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Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye 2012, goodbye non-conference season: N.C. State Wolfpack conquers UNC-Greensboro 89-68

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 10:45 PM

File photo by Chris BairdN.C. State's C.J. LesliePNC ARENA/RALEIGH—The N.C. State Wolfpack approached their final regular season non-conference contest against UNC-Greensboro with all the energy you’d imagine being afforded to a game tipping off at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve against a team with a 2-8 record and a RPI in the mid-300s. To make matters worse, the Spartans were without Trevis Simpson, their 20-point per game leading scorer, who injured his ankle prior to the match. Accordingly, the Wolfpack repeated the same pattern as their last game against Western Michigan: failing to put away a less talented opponent...

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Now it's built, so will they come? First look at expanded WakeMed Soccer Park and other big changes for Carolina RailHawks in 2013

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM

Neil MorrisView from atop the new upper deck at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC (click photos to enlarge)‘Twas the Thursday before Christmas, when all through WakeMed Soccer Park executives for the Carolina RailHawks were stirring about, some getting their first look inside portions of the three-level addition to the east side of the main stadium, officially designated “Building C.” With the Town of Cary recently completing official inspections of the east tower, team President Curt Johnson, Senior Vice President Pete Sciandra and Aaron Davidson, CEO of the North American Soccer League and Vice President of Traffic Sports USA, the...

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Defense carries the day as Blue Devils easily repel Monmouth

Posted By on Sun, Dec 30, 2012 at 5:07 PM

CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM Duke returns to action for the first time after an eight-day holiday break, and in their final game before a long string of ACC contests the No. 4 Blue Devils welcome a first-time opponent. Photo courtesy Duke athleticsDuke guard Tricia ListonToday’s visitor is Monmouth of the Northeast Conference, coming in with a 3-7 record to the Blue Devils’ 10-0. N.C. State alumna Jenny Palmateer directs the Hawks. Duke will be a massive favorite. For the first time this season everybody who will play this season — except for Amber Henson, who has a longer-term injury — will...

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Good offense, but take no offense: N.C. State Wolfpack break Broncos 84-68

Posted By on Sat, Dec 29, 2012 at 6:05 PM

File photo by Chris BairdN.C. State's C.J. LesliePNC ARENA/RALEIGH—No matter the sport, the most underrated source of information for a beat writer regularly covering a particular team is the opposing head coach’s post-game press conference. Journalists enjoy the somewhat objective, third-party perspective of a voice beyond the same carousel of home team coach/players they interview between and after every contest. Moreover, the visiting coach often speaks more freely on the road removed from their critical coterie of hometown media. After N.C. State’s 80-63 win over Cleveland State on December 8, Vikings head coach Gary Waters expressed admiration for the Wolfpack’s...

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Just the tip: Heels flash top-25 ability in win versus UNLV

Posted By on Sat, Dec 29, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Take a look around. For the first time this season, beat writers and columnists will describe North Carolina with words like "courageous," "poised" and "resolute." Playing with enormous passion and buoyed by an energetic — and likely tired of their families — Smith Center crowd, the Tar Heels defeated No. 20 UNLV this afternoon 79-73. Carolina entered the game without stalwart junior Reggie Bullock, who sat out after suffering a concussion in practice. But P.J. Hairston, in his first career start, scored 15 points and ripped away four steals while senior Dexter Strickland led all scorers with 16 points. UNC's...

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Seth Curry's Saturday against Santa Clara: Duke wins 90-77

Posted By on Sat, Dec 29, 2012 at 1:23 PM

CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM—The biggest mistake that the Santa Clara Broncos men’s basketball team made Friday while prepping for their Saturday afternoon match against No. 1-ranked Duke? Practicing in the Dean Dome. (Hey, head coach Kerry Keating, if you want to curse your team, schedule a practice in your next opponent’s arch-rival’s gymnasium. That’s not how you win games.) Aside from that, the 11-2 Broncos had a couple of things going for them. Broncos senior guard and all-time leading scorer Kevin “Microwave” Foster put up 29 points and Santa Clara’s big men were physical enough with Mason Plumlee to keep him...

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Tar Heels crush ETSU in first game back after break

Posted By on Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 4:51 PM

CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC returns to action following its nine-day Christmas break, looking to stay on the winning track against a very familiar opponent. Photo courtesy UNC athleticsUNC guard Tierra Ruffin-PrattThe No. 16 Tar Heels (11-1), whose only loss was on the road at Tennessee, will take on East Tennessee State (2-4) of the Atlantic Sun Conference. It’s the schools’ 14th meeting including four in the previous four years all in Chapel Hill, and the Buccaneers have never pulled off the upset. The Tar Heels’ regulars are all healthy after some challenges earlier in the month, and Erika Johnson —...

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Turnovers spoil brilliant Duke offensive show in Belk Bowl loss

Posted By on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 11:56 PM

Photo by Chris BairdDuke's Brandon Connette celebrates a first-quarter touchdown.BANK OF AMERICA STADIUM/CHARLOTTE No matter how things turn out, it’s a very big night in the history of Duke football. The 6-6 Blue Devils are taking on 9-3 Big East co-champion Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl, the first football meeting between the two teams and the Blue Devils’ first bowl appearance since 1994. The Bearcats are in their fifth bowl game in the past six seasons. Duke’s most recent bowl victory was way back in 1961, when Bill Murray’s club beat Arkansas 7-6 in the Cotton Bowl.But David Cutcliffe clearly...

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Tar Heels hope to shed malaise and shine as underdog this weekend

Posted By on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Arianna HoffmannUNC junior Reggie Bullock is a man of many talents The noise has grown louder over the past 10 days. North Carolina, which unjustifiably held a national ranking even after horrid performances against Butler and Indiana, finally lost its goodwill after falling to woeful Texas last week. The Heels have faced three top-100 opponents and received a spanking from each. Their NCAA Tournament resume is so thin that they’d better write a very charming cover letter to the tournament selection committee. They host their final non-conference opponent on Saturday afternoon. No. 20 UNLV will stroll into town with an...

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blue Devils hoping for happy history in first Belk Bowl appearance

Posted By on Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 10:56 PM

Duke’s long-suffering football fans got an early holiday present when the Blue Devils were invited to Charlotte’s Belk Bowl, their first trip to a bowl game in 12 seasons. On Thursday at 6:30 p.m. they’ll find out whether the gift is sugar plums or a big lump of coal. File photo by Chris BairdDuke's Jamison Crowder (3) rolls over after catching the winning TD pass against UNC.The Blue Devils (6-6) will try to break a four-game losing streak when they take on Big East co-champion Cincinnati (9-3) at Bank of America Stadium in the teams’ first meeting. The Bearcats, who...

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Not missing: a high school player to complete No. 1 Duke

Posted By on Sat, Dec 22, 2012 at 2:10 PM

In between Duke’s back-to-back blow-outs over Cornell and Elon this week, the national spotlight wasn’t focused on how the Blue Devils fantastically worked through its 11-day rust in the first game or overcame mental fatigue in the next. It barely touched on Jim Boeheim recently joining Coach Krzyzewski in the 900-win club, or the news from the previous day that Coach K was the co-recipient (along with Geno Auriemma) and five-time winner of the Team USA Coach of the Year Award. Instead, everyone eagerly awaited for one of the country’s top college basketball prospects, Jabari Parker, to announce which...

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Puerto Rico Islanders will not compete in Spring Season of NASL's 2013 split regular season

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 2:48 PM

UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: The NASL has now released an official statement confirming this announcement. According to high-ranking league sources, the North American Soccer League (NASL) will announce today that the Puerto Rico Islanders will not participate in the Spring Season under the new split regular season format being instituted by the league in 2013. The official decision was finalized during a teleconference of the NASL’s Board of Governors late yesterday afternoon. The Islanders’ ownership group has long been a confederation of investors with varying stakes in the club, led team spokesman Andrés (Andy) Guillemard-Noble. However, without a primary majority owner...

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Scrooge and Santa (On the Martin Report)

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 8:17 AM

Well, we would have liked this last pre-Christmas blog posting to focus solely on the question of last-minute gifts for the ACC fan in your life. Unfortunately, the Martin Report came out yesterday, and, having actually read it, we are obliged to say something about it. If the idea of the Martin Report—at least this version of it—was to close the book on the UNC academic scandal, clearly it has failed. Internal campus critics such as history professor Jay Smith as well as the News & Observer editorialists have been quick to point out that the report simply doesn't investigate...

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Will Tar Heel stockings be filled with NIT?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Chris BairdWilliams has enjoyed few cheers versus tough foes Fans say it’s a lack of talent. Or maybe there’s talent, but the players lack toughness and competitive fire. Roy Williams says his kids need to buy in. After last night’s 85-67 debacle at Texas, I say that, at least in part, you have to point the finger at coaching. This North Carolina roster doesn’t possess championship quality, but certainly the Heels should not find themselves situated on the NCAA Tournament bubble for the second time in four seasons. That 2009-10 campaign proved shocking because it occurred the season after Carolina’s...

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Tar Heels crash in the land of Bush

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 11:38 PM

North Carolina needed to beat this horrible Texas team. The Tar Heels were supposed to beat this horrible Texas team. But they performed miserably in Austin tonight, losing 87-65 while shooting just 32 percent from the field with 18 turnovers. Texas, which has labored throughout the season to produce offense, hung 46 points on UNC in the first half and fended off a second half rally before pulling away for good. The comparisons between this Carolina squad and the NIT-doomed 2010 team have sharpened. A lack of offensive identity, defensive focus and plain self-belief have led to resounding defeats against...

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Old school, new school: N.C. State downs Dawkins-led Stanford 88-79

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Chris BairdRichard Howell faces up the Cardinal's Dwight Powell during N.C. State's 88-79 win over Stanford in RaleighPNC ARENA/RALEIGH—N.C. State’s 88-79 win over the Stanford Cardinal Tuesday night was an impressive result against a game, major conference opponent. The No. 25 Wolfpack led the entire contest, although the margin didn’t reach double-digits until early in the second half. They were led during the opening stanza by Scott Wood, who shook off several recent subpar performances with five first-half 3-pointers—matching his season high before intermission—along with two blocked shots. However, the Cardinal—playing their first true road game this season—only trailed by...

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Class dismissed: N.C. State conquers the Norfolk State Spartans 84-62

Posted By on Sun, Dec 16, 2012 at 12:26 AM

Chris BairdC.J. Leslie slams home two of his 11 points during N.C. State's 84-62 win over Norfolk StatePNC ARENA/RALEIGH—The counterpoint to derision over N.C. State’s yuletide nonconference schedule is that five of the seven teams the Wolfpack play between Thanksgiving and Christmas qualified for last season’s NCAA Tournament. The fourth of that group is the Norfolk State Spartans, who shocked the tourney with an upset win over No. 2 seed Missouri. Saturday night, however, the Spartans limped into PNC Arena with a 6-6 record that included early season losses to Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State and the University of Missouri...at Kansas...

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wolfpack drubs Presbyterian from start to finish

Posted By on Sat, Dec 15, 2012 at 5:30 PM

REYNOLDS COLISEUM/RALEIGH N.C. State returns to action following its exam break, hoping to establish momentum before a very tough streak of upcoming games. Photo courtesy NCSU athleticsState guard Marissa KastanekToday’s opponent is Presbyterian College (5-5), which gave the ACC an early shock with a 49-46 season-opening win against Clemson. The Blue Hose are already very familiar with Triangle-area opposition this season, having lost 84-45 at Duke on Nov. 17 in the undefeated Blue Devils’ opener and won 49-37 over winless N.C. Central seven days later. State (6-4) won the teams’ only previous meeting 74-27 two years ago. And some things...

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Friday, December 14, 2012

A brief history of the UNC-ECU basketball "rivalry"

Posted By on Fri, Dec 14, 2012 at 10:42 AM

Tomorrow at high noon, a hardwood matchup of historic proportions will tip-off in the Smith Center in Chapel Hill: the first-ever regular season basketball visit of the East Carolina Pirates to Chapel Hill to play the North Carolina Tar Heels. As you know doubt already know, the buzz and anticipation surrounding this game has the entire state on the edge of their seats. Office holiday party talk has been dominated by little else than position-by-position analysis of matchups for this once-in-a-lifetime encounter. Or. . . not. OK, on its merits there's little reason to think the actual game will be...

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Point guard confusion escalates for Tar Heels

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 1:21 PM

Chris BairdPaige's diminutive frame has hindered his play Roy Williams surprised many during the preseason when he publicly anointed freshman Marcus Paige as the starter at point guard. Like Dean Smith before him, Williams always has placed great emphasis on senior leadership and defaulted to upperclassmen on playing time issues. In 2006-07, Bobby Frasor began the season starting ahead of rookie Ty Lawson, who was obviously the superior player. In 2010-11, and despite howls from nearly everyone invested in the program, Williams opted to start Larry Drew ahead of freshman Kendall Marshall even after that team began the year so...

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ruffin-Pratt, Tar Heels repel NCCU in low-scoring affair

Posted By on Wed, Dec 12, 2012 at 2:11 PM

CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL It’s the first game matching Triangle Division I basketball teams this season, and on paper it’s a serious mismatch. Photo courtesy UNC athleticsUNC forward Tierra Ruffin-PrattNo. 19 UNC (8-1) is hosting its annual game against N.C. Central (0-10), and the Eagles are going through some tough times under first-year coach Vanessa Taylor. UNC has also hit a run of bad luck, as the Tar Heels have a long injury list. Xylina McDaniel is out for at least this game with a strained hamstring, while Waltiea Rolle will miss the contest with a sprained ankle and freshman Hillary...

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Balanced Wolfpack explodes early, holds off scrappy Elon

Posted By on Sun, Dec 9, 2012 at 7:00 PM

Photo by Chris BairdMarissa Kastanek drives for the hoop as Elon’s Ali Ford defends.REYNOLDS COLISEUM/RALEIGH N.C. State returns to action following a seven-day layoff during the exam period, and the 5-4 Wolfpack is badly in need of a win. State is currently on a three-game losing streak that includes its worst home loss in the Kellie Harper era when Michigan State visited 10 days ago. Today’s visitor is the underdog 3-3 Elon Phoenix, coached by one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the state. UNC alumna Charlotte Smith, who hit buzzer-beating winning shot for the Tar Heels...

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Tar Heels play down to competition yet still defeat ETSU by 23 points

Posted By on Sat, Dec 8, 2012 at 10:53 PM

I sat on press row at the Dean Smith Center to watch UNC humiliate N.C. State in 2008. After tonight, please allow me to say to East Tennessee State — you are no Wolfpack. State's futility four-plus years ago resulted in a pathetic 13-point first half; tonight, the Buccaneers tallied only 12 points and erased an ugly Wolfpack basketball footnote. Directional schools can fool you, but not usually. Obviously excluding instances where the state's name itself is directional — such as North Carolina — the Easts and Wests of the world tend to get stomped versus major opponents. Things get...

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Raucous Reynolds propels N.C. State Wolfpack to 80-63 win over Cleveland State

Posted By on Sat, Dec 8, 2012 at 6:11 PM

Chris BairdRodney Purvis scoops in two of his 11 points during N.C. State's win over Cleveland St. at Reynolds ColiseumREYNOLDS COLISEUM/RALEIGH—Although reared as true-blue Tar Heels while growing up in Eastern North Carolina, my brother and I jumped and screamed just as vociferously as 10 and 12-year-olds, respectively, the night N.C. State won the 1983 NCAA championship. So, it was one of the memorable moments of my childhood when, several months later, my family included an impromptu swing by Reynolds Coliseum during an otherwise innocuous weekday outing to Raleigh. Arriving outside the arena’s brick edifice, we noticed a side door...

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Roland down the ACC: Who are the difference makers for Duke, UNC and NC State?

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM

It’s the Christmas cupcake season for ACC basketball fans. With conference play still about a month away, it’s a good time to dust off the Roland Rating (RR), one popular statistic in the field of APBRmetrics, to divine early trends and difference makers among the Triangle schools. For those unfamiliar with the RR, it comprises the difference between the net points a team scores/allows while a particular player is playing, minus the same differential for the minutes the player isn’t on the floor. Compiled by StatSheet, a company headquartered in Durham, N.C., the RR isn’t useful in assessing the contributions...

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