Thursday, October 30, 2008

UNC is unanamous No. 1 in Top 25 poll

For the first time since USA Today took over the coaches poll in 1991, a team is the unanimous preseason No. 1 pick.


North Carolina is No. 1 in the USA Today college basketball preseason Top 25. The Tar Heels are a unanimous choice, receiving all 31 votes and they are the first team to start back-to-back seasons as the No. 1 team in the land.

North Carolina returns its starting lineup from last season's Final Four team and added three McDonald's All-Americans. The Tar Heels are one of four ACC teams ranked in the top 25. Duke is picked No. 5, Miami is No. 16 and Wake Forest is No. 24. The full list with last year's record:

1. North Carolina (36-3)
2. Connecticut (24-9)
3. Louisville (27-9)
4. UCLA (35-4)
5. Duke (28-6)
6. Pittsburgh (27-10)
7. Michigan State (27-9)
8. Texas (31-7)
9. Notre Dame (25-8)
10. Purdue (25-9)
11. Gonzaga (25-8)
12. Memphis (38-2)
13. Tennessee (31-5)
14. Oklahoma (23-12)
15. Arizona State (21-13)
16. Miami (23-11)
17. Marquette (25-10)
18. Georgetown (28-6)
19. Florida (24-12)
20. Davidson (29-7)
T21. USC (21-12)
T21. Wisconsin (31-5)
23. Kansas (37-3)
24. Wake Forest (17-13)
25. Villanova (22-13)
Also receiving votes: UNLV (27-8) 60; Saint Mary's (25-7)59; Ohio State (24-13) 54; Baylor (21-11) 47; Xavier (30-7) 27; Syracuse (21-14) 23; LSU (13-18) 19; Texas A&M (25-11) 19; Arizona (19-15) 18; Virginia Tech (21-14) 15; Brigham Young (27-8) 13; West Virginia (26-11) 10; Siena (23-11) 8; Washington (16-17) 8; Kentucky (18-13) 7; Vanderbilt (26-8) 7; Oklahoma State (17-16) 4; Clemson (24-10) 2; Washington State (26-9) 1.

Ga. Tech coach: Shorter season sensible

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, a college basketball coach offers to give back a portion of his salary.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said he’d do it if the NCAA would shorten the college basketball season. It starts Nov. 10 in the ACC with Presbyterian at Duke.

Hewitt would prefer to start after Thanksgiving and play fewer games.

“You want to pro-rate my salary, go ahead,” Hewitt said. “I would do it tomorrow. Because it just puts a lot of stress on our guys.”

In 2006, the NCAA approved a 27-game regular-season schedule, plus an "exempt" tournament that can be up to four games. Teams that don't play an exempt tournament can play 29 regular-season games. Previously, teams played a 26-game regular season and were limited to two exempt tournaments in a four-year period. Now teams can play 31 games every season.

Hewitt said the extra games increase pressure on young men who already are struggling to manage challenging academic and athletic responsibilities.

“I do find it interesting that we talk out of both sides of our mouth about the need to graduate and the need to make sure the grades are good,” Hewitt said. “And we keep increasing the standards, but we don’t give the kids any more time to be successful.”

Following Georgia Tech’s run to the 2004 NCAA championship game, Hewitt emerged as one of college basketball’s most passionate reformers. He is the only Division I coach on a coalition of experts from across the basketball landscape who have begun an initiative to improve youth basketball in the United States.

He is a member of the NCAA’s Academic Enhancement Group, which is attempting to develop strategies to improve classroom performance in men’s basketball.

Shortening the schedule is one strategy that he believes makes sense.

“We’re putting the kids in a very, very tough spot with the amount of class time we ask them to miss,” Hewitt said. “We really infringe on their preparation time for first-semester final exams.”

– Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Davidson names team captains

Davidson has picked its team captains for the upcoming season, and if your captain is your team leader, the Wildcats are in great shape -- they have four.

The duties will be shared by senior guard Max Paulhus Gosselin, senior forward Andrew Lovedale, junior guard Stephen Curry and junior forward Stephen Rossiter. The captains are picked through a vote of the players and coaching staff.

Curry, of course, is expected to be the dominant scorer again despite switching from shooting guard to the point this season. Lovedale, following a strong NCAA tournament performance, is being counted on for frontcourt scoring and rebounding. And Paulhus Gosselin and Rossiter, both strong defenders, are expected to add to their offensive numbers with offseason improvement and increased playing time. -- Stan Olson

Winthrop's Robinson makes mark on D

Winthrop junior Mantoris Robinson had a breakout season as a sophomore, but it didn't draw a lot of notice.

While the Eagles were winning their fourth straight Big South Conference championship, others took the starring roles, scoring more points and grabbing more rebounds. Robinson, who played prep basketball at Charlotte's Butler High before finishing up at Fork Union Military, averaged 5.9 points and 4.4 rebounds. But the 6-foot-5 forward built his reputation with his defense. He wound up starting 25 of 34 games, leading the team with 29 blocked shots and regularly guarding the opponent's best offensive player.

As the new season prepares for launch, Winthrop coach Randy Peele sums Robinson up this way:

"I think a lot of our leadership will come from Mantoris. I think ultimately, he is one of the best defenders in the country."

At Butler, Robinson was an all-state performer as a senior, averaging 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals. While his scoring and leadership should increase in keeping with his new status as one of the most experienced Eagles, expect him to continue playing that remarkable "D."

The next time you watch the Eagles, keep an eye on Robinson. You'll likely see him do a lot of the little things that make a good team even better.

--Stan Olson

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Former Davidson center Knowles dies

Rodney Knowles, one of Davidson's best centers, died Saturday at age 62 in North Topsail Beach. Knowles attended Davidson from 1964 to '68, starring for coach Lefty Driesell.

Knowles, who was 6-foot-9, 215 pounds, was a quality center in his Southern Conference days, a good shooter, strong rebounder and a key to the dominant Wildcats' teams of that era, helping them to NCAA tournament appearances in 1966 and '68. He now ranks fifth on Davidson's lists in career rebounding (804) 17th in scoring (1,344 points) and 10th in scoring average (16,0 ppg). He played briefly with the NBA's Phoenix Suns.

The 1968 team lost to North Carolina 70-66 in a regional semifinal, barely missing a trip to the Final Four.

Knowles finished his Davidson career with a 51.5 field goal percentage and a 75.4 free throw mark.

In 1990, he was appointed by the state legislature to the North Topsail Beach Incorporation Committee and served as the first appointed Mayor. He later was elected the first Mayor of the newly incorporated township, serving in that position from 1990-1993 and again from 2003-2008.

Knowles was inducted into the Davidson Hall of Fame in February.

His memorial service will be held at Faith Harbor United Methodist Church on Thursday at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to Operation Topcat, P.O. Box 922, Sneads Ferry, NC, or Faith Harbor United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 2713, Surf City, NC 28445.

--Stan Olson

Monday, October 27, 2008

Catch up with Ben McCauley

Q&A with N.C. State men’s basketball center Ben McCauley (right):
How is Courtney Fells responding to his move from shooting guard to small forward?
A: He’s more of a slasher now instead of just shooting from the 3-point line, which is big because he can get up and he’s long and athletic. Not only that, but he can help with the defensive rebounds, too. He can jump and maybe get those long rebounds that Brandon (Costner) and I can’t get underneath.
Q: Did you lose weight during the offseason?
A: About five to eight pounds.
Q: How did you do it?
A: Eating right. Not eating the North Carolina food that gets you overweight. Not barbecue, stay away from the sweet teas and stuff like that. Making sure I eat right and work out every day.
Q: Coach is saying having the big guys running the floor is important to his new style?
A: It is important. Me as a five-man (center), maybe there aren’t as many five men that can run up and down. To have that advantage or slight advantage is really important.
Q: How is your post rotation working. Does it look like Tracy (Smith) is a backup to you and Dennis (Horner) is a backup to Brandon? How is that working?
A: That would be a fair assessment. I see Tracy sticking with the five man and Dennis sticking with the four man (power forward). But at the same time, I can see Brandon sliding over to the five man and Dennis at the four man. There are some different options we could throw at different teams.
Q: I hear Dennis has improved during the offseason. Is that true, and if so, how has that manifested itself?
A: Coming into the program his first couple years, he was long and lanky and kind of would get pushed around a little bit. But this offseason he has really worked on gaining some weight, getting stronger and being able to post up a little bit. Because with his height, he has an advantage on some people. So he has done a great job with that, and he’s also worked on his shot a lot. It was an off-year shooting last year, but he definitely came into this year with the idea that he has to get his shooting down.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Impressions from ACC media day

Impressions from ACC media day:

- ACC coaches seem in favor of shortening the time underclassmen have to explore their NBA draft status.
Currently players have about two months after the season’s end to decide whether to withdraw from the draft if they enter . ACC officials are proposing NCAA legislation that will require athletes to decide within a week to 10 days whether they’re returning to school.
“That 50- or 60-day period, they’ve got to shorten it,” said Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg. “It’s not fair to the kids on your team more than anything else. Is he coming back? Is he coming back because he’s not going to go high enough? Then how good a teammate is that guy going to be?”

- Coach Sidney Lowe grew tired of answering questions about N.C. State’s chemistry (or lack thereof) last season.
“I hate to put that chemistry thing out there, because I played the game and to me chemistry is when everybody is playing for one reason and accepting that role,” Lowe said. “. . .I think ours, the major thing with ours was when Farnold (Degand, the point guard) got hurt.”

- Freshman DeQuan Jones gives Miami an athlete on the wing the likes of which it hasn’t seen before under coach Frank Haith.
Jones is 6-foot-6 and 217 pounds with the potential to become a fantastic defender, according to Haith – if Jones learns concepts quickly.
“He’s a tremendous athlete, but he also has good skills,” Haith said. “He can shoot the ball. He’s a good ball handler. But he’s just a physical specimen.”

- North Carolina guard Wayne Ellington was the most noticeable omission from the preseason All-ACC team.
Teammates Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson made the team, so it would have been difficult to vote a third Tar Heel on the team with so much talent. Boston College’s Tyrese Rice, Miami’s Jack McClinton and Duke’s Gerald Henderson also made the team.
All are deserving, but nobody made more big shots last season than Ellington.

- ACC commissioner John Swofford opened the meeting by congratulating Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff for directing Team USA to the Olympic gold medal last summer in Beijing.
“(They) certainly made our country very proud,” Swofford said.
With reporters later, Krzyzewski displayed understated satisfaction about what must have been the thrill of a lifetime.
“It was pretty good,” he said.

- Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

UNC women picked to win ACC

GREENSBORO - As the ACC holds its annual women's basketball media day today, North Carolina was selected as the top preseason pick for the 2008-2009 ACC season.

The Tar Heels, winners of the past four ACC Championships, were chosen ahead of Maryland and Duke, receiving 15 of the 42 first-place votes from the conference's Blue Ribbon Panel of media members and school representatives.

UNC finished last season 33-3 overall and 14-0 in conference play. The No.1-seeded Heels advanced to the NCAA regional finals in New Orleans, losing to LSU, 56-50, in that round.

Maryland's Kristi Toliver was selected as the preseason Player of the Year, while her new teammate freshman Lynetta Kizer was selected as the preseason Rookie of the Year.

2008-09 Predicted Order of Finish

1. North Carolina (15)

2. Maryland (11)

3. Duke (4)

4. Virginia (2)

5. Florida State

6. Georgia Tech

7. Boston College

8. N.C. State

9. Clemson

10. Virginia Tech

11. Miami

12. Wake Forest

2008-09 Preseason All-ACC Team

Chante Black, Duke

Marrisa Coleman, Maryland

Rashanda McCants, North Carolina

Kristi Toliver, Maryland

Monica Wright, Virginia

Preseason Player of the Year: Kristi Toliver, Maryland

Preseason Rookie of the Year: Lynetta Kizer, Maryland

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bilas: Lowe just needs some time

During a phone conversation Tuesday, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas shared his opinions on ACC basketball and N.C. State. Here are some of his comments:

On N.C. State: “If they get guard play they’ll be fine. I’m not sure exactly what was behind some of last season where they didn’t perform like they wanted to. I attribute it more to guard play rather than personality issues. I would love to know more about why (Ben) McCauley was suspended . . . why he didn’t take the trip they took (to Toronto in August). That would bother me. . . . You want all your kids to be in with both feet and I don’t know what’s behind it. But it’s not a good sign.

“But I think Sidney (Lowe) is a good coach, and I think every guy needs some time. And he hasn’t had that yet. I’ll tell you one thing, when they let Herb Sendek walk out the door and didn’t try to stop him, most people in basketball knew they were losing a really good coach and that they were going to have to take a step back to get back to where they wanted to be.”

“This is the step-back portion. Whether they can take the step forward, we’ll see. I think they hired a good coach and a really, really good guy. They just need to give him the time. This is what they wanted and they’ve got it. They’ve got to give him the time.”

Bilas said North Carolina’s talent and experience are unmatched. Among emerging teams, he expects Miami and Wake Forest to continue improving: “(The Deacons) are young but really, really good, and it wouldn’t be a shocker to see them as the third-best team in the league. There’s nobody in the league that they can’t be competitive with.

Bilas predicted Duke will be a top-10 team: “I think Duke is going to be a lot better this year than last year, and heck, last year they won 27 games.”

He said Clemson has a good nucleus back: “(Trevor) Booker is a really good player and I think (Terrence) Oglesby is going to take a step forward. They lost some athleticism and some leadership and some real productivity. They’ll be fine and they’ll be good, but I think a lot is going to be determined by how tough some of these guys are.”

- Ken Tysiac

Friday, October 17, 2008

Notes from Tar Heels' media day

CHAPEL HILL -- Several North Carolina basketball players said it will take the entire team to replace what it will be missing from Marcus Ginyard (above) for the next couple of months — defense, rebounding, leadership.

But it will begin with senior Danny Green (right).

Coach Roy Williams said during Friday’s practice-opening media day that Green is the leading contender to replace Ginyard, who had foot surgery earlier this month. Ginyard was on crutches and in a cast Friday, hopes to be in a walking boot Monday, and should return in December.
“If we had to play a game today, I’d start Danny,’’ Williams said.

In Ginyard, he said, "you’re losing your best defender, a guy who gets more little cheap baskets, offensive rebounds, steals than anyone else on your club. You guys as writers, and us as coaches, always like to talk about somebody that does all the little things, all the dirty work and that kind of thing, so you’re missing somebody to do that early.

"But hopefully over the course of this time where he’s rehabbing and getting healthy, he might be able to sit back and look and maybe even gain something out of it.”

Green, one of the top sixth men in the country last season, has started only one game in his career. But he said he’s ready to fill the starting role, if he’s called upon. UNC opens the regular season Nov. 15 vs. Penn.

“It might be a little different; it’s something I’ve never really done before,’’ Green said. “It’s just making an adjustment. I’ve been coming off the bench and giving a spark, and now I just have to, if I do start, adjust to playing right off the bat … and be ready to play right away.”

LOOKING FOR ANOTHER YEAR: Senior guard Bobby Frasor said he is “still in the process” of applying for a fifth year of eligibility. He tore his ACL during the 12th game of last season, and was sidelined for the rest of the season.

“I just recently submitted my letter again, with my parents’ letter, to the NCAA,’’ he said. “I’m sure if I went to a D-II, D-III school, I would have another year in college. But since I’m at such a prime school, in the spotlight, I’m sure they’re going to take special consideration with my case.”

Under NCAA rules, a player who has participated in less than 30 percent of a team’s regular season games is eligible for a medical redshirt. UNC played 31 regular-season games in 2007-08, so another season of eligibility may be a long shot.

THE NUMBERS GAME: Freshmen are not allowed to talk to the media before they play in a regular-season game, so UNC’s new quartet shot baskets and watched the interviews Friday.
Forward Ed Davis will wear jersey No. 32; point guard Larry Drew II — who has “Drew II” on the back of his jersey — is No. 11; guard Justin Watts is No. 24; and forward Tyler Zeller is No. 44.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Duke to focus on endgame in scrimmage

DURHAM — Duke will focus on the art of finishing games when it suits up for the annual Blue-White scrimmage in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said they'll run two 15-minute halves, the first starting with a tie score with 15 minutes left in the game. Several players will switch sides then they'll reset the clock, again with 15 minutes remaining. Krzyzewski said he wanted to see how his players, including 11 returning letterwinners from a 28-6 team last season, reacted to free throws, pressure, etc.

"it's stuff we practice all the time but with a crowd we can have two end-of-game situations so it should be pretty good," he said. "Hopefully we win."

-- Luciana Chavez

Heels hoopsters behind football team, too

CHAPEL HILL — While most of the basketball world is predicting a national title for North Carolina’s basketball team, Roy Williams is busy forecasting wins for the football team — including an end to the Tar Heels’ 13-game losing streak at Virginia on Saturday.

“I said last week before the week we were going to beat Notre Dame and I think the streak stops this weekend, too,” Williams said. “I think that’s going to be a fun time for (football coach) Butch (Davis) and his staff. I think we’ll play great up at Virginia.”

The football team’s success was a frequent topic of discussion at the basketball team’s media day Friday, with a number of players talking about their experiences at games and their friendship with senior quarterback Cam Sexton, who is sort of the unofficial football player of the basketball team.

“(Running back Shaun Draughn) was saying how great it was that the football team was doing so good now, and how they even have basketball players coming up to them and saying they're behind them,” forward Marcus Ginyard said. “I just want to put it out there that I’ve always been behind them. It’s nothing new for me. They haven’t always been the best, but I’ve always been behind them. …

“They just have to keep it up – I have pretty good friends that go to Miami. I get to talk junk to them now. I’ve got friends who go to Virginia. Hopefully I’ll get to talk junk to them.”

-- Luke DeCock

Big South includes 2 new members

When the Big South Conference begins playing basketball next month, it will feature two new members, Gardner-Webb and Presbyterian. And GW coach Ricky Scruggs couldn’t be happier.

Gardner-Webb — you may remember that the Bulldogs won at Kentucky last year — had been playing in the Atlantic Sun Conference, where travel was a bit more difficult and the member schools might not have been as well-known to GW students. Scruggs discussed the move this week.

“I think it helps us in a couple of easy ways,” he said. “This cuts down on our travel; the Atlantic Sun was good to us, gave us a home when we didn’t have a home. And now we hope we have a permanent home in the Big South; that’s where we really wanted to be.”

The Big South offers three other North Carolina schools.

“I think the rivalries of being that close to Winthrop and that close to UNC-Asheville and High Point, it’s going to create an atmosphere where our students can go to away games and have more people from (other schools) coming to our home games,” Scruggs said.

Gardner-Webb is located in Boiling Springs, not far from Shelby.

Kentucky isn’t on the schedule this year, but the Bulldogs will play at Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Wichita State and Kansas State. The big boys better pay attention.

The win in Lexington, by the way, brought Scruggs phone calls from Bobby Knight and former Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall, among many others.

“I probably got a thousand phone calls and a thousand emails, easily,” Scruggs said.

— Stan Olson

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Davidson set for more madness?

As Davidson prepares to run through its “Midnight Madness” session Friday night in Belk Arena, you can’t help but remember last season’s stunning Wildcats’ run to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight, when the team finished a basket shy of the Final Four.

Which brings up an interesting statistic, with a big $.

Davidson’s college book store had been averaging $1,700 in daily sales prior to Sunday, March 23, according to the Davidson Journal, an alumni publication. On Wednesday, March 26, the first day that “Sweet Sixteen” T-shirts were available, the store did $35,000 worth of business.

Not only that, after the win over Georgetown, the phrase “Davidson College” was No.1 on Googletrends’ list of most-searched words. It’s “hotness trend” was “volcanic.”

One player said that he received 1,800 Facebook “friend” requests.

And finally, after the heartbreaking loss to Kansas, the team arrived home at 3 a.m., Monday, March 31. All 15 players made it to their first class that day.
—Stan Olson

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Winthrop set for 'challenging' schedule

Beat a few teams you’re not expected to and scheduling becomes that much harder. Just check out the interesting names on Winthrop’s non-conference schedule this season, particularly on the road.

The Eagles play at Florida, Davidson, Charlotte, South Carolina, N.C. State, Old Dominion and Akron. They have home games out of the league with East Carolina and the College of Charleston.

“The schedule is very challenging, but it’s also the result of winning 21 games a year for the last 10 years,” coach Randy Peele said at Tuesday’s Big South Conference media day. “It’s somewhat difficult to get games.

“I like playing a tough schedule. I think your weaknesses become exposed early, so you that you know how to develop your team, and the bottom line is three days in March (the conference tournament).

"So we’re going to compete to be the regular-season champion in this league and the tournament champion as well.”

Winthrop opens the regular season Nov.14, with a home game against North Greenville.

- Stan Olson

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Winthrop men, women top picks in polls

After a one-year hiatus, Winthrop men’s basketball team and Liberty women’s basketball squads were chosen first in the Big South Conference’s annual preseason poll, as voted by the league's head coaches and media panel. The announcements were made today at the Embassy Suites hotel in Concord as part of the 2008-09 Basketball Tip-Off Media Luncheon.

Winthrop, which won its fourth consecutive Big South championship last season, received nine first-place votes and 202 total points to finish first in the 10-team race in 2008-09. The Eagles have won 20 games in each of the last four seasons, and return six letterwinners and two starters from last year’s club. The men’s preseason balloting was highly contested, as seven squads received at least one first-place vote.

Radford, which finished seventh in 2007-08, is predicted second this year after receiving seven first-place votes and 189 total points. It is the Highlanders’ highest placing in the preseason poll since being predicted second in 2001-02. New Big South member Gardner-Webb was third in the voting with 188 points (three first-place votes), ahead of No. 4 Liberty (two first-place votes and 148 points).

High Point received the fifth spot in the poll with 132 points and one first-place vote, while Charleston Southern was predicted sixth with 128 points (one first-place vote). VMI received the remaining first-place vote from the panel and finished seventh with 110 points, just ahead of No. 8 Coastal Carolina (107 points).

UNC Asheville, which was the Big South’s co-regular-season champion in 2007-08, was predicted to finish ninth with 83 points. New member Presbyterian, which is eligible for the men’s basketball regular-season title, received the 10th and final spot in the poll with 33 points.

On the women’s side, Liberty received 17 of the 19 first-place votes cast and finished with 169 total points to repeat as champion in 2008-09. The Lady Flames welcome back eight letterwinners and three starters from last year’s NCAA tournament squad.

Winthrop, which is coming off a school Division I record for wins (20), was picked second behind Liberty with 143 points (one first-place vote) – the Eagles’ highest spot ever in the preseason poll. The previous best was third in 1996 and 1997.

High Point finished third in the voting with 129 points, while Radford received the remaining first-place vote and placed fourth with 116 points. UNC Asheville is predicted to finish fifth (75 points), while Coastal Carolina and new Conference member Gardner-Webb tied for the sixth spot with 73 points each.

Charleston Southern finished eighth (55 points) and new League member Presbyterian, which is eligible for the women’s basketball regular-season title, rounds out the preseason poll in ninth-place with 22 points from the panel.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Davidson adds Guilford to its schedule

Davidson has added a game to its basketball schedule. The Wildcats, who are expected to contend for another Southern Conference title this season, will play Guilford Nov. 14 at 9 p.m. in the Wildcats' Belk Arena. The late start is because the school has a women's volleyball game with Wofford scheduled for 7, creating an athletic doubleheader.

Guilford is a member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference, an NCAA Division III league. The Quakers were 24-5 last season.--STAN OLSON

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Curry, Davidson's Madness to be on ESPNU

ESPNU will feature Davidson in its expanded Midnight Madness coverage on Oct. 17. Also involved in the four hours of coverage will be Kansas, Georgetown, Gonzaga and Indiana, among others.

The network's coverage will begin at 9 p.m.

Davidson, though, will be one of the five schools -- all of whom played in last year's NCAA Tournament--whose sessions will be most prominently featured. There will be practice coverage, analysis, and courtside interviews with the head coach and key players from each team.

Coach Bob McKillop's Wildcats, led by junior guard Stephen Curry (right), are coming off of a trip the tournament's Elite Eight, where they lost a tight game to Kansas.

--Stan Olson

Tar Heels' Ginyard out 8 weeks

CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina forward Marcus Ginyard will be sidelined for at least eight weeks after having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot Wednesday, the school announced.

Doctors inserted a screw in his fifth left metatarsal, according to the news release.

Ginyard, the starting small forward, averaged 6.9 points and 4.5 rebounds last season and has been named the team's Defensive Player of the Year each of the past two seasons. He also contributes a key leadership role, and played most of last season despite hobbling around in a walking boot on his left foot because of a nagging injury to his left toe. The injuries are related, a team spokesman confirmed.

"You hate this for Marcus because he has worked so hard to get ready for his senior season, but he decided it was better to have the surgery now and be ready sometime in December, than risk a more substantial injury that would knock him of of action later in the season,'' UNC coach Roy Williams said in a prepared statement. "We will miss his play on both ends of the floor as well as his leadership with the young players. I am hopeful others will step forward to fill those roles. Marcus has been a joy to coach and I look forward to his return."

With Ginyard sidelined, senior Danny Green — one of the top sixth men in the country last season — will likely slide into the starting slot. The Tar Heels begin practice Oct. 17.

North Carolina, a Final Four favorite again after losing in the national semifinals last season, will still boast one of the deepest teams in the country. They return their seven of their top eight players — including consensus National Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough — and add a four-man freshman class.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Duke to hold open practice Oct. 17

DURHAM — Eager to see if Miles Plumlee really is the answer to Duke's inside game? You can watch the Blue Devils stage their first official practice of the 2008-09 season on Oct. 17.

Cameron Indoor Stadium will open at 4 p.m. Practice begins at 5 p.m. Fans will be allowed to sit in the upper level and should enter the building at the South entrance. Duke's Blue-White Scrimmage will be played on Oct. 18.

Starters Greg Paulus (right), Jon Scheyer, Gerald Henderson and Kyle Singler return from last season's 28-6 team that lost to West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

-- Luciana Chavez