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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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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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Why does the ACC basketball preseason last forever?

Posted By on Fri, Dec 7, 2012 at 9:01 AM

The 2012-13 college basketball season has now been going on for a month. Most league teams began play on Friday Nov. 9; tomorrow is Saturday, Dec. 8, and features 10 games involving conference teams. That's right, 10 nonconference games on a Saturday, a month into the season. A look at the schedule reveals that this might well be the dullest full day in ACC basketball history (leaving aside the first day of the ACC Tournament since the move to 12 schools). To be sure, there is one game of legitimate national interest: Duke takes on unbeaten Temple at its satellite...

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

On-again, off-again Tar Heel shooters seek consistency

Posted By on Thu, Dec 6, 2012 at 3:28 PM

You can’t say they’re slumping. If anything, North Carolina’s three-point shooters have opened the 2012-13 season on fire. After two years of disappointing accuracy, the Heels finally have rediscovered the touch that enabled them to strike offensive balance during the 2007-09 era. Carolina has shot threes better on a percentage basis than even Duke — 38-37 —which sports an undefeated record and No. 2 national ranking. And yet, the Heels themselves have appeared spotty out of the gate. They’ve yet to defeat a top-100 opponent and in their two defeats fell behind by 29 points to both Indiana and Butler,...

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Who's No. 1? Zeller and the Indiana Hoosiers poll-blocking Plumlee and the Blue Devils

Posted By on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 9:16 AM

When this week’s Top 25 college basketball polls were released, the most baffling thing was that regardless of the 8-0, No. 2-ranked Duke Blue Devils having defeated three top-five teams in November (something that no other team has ever achieved) they still weren’t able to land the country’s No. 1 spot in either the AP or USA Today polls. Last Saturday, after Duke’s 80-55 win over Delaware and inside what Coach Kryzewski has recently dubbed “Club Cameron”, the Cameron Crazies hoisted a poster that read “What Does It Take to Be Number 1?”, which also pictured the team logos of...

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Could Wake Forest be the biggest loser in new, expanded ACC?

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 9:19 AM

File photo by D.L. AndersonWake Forest soccer player Julian Valentin, after the Demon Deacons won the 2007 College Cup in Cary's WakeMed Soccer Park. As expected, the ACC moved swiftly in the past week to replace Maryland. Louisville is in, and conference presidents almost certainly made the right choice in picking the Cardinals over UConn and Cincinnati. But UConn and Cincy need not despair entirely. The league is now at 15 schools for basketball and 14 for football, and logic might dictate an eventual move to an even 16. On the other hand, logic doesn’t seem to play much of...

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Harsh comparisons pester Tar Heels after devastating losses

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 8:45 AM

File photo by Jeremy M. LangeThree guards, three outcomes from 2010-11 season. Only Dexter Strickland, center, remains with the Tar Heels.North Carolina’s 5-2 record looks okay on paper. The Tar Heels finished 2-1 at the Maui Invitational and, as expected, fell to No. 1 Indiana on the road. The squad returns to Chapel Hill for five of its next six games, enabling them to pad their record further in preparation for the ACC schedule. But the two defeats left the fan base shaken. First was Butler, which restricted the Heels to just 18 points in the first half en route...

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Of mai tais and men: The battle 4 college home hoops

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Atlantis might be rediscovered, but major non-conference home hoops is going extinctIt’s the 28th of November, nearly three weeks since the tipoff of the 2012-13 NCAA basketball season, and North Carolina has played more game in Hawaii than Chapel Hill, N.C. State more in Puerto Rico than PNC Arena, and tonight’s game at Cameron Indoor Stadium will even up the times Duke has played in Durham with those at a casino resort in the Bahamas. Welcome to the world of NCAA Bylaw 17.3.5.1.1, aka the Qualifying Regular-Season Multi-Team Event (MTE). While early-season and holiday tournaments are as venerable as college...

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Monday, November 26, 2012

The greatness of Quinn Cook's face

Posted By on Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 12:01 AM

Photo by D.L. AndersonQuinn Cook drives during a game earlier this season against Florida Gulf Coast University.“The main thing that Quinn has done is that he hasn’t shown any weakness. He has a great face, a great demeanor and he’s in incredible shape.” — Coach K on Duke point guard and Battle4Atlantis MVP Quinn Cook Over the extended Thanksgiving weekend, Duke beat three defensive-minded teams in three days to win the dumb-sounding Battle4Atlantis tournament, held in a converted ballroom of a Bahamas’ resort. Minnesota fell first and looked kind of terrible, especially on offense. Then came Virginia Commonwealth University, who...

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Maryland, Tom O'Brien gone: Is loyalty just a thing of the past?

Posted By on Sun, Nov 25, 2012 at 2:53 PM

File photo by Al DragoTom O'Brien in 2011There once was a Duke football coach who had back-to-back winning seasons and then got fired, apparently for not winning quite enough to make his athletic director happy. 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...

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Friday, November 23, 2012

ESPN, the force that makes all that is solid melt into air

Posted By on Fri, Nov 23, 2012 at 6:19 PM

This week ESPN announced that it has won bidding rights to the four-team NCAA football “playoff” scheduled to begin in 2014. That’s a $5.6 billion deal over 12 years. 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...

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Tar Heels forge divergent identity through early games

Posted By on Fri, Nov 23, 2012 at 11:24 AM

File photo by D.L. AndersonReggie Bullock is one of UNC's few experienced players.Fans hoping to watch anything resembling typical Carolina basketball may want to entrench themselves at ACC or NCAA Vault. The 2012-13 edition of the Tar Heels are recovering from personnel from a team last season that included four stars: Tyler Zeller, Kendall Marshall, John Henson and Harrison Barnes. 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...

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Will the Wolfpack avoid generational divide?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 21, 2012 at 12:32 PM

File photo by Al DragoAfter winning the 1993 NCAA national championship, the North Carolina Tar Heels entered the 1993-94 campaign with one of their most talented squads in school history. Gone was senior leader George Lynch, but joining four returning starters from the national championship team were highly touted freshmen Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Jeff McInnis. However, it’s said that friction between the decorated upperclassmen and the brash newcomers brought dissension to the locker room. The team lost more games than the previous season and, shockingly, were knocked out in the second round of the NCAA tournament by Boston...

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Bill Friday, 1920-2012, educator and champion of athletics reform

Posted By on Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 3:32 PM

File photo by Jeremy M. LangeBill Friday in 2011William Clyde Friday, University of North Carolina President Emeritus, has died at the age of 92. His death was announced by Virginia Taylor, his longtime personal assistant. Friday's passing will be carefully, respectfully and lovingly noted by generations of UNC faculty, administrators, students and alumni, as well as statewide political figures and educational leaders from around the country. Earlier today, former Gov. Jim Hunt declared that Friday “was the greatest man of our generation,” while UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp said, “North Carolina has lost one of its most remarkable citizens in Bill...

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Updating the hypothetical NASL "Clausura": It's a two-team race between Tampa Bay and Carolina

Posted By on Mon, Sep 17, 2012 at 5:09 PM

nasl.com We're heading into the final weekend of regular season NASL play, and all six playoff spots in the eight-team league have been claimed, with teams having either one or two games to play. Last week, we conducted a thought experiment in which we recast this season under the schedule format that will take effect next year. In the interest of seeing it through to its completion, we have updated the Clausura schedule. But first, let's review the standings according to the official table, shown above. Atlanta and Edmonton are the odd ones out. Sorry Eddies, sorry Silverbacks (Chiefs?). The...

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Monday, September 10, 2012

A thought experiment: What would NASL's split-season plan look like this season?

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2012 at 6:29 PM

File photo by Chris BairdWakeMed Soccer Park, in wide angleLast week, the North American Soccer League (NASL), which represents the second tier of the North American game, announced what amounts to a radical restructuring of the competition’s format. In its first two seasons, the eight teams of NASL have played 28-game seasons, followed by a three-round, six-team elimination playoff. But beginning next year, the league will play two short round-robin competitions of 14 games apiece. The winners of the two competitions will meet in a single-game championship final. As Neil Morris noted last week, the new format bears a strong...

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Monday, March 19, 2012

March Madness: on Marshall and the Media, Lehigh and Loss, Elton and the Boss

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Photo by Al DragoKendall Marshall, before the fall. 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...

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hoop Cheese: Why you should see Joe Nocera Wednesday, and why all hell could break loose Monday

Posted By on Sat, Mar 10, 2012 at 11:50 AM

It's Saturday morning in March in North Carolina. Bradford pears are blooming, young people are in love and the ACC tournament in Atlanta is shaping up to be the most interesting and consequential it's been in years. It was an inauspicious beginning on Thursday. The referees got taken to task for their forlorn effort to express solidarity with the charming Karl Hess. If it hadn't been for the vigilance of bored, resentful reporters courtside, their act of defiance would have gone completely unnoticed by history. And yes, the Philips Arena was pretty much empty beyond a few family members and...

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hoop Cheese: Is there a basketball game today, or looking beyond Duke and UNC

Posted By on Sat, Mar 3, 2012 at 1:55 PM

File photo by D.L. AndersonDuke fans in April 2010, after watching the NCAA title game versus ButlerAh, Duke and UNC, the rematch. Two treats that occur twice a year, in quick succession. Just like Christmas is followed a week later by New Year's Eve, just like Memorial Day is followed a month later by Independence Day, just like Valentine's Day is followed by... you get the idea. Yes, there's a game tonight in Cameron Indoor Stadium. You don't have tickets, so you'll be watching ESPN at 7 p.m., at a safe distance from Dick Vitale's expectorant and the body odor...

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Taylor Branch: UNC coaches won't let their players talk to me

Posted By on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 10:43 AM

File photo by Jeremy M. LangeUNC's Horned Dorset sheep mascotSONJA HAYNES STONE CENTER/ CHAPEL HILL—A packed house crammed the Sonja Haynes Stone Center Theater at UNC last night for a panel discussion titled “Big-Time Sports: What Needs to Change?” Moderated by Will Blythe, author of the irreverent chronicle of the Duke-UNC basketball rivalry To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever, the panelists included former UNC president William Friday, Duke professor and author (most recently of Big-Time Sports in American Universities) Charles Clotfelter and UNC alum and Pulitzer Prize winner Taylor Branch. Branch fundamentally changed the national dialogue about...

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hoop Cheese weekend special: The not-in-Hollywood edition

Posted By on Sat, Feb 25, 2012 at 12:45 PM

You know how people say, "It's five o'clock somewhere"? Well, it's in that sense that we say it's a big weekend somewhere. Maybe in Los Angeles, for example? But there are a lot of bouncing balls to chase before we bunk down in front of our teevees Sunday night. Mike Potter tells us that the women's teams have had their post-season fates signed, sealed and delivered, but for one small matter. And Adam Sobsey is, at this very moment (12:19 p.m.) gawking at the stars and tweeting like mad from courtside at Cameron. Wave to him if you turn on...

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Hoop Cheese: Are ACC referees really that bad; superior underdog mentalities and more

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 8:11 PM

File photo by George A. Hoffman Jr.Referees who were not involved in N.C. State's loss to Duke Thursday night. It's been about 21 hours since the valiant dreams of the N.C. State Wolfpack were snuffed out pitilessly by referees under the spell of the legendary charm of Michael William Krzyzewski. Honestly, we're still sifting through the rubble here at Triangle Offense. Our friend, co-worker and co-spectator Bob Geary is usually too busy with real journalism and tracking the movements of redistricted Democrats to tell us the awesome things he knows about basketball, but even he had to send a note...

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Hoop Cheese: The Duke-UNC fallout, and why did NC State get left out of the realignment fun?

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Photo by Al DragoDid someone in Durham get news about the Facebook IPO?This week's Hoop Cheese edition has so many words in it, not even Austin Rivers could say them while scoring 29 points in a hostile gym. You may have heard there was a Duke-UNC basketball game in Chapel Hill. That one came down to a buzzer-beater. There was one in Durham, too, on Monday. There was no need to beat the buzzer in that one, as the Duke women hammered Sylvia Hatchell's Tar Heels 96-56. Mike Potter gives us the lay of the land, the high ground of...

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Hoop Cheese: The Twitter of our discontent, and getting ready for Duke-UNC bonfires

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2012 at 12:10 PM

File photo by D.L. AndersonCelebrating victory over Butler. April 5, 2010.Groundhog Day came and went with the usual scorn for the holiday and our annual renewed appreciation of the minor masterpiece Bill Murray and company slipped into theaters 19 years ago. The pagans among us recall that Groundhog Day is a manifestation of the ancient practice of watching the sun go down. Forty-some days after the winter solstice marks the lowest point in meaningless non-conference games, Feb. 2 tells us that spring is on the way, and that we're halfway to the midpoint of March Madness. But spring is only...

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hoop Cheese: The Blacksburg redemption? and other thoughts about UNC's terrible week

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 1:39 PM

File photo by Arianna HoffmannUNC benchwarmers prepare to enter a game during garbage time last season.What’s the matter with UNC? That’s the leading question of the week. Duke and N.C. State didn’t make much news this week, so we’re all Tar Heels today. To recap: The men’s and women’s basketball teams contrived to lose two games Sunday and Monday by an aggregate margin of 84 points. Not good for two teams with an aggregate record of 28-8. Mike Potter tells us that the women have been battling injuries, and too much shouldn’t be read into the 86-35 drubbing they received...

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