that put State up 46-42 and brought the fans to life. Vandenberg played strong defense inside. He was credited with 3 blocks and 6 rebounds in 22 minutes, and in addition he altered a lot of shots by Princeton's trio of big men, all in the 6'9 to 6'10 range themselves.
State played again without C.J. Leslie, who wrapped up a three-game NCAA suspension for an infraction that's an infraction only in the bizarro world of NCAA rules. (In the NCAA, if it's seriously corrupt, it's legal. But if it's a nit-picky way to remind the "student-athletes" that the student part doesn't matter and they can't be professional athletes either, then it's illegal. See how that works?)
On top of no Leslie, State had no Scott Wood either after he rolled his right ankle two minutes into the game. He was in a walking cast and on crutches when he returned to the bench later. He's likely out for a week or more, but the good news is, x-rays showed no fracture, according to State's sports info folks.
Game summary: This was close throughout; Princeton led throughout the first half (max. lead was 9), then the lead went back and forth in the second half, with ties at 42, 51, 55 and 58. AFter Johnson made his 3 to put State up 58-55, the teams traded misses, including a missed front end of a 1-and-1 by Brown, after which Douglas Davis of Princeton drained a 3 of his own to tie it again at 58.
Davis finished with a game-high 21.
Princeton was 6 of 7 from beyond the arc in the first half as State struggled to defend against the famed "Princeton-style" offense, with its high-post passing, constant screens and back cuts. (State fans will recognize it as the Elian Evtimov offense of Herb Sendek days.)
But in the second half, State got better at calling out the screens and jumping out on the shooters. Princeton made just 3 of 12 from long-range and, as noted, the Princeton style has people moving away from the basket a lot, which means not much offensive rebounding.
For State, Brown spent most the game searching for someone who wanted to take — and make — a shot. He took a few himself, runners in the lane, in cases where there just wasn't anyone else. Without Wood, State has no, repeat no dependable outside shooters. Or, for that matter, shooters.
C.J. Williams can make a mid-range shot, and so can Painter, who made two of them, including the game winner. But most of State's scoring came inside, either on post moves or post moves leading to missed shots and clean-up rebounds.
Without Leslie, Wood and the departed Ryan Harrow in the lineup — all were huge defensive liabilities last year — State's defense was pretty good. Princeton, the defending Ivy League champs, are probably not quite as good this year (they're off to an 0-2 start), but as Gottfried said, they'e difficult to defend if you haven't seen that offensive style before. With Williams, Brown and Johnson playing hard on the perimeter, State's defensive work wasn't perfect, and there were some breakdowns. But it was a sustained good effort. The mistakes weren't from not trying.
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC looks to extend its November winning streak to 53 games tonight, playing a third straight home game to start the season.
Sylvia Hatchell’s team leads the series 9-0 and will be an easy favorite tonight. The No. 19 Tar Heels have won their first two games by an average of 51 points.
Four starters have been the same in UNC’s first two games, and tonight freshman Megan Buckland moves back into the starting lineup after making the start in the opener.
It turns out to be an easy one from start to finish, as the Tar Heels roll 91-35.
RBC CENTER, RALEIGH—The Jeff Skinner bobbleheads arrived late. And so did the Carolina Hurricanes.
Anyone calling Saturday night’s win over Pittsburgh a turnaround game for the Hurricanes’ season would have to call Monday’s 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers a turn-back-around game.
The Canes are, figuratively, doing donuts in the RBC Center parking lot. And, literally, in the NHL standings. Don’t look now, but by this weekend the season will be a quarter over. As each leaf drops from the willow oaks in your front yard, it becomes less reasonable to say “Hey, we run off three or four wins and we’re right back in it,” and more reasonable to read the scouting reports for the 2012 NHL entry draft.
Claude Giroux scored twice on setups from Jaromir Jagr, Chris Pronger had three assists, and backup Sergei Bobrovsky held his ground in net behind a Philadelphia defense that only allowed 20 shots.
True, there were bright moments. Patrick Dwyer scored his first two goals of the season shorthanded—one on a penalty shot that brought the Canes to within a goal in the third period—and Tuomo Ruutu added his third goal in the past two games. Eric Staal added an assist and looked just as lively as he did against the Penguins.
But Cam Ward—the one player who has to bring his best every minute of every game for this team to succeed—was punctured four times on 17 shots and lasted only halfway through the contest. And the Carolina defense had difficulty knowing where to be on the ice to counter the Flyers’ attack.