Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bobby Lutz emerges as a leading candidate for College of Charleston job

   Bobby Lutz, associate head basketball coach at N.C. State and a former coach of the Charlotte 49ers, has emerged as a leading candidate to become the College of Charleston's next coach, the Observer has learned.

   Lutz has been in discussions with the College of Charleston about its vacancy the past several days and formally interviewed for the position a second time on Friday, a source close to the process confirmed. The school fired Doug Wojcik on Aug. 5 after two investigations discovered allegations of verbal and physical abuse against the former head coach.

   Two  other candidates for the position removed their names from consideration on Wednesday.

    Lutz, 56, is set to begin his fourth season on coach Mark Gottfried’s staff at N.C. State and his third year as associate head coach. The Wolfpack advanced to its third straight NCAA tournament and ended the season with a 22-14 record. 

   Sources said the College of Charleston has also spoke to Clemson assistant Earl Grant about the position. The school expects to make a decision by the middle of next week, sources said.

   At N.C. State, Lutz is in charge of the advanced scouting and defensive game-planning. Gottfried also has given Lutz a lot of responsibility with the team’s preparation.

   The College of Charleston competes in the Colonial Athletic Association.

   - Jim Utter

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Davidson's De'Mon Brooks named SoCon Player of the Year

Davidson senior forward De’Mon Brooks is the SoCon men’s basketball player of the year for the second time in his career.

Brooks leads Davidson with 18.4 points per game and seven rebounds per game. He won the award in 2012 and he becomes in the first player in the history of the award to win it multiple times without winning it in consecutive seasons.

Brooks is third in the conference in scoring and sixth in rebounding. Davidson (19-11) went 15-1 in conference play and earned the No. 1 seed in this week’s conference tournament.

This is the third consecutive year a Davidson player has won the award. Forward Jake Cohen won it last season.

--Jonathan Jones

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Boeheim jokes about food in the Carolinas, confirms ACC allegiance

Winston-Salem In his first trip to the Carolinas as a coach of an ACC team, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim just couldn’t help himself.

In 2011, Boeheim made a quip about the conference tournament being held in Greensboro, and last year the coach side-swiped Clemson with a comment about Denny’s restaurants in the town.

Wednesday after the Orange’s 67-57win at Wake Forest, Boeheim made another food comment, and this time he (perhaps jokingly) forgot what North Carolina city he was in.

“It’s amazing, I came here, I had the best Italian dinner last night and I thought during the game that was all I was going to get in Greensboro… Winston-Salem… wherever we are, Winston-Salem,” Boeheim said. “Best Italian dinner I’ve had in a long time and who would have thought it? Winston-Salem. I should name the restaurant but then I’d be in trouble. Simon’s the owner. It’s a little place. I didn’t even get the name of it.

“I tell it like it is. We have good restaurants, and I’ve had good food everywhere I’ve been in the south. I just make a joke and everyone thinks I mean it. You can’t make jokes anymore. At Clemson I had the best meal I’ve ever had on the road and last night was a New York City Italian dinner, it was that good. But really, we don’t go places for the food.”

Boeheim then launched into an unprompted defense of his allegiance to the ACC. Syracuse left the Big East and joined the ACC in 2013, and since then Boeheim has taken a handful of perceived slights at the league.

“I said from the beginning this is a great league, we’re happy to be in it,” he said. “The only thing, the only thing, that we miss would be the tournament being in New York City because that’s where all of our people are and it’s a great venue. But that’s one event. And we’ve lost there in the first round on more than one occasion. So that’s the only thing. This league is a tremendous league. It’s going to only get better and better with time. It’s a tremendous basketball league.”

Asked if he enjoyed coming to the Carolinas, the 38th-year coach gave a thoughtful response.

“You know, I mean, every game we’ve played since I’ve been coaching, before we were in the league and in the league, they’re all tough. It’s all tough basketball. Great crowds,” Boeheim said. “And I’ve played at N.C. State, and I’ve played Duke in Raleigh (as a player in 1966) and we’ve played in the south all my coaching career. There are great venues here and tough places, but it’s about the players and Lou Carnesecca told me those fans, they’re not scoring any points. Of course he had Chris Mullen and Walter Berry then so he wasn’t worried about anybody. Great venues, I think there’s a good side to it. Good teams, they get excited about it and ready to go and the crowd will get a good player going. And if you have bad players it doesn’t matter whether you have a good crowd or not. You got bad players you’re not going to win anyway.”

So far the Carolinas have been good to Boeheim. Of the 12,523 in attendance last night, at least 2,000 were dressed in orange.

“I was shocked,” he said. “In Florida we had about 4,000 but they all live down there, they’re all from Syracuse. I don’t know where these people honestly came from.”
--Jonathan Jones

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Duke vs. Bowie State: What to watch for in exhibition basketball

Saturday at 1 p.m., while I'm finishing up my drive into the mountains of Southwest Virginia for football, the basketball team will take the floor back in Durham for the season's first exhibition game, vs. Bowie State. Here's a quick list of things to watch for (the final score isn't one of them--exhibition basketball is more about the means than the end)

Pace of play Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has talked about how he wants the Blue Devils to push tempo and get up and down the floor. Tyler Thornton told us scribes at media day that Krzyzewski normally pushes them to double their speed in practice. Last year's Duke team averaged 69.4 possessions per game, which ranked 116th out of 347 Division-I teams. Look for that number to rise.

Now, watching Duke play its first exhibition game won't be the final word on how quick they will go, as much of the second half (if not all of it) will be non-competitive basketball. But it will be interesting to see how many possessions the Blue Devils log in the first half.

Starting five Barring anything totally out of left field, I can tell you which four players are sure bets to start: Quinn Cook, Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker and Amile Jefferson. That leaves one spot for either Rasheed Sulaimon or Andre Dawkins. As hard as it is to believe Sulaimon might not keep his starting spot from last year, all preseason indications point to Dawkins getting that final spot.

Again, another caveat: who starts in exhibition play isn't certain to stick until the season opener on Nov. 8 against Davidson. Alex Murphy started both of last year's exhibition games. Those were his only starts on the year

Off the bench rotation So after the starting five, who else gets in the first half of the game? Kryzewski has said this team could be deeper than typical Duke teams (which I feel like gets said every year). Maybe, though, with the full-court press that will be employed this year, that will come to fruition. It's hard to imagine Thornton, Sulaimon/Dawkins (whoever doesn't start) and Josh Hairston not logging meaningful minutes, since all did last year. And what about newcomers Semi Ojeleye and Matt Jones? It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Official visits Really, this should be at the top of my list, because make no mistake about it: the most important thing for Duke basketball this weekend is that the visits of PG Tyus Jones, C Jahlil Okafor and SF Justise Winslow go well. All rank in the top 15 of the class of 2014, and Jones and Okafor are rated No. 1 at their respective positions (with Okafor No. 1 overall as well). Jones and Okafor have long insisted they are a package deal ( more on that here), and Winslow has suggested he would like to play with them, too. Should the Blue Devils land their commitments in November, they will be the early frontrunners for the 2014-15 title, regardless of who on the current team stays or goes.

For all the latest Duke news, like Duke NOW on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

-- Laura Keeley

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Syracuse's Jim Boeheim: 'Duke is a rival'

CHARLOTTE -- Remember when Jim Boeheim was unhappy Syracuse was leaving the Big East?

That's all in the past now.

It's not that hard of a transition to come here," Boeheim said Wednesday at the ACC's media day in Charlotte. "If we would have left 20 years ago, I would have had trouble with it."

The Orange were founding members of the Big East in 1979, but Boeheim's time in Syracuse stretches back to 1962. There were rivalries before the Big East, and there will certainly be rivalries now, after its demise.

"Before the Big East, St. John's was our rival," Boeheim said. "We got in the Big East, and Georgetown became our rival, and St. John's still, and then Connecticut popped up, and then Pittsburgh popped up and then Louisville popped up. So, it's who is good in those years, that's your rival. It doesn't take 10 years.

"A rivalry can happen like that," he said, snapping his fingers. "One game, you can have a rivalry, and that's what will happen. Our fans already think Duke's a rival, they sold it out faster than they sold out Georgetown. So they must think that's going to be a rival game. And if it's a good game, then it will be. That's the way those things work. New rivalries will be created instantly. Overnight, there will be rivalries."

Tickets to the Feb. 1 Duke at Syracuse game did sell out in record time, and the Orange have sold about 5,000 more season ticket packages this year compared to years past (about 20,000 this year, Boeheim said). Why?

"The fans are excited about it. They're looking forward to it," he said. "Our fans think they're in a better league. The only thing they're unhappy about is not going to New York City. They're not unhappy about the league at all. They'd just rather go to New York City to play in the tournament. That's all."

And it's certainly a possibility that the ACC Tournament could find its way to the Big Apple in a few years.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski , who has been at Duke since 1980 (four years fewer than Boeheim has been at the helm of Syracuse) echoed his new rival's excitement.

"We love to play in lively places because that means it means something more," Krzyzewski said about going to the 35,012-seat Carrier Dome. "It will be an honor to play there and have a capacity crowd."

- Laura Keeley

Brooks named preseason SoCon Player of the Year, Davidson picked second

Southern Conference coaches tabbed Davidson senior forward and former Hopewell standout De’Mon Brooks as the preseason SoCon Player of the Year, and coaches and media picked the Wildcats to finish second in the conference.

Brooks averaged 13.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last year after being named the preseason conference player of the year. The honor was eventually awarded to his teammate, Jake Cohen. Brooks won the award after his sophomore campaign in 2012.

The Wildcats have one player on the preseason all-conference team in Brooks.

In a narrow vote by both the coaches and media, Elon was selected to win the SoCon with Davidson, last year's conference champion, coming in second. The Phoenix received seven first-place votes by the coaches for a total of 96 points. Davidson received three first-place votes with a total of 90 points.

In the media poll, Elon finished with 270 points and 14 first-place votes compared to Davidson’s 268 points and 12 first-place votes.

This is the last season in the SoCon for both Elon and Davidson. Elon will move to the Colonial Athletic Association next year while the Wildcats will move to the Atlantic 10.

Appalachian State tied for fourth in the coaches preseason poll and sixth in the media poll.

--Jonathan Jones

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Williams: P.J. Hairston to miss games but will practice

CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina coach Roy Williams on Thursday gave no indication as to when P.J. Hairston might play again for the Tar Heels but, whenever it is, chances are Hairston, the junior guard, will be in good shape. He has spent a lot of time running of late. 

After an off-season of trouble – a speeding ticket in May while driving a rental car tied to a convicted felon, an arrest in June while driving another rental car tied to the same man, a reckless driving charge in July – Hairston will participate when UNC begins practice Friday. Beyond that, though, his status is unclear.

Williams, who for the first time on Thursday spoke at length about Hairston’s issues, said he wasn’t yet sure how many games Hairston would miss. Williams also deflected a question about whether the NCAA would have a say in the length of Hairston’s suspension. 

“I can’t speak to what the NCAA is doing or not doing,” he said. “But I know that Roy Williams has a tremendous voice in what else is going to be done.”

-Andrew Carter

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Duke's Rodney Hood recovered from Achilles injury

With the start of college basketball practice merely three weeks away (Sept. 27), the Duke Blue Devils are in near-perfect health.

Rodney Hood, who will play this season after sitting out last year following his transfer from Mississippi State, has completely recovered from the right Achilles injury he suffered at a USA Basketball's camp on June 26th.

"He's great," Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said.

Hood, a sophomore, is expected to star on the wing for this year's Duke team. Expectations are high—N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried went as far to say he and teammate Jabari Parker could go No. 2 and 3 in next year's NBA Draft.

Additionally, redshirt sophomore Marshall Plumlee has been doing individual work and will begin full-court work starting Monday, Krzyzewski said. Plumlee had surery on his left foot on April 23rd.

Thanks to NCAA rule changes, Krzyzewski and the rest of the coaches were allowed to spend two hours per week during second summer session working with their players. That extra time has allowed the staff to get to know the incoming players better, Krzyzewski said. The Blue Devils are currently working in small group sessions that will continue until the official start of practice.

"We have a good group," Krzyzewski said. "I'm anxious to get going."

-Laura Keeley

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

P.J. Hairston tells Daily Tar Heel he will play

CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham said recently that P.J. Hairstonwould play this season, but not in every game. And now we have the same from Hairston, the UNC junior guard who told the told the Daily Tar Heel, the UNC campus newspaper, that he will “be on the court” this season.
Great hustle by Aaron Dodson, the DTH reporter who tracked Hairston down on Monday night on some basketball courts near the Smith Center. Hairston on his Twitter account had posted that he would be playing there. After a summer of trouble, Hairston is serving an indefinite suspension. It’s unclear when he’ll play this season.
“I’m not sure how long I’ll have to sit out,” Hairston told the DTH. “I haven’t found out yet, but whatever it is I’m ready for it.”
The length of Hairston’s suspension might not be clear for a while. UNC doesn’t begin the season until Nov. 8, at home against Oakland. The Tar Heels in their seventh game play against Michigan State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. UNC’s ninth game is at home against Kentucky on Dec. 14.
UNC coach Roy Williams suspended Hairston in late July, after he received a reckless driving charge near Salisbury. That followed his early June arrest on misdemeanor charges of marijuana possession and driving without a license.
Hairston also received a speeding ticket in May while driving a rental car that has been tied to Haydn “Fats” Thomas, a Durham resident and convicted felon. At the time of his arrest in June, Hairston was driving a rented 2013 GMC Yukon that Thomas paid for.
- Andrew Carter

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

UNC A.D. Bubba Cunningham: P.J. Hairston will play in 2013-14 season

CHAPEL HILL -- P.J. Hairston will play this season, but not in every game. That's what Bubba Cunningham, the North Carolina athletic director, told a group of university faculty members during a question-and-answer session on Thursday.

Cunningham on Thursday spoke at a faculty retreat for the UNC journalism school. Andy Bechtel, an associate professor in the journalism school, posted on his Twitter account Cunningham's answer when asked about Hairston, the Tar Heels' junior guard and leading scorer who has been suspended indefinitely.

"Bubba Cunningham takes a PJ question," Bechtel wrote on his Twitter account. "Will he play? Answer: 'Yes, but not all the games.'"

That was the entirety of Cunningham's answer, Bechtel later said during a phone interview. Cunningham's comments are the closest UNC has come to saying anything about Hairston's playing status for next season.

Hairston was suspended after the North Carolina Highway Patrol charged him with speeding and reckless driving late last month. That followed his arrest in Durham in early June, when he was charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license. Those charges were later dropped.

At the time of his arrest, Hairston was driving a rented GMC Yukon that was paid for by Haydn "Fats" Thomas, a Durham resident and convicted felon. Hairston also received a speeding ticket in May while driving another rental vehicle, a 2012 Camaro, that has been linked to Thomas.

After he played in a pro-am at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, UNC coach Roy Williams on Wednesday declined to comment on Hairston.

"Not talking about P.J.," Williams said. "I've read about it all damn summer, I'm tired of reading about, tired of talking about it. If you want to talk about anything else, I'll talk about anything."

Cunningham, the UNC athletic director, also played in the pro-am with Williams and declined comment about Hairston. Cunningham's brief comment on Thursday was the first time that a UNC official has definitively said that Hairston will play this season.

Hairston is facing a potentially lengthy suspension, depending on whether his use of rental cars is deemed to be an extra benefit. If the use of rental cars were an extra benefit, the NCAA could suspend him from anywhere between three and nine games - or more - depending on the monetary value of the benefit. Williams said in a statement last month that Hairston would face "serious consequences."

- Andrew Carter