GREENSBORO COLISEUM/ GREENSBORO, N.C.—The thing is, North Carolina was really looking like the real deal. John Henson, back from his sprained wrist, brought energy and attitude back to the Tar Heels, a generally cool-customer team. He got into a little flap with Creighton's Grant Gibbs after he felt that Gibbs was intentionally hacking at his wrapped and taped left wrist down on the low block as Henson tried to get a shot up. Henson's jawing at Gibbs, who later flatly denied any injurious intent, earned him a technical foul about six minutes into UNC's relatively easy 87-73 win over Creighton.
The Bluejays' Doug McDermott made one of two free throws awarded for Henson's technical. That gave Creighton what would turn out to be its last lead of the game, 12-11. North Carolina, angry, scored the next nine points. And while an eight-point lead isn't really all that much, especially with 31 minutes of basketball left to be played, the game became the Tar Heels' to win by the time Henson sank a jumper to make it 20-12. And win they did.
By the time it was over, UNC had netted 87 points on 50.8 percent shooting (including 8-16 three-pointers), put five players in double figures plus a sixth with nine points (James Michael McAdoo), and held Creighton to seven points below its season average on 41.2 percent shooting. The Tar Heels turned the ball over a mere nine times, just five of them in the game's final 36 minutes after some loosey-goose offense early.
In the general hometown happiness of UNC's cakewalk win over Creighton (there was a loud partisan Tar Heel crowd in Greensboro), no one seemed to worry or really even notice when, with about 11 minutes left to play, Kendall Marshall absorbed hard contact from Creighton's Ethan Wragge while driving to the basket for a transition layup attempt and landed on the hardwood with a loud crunch. Why should the fans fret? Marshall sprang back up, and after an official timeout he went and took his free throws. In fact, he played most of the rest of the game.
But Kendall Marshall worried. He was in pain, and trying to tough out what turned out to be a fractured wrist.
GREENSBORO COLISEUM/ GREENSBORO, N.C.—The North Carolina Tar Heels took care of Creighton with relative ease tonight, 87-73, sparked by the high-energy return of John Henson to action after missing three games with a sprained wrist. Ironists will appreciate this: Kendall Marshall sustained a wrist injury of his own tonight with about 11 minutes to play. He was fouled while attempting a layup, went down hard and apparently broke his fall with his right hand—which is his non-shooting hand. The scaphoid bone was fractured.
From the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons web site: "A scaphoid fracture is usually caused by a fall on an outstretched hand, with the weight landing on the palm." That is exactly what happened to Marshall. This incident happened right in front of me, and you could hear the clatter of bones on hardwood when Marshall went down, hard. But he immediately popped back up as though nothing amiss had happened. After an official timeout, Marshall shot two free throws, making one, and played most of the rest of the game before asking to come out with about two minutes left to play. Probably he didn't start feeling the pain for some time after the fall.
Ethan Wragge's foul wasn't dirty. The Tar Heels were in transition (after Wragge himself missed a three-point shot), and Wragge was in the lane with his back to the driving Marshall, who scored a team-high 18 points, 13 of them in the first half. Wragge tried to turn and impede Marshall, leaped as Marshall did, and tried to block the shot, bouncing Marshall in the effort.
I will be back with more tomorrow about tonight's game and the Marshall injury, plus its potential consequences. There is no prognosis right now for Marshall's recovery. I would not be surprised to see him held out of UNC's next game, in which they will face No. 13 seed Ohio, and then return in a soft cast for the regional final—which could be against, wouldn't you know it, N.C. State. (Ironists unite again.)
Here is video of the play.
If you want to see Creighton playing dirty, try this cheap shot by Gregory Echenique on Tyler Zeller, a blatant foul that went unnoticed by an official not 20 feet away, and uncalled.
Meanwhile, from courtside, Xavier has roared back from a 15-point first half deficit to take a five-point lead over Duke-slayer Lehigh with 12:15 left to play.
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL Georgia Tech will go into the first round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament carrying the ACC’s banner in the Triangle — at least for now.
Today the No. 4 seed Yellow Jackets (24-8) will take on No. 13 Sacred Heart (27-5), the champions of the Northeast Conference, in the first meeting between the schools.
It’s not much of a contest as Tech is clearly the superior team, rolling to a 76-50 victory.
And MaChelle Joseph’s club will go again on Tuesday night at 7 against No. 5 seed Georgetown (23-8), which held off No. 12 seed Fresno State (28-6) by a 61-56 score for a chance to advance to the semifinals of the Des Moines Regional.
Kellie Harper’s club (19-15) looks for its second 20-win season in her three years at the helm when the Wolfpack hosts Appalachian State in a second-round contest.
But to do it, the Wolfpack will have to beat ASU’s best team ever.
The Wolfpack never trailed in scoring its season high in an 88-78 first-round win over High Point on Thursday night, while the Mountaineers are coming off a 79-73 win at UNC Wilmington.
The Southern Conference regular-season champions come into the contest with a 26-6 record, and certainly with a chip on the shoulder what with its 0-24 all-time record against NCSU.
And the Wolfpack has won 50 straight home games against in-state teams not from the ACC, going back to 1981.
The Mountaineers shoot 57.7 percent in the second half, holding on for a 66-62 victory that is arguably the best in school history.
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL “I bet you didn’t think you’d see us here!” Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said Saturday.
And she was absolutely right.
So with UNC’s exclusion from the field along with No. 2 seed Duke’s exile to the home court of No. 7 Vanderbilt in the Fresno Regional, the Yellow Jackets are the de facto home team for the four-team pod for games here on Sunday and Tuesday.
The action starts Sunday at 12:20, when No. 5 seed Georgetown (22-8) takes on No. 12 seed Fresno State out of the Western Athletic Conference. The No. 4 seed Yellow Jackets (24-8) — who got their two signature wins this season over the Tar Heels — will take on Sacred Heart at approximately 2:50.
The survivors meet Monday at 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to the regional in Kingston, R.I.
Even without much offense, the game proved a feisty affair, a productive preseason tuneup full of physical play and colorful language to entertain the throng of fans gathered along the intimate field's touchline. Notwithstanding a few forays by UNC-G into their attacking third, the RailHawks controlled pace and possession for most of the match.
GREENSBORO COLISEUM/ GREENSBORO, N.C.—Let me take the second part first, and via this very convenient (though unfortunate) metaphor. I was just getting to my truck to drive home to Durham from Greensboro last night, around 11:30 p.m., when I got a text from my fiancée. There had been a huge crash in the house, and when she went to investigate, with some trepidation, she discovered that the kitchen light fixture had mysteriously fallen off of its pendant and shattered on the floor.
This particular light fixture was something of a pet piece of hardware for us, chosen and installed when we bought and renovated the house about two and a half years ago. Stylish but understated, pleasantly bright, in harmony with the rest of the kitchen—yet somehow, for reasons we'll likely never deduce, it came to an abruptly early end, with a crash heard only distantly. All Heather could do was sweep up the shards by lamplight. She lined up some of the more evidentiary parts for me to look over when I got home, and although I might hazard a few guesses, I really don't know. We weren't close enough to the incident to do more than that, and the intricacies of electricity can be hard to puzzle out anyway if you aren't an expert in how it works. For all we know, the damn thing just fell of its pendant.
And so with the shattered fixture and extinguished light that was Duke men's basketball, 2011-12.
After the jump, some initial thoughts about North Carolina's relatively easy 77-58 win over outmanned Vermont, which could just as well have been a 29-point rather than a 19-point win. Also, a few notes on the Creighton-Alabama game that started the day; the winner, Creighton, plays UNC tomorrow at 5:15 p.m. for the right to go to the Sweet Sixteen.
And then onto Duke's loss yesterday and its season as a whole.
To be honest, we've been so busy with our new Google+ page (circle us now! Or click the magic badge above!) that we barely noticed that N.C. State won its opener in convincing fashion, knocking off San Diego State 79-65. They're even calling it an upset, as the lowly, lowly Wolfpack were a mere 11-seed (No. 50 on the RPI) while SDSU was a 6-seed (No. 27 RPI).
Meanwhile, Adam Sobsey and Al Drago are acting as our eyes and tweeting fingers at the Greensboro Coliseum. UNC put away the Vermont Catamounts 77-58, wisely leaving long, tall John Henson in his civvies, thus validating Rob Harrington's forecast to us:
I expect Roy Williams to limit his court time early with the hope that Carolina will dust off the Catamounts and render Henson unnecessary.
For a No. 1 seed, its opening round game should be dull. Excitement against a No. 16 is exactly what you don't want, and Syracuse's close call—arguably aided by the officials—attests to that reality. The Orange certainly didn't emerge from that contest as the takeaway story.
Assuming UNC survives Vermont, either Creighton or Alabama will await on Sunday. The Bluejays lack athleticism and the Crimson Tide can't shoot; if the Heels play reasonably well, they should advance to the Sweet 16 even without a healthy Henson.
The all-day event will take place Thursday, April 12. Among those representing MLS will be President Mark Abbott and Will Kuhns, the league’s director of communications. Joining them will be various officials for the Carolina RailHawks, David Downs, commissioner for the North American Soccer League and Aaron Davidson, Vice President of Traffic Sports USA, the current owners of the RailHawks.
According to Johnson, the day’s events will begin around midday with an open lunchtime fan forum, at a local eatery soon to be determined, where soccer supporters will have the opportunity to discuss and pose questions to the visiting officials. That will be followed by a reception for civic and business leaders to meet and interact with the guests, and then a midafternoon media roundtable likely to take place at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Well, the NCAA Division I Women’s Tournament selection committee actually did it.
Not in the bracket is UNC (20-11), which would have been the playing host team for first- and second-round games in Chapel Hill Sunday and perhaps Tuesday. Neither is Virginia (22-10), which had a very solid season under first-year coach and Duke alumna Joanne Boyle. (The committee did later reveal that Virginia was in the last four teams eliminated, while the Tar Heels were not.)
I guess we shouldn’t even start on any silly questions about Wake Forest (19-13) or N.C. State (18-15).
UNC apparently turned down a bid to the WNIT although State, Wake and Virginia are all in. The Wolfpack will host High Point (20-12) in first-round play on Thursday night at 7.
But the only Division I team around here with a huge reason to celebrate Monday night was No. 6 Duke (24-5), which got the No. 2 seed in the — say it with me, now — Fresno Regional and will take on Southern Conference champ and No. 15 seed Samford (20-12) in a first-round game at Vanderbilt Sunday night at 7:45.
The reward for a victory there? A second-round meeting with either the host No. 7 seed Commodores (22-9) or No. 10 Middle Tennessee State (26-6), whose campus is 37 miles away from Vanderbilt’s classy but odd Memorial Gym.