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Monday, December 23, 2013

Lumps of coal: New NASL 2014 spring season truncates schedule and fairness

Posted By on Mon, Dec 23, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the league Not a rumor was stirring, much less any intrigue When out of my  e-mail there arose such a clatter I sprang to my laptop to see what was the matter When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a shrinking spring season with just nine games to cheer More rapid than RailHawks its commands they came As the press release shouted and called teams by name! “Now Strikers! now, Silverbacks! now, Fury and Eddies! On, Cosmos! On, Indy! on Scorpions and Rowdies! For a berth in the Soccer Bowl! To...

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Watching another league: Did a misguided tweet betray the NASL fall season's most pressing problem?

Posted By on Mon, Oct 7, 2013 at 9:00 AM

"The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."—Princess Leia, Star Wars A couple of weeks ago, Bill Peterson, commissioner of the North American Soccer League (NASL), told Pieter Brown of the South Florida-based weekly podcast Ultras Alive that Peterson resisted publicizing pronouncements about the league’s disciplinary process because he found the reality of punishing players and coaches “quite embarrassing.” I wonder how he feels about Twitter faux pas. Last Thursday, Charlie Cole, president of Ralph’s Mob, the official supporters group of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, issued a stream of tweets regarding...

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Final Four thoughts

Posted By on Fri, Apr 5, 2013 at 11:29 AM

File photo by D.L. AndersonIs ACC basketball as we knew it over? Here, Duke and UNC players scrap over a loose ball in March 2010.Fooled you—these are NOT thoughts about the Final Four this weekend in Atlanta. Rather, these are my final four thoughts about the state of ACC and college basketball as the curtain closes on the 2012-13 season of basketball and basketball blogging for Triangle Offense. 1. Talk that the failure of an ACC team to reach the Final Four since 2010 is a sign of a weak conference is a bit overblown, for two reasons. First, the...

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Friday, March 29, 2013

The never-ending game: the travesty of TV timeouts in the NCAA tourney

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 11:48 AM

File photo by Jeremy M. LangeBrad Cook, musician, basketball fan and one-time Indy modelWell, sports fans, we are down to the final 12 teams standing in the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Only one ACC team remains standing, Duke, and few outside Durham expect the Blue Devils to advance past this weekend. Syracuse and Louisville are also in the hunt, but no, they don't count as ACC teams yet. As the games wind down, unfortunately, the necessity for viewers to actually watch the TV timeouts goes up. No more will there be four games on a time to skip between; instead,...

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Friday, March 22, 2013

A (partial) defense of March Madness

Posted By on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 12:49 PM

File photo by D.L. AndersonCameron Crazies in 2010In April 1 issue of The Nation, “Edge of Sports” columnist Dave Zirin has an article titled “The NCAA: Poster Boy for Corruption and Exploitation” which shines a light on what is described as the exploitation of college athletes by the money-making NCAA “cartel” that brings in millions through March Madness while the athletes get nothing. I have a particular interest in that piece not just as a basketball follower but because I also once wrote a piece for The Nation critiquing college sports, titled "Bad as They Wanna Be" back in 1998....

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Mysteries of the brackets: North Carolina schools face tough draws

Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 9:02 AM

The state of North Carolina has placed five schools in the 68-team men's NCAA basketball tournament: Davidson, Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina A&T and North Carolina State. The NCAA committee didn't exactly hand any of these schools a break. A&T has been forced to participate in what used to be known as the "play-in" game, now rebranded the "First Four." The First Four consists of four games, two involving teams like A&T that didn't win their league regular season but snuck in the field by winning their conference tournament, and two games involving the final four at-large teams admitted. The...

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Remember when people really cared about the ACC Tournament? Here's a proposal to restore the luster.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Will parity prove the elixir for this year’s ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament? Yes, top-seeded Miami and Duke are the odds-on favorites. But unlike the top-heavy tourneys of yore, at least five teams—including North Carolina, N.C. State and Virginia—enter this weekend with a realistic hope of winning the ACC conference crown. But no matter who cuts the nets down this Sunday, more ink will again be spilled chronicling and diagnosing the ongoing erosion of the college basketball conference tournament. Whenever articles are written on this subject, however, the true objects of lament are really the major conferences. Small and mid-major tournaments...

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Friday, March 8, 2013

The global significance of Carolina-Duke (yes, really)

Posted By on Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 10:32 AM

File photo by D.L. AndersonDuke's Jon Scheyer (right) and Marcus Ginyard clash in this 2010 encounter.A couple of years ago a local radio personality asked me on a pregame show prior to a Duke-Carolina game whether our long-running local hardwood feud is the "biggest rivalry in all of sports." I hesitated a bit, and said "well there is Real Madrid-Barcelona, and Celtic-Rangers." (Loyal readers of Triangle Offense will recall from my blog postings during the 2010 World Cup that I'm as passionate about soccer as college basketball.) OK, but really, where do Carolina and Duke fit in The Big Picture?...

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Is college basketball getting worse? and other thoughts on a changing game

Posted By , and on Fri, Mar 1, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Here at Triangle Offense, we're catching our breath in the last lull of the college basketball season. Next week sees the buildup to the season-ending UNC-Duke tilt that will determine the course of the free world until the next time the two teams meet. Week after that is the ACC Tournament, which despite its extreme unimportance, is a tradition unlike any other—than March Madness, of course. So, with nothing much going on beside a UNC-Clemson scrap down in Littlejohn Coliseum and third-ranked Duke getting floor-rushed yet again, this time at Virginia, basketball scribes Thad Williamson and Rob Harrington agreed to...

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Friday, February 22, 2013

In search of a close game in Chapel Hill: Carolina-State, Round II

Posted By on Fri, Feb 22, 2013 at 3:08 PM

File photo by Jeremy M. LangeAn outtake from a 2008 INDY Week cover shoot featuring Megafaun's Brad CookThere's not quite as much buzz about the second installment of Carolina-State's basketball rivalry as there was prior to the first meeting last month. This could be for several reasons, including the fact that the Duke game is still on another level emotionally for the Tar Heel fan base, as well as State's unexpectedly low league position. Battling for third place is just not as sexy as battling for the league lead. But it also could be because the memory does not easily...

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Q: How lucky is Duke? A: Pretty lucky, and good at making their luck

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 1:08 AM

Duke ran out of luck on Saturday, and Coach K could see it coming. Since surviving the spooky rebirth of Run-UNC in last weeks’ five-point home win over the Tar Heels, Duke’s head coach counted dark clouds massing in the crystal ball of karma. “This is a tough week for us,” Krzyzewski said before Duke’s 83-81 loss at the hands of unranked Maryland. “I mean it’s been great, we have two wins, but travel, emotional play….” From where he sat, Duke’s impending road match against the Terps evoked last weekend’s one-point win at Boston College, where a rested, desperate and...

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Friday, February 15, 2013

How good is Miami? P.J. Hairston? And more mid-season ACC basketball questions

Posted By on Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 11:13 AM

Photo by Chris BairdC.J. Leslie of the underachieving Wolfpack, temporarily leaving a Miami player behind during a Feb. 2 loss at PNC ArenaCarolina-Duke round one went to the Blue Devils Wednesday night, unofficially marking the end of the first half of the ACC hoops season. All the teams have played at least 11 of their 18 games, but the remaining slate carries added weight as teams jockey for postseason position. Plus, there's the ACC Tournament to come, which could prove critical to the NCAA hopes of one or more bubble teams. Here are some questions on my mind to ponder...

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Duke's convincing win over N.C. State is so much sweeter than revenge: 98-85

Posted By on Fri, Feb 8, 2013 at 9:54 AM

CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/ DURHAM—The first time these two teams played, N.C. State (16-8, 5-6) had gone nine consecutive games without a loss. Coming into tonight’s game against No. 4 Duke (21-2,8-2), the Wolfpack had lost four of its last six games. They walked in Cameron Indoor Stadium with considerably less mojo than they had at home and without their crafty-passing point guard, Lorenzo Brown. The Blue Devils, on the other hand, were still missing one of their senior captains, Ryan Kelly; and had to go without the reserve power of Josh Hairston, due to an infected cut in his arm...

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Postcards from Duke's two-game road-stretch

Posted By on Sat, Feb 2, 2013 at 7:08 AM

hikingviking/ Creative CommonsYou would have never guessed it, but Wednesday night’s Duke/ Wake Forest game was, in fact, Duke’s toughest game of the year. The Demon Deacons—led by Travis McKie and Devin Thomas—never lost control of the game, but lost absolute control of Mason Plumlee, who put up a career-high 32-points. The game was close the entire time, and most of it was comprised of the Blue Devils sticking to a plan to spoil Plumlee with in-the-paint service. It worked, and Plumlee repayed the team on the defensive end by coming up with a couple of big blocks for Duke....

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Friday, February 1, 2013

ESPN gigs shouldn't be safety net for coaches who cheat

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Tennessee Journalist/Creative CommonsBruce Pearl in 2009You can't blame ESPN, a principal promoter and profiteer of college basketball, for wanting to hire studio hosts and game commentators who are knowledgeable, opinionated and bring strong personality to the table. Bruce Pearl, the former Tennessee coach who can often be found opposite former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg in the studio and on occasion in the color commentator's seat courtside, certainly fits that bill. I have but two questions about this arrangement. First, why is ESPN providing a safety net to coaches who have been shown to violate major NCAA rules and to...

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Friday, January 25, 2013

State needs this one more—which could play to Carolina's advantage

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2013 at 8:46 AM

Photo by D.L. AndersonN.C. State's Rodney Purvis, during a game against Duke earlier this monthRoy Williams often has described himself by saying he’s been married to the same woman and owned the same golf putter for decades. Since coming back to Chapel Hill in 2003, Ol’ Roy has added the N.C. State men’s basketball team to his list of long-term possessions. Quite simply, Roy Williams has owned the Wolfpack, compiling a 19-1 record against his Raleigh rivals over the past nine seasons. (In the one loss, back in 2007, Tar Heel shooters were blinded by Sidney Lowe’s stunning red sports...

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sandwiching the pyramid? MLS and USL Pro strike deal for restructured Reserve League

Posted By on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 11:15 PM

Update, 2 p.m., Jan. 24: Today, USL Pro released their 2013 regular season schedule, revealing further details of this year's edition of the restructured MLS Reserve system. Eighteen of the 19 MLS clubs will participate in some form—only Chivas USA will not have a USL affiliate or play a home-and-home series against a USL Pro opponent. Interestingly, the four rumored USL Pro affiliates for 2013—Rochester, Orlando City, Richmond and Harrisburg—will not play a home-and-home series against their reported MLS parent club—New England, Sporting K.C., D.C. United and Philadelphia, respectively. According to a USL Pro league official, this was done so...

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Wear art thou, skilled Tar Heel frontcourt?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 9:26 AM

File photo by Jeremy M. LangeBig man Tyler Zeller has been difficult to replace. He's seen here in a game against Kentucky during his freshman year. North Carolina took a big step toward rescuing its season last weekend with a victory over a Florida State, a win which felt like an upset, especially when one considers that the Seminoles buried 50 percent of their three point attempts. A pivotal role in the win was played by recruited walk-on sophomore Jackson Simmons. For one game at least, Simmons looked like the second most well-rounded big man on the Carolina roster, behind...

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Despite the loss(es), the Duke kids are all right

Posted By on Thu, Jan 17, 2013 at 3:03 PM

Photo by D.L. AndersonC.J. Leslie, giving his best effort and respect to Duke and Mason PlumleeFor most college basketball teams, the reinventive time-span of rebounding from a monumental loss, can make days seem like months. But, for Duke, following their unsurprising 84-76 loss to then-No. 20 N.C. State seems like it happened so long ago that none of the issues or storylines born from that game require too much attention. But, for housekeeping’s sake, let’s inhale a few things: Ryan Kelly’s foot injury has him out indefinitely—forcing Coach K to splice the combined play of Josh Hairston, Amile Jefferson, Marshall...

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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The One but not done: Rodney Purvis is the X factor to N.C. State's ultimate success

Posted By on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 10:36 AM

File photo by Chris BairdN.C. State's Rodney Purvis“Ill always remember those who were there for me thru thick and thin. Which is a short list.”— @rpurvis_0, 11:34 p.m., Jan. 7, 2013 As the N.C. State Wolfpack embark on ACC play, the question remains how the Wolfpack can morph from late-season upstarts into the nationally ranked contenders that many foresaw before this campaign. Fourteen games into the season, the roles for the team’s regulars are largely defined: Scott Wood is the sharpshooter; Lorenzo Brown is the playmaking distributor; Richard Howell is the tenacious rebounder; C.J. Leslie, the team’s leading scorer, remains...

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Duke is solid, Tar Heels up, Wolfpack needs a jump-start

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 4:34 PM

The halfway point of the regular season is almost here for ACC women’s basketball, and three things are pretty clear about the Triangle’s entries. Duke is just as good as advertised. UNC may be better than most people expected. And N.C. State, although a decent team, needs to get things turned around quickly to avoid a tough March. Duke stays perfectFollowing a 90-53 road shellacking of a much improved Boston College team in which junior guard Chelsea Gray matched a conference record with her second career triple-double, No. 3 Duke is the only unbeaten Division I women’s basketball team in...

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Commentary: The Blue Devils' big bail-out fallacy, or why Mason Plumlee can't save them

Posted By on Sat, Jan 5, 2013 at 9:05 AM

File photo by Al DragoSeth Curry during the 2012 ACC TournamentWe don’t want to be too hard on the kid, but before we start talking about Mason Plumlee receiving national player of the year honors, we should probably build a better case of why he shouldn’t be considered for the award for the sake of saving both him and Duke from what could be a very different second half of the season. Like Coach Krzyzewski always mentions, Duke is a beatable team and we might see one of these losses occur over the next couple of weeks. More than likely,...

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Commentary: ACC will struggle to get five bids

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Here's the good news: the start of the ACC men's basketball regular season is finally here, with five games Saturday afternoon and another Sunday evening. Here's the bad news: Just two of those games involve matchups between two teams in the national top 100, going by the Sagarin ratings. Those matchups are Miami (No. 26) at Georgia Tech (No. 72), and North Carolina (No. 46) at Virginia (No. 61). Four league schools—Clemson, Virginia Tech, Boston College and Wake, are outside the top 100, between No. 109 (Clemson) and No. 163. These numbers are not likely to fundamentally change, since for...

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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 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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