CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC puts its No. 25 national ranking on the line again with its second game in as many days.
The opponent is UNC Asheville, which has made four previous trips to Carmichael and always come up dry.
The Bulldogs are coming off a home-court win over Montreat, but are 0-3 against Division I opposition this season. UNCA has one local product on the team in freshman Rachel McGirt, a 6-foot center out of Durham’s Jordan High.
This one is easy, as the Tar Heels roll 101-42.
That was one Shirley “Red” Wilson, whose accomplishments at Winston-Salem’s Reynolds High and Elon College had been enough to earn him a spot in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Wilson was fired the night after beating UNC at Wallace Wade Stadium to conclude the 1982 and finishing 6-5 for the second straight year. (Incidentally, Duke has had back-to-back winning football seasons exactly one time since.)
Ol’ Red was quite a quote machine in his day - sort of North Carolina’s answer to Yogi Berra - who once said correctly that “If you live long enough, you’re going to get old.”
And having been born in 1955, I might just already be there. AARP has thought so for quite some time.
Anyway, a half-century of observation of American culture has been interesting. Some things get better and some get worse. Values change — usually for the better over the long run although with some fits and starts — and things just don’t stay the same.
Sadly, one value that seems to be losing importance over time is loyalty. And that fact reared its ugly head a couple of times over the last week in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
UNC will host its season football finale against Maryland on a sunny, cool late afternoon. The Tar Heels knew coming into the season they wouldn’t be heading to a bowl because of NCAA sanctions. And if they can hold off the underdog Terps, Larry Fedora’s first season will be a decent one that with a few different bounces could have been a lot better.
With a win, the Tar Heels can finish 8-4 and with their best victory mark since the 1997 club went 11-1.
As for Maryland with its odd state-flag uniforms, this could be the Terps’ last football visit to Chapel Hill for a very, very long time.
Maryland (4-7), which will finish a losing season, has announced its departure from the ACC for the Big Ten in the near future. I guess anyone who wants tickets for those future home football games against Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana or Northwestern had better get cracking.
UNC wins in a shootout, holding on for a 45-38 victory on a day when conditions just keep getting colder and colder as the game progresses.
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC returns to the floor for the first time in six days, ranked No. 25 and flying high after winning the Preseason WNIT.
The teams will be meeting for the first time.
The Tar Heels are playing a back-to-back this weekend, as UNC Asheville will come calling on Sunday. And today’s game is at noon, so as not to conflict with the home football game against Maryland at 3 p.m.
The Tar Heels get off to a slow start but finish fast, rolling to the 85-55 victory.
Is it any coincidence that this week also revealed a significant difference between how print media and ESPN personalities covered the Maryland-to-Big Ten story?
Take for instance, the Washington Post. Contrary to some claims this week, Maryland sports are given significant attention in the D.C. sports landscape—far more than, say, Boston College gets in Boston. At Maryland-Carolina games in College Park, it is longstanding tradition for the heavy hitters of DC (and national) sports media to turn out—the Kornheisers, Wilbons, and Feinsteins.
That interest was reflected in Tuesday’s Post, which included a Page One (that’s page one of the whole paper) story on the move, along with three full pages of coverage in the sports section. These included columns from Tracee Hamilton (“Maryland Makes a Money Grab”) and Mike Wise (“Desperate Not Deliberate”) that each ripped the decision. These articles pointed out that decision makers quite new to College Park had taken the step of erasing nearly 60 years of history with no consultation with the affected constituencies, in order to get a bigger annual check.
Further coverage during the week included an account of student reactions, the reaction of the blindsided ACC commissioner, John Swofford, as well as stories on individual sports likely to be highly affected such as men’s soccer and lacrosse. The paper also published an Op-Ed by former Maryland hoop star and congressman Tom McMillen, a member of the university’s Board of Regents, trenchantly criticizing the process that led to the decision.
Not all coverage was critical; the paper and website also printed predictable stories about coaches and others saying favorable things about the Big Ten. But readers of the paper have been exposed to an intelligent rendering of the multiple issues at stake in Maryland’s departure from the ACC.
Watchers of ESPN’s college basketball coverage during the week? Not so much.
At 12:30 p.m., Duke (6-5, 3-4 ACC), with Coach David Cutcliffe just having received a contract extension, will take on Miami (6-5, 4-3), which has given the NCAA a start on upcoming sanctions by saying it won’t go to a bowl this season. The contest will be shown on WRAL.
Both other games will be at 3 p.m.
UNC (7-4, 4-3), with the winning campaign secure in Coach Larry Fedora’s first season at the helm, will host Maryland (4-7, 2-5) in the Terps’ first ACC road game since the university announced it would be leaving for the Big Ten.
N.C. State (6-5, 3-4) will host Boston College (2-9, 1-6) — Coach Tom O’Brien’s old team — and like Duke the Wolfpack has a chance to improve its standing in the bowl pool.
If neither Virginia Tech nor Wake Forest wins today, the ACC will be in the embarrassing situation of having only five teams go to bowl games.
Locally, the mega-happy ending would have the Blue Devils going to the Belk Bowl in Charlotte on Dec. 27 and the Wolfpack to the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta on Dec. 31. But there are plenty of moving parts that could throw monkey wrenches into that scenario.
Naturally, then, the fresh faces on this year’s squad can’t be expected to pick up where that injury-riddled, Elite Eight club left off. But through the first six games, the Heels not only are younger and less potent: They’re playing a different style of basketball.
Roy Williams receives abundant praise for his ability to teach a fast-paced, inside-out style, the same one that largely defined Carolina basketball during the Dean Smith era. But fans and pundits alike have questioned Williams’ willingness to alter his system to fit any specific team, criticism that reach deafening volume during the abominable 2009-10 season that culminated in a shocking NCAA Tournament miss.
But whatever happens the remainder of this season, Williams already has re-prioritized. Gone is the club’s dominant interior scoring, and thus the Heels have moved their primary offense farther from the basket. The team’s most effective scorer, sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo, prefers to face the rim and utilize his quickness rather than establish position on the low block.
Prior to this week's Maui Invitational, most realistic Carolina fans would have greeted a 2-1 mark as a positive sign for this season's young Tar Heels. But after Butler dealt UNC an emphatic defeat in the semifinal round, and after host Chaminade defeated Texas on day one, the Heels' bounce-back effort led them away from a major-conference program and to an inconclusive finale.
The Heels dominated from the opening tip versus the Silverswords, creating a wide margin early and winning 112-70. One question took center stage during the game: How the hell did Chaminade defeat Texas on day one?
After a poor outing versus Butler, Carolina's shooters regained form against Chaminade. They'll travel to Indiana next week as a clear underdog versus the No. 1 Hoosiers. Click here to view the UNC/Chaminade box score.
The N.C. State Wolfpack entered this season still riding the tailwind of their improbable Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament run eight months ago. Gone is senior leader C.J. Williams, but joining four returning starters are highly touted freshmen Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis. As a result, the Wolfpack started the season ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time in five years.
Don't be fooled by the purported comeback. Yes, North Carolina enjoyed sustained success during the final 10 minutes versus Butler, but that's mostly because the Bulldogs had amassed a 29-point point lead and simply lost focus as the game's outcome already had been decided.
The talented and experienced Bulldogs proved too tough for young, finesse UNC. The Tar Heels appeared shell-shocked when Butler attacked them physically, dominating the rebounding edge early and winning that margin 39-29 overall. Carolina's offense had clicked into place the day before, versus lowly Mississippi State, but Butler diligently eliminated open shot opportunities and forced the Heels to become a team they are not: gifted slashers and interior scorers.
The fall has been precipitous. A year ago, no one apart from national champion Kentucky dared Carolina to beat them on the interior; this year, however, the Heels lack the intuitive post scorers they've largely enjoyed during the Roy Williams era.
The team will receive no time to reflect. Carolina will play either Illinois or tiny host Chaminade on Wednesday at 7:30pm EST. Click here to view the UNC/Butler box score.