While I haven’t had time to post, this has been a great week of college ball.
Louisville came to the Dean Dome and the Heart Attack Heels topped the Cards by one point (72-71) with Marcus Paige’s shot in the last seconds.
On top of that, for the last two Duke games, I had the privilege of seeing red while visiting diddukewin.com. Their first loss was at the hands of the unranked Wolfpack at the PNC Arena. It was at PNC, in March, when the Mercer Bears handed Duke their last loss. I was jumping and yelling as NC State pulled off that victory!
Last night, the Miami Hurricanes blew into Cameron and upset the Devils at home. This is Duke’s first loss at home since 2012 and Miami’s third win over ranked opponents this season!
Tonight, is the Battle for the Wes Miller Bobblehead- every time UNC meets NCSU the outcome of the game decides if our bobblehead will reside at the Colonna or the Newkirk house. Wes has come home with me for the last two Tar Heel victories and D feels with the Duke win the Pack is poised for greatness tonight. The Red-Blue game is at the same time that UNCG meets VMI at home, so it is double basketball for us tonight!
Go Heels! Go Spartans!
Ohhhh, a day ful of basketball is always a good day! I am trying to get my dissertation material in order, but I keep getting distracted by basketball.
Three out of four NC schools made it through today. Duke beat Albany…blah, blah…I was rooting for Albany. Miami gave a master class to Pacific. It was a hard pounding, but Pacific actually did pretty well.
UNC, per usual, blew a 19 point lead by playing down to the level of their opponents managing to win by 7. I love the Heels. I love to watch them play, but when another teams wants to set the basketball level low UNC obliges by playing at that level. During the middle part of the game, they let Nova set the pace and it was not in their favor. In the second half, Roy did pull all five of his starters for a heart to heart. This is a tactic that has been used to portray that he means business (like in 2008 vs BC….that even made it into the 2009 video for Late Night with Roy). When he put his starting five back in this evening they perked up and pulled this game back on track. Heels, get a good night’s sleep…it may not be that easy on Sunday.
NCSU fell to Temple. The play was up and down and there were times that it felt like the Pack were not in it to win it. They seemed distracted. The Owls were able to shut Wood down and the rest of the team could not pick up his scoring slack. This ends the Wolfpack’s run on the 30th anniversary of their National Championship. They are loosing some great players, but will come back strong next season.
Other upsets of the day came when LaSalle beat K-State and Ole Miss sent Wisconsin packing. That is what this round is all about! Many times the seeds predict who will win, until they don’t. Then you have good basketball and players wanting the season not to end. I was surprised by the Badger loss, I was expecting a Wisconsin/OSU showdown (I had OSU on top).
The most fun game of the day to watch was #2 Georgetown’s stunning loss to #15 FGCU. It is hard to predict when a #15 will upend a #2 , but today marks the 7th time it has happened. FGCU was the first team into the Big Dance this year, their conference was won on March 9th, and I said from the beginning I was rooting for this team. After only 6 years as a D1 school, they beat Miami at the beginning of the season and took Duke into overtime. This team is fast and athletic. People may not have taken them as seriously as their statistics might have suggested, but they are ready to play and have no fear on the court. They are dunking machines! Both #20 and #23 put on amazing shows tonight. Both dunks deserve to be in the nightly top ten as they were playing in FGCU Dunk City today Ba-aby (I imagine you will say that last line in Dickie V’s voice)!
Tomorrow will bring more good ball. I am particularly ready for the VCU-Michigan match up.
As many of you know, Derrick, Pj, and I have three season tickets to UNCG’s men’s basketball games, but we only got one Wes Miller Bobblehead. We decided that every time UNC and NCSU meet up the bobblehead would be on the line. Winner gets to keep Wes until the next game. Unfortunately, Wes had been hanging out at the Newkirk house because the Heels dropped the first game to the Pack, but we were ready to win him back on Saturday night!
This was a decidedly different game than the first meeting. UNC was ready to play (all 40 minutes) and there were time where NCSU (led by Leslie) could not get it together. For the Heels, Bullock gave us his second double double of the season scoring 22 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. First year player Marcus Paige seems to really be settling into the point guard role- a tough one to be sure- as there were moments of greatness where he was leading the Heels on the court and a few pull up shooters that caused the crowd to go wild. The Heels were not stellar from the foul line this game. The did not make it to the line at all in the first half and in the second it was 11 for 16. Less than 70%, at the ACC level (really any college level) 70% should be baseline.
Roy did pull his entire regular line up for a talk in the second half. I really like to see this when it happens and coaches pull hard on the reigns. The starters came back in and played to their full potential for the rest of the game.
For the Red and Black, it is hard to fault the play of Richard Howell (was that a beard trim that he was sporting?). He had 13 points and 17 rebounds and the Pack lead the Heels in rebounding overall (43-34). Brown had a good game, but with only 6 points CJ Leslie felt out of synch and controlled by this UNC defense. It did not help that the pack went 6 of 13 from the foul line (46.2%).
In other basketball happenings: Dennis Rodman is going to North Korea for some basketball diplomacy. Kim Jong Un is a big basketball fan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls was his favorite team growing up. Along with some Harlem Globetrotters, Rodman is going to see if human connections can be made on the court where they are not being made by the politicians. Is it crazy that I was most shocked that Rodman is 51! Of course he is, but it just seems like yesterday he was playing with rainbow hair and promoting his book wearing a wedding dress.
And the reason that the game is really important often show up on high school basketball courts that double as auditoriums, not the big league sports complexes. In El Paso, a high school basketball manager got his moment to shine with the unlikeliest of help…an inbound from the other team! If this does not make you love the game, what will?
I got a bit of a surprise today when my class got out early. On my way home I was behind a Lotus and at first mistook it for an Eclipse with a bad body kit on it! Oops, not sure that the Lotus folks would like that…
When I turned on ESPNU there was live feed from the NCSU practice facility, Coach Gottfried was miked up, and there was running commentary from experts. I did not know that live practice on ESPN was a thing, but it was an enjoyable way to maximize the free time that I did not anticipate having. Coach was telling Calvin Leslie (he does not call him CJ) to make himself better with every exercise and the Pack was concentrating on defense in anticipation of the UConn game. This game is the culmination of Jimmy V week and in honor of the 30th anniversary of NCSU winning the National Championship led by Coach Valvano. The players will be wearing a commemorative jersey that honors that win. In place of their names on the back the quote, “don’t ever give up” will be displayed. I think that is not a bad idea. It can help remind your players, in the words of UNCG’s Wes Miller, “it’s the name on the front [of the jersey] and not on the back that counts.” Team play is important even when you have superstar players on the team (think Tyler Hansbrough, Michael Jordan, or even Cody Zeller). Being reminded of that is important. That came through in Coach Gottfried’s practice today. He asked his athletes, “do you want to be coached hard?” At first, I thought that was an odd question. As an elite college player in a premier league, I thought getting coached hard would be a given. With reflection, and a little chatter from the EPSN commentators, many of these players have been the stars of their high schools or league and don’t know the difference between being coached and being critiqued (something I see in many of my own classrooms). I like that Coach G is taking the time to work on that concept!
This is a busy time of year for me- as a student, as an instructor, and as an employee-but there is so much basketball going on! Last night, the Spartans dropped a game 90-79 to cross town rivals NC A&T. There was lots of hustle on the court, but UNCG could not get simple shots to fall. I think layup practice might be in order for the Spartans. Kelvin McNeil showed some strong Spartan leadership on the court last night, both offensively and defensively I am pretty sad that we only get to watch this smart player for one year. Another stand out was first year player Kayel Locke. He scored a career high 22 points and had hustle on both ends of the court. I look forward to watching Locke mature as a player and team leader. Both teams were respectable in their free throw percentages: NC A&T at 72% and UNCG at 75%, but as a testament to the hard fought game the Aggies attempted 47 FT (making 34) and the Spartans attempted 40 (making 30). The ref’s whistles got a workout last night!
The ACC-Big Ten Challenge wrapped up with it’s first ever tie. So the series stands at 10 for the ACC, 3 for the Big Ten and this year’s 6-6 toss up. So, the rules state that in an event of a tie the previous year’s winner (Big Ten) retain the title. ACC needs to work a little harder to get that one back! Of course, what the ACC is going to look like this time next year is anyone’s guess. Yesterday, Louisville was taken into the ACC on the heels of the Maryland exit. That means that I have to watch more of Coach Patino (ugg), but hopefully this means the conference shuffle is over. I guess this is fine, as conferences are leaving their regional roots, but I don’t want to loose things like in-state rivals and traditional venues.