Friday, June 26, 2009

Smiles, determination after NBA draft

UNC guard Wayne Ellington's reaction after to falling to No. 28 and the Minnesota Timberwolves in Thursday night's draft: "They'll be sorry,'' he told the Philadelphia Daily News, referring to the first 27 teams that didn't draft him.

Meanwhile, Duke wing Gerald Henderson, chosen No. 11, can't seem to get away from the Tar Heels. He now moving to Charlotte -- i.e., Tar Heel South.

New Indiana Pacer Tyler Hansbrough plans to keep proving people wrong, according to the Indianapolis Star. (Sound familiar?)

And point guard Ty Lawson, traded from the Timberwolves, told the Denver Post he's excited to play for the Nuggets -- and to learn from Chauncey Billups.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Seven ACC players drafted in first round

It was a friendly debate for Duke and North Carolina fans of late: Who would be chosen first during Thursday night’s NBA draft – The Forearm or The Nose?

In the end (or near the beginning, actually), it was Duke wing Gerald Henderson — whose flagrant forearm bloodied Tar Heel forward Tyler Hansbrough nose back in March, 2007, adding to the Tobacco Road rivalry lore — who became the first player taken. He was selected 12th overall by the Charlotte Bobcats.

Hansbrough, who graduated in May, was then taken 13th, by the Indiana Pacers.

Both were in the so-called ‘Green Room’ at Madison Square Garden in New York, sitting with friends and family (and in Hansbough’s case, UNC coach Roy Williams) as they waited to hear their names called.

Asked how much more he can improve in the NBA, Henderson told ESPN: “I don’t know right now. I hope I can take this game as far as I can. I’m going to work really hard at it, and we’ll see."

Asked by ESPN what kind of player the Pacers were getting, Hansbrough said: "A hard worker that knows how to win."

Wake Forest forward James Johnson was the next ACC player to go, 16th to the Chicago Bulls.

Then North Carolina’s Ty Lawson — last year’s ACC Player of the Year — was chosen 18th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was the third point guard drafted by the Wolves on Thursday night, joining international player Ricky Rubio and Syracuse’ Jonny Flynn, who were chosen No. 6 and No. 7, respectively. Lawson was later traded to the Denver Nuggets.

Wake Forest point guard Jeff Teague then went 19th to the Atlanta Hawks, marking the first time the Demon Deacons have ever had two players chosen in the first round.

UNC shooting guard Wayne Ellington was chosen 28th by Minnesota, followed by Florida State point guard Toney Douglas, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers then traded to the New York Knicks.

In the second round, swingman Danny Green became the fourth Tar Heel taken when he was drafted 46th overall, by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Miami point guard Jack McClinton (51st overall, by San Antonio) was also chosen in the second round.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Tar Heels nominated for ESPY

First, a national championship. Next, an ESPY?

North Carolina's basketball team has been nominated for the made-for-cable award in the team category, along with UConn's women's basketball team, the L.A. Lakers, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Fans will determine the winners in 37 different categories by voting online at The show will be aired July 19.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bad break for Duke

Elliott Williams' decision to transfer from Duke on Wednesday suddenly breaks the ACC race wide open.

The Blue Devils will still be in the conversation to win the league, of course, because they have an edge in experience. But the loss of Williams, an athletic wing who only averaged 4.2 points per game, erodes their defensive abilities and overall quickness.

Assuredly, the Duke fan at-large feels for Williams. It's undoubtedly a bad break for the teenager and his family, but you also can't help but wince at what could have been for Duke in 2010.

Let's enter fantasyland, shall we? Admittedly, it's a dangerous venture, but given the precedent at UNC to hang on to stars for three and four years, it's not that outlandish to think both Gerald Henderson and John Wall could have been in Duke's lineup in October.

What could have been:

G John Wall
G Jon Scheyer
G Gerald Henderson
F Kyle Singler
F Brian Zoubek

G Elliot Williams
G Nolan Smith
F Ryan Kelly
F Lance Thomas
F Miles Plumlee
F Mason Plumlee

Whoa. Now take out Henderson or Wall, and it's still a Final Four team. Take out both and they still win the ACC. Take out Henderson, Wall and Williams, and Mike Krzyzewski's looking at:

G Smith
G Scheyer
G/F Singler
F Thomas
F Zoubek

G/F Kelly
F Miles Plumlee
F Mason Plumlee

Ouch. Still good but where are the guards? Without Williams, both Singler and Kelly will have to play the perimeter, which is fine for 3-point shooting purposes. But what about defense? You might actually see Coach K use a lot of 2-3 zone because there are no traditional perimeter reserves.

Either way, Jon Scheyer's going to shatter the ACC record for minutes-played this coming season.

And when it comes to the chase for the ACC title, Duke's suddenly in the same boat as UNC, Boston College or even Georgia Tech.

By the way, Duke hasn't been to the Final Four since 2004, a span of five years. Coach K has never gone more than five years between Final Four appearances at Duke.

Cue the Tar Heel fans, Laker conspiracy theorists and Duke haters.

- J.P. Giglio

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hansbrough to have entourage in NYC

North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough — who could be taken as early as 11th in the NBA draft Thursday night, by the New Jersey Nets — said he debated whether to accept the invitation to sit in the Green Room at Madison Square Garden.

"But it's always been a dream of mine to be there and shake Mr. Stern's hand,” Hansbrough said during a phone interview Tuesday. “I also thought it would be a good opportunity for me to represent North Carolina and my part of Missouri."

He'll also have plenty of company. Hansbrough said his dad, mom, older brother Greg, UNC coach Roy Williams and his agent will be sitting at the table with him. In addition, Hansbrough said, teammates Bobby Frasor, Marcus Ginyard and Dewey Burke – as well as Frasor’s dad – are traveling to New York to sit in the stands.

“I'm starting to get nervous, a little jittery - just because you never know exactly what's going to happen, who's going to make trades, who's going to finally take you,'' he said. "But I'm really confident that things are going to turn out well.”

— Robbi Pickeral

Elliot Williams leaving Duke

Duke sophomore Elliott Williams (above) — one of only three perimeter players returning for the Blue Devils — has decided to leave the school for family medical reasons, the school announced this morning.

He is seeking to transfer closer to his hometown of Memphis, and is expected to file an appeal for a waiver of the NCAA's year in residence transfer rule that would require him to sit out the 2009-10 season.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Elliot and his family," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a prepared statement. "We fully support him in his efforts to be closer to them during this trying time. He is a good young man with an opportunity to become an outstanding player. We wish him well as he determines his future. He will always be a part of our program and we will always be in his corner."

Williams' decision could prove a heavy blow to Duke, because it leaves Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith as its only returning perimeter players. Williams averaged 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds a a freshman, and started 11 of the Blue Devils' final 12 games.

Krzyzewski has said he plans to move Kyle Singler — who played power forward and center his first two years — to the small forward position. But without Williams, the Blue Devils are left even thinner on the perimeter.

Williams had five double-figure scoring games as a freshman, including a season-high 15 points at Maryland on Feb. 25. He also posted an 11-rebound game on Nov. 11 against Georgia Southern and sparked a 101-91 Duke win over Wake Forest on Feb. 22 with a season-high four steals.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Williams expects Graves to return to Tar Heels

CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he fully expects wing Will Graves – who was suspended last February — to be court when the team opens practice in October.
He said Graves hasn’t been “re-instated,” per se, because the suspension was only for the remainder of last season.

"He’s got some conditions he’s got to take care of, and if he takes care of those conditions, he’ll be on our team Oct. 16 or 15th, whatever that Friday is," Williams said. "I’m under the assumption that he’s going to do what he was asked to do, and he’ll be out there on Oct. 15."

Williams said the player made "great grades" in both of his first-session summer school courses. “He’s down in the weight room right now, and he’s doing exactly what he’s supposed to do."

Graves averaged 4 points and 11.2 minutes on last year’s national title team before he was suspended for breaking an unspecified team rule. His return is key for the Tar Heels because they have so few other perimeter players returning.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hansbrough invited to NBA's 'green room'

The NBA is expected to release its list of invitees to Thursday’s draft later today. But one player who will definitely be in the so-called “green room” at Madison Square Garden in New York: UNC forward Tyler Hansbrough.

“He was planning to go up there either way, but when he got the call and invitation, he was pretty happy,’’ his father, Gene Hansbrough, said this morning.

Hansbrough, a four-time All-America, is expected to be picked somewhere in the teens of the first round. He planned to work out with the New Jersey Nets – who have the 11th overall pick – again on Tuesday.

“He could go as high as 11, and I don’t see him getting past Utah at 20,’’ NBA draft analyst Chris Monter said.

Duke guard Gerald Henderson is also expected to be on the list when it is released today; he said last week he’s already thinking about what suit he’s going to wear that night. UNC point guard Ty Lawson could also be invited. Davidson's Stephen Curry confirmed his invitation late last week.

Draft invitees sit front and center at Madison Square Garden Theatre in front of the commissioner, and when their names are called, they're brought up to the podium, given their new team's hat, and get a handshake and photo op.

Agents usually do their due diligence to try to make sure their clients will be fairly-early picks before they accept the invitation; otherwise, players risk sitting there for a long while -- in view of a lot of TV cameras.

— Robbi Pickeral

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hansbrough goes car shopping

So what does a soon-to-be first-round draft pick do between workouts?

Go car shopping.

Former North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough spent last weekend checking out the sleek rides at Performance BMW in Chapel Hill, he writes in his blog at

"Coach [Roy] Williams has always had a BMW, so I've always liked his,'' he writes. "But I'm out there looking at different ones because I've always been a truck guy all my life. So it's been pretty cool checking out the cars and driving them around."

Hansbrough, who has been moving up the mock draft boards, worked out for the Utah Jazz on Monday. The draft is June 25.

- Robbi Pickeral

2010: Duke will be class of the ACC

Now that we know who's coming back, and Virginia's coach, let's take a look at ACC hoops in 2009-10 with a quick-and-dirty predicted order of finish:

1. Duke: Kyle Singler, finally in his natural position, will be the best player in the league.

2. UNC: New talent that hasn't played together yet. That's the only reason the Heels are behind Duke.

3. Boston College: Guard Tyrese Rice was such a big part of that team, but the way Al Skinner's offense works, the remaining parts — with four starters back from an NCAA team — will function without Rice.

4. Georgia Tech: Talent on top of talent. Memo to Paul Hewitt: Coach the team, not the refs.

5. Florida State: Another huge loss (guard Toney Douglas) but bigs Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton and combo guard Derwin Kitchen give the Noles a great core. (6)

6. Maryland: Gary's tweeting about his new big men. They have to be an improvement from the burlap sack and Swiffer WetJet that manned the post last year — and still made the tourney.

7. Clemson: Who's going to shoot without K.C. Rivers and Terrence Oglesby?

8. Virginia Tech: A three-man team has been reduced to a two-man team without A.D. Vassallo.

9. Virginia: New Coach Syndrome gives the Hoos hope.

10. N.C. State: The Sidney Lowe Era hits Phase 2 with his own players.

11. Wake Forest: Maybe they'll have more structure on offense with Ish Smith at the point. Maybe Al-Farouq Aminu will develop into an All-ACC player. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. With Wake you never know.

12. Miami: Not budging on this. Unlike FSU and BC, the Canes do not have the means to replace their superstar guard. And stop with the Villanova transfer (Malcolm Grant), he's not Jack McClinton.

-- J.P. Giglio

Psycho T goes car shopping

So what does a soon-to-be first-round draft pick do between workouts?

Go car shopping.

Former North Carolina forward Tyler Hansbrough spent last weekend checking out the sleek rides at Performance BMW in Chapel Hill, he writes in his blog at

"Coach [Roy] Williams has always had a BMW, so I've always liked his,'' he writes. "But I'm out there looking at different ones because I've always been a truck guy all my life. So it's been pretty cool checking out the cars and driving them around."

Hansbrough, who has been moving up the mock draft boards, worked out for the Utah Jazz on Monday. The draft is June 25. -- Robbi Pickeral

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wake's Gaudio supports Teague's NBA leap

Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio and assistant Jeff Battle met with point guard Jeff Teague and his family in Indianapolis on Sunday night to discuss the plusses and minuses of leaving his name in the NBA draft.

Gaudio said he had "an inkling" when he left about what the sophomore would do. And at around 3:15 p.m. today, the player made it official.

"He called, and told me he was going to leave his name in,'' Gaudio said in a phone interview today. "And I said, 'Congratulations.' He's following a dream that he's had since he first started bouncing a basketball."

Gaudio said he fully supports Teague, a second-team All-ACC selection last season who is projected to be a first-round draft pick on June 25. He joins Demon Deacons teammates James Johnson as an NBA early entrant this season, meaning Wake loses its top two scorers. Teague averaged 18.8 points per game.

Still, "I'm really excited about coaching this team,'' Gaudio said. "We've got a lot of veteran players coming back."

One key to the team's success will be forward Al-Farouq Aminu, last season's third-leading scorer. Wake also returns senior guard L.D. Williams and senior forwards Chas McFarland and David Weaver.

And unlike other teams in the league who are losing their star ballhandlers, Wake has a proven replacement: senior guard Ish Smith, who averaged 6.2 points off the bench after being sidelined at the beginning of the season with a foot injury. He started every game at point guard as a sophomore.

"I don't know if there was a more improved player last season,'' Gaudio said of Smith. "After he came back from his injury, he just got better and better."

Gaudio said he will miss Teague, but I told him, "no matter what, I will always be your coach,'' he said. "I'm excited for him."

-- Robbi Pickeral

Report: Wake's Teague to stay in draft

Wake Forest point guard Jeff Teague will stay in the NBA Draft, the Indianapolis Star reported today.

"I'm in 100 percent," he told the paper after working out with the Indiana Pacers.

Teague averaged 18.8 points and 3.5 assists a game as a sophomore; his decision means the Deacons lose their top two scorers (forward James Johnson had already opted to stay in the draft).

Underclassmen have until 5 p.m. today to withdraw their names.\

-- Robbi Pickeral

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lawal will return to Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech forward Gani Lawal plans to pull out of the NBA draft before Monday's 5 p.m. deadline, the forward told

"I'm going back to school," Lawal said, according to the website. "I sat down with my family and after going through this positive experience, where I learned a lot and got a lot of exposure, I realized the best thing for me to do was to go back."

Lawal, who averaged 15.1 points and 9.5 rebounds last season, will be key for the Jackets, who won only two ACC games. Lawal's return, along with the addition of highly-touted forward Derrick Favors, should pull Tech out of the league dungeon next season — and perhaps even into NCAA tournament contention.

-- Robbi Pickeral

'No-charge' arc could come sooner

One of the reasons the NCAA basketball playing rules committee last month didn't recommend a painted arc to go along with the new "no charge" zone under the basket for "help" defenders was because it could have taken four years to institute a new painted line.

But when the Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved the roughly-24-inch no-charge area earlier this month, it did something smart: It opened the door to quicker implementation of a painted semicircle, if one is ever recommended and approved by the membership.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Monday, June 8, 2009

Collins returns; Vasquez, Teague decisions to come

Dwayne Collins will play his senior season at Miami after all. Collins, a 6-8 power forward, took his name out of the NBA Draft.

He can now go back to being ignored by Frank Haith in Miami's offense, except when the Canes play Duke.

Elsewhere, the middle landscape of the ACC hinges on the decisions of Maryland's Grevis Vasquez and Wake Forest's Jeff Teague, who have until June 15 to stay or leave the draft.

Wake's a tourney team with Teague but a fringe player, at best, in the league without him.

Maryland's fighting for 12th without Vaz and back in the eight- to nine-win ACC range with him.

Either way, Miami's still the pick for last.

-- J.P. Giglio

Thursday, June 4, 2009

'No-charge zone' approved in basketball

The "no-charge zone" now is officially destined to be added to the vernacular in college men's basketball.

In an e-mail message Thursday afternoon, NCAA spokeswoman Gail Dent said the NCAA Rules Oversight Committee approved all recommended rules during its Wednesday telephone conference.

The NCAA Basketball Playing Rules Committee had recommended the new rule, which creates a no-charge zone for "help" defenders that extends from the front of the rim to the front of the backboard.

If a help defender has even a part of a foot in that roughly 24-inch area and is involved in contact on a drive, that defender automatically will be called for a defensive foul.

Some coaches and referees had hoped to have an arc drawn on the court to define the no-charge zone the way the NBA has. ACC officiating coordinator John Clougherty was among those who said an arc would have helped referees see the no-charge zone better.

But the Playing Rules Committee was concerned about a four-year waiting period that would have been required to allow schools to have the arcs painted on their courts.

- Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Krzyzewski may coach Team USA again

DURHAM - Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski said Wednesday that he will remain involved with the U.S. Olympic Team, and there is a chance he will be Team USA’s head coach again in 2012 in London.
Last summer, Krzyzewski coached Team USA to the gold medal in Beijing, China.
“I’m going to be with the Olympic Team in some capacity,” Krzyzewski said during a media availability at his K Academy camp on campus. “It’s just that the NBA season hasn’t even ended. I think once the NBA season has ended, I’ll have an even more clear picture of who’s going to go forward, maybe, from the players, how we’re going to do coaching.”
Krzyzewski said the national team will have one event lasting about four days in Las Vegas this summer for 24 NBA players to add to the pool of athletes in the program.
Asked if he has an interest in coaching in the Olympics again, Krzyzewski said, “We’ll see,” and “there’s a chance.”
“How everything goes forward has not been clearly defined yet,” he said. “The main thing is Jerry Colangelo now heads USA Basketball, which is great. Now what do you do with the culture and structure that you have developed for three years? Now what do you do? Part of that is coaching, but also part of that is a new pool of players, commitments from different people. There’s a lot that goes on.”

- Players take next step. Krzyzewski has made the rounds with the national media over the last few months promoting his book, “The Gold Standard.”
But he met with the local media Wednesday for the first time since Gerald Henderson left for the NBA after his junior season and former guard Greg Paulus announced he would play football in 2009 at Syracuse.
“We knew that (Henderson), once he put his name in, was not coming back (to school),” Krzyzewski said. “Otherwise he wouldn’t have put his name in. . . .I think things look good for him as long as he stays healthy, and we’re totally happy and supportive.”
Krzyzewski said Henderson will work out Thursday for the Charlotte Bobcats. Paulus’ decision also was endorsed by Krzyzewski.
“Where he went, school-wise and opportunity-wise, is by far the best decision,” Krzyzewski said. “And I think he’s going to do well.”

- Duke goes big. Krzyzewski said the 2009-10 Duke team will be quite different from the ones he has coached in recent years.
The traditionally guard-oriented Blue Devils have just three scholarship perimeter players – Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer and Elliot Williams – returning. Krzyzewski said there is a chance that Kyle Singler, who has played power forward and center the last two seasons, will play entirely on the perimeter.
“I like our team,” Krzyzewski said. “We’re going to be a very big team, which is kind of unusual. So I’m excited about coaching a little bit of a different style. Not necessarily we won’t run or whatever. But we have a big team.”

- Ken Tysiac