Sunday, December 26, 2010

UNC hoops rejiggering travel plans

North Carolina's basketball team -- which plays Rutgers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night -- had planned to reconvene in New York City for practice tonight.

But because of the snowy weather, the team is going to practice in Chapel Hill tonight and hopefully travel to New York on Monday, spokesman Steve Kirschner said in an e-mail.

Eight of the players were in Chapel Hill as of 11 a.m. this morning, and the team was working to re-route the rest of the players who were still out of town. The Tar Heels have been off since Tuesday night.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Monday, December 20, 2010

Krzyzewski shares USA hoops coach of year honors

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma were both named the 2010 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year on Monday, the Blue Devils announced.

It marked the fourth time in the past five years Krzyzewski has received the award. He led the U.S. to the 2010 FIBA World Championship, marking the first goal medal in the world championships for Team USA since 1994.

"Any time a coach is recognized for representing his or her country, it is a tremendous honor," Krzyzewski said in a prepared statement. "USA Basketball enjoyed a terrific summer, and we were proud to do our part at the World Championship. In all of my years in coaching, there's nothing I've enjoyed more than being a part of the USA Basketball program. So, receiving this award for a fourth time is very special to me."

Tuesday's UNC game shifted to ESPNU

UNC's Tuesday game against William & Mary, originally scheduled to be televised on ESPN2 at 7 p.m., will instead be broadcast on ESPNU, the school announced.

ESPN2 will be broadcasting the UConn women’s game against Florida State, as the Huskies attempt to win their 89th consecutive game.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Duke's Irving now in hard cast

Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving had his right foot placed in a hard cast today, coach Mike Krzyzewski announced in a prepared statement. Irving, who injured his right big toe last Saturday against Butler, remains out indefinitely; there is no timetable for his return.

The Duke medical staff elected to immobilize the foot during this stage of the player's recovery process to completely rest the area and allow for optimal healing, according to the news release.

Irving ranks among the nation's freshman at 17.4 points per game. He was named most valuable player of the CBE Classic after a win over No. 4 Kansas State, and scored 31 points in a victory over sixth-ranked Michigan State last week.

The top-ranked Blue Devils play Saint Louis on Saturday.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Duke's Irving sidelined indefinitely with toe injury

Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving is out indefinitely because of a toe injury on his right foot suffered during Saturday’s win over Butler, coach Mike Krzyzewski announced this afternoon.

No timetable has been set for Irving’s return for an injury that will require rest and rehabilitation.

“Kyrie is going to miss an undetermined amount of time with the toe injury,” Krzyzewski said in a statement. “Our medical staff will continue to monitor the recovery process and he will return to action once it has sufficiently healed. Kyrie is an outstanding player and we are confident that he will bounce back from this setback.”

Irvingwas injured while trying to make a move on the baseline during the win over Butler. He said he “stumped” his toe, but said it felt OK after the game.

He has been wearing a protective boot to protect the toe.

Irvingis the third-leading freshman scorer in the nation at 17.4 points per game. He was named most valuable player of the CBE Classic after a win over No. 4 Kansas State and scored 31 points in a win over No. 6 Michigan State, tying for the second-highest point total in a game for a Duke freshman.

Ken Tysiac

Duke agrees to high-profile November games

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has long been a proponent of the creation of early-season events that will generate excitement about college basketball in November.

For the next three seasons, the Blue Devils will participate in such events. Duke senior associate athletic director Mike Cragg, who handles the team's scheduling, confirmed this afternoon that the Blue Devils will compete in an event called the Champions Classic in November of 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Michigan State, Kentucky and Kansas are the other teams that will participate in the event, which has each of the four teams playing one game in a doubleheader each season, according to

•On Nov. 11, 2011, Duke will play Michigan State and Kansas will meet Kentucky at Madison Square Garden in New York.

•On Nov. 13, 2012, Duke meets Kentucky and Michigan State plays Kansas at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

•On Nov. 12, 2013, Duke plays Kansas and Kentucky meets Michigan State at the United Center in Chicago.

"Basically we've bantered about this idea for four or five years, for how we can create a signature event at the start of the basketball season," Cragg said. ". . .It should be, obviously, four great programs."

The games will be televised by ESPN.

Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

UNC's Drew II looking for a better shot

CHAPEL HILL - What's point guard Larry Drew II's solution to finally getting his shot to fall?

Take better ones, said the North Carolina junior, who is 8-for-34 (25.5 percent) this season.

"I know why my shots haven't been falling - even my dad brought it to my attention,'' he said, referring to his father, Larry Drew, who is head coach of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks.

"All of my first shots have been 3-pointers, and it's kind of like where I've been getting the ball through the offense, early on in the game. If my first shot is a 3 all the time, and it doesn't go in, the basket might shrink a little bit. He tells me just to get easier [shots] or a better shot. Instead of getting a 3 for my first shot, get to the foul line, or shoot a floater or a pull-up. Work my way out."

Although he was only 2-for-7 during Saturday's win over No. 10 Kentucky, Drew played his best game, by far of the season, picking up his defensive intensity while playing with poise down the stretch. Now, he just wants to add better offense to the mix, although he knows it will come.

"My confidence is right where it needs to be at this point in the season," he said.

The Tar Heels (5-3) play at Evansville (3-3) on Wednesday.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Irving likely out for Bradley with toe injury

A toe injury suffered Saturday is likely to keep Duke freshman point guard Kyrie Irving out of the top-ranked Blue Devils' 9 p.m. game Wednesday against Bradley.

Team spokesman Matt Plizga said this morning that Irving is wearing a protective boot and undergoing further evaluation, and is unlikely to play against Bradley. Plizga hopes to be able to provide more information about Irving's injury today.

Irving injured a toe on his right foot while making a move on the baseline opposite Duke's bench in an 82-70 defeate of Butler on Saturday in East Rutherford, N.J. He appeared to be in a great deal of pain on the bench, but returned to the game and afterward said he "stumped" his toe and felt better.

Irving leads Duke in assists at 5.1 per game and ranks second on the team in scoring at 17.4 points per game. One of the most productive freshmen in the nation, he was named the CBE Classic MVP after Duke's win over No. 4 Kansas State and scored 31 points in Duke's defeat of No. 6 Michigan State.

Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

N.C. State trailing Wisconsin at half

MADISON, Wis. – N.C. State senior Tracy Smith is sitting on the visitor’s bench in street clothes, arms crossed, as his knee continues to heal after arthroscopic surgery. The Pack can’t get him back fast enough.

Without their leading scorer and rebounder -- who is missing his fifth straight game -- State trails Wisconsin 44-21 at halftime at Kohl Center in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. It has been ugly. State is shooting worse than 31 percent, has been outscored from the free throw line 13-3, and has committed 11 turnovers.

Leading 12-11, Wisconsin started to pull away early with a 7-0 run. Then the methodical Badgers ended the first half with a 15-0 breakaway that included six points from Jon Leuer. State’s final basket of the first half came around with 6:36 left in the first half, when Lorenzo Brown made a layup.

Leuer has 13 points for the Badgers and Jordan Taylor has 14.

Richard Howell leads State with 7.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ex-West Charlotte star hits shot for Wake Forest win

Freshman J.T. Terrell, a former star at West Charlotte High, hit a 3-pointer with two seconds remaining to cap a 32-point performance to lead Wake Forest to a 76-73 comeback victory over Iowa in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge Tuesday night in Joel Coliseum.

After trailing by 12 at halftime, Wake Forest (4-3) roared back by hitting 12 of its first 15 field goal attempts in the second half with Terrell igniting the offense.

Tied at 73 in the closing seconds, Wake Forest's Ty Walker blocked a shot by Iowa's Bryce Cartwright, setting up Terrell's heroics.

-- Ron Green Jr.

Iowa takes 39-27 halftime lead over Wake Forest

Wake Forest's early-season struggles continued in the first half tonight as Iowa pulled away to a 39-27 halftime lead in their ACC-Big Ten Challenge game at Joel Coliseum.

The Deacons made 13 turnovers, shot 38 percent and allowed the Hawkeyes to continually find holes in their zone defense.

Freshman J.T. Terrell had 13 first-half points but also had six turnovers.

-- Ron Green Jr.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Execution lacking for youthful Heels

Execution lacking for youthful Heels

Roy Williams came to his press conference Monday afternoon with his right thumb taped.

"I hit one of my players," Williams joked.

After two straight losses, Williams said he didn't hit one of players because he had too many options.

All kidding aside, Williams -- who said he injured his thumb catching a pass in practice -- offered a simple solution for the Tar Heels' two-game losing streak.

"We just have to play better," Williams said.

The Heels (2-2) turned the ball over 21 times in a 72-65 loss to Vanderbilt on Sunday and 16 times in a 72-67 loss to Minnesota on Friday.

Those mistakes cost Tar Heels against veteran teams, as Williams pointed out both Minnesota and Vandy made the NCAA tournament last year, while UNC was relegated to the NIT.

"Nobody likes to admit it but, guys, we're an unbelievably young team," Williams said. "Young teams are going to make mistakes."

UNC started two juniors, two sophomores and freshman against Vanderbilt. Williams said some of the mistakes are correctable, like catching the ball, which the Tar Heels failed to do twice against Vanderbilt. Bottom line, Williams said, UNC needs to execute better, and soon, because after Tuesday's game against UNC-Asheville, the Heels face College of Charleston (who beat UNC last year), No. 19 Illinois and No. 8 Kentucky.

"I don't care what anybody else says, by God, we've got play better," Williams said. "That's my message right there. It's not going to be a fun time for them, and I don't really care, you've got to play better."

-- J.P. Giglio

Tudor's Take: Poor shooting haunts Heels, Pack

Shoot or get shot.

The adage may be as old as basketball itself, but it's one worth bringing up again after weekend tournament setbacks for North Carolina and N.C. State.

In losses to Minnesota (72-67) and Vanderbilt (72-65) this weekend in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the Tar Heels shot a combined 38.6 percent -- 46-for-119.

Those percentages are in line with UNC's shooting stats in its 11 regular-season ACC losses last season.

In only three of those losses -- at Clemson, at Virginia Tech and against Florida State in Chapel Hill -- did North Carolina shoot above 40 percent and then barely.

Meanwhile, the Wolfpack, in an 82-67 loss to Georgetown on Sunday in the title game of the Charleston (S.C.) Classic, shot just 39.7 percent. That, too, virtually mirrors the Wolfpack's combined 37.8 percent mark in 12 ACC losses last season.

So it's not going to be terribly complicated for UNC coach Roy Williams and N.C. State's Sidney Lowe when they sort through the improvements that need to be made before both begin league games on Jan. 8.

Obviously, there are other areas that will have to be addressed and in State's case, the health of Tracy Smith (right knee surgery on Friday) could be more important than anything that happened on the court against Georgetown.

But errant shooting is the one aspect of competition that most frequently separates good teams from average teams in college play.

Against reasonably talented opponents, it's almost impossible to win with a shooting performance in the sub 40-percent range. There's plenty of time to develop, but the Pack and Heels proved that point again during the weekend.

-- Caulton Tudor

Monday, November 1, 2010

Duke's Singler, UNC's Barnes headline AP preseason All-America team

Duke senior Kyle Singler was the leading vote-getter - and only repeat selection - on the Associated Press preseason men's basketball All-America team, announced Monday.

Meanwhile, North Carolina's Harrison Barnes is the first freshman to make the list since voting began before the 1986-87 season.

"This is indicative of the great respect that Harrison has nationally, and it's an unbelievable accomplishment for a freshman," UNC coach Roy Williams told the AP. "I know Harrison would agree, however, that it would be even more exciting to make the All-America team that's picked after the season.

"So far in practice, he has shown the ability to grasp things that we are teaching very quickly, he has tremendous concentration and I fully expect that is he going to be a very important player for us from day one."

Singler, who helped lead his team to the NCAA title last season, was listed on 62 of the 65 ballots of the 65-member national media panel. He was on the pre-season first team last season and finished with an honorable mention postseason selection.

"Someone asked me if we don't win a national championship, will it ruin the year? You just never know what to expect in the year and toward the end of the year. We're not worried about that right now," Singler told the AP. "There's so much we can accomplish, especially at the beginning of the year and the middle of the year. There's so much to learn and experience."

Joining Singler and Barnes on the team were Jacob Pullen of Kansas State with 53 votes, Jimmer Fredette of BYU, who received 49 votes, and JaJuan Johnson of Purdue, who got 46. Barnes received the lowest vote total of the starters with 17.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Duke No. 1, UNC 8th in AP hoops poll

Duke, the reigning national champion, begins this basketball season where it ended the last one: No. 1 in the Associated Press basketball poll, released Thursday.

North Carolina, which failed to make the tournament last season, is back in the top 10 – at No. 8.

And it looks as if N.C. State, with its new crop of freshmen, will have to play its was in – because although the Wolfpack received 10 votes, Virginia Tech, at No. 21, was the only other ACC school to make the top 25.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, whoseBlue Devils now have ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll seven times since 1961-62, told the AP that being atop the poll again is an honor. But he also said he doesn’t think it’s fair to say Duke trying to repeat since there have been so many changes since his team beat Butler for its fourth national title.

"To repeat is a bad word [to use]]," he told the AP. "... What you want to do is have the same result, of winning the national championship, but figure out what journey you're going to be on along the way. And so ‘pursue’ is a good word for me, and ‘develop’. We're going to be a developing team throughout."

The same holds true for the Tar Heels, who will try to bounce back from a disappointing season that saw them lose in the NIT championship game.

“I did think last year’s prognostications on that team were very unrealistic,’’ UNC coach Roy Williams said last week, before the poll was released. “I think this year’s [are] a little unrealistic too. For me, I think we have a chance to be better and we’re working at it each and every day.”

The preseason AP order:

1. Duke

2. Michigan State

3. Kansas State

4. Ohio State

5. Pittsburgh

6. Villanova

7. Kansas

8. North Carolina

9. Florida

10. Syracuse

11. Kentucky

12. Gonzaga

13. Illinois

14. Purdue

15. Missouri

16. Baylor

17. Butler

18. Washington

19. Memphis

20. Georgetown

21. Virginia Tech

22. Temple

23. Tennessee

24. BYU

25. San Diego State

Other ACC teams receiving votes were Florida State (28 votes), N.C. State (10), Miami (4), and Georgia Tech (1)

-- Robbi Pickeral

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Duke basketball focuses on defense

DURHAM -- When Ryan Kelly got caught at halfcourt trying to double team and gave up a dunk, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski corrected him.

"Fake that and pick up your man," Krzyzewski said.

When a Duke defender got caught on a screen that he didn't see, Krzyzewski instructed Josh Hairston to communicate better.

"Josh, talk him through," Krzyzewski said.

Duke opened basketball practice Tuesday to the media and participants in the Fuqua Business School's leadership conference. Krzyzewski explained his plan to the spectators.

He believes this team's strength is its scoring ability, and he wants the players to focus on an area that's not as big a strength.

"It's sometimes hard to do," Krzyzewski said.

That area, as Krzyzewski's comments to Kelly and Hairston illustrate, is defense. The team spent a lot of time working on closeouts and positioning. After losing defensive frontcourt stalwarts Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas from last season's NCAA championship team, developing those defensive skills will be a big area of emphasis for Duke.

Here are some other observations from the open practice:

-- Junior center Miles Plumlee has hit the weight room hard during the offseason.

He's bulked up and toned to the point where he'll be one of the physically strongest centers in the ACC this season. He will need to get up and down the floor quickly at his new weight with the team running a more fast-paced system, but that didn't seem to be a problem in practice.

Plumlee ran the floor and still was able to physically dominate in the lane.

- The most interesting competition for playing time probably will be between sophomores Andre Dawkins and Seth Curry for the opportunity to be the first guard off the bench.

Both players have sweet shooting touches. Curry, who's older, seems to have a better understanding of the game, but Dawkins is more athletic. If you had to choose the player who has greater potential, it would probably be Dawkins.

- Freshman point guard Kyrie Irving is everything he's built up to be.

Krzyzewski has said that Irving had a bit of difficulty getting used to the intensity Duke demands during its first practice, but he appears to have adjusted nicely. He can score off penetration and from the perimeter, and his speed truly adds a new dimension to Duke's offense.

- Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler are exactly what you'd expect.

Smith is getting out on the fast break more for easy scores in the faster-paced attack. Singler, who's 10 pounds heavier than at the beginning of last season, seems more effective in the lane as a result.

- Duke's post players are more gifted on offense than last season.

Krzyzewski seemed particularly pleased with how Miles and Mason Plumlee, Kelly and Thornton looked for one another on high-low feeds and posted up for easy baskets. Last season's team was extremely dependent on the perimeter for scoring.

This season, Duke should get more scoring from its big guys.

The defense and rebounding of Zoubek and Thomas will certainly be missed, and that's one reason why Krzyzewski is emphasizing defense so much. But the tradeoff is that Duke shouldn't bog down on offense if an opponent figures out how to shut down the perimeter scorers.

-- Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Duke's new pace may benefit Plumlees

CHARLOTTE - A year ago, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said, the Blue Devils' system was tailor made for starting post players Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek.

Duke's physical, half-court style fit Thomas and Zoubek, who were best known for defending and rebounding. When reserves Mason and Miles Plumlee came off the bench, though, they didn't quite fit in as well because their skills are more suited for an uptempo game.

At the ACC's operation basketball media day tipoff this afternoon, Krzyzewski said the Plumlees are better off in a fast-paced system like the one Duke will use this season now that 2009-10 seniors Thomas and Zoubek are gone. Krzyzewski plans to pressure in the full court or three-quarters court on defense after baskets, and play at a fast tempo on offense.

"The way we use our perimeter this year is really good for the Plumlees," Krzyzewski said.

The Plumlees' strength is running the floor and scoring on quick-hit plays rather than post-ups.

Sophomore Ryan Kelly, a Raleigh native, also figures prominently in Duke's plans in the post. Kelly has bulked up from 206 pounds in the 2009 preseason to 234 pounds now, Krzyzewski said.

Other highlights from Krzyzewski's media appearance:

- Krzyzewski was disappointed that Seth Curry, who redshirted as a transfer student on last season's NCAA title team, wasn't able to get a ring celebrating the championship along with his teammates.

An NCAA rule prevented Curry from getting a ring, even though he was a member of the team who participated in practice.

"Any scholarship player should be able to get that [a ring]," Krzyzewski said.

- The goal of forward Kyle Singler to be named national player of the year met with Krzyewski's approval. (Singler also said his team goal is to win as many games as possible).

Krzyzewski said he appreciates Singler's fearlessness and willingness to answer questions honestly, without some hidden motive or agenda. The coach said Singler possesses an innocence and earnestness that is refreshing.

"I admire who he is," Krzyzewski said. "My goal is to have him be great as a player and not change."

- Sophomore guard Andre Dawkins has been working on developing disciplined mechanics for his jump shot so that he shoots with the same motion every time.

Krzyzewski said Dawkins has matured physically and is growing up.

"In practice right now, he's guarded a lot by Kyle [Singler]," Krzyzewski said. "He's going to be better if he can get his shot off [against Singler]."

Ken Tysiac

Duke tops ACC poll, but it's not unanimous

CHARLOTTE - The media that cover the ACC picked Duke to finish atop the conference, but the vote wasn't unanimous.

Duke received 61 of a possible 62 first-place votes in the annual preseason poll, which was released this afternoon at the ACC's operation basketball event. North Carolina, which was picked third overall in the poll, received the other first-place vote.

It wasn't immediately clear which media member selected the Tar Heels No. 1.

Virginia Tech was picked No. 2, and N.C. State was No. 4.

The media also selected Duke's Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith, Virginia Tech's Malcolm Delaney, N.C. State's Tracy Smith and Florida State's Chris Singleton to the preseason All-ACC team.

Singler was picked as the player of the year, and North Carolina freshman Harrison Barnes was voted rookie of the year.

Here is the complete voting, with first-place votes in parentheses:

1. Duke (61) 743; 2. Virginia Tech 632; 3. North Carolina (1) 622; 4. N.C. State 526; 5. Florida State 496; 6. Maryland 432; 7. Clemson 335; 8. Miami 305; 9. Georgia Tech 274; 10. Boston College 173; 11. Virginia 164; 12. Wake Forest 134.

Ken Tysiac

UNC freshman Barnes impresses Williams

CHARLOTTE - It didn't take freshman forward Harrison Barnes long to impress North Carolina coach Roy Williams during preseason practice.

After North Carolina's "Late Night" season-opening public practice last week, Barnes met with the media, then headed back to the practice gym to get up more jump shots. That's not something that often happens with any player, let alone a freshman.

Williams is mentioning Barnes in the same breath as one of the program's most dedicated players, Tyler Hansbrough, whose work ethic became legendary as he led the Tar Heels to a 2009 NCAA title as a senior.

"Harrison at this age is even more focused and more driven than Tyler was," Williams said today at the ACC media tipoff.

Hansbrough's willingness to work increased as he spent more time in the program, and Williams said it remains to be seen whether Barnes continues on the same upward track. But Barnes, who was rated the No. 1 recruit in the nation by, is off to a good start.

Williams said Barnes is showing the ability to score off the dribble, from the perimeter and on offensive rebounds. And Barnes is doing it while still instinctively getting the ball to open teammates.

"He'll be able to get some shots up and do some things without dominating the basketball," Williams said.

Other news and notes from Williams' media availability:

- Williams said he has scaled back the intensity of practices because he only has 10 players on scholarship, and four of them have been dinged up with minor injuries.

Tyler Zeller (calf), John Henson (leg muscle), Larry Drew (ankle sprain suffered in April) and Reggie Bullock (bruised hip) all are OK to practice, but are bothered by aches and pains.

Because of the low numbers in the program, Williams has been using his scholarship players five at a time against eight JV players during practices.

"I can't push like I've done in the past," he said.

- The dismissal of senior Will Graves because of an unspecified violation of team rules was "a big loss," according to Williams.

Graves had trimmed down to 228 pounds, his lowest weight since seventh grade, according to Williams. He had emerged as a team leader during the offseason. And Williams had planned to use him almost exclusively at power forward to draw opposing big guys away from the basket.

"Think of what pressure that would put on the opposing four man to have to come out and guard Will as far as he could go," Williams said.

- Former Alabama forward Justin Knox, who is playing his senior season for the Tar Heels under the graduate student transfer rule, has made an immediate and positive impact in Graves' absence.

Knox's transfer bolstered the numbers in the program after the sudden transfer in the spring of Travis and David Wear, which caught Williams by surprise.

"He's a man," Williams said. "He's 22 years old. . . .That experience, it shows."

Ken Tysiac

Virginia's Zeglinski out eight weeks

CHARLOTTE - If Sammy Zeglinski's rehabilitation goes well, Virginia coach Tony Bennett said, he could be back for most or all of the Cavaliers' ACC schedule.

Zeglinski had surgery Tuesday to fix cartilage on his left knee, according to a school news release. He is out approximately eight weeks.

"We were really young with him," Bennett said. "And now we're extremely young without him."

Zeglinski, a junior, averaged 8.9 points and 3.8 rebounds a game last season.

Ken Tysiac

Singler, Duke face expecations

CHARLOTTE - The question was inevitable.

Duke forward Kyle Singler was asked at the ACC media tipoff this morning whether this season will be a disappointment if the Blue Devils don't win the NCAA title.

The Blue Devils return Final Four most outstanding player Singler and second-team All-ACC guard Nolan Smith as seniors from last season's NCAA championship team. Two experienced and capable post players, Mason and Miles Plumlee, also are back.

Kyrie Irving, one of the nation's most heralded point guard recruits, joins the team as a freshman. And Seth Curry, the nation's leading freshman scorer in 2008-09, becomes eligible at the start of the season.

In other words, the Blue Devils are loaded, which left Singler facing a loaded question.

Although winning the NCAA title is Duke's goal, Singler said the team can't base the entire season, every step of the way, on winning the championship. He said there is pressure on the Blue Devils, but they try not to put pressure on themselves.

"Every year I've been here, there's been pressure," Singler said.

Singler touched on several other topics:

- Curry's skills complement the other players on the Duke team well. Singler was asked if Curry shoots the ball as well as Stephen Curry, the former Davidson standout who's with the Golden State Warriors.

"On any given night, you never know who's the better shooter in the family," Singler said. "It would be a fun competition."

- Singler began training camp at 230 pounds. He said he started last season at 220, but finished at 230 and played better at that weight.

"I think I carry myself better when I'm 230," he said.

- Although Singler has watched video of the Blue Devils 61-59 win over Butler in the NCAA title game, it's not quite the same watching it.

He said nothing could match the feeling he had as Butler's final, desperate shot barely missed the mark.

"That was probably the most thrilling [moment], and, I don't know what the word is, panicked," Singler said.

- Singler is not shying away from talk that he could be national player of the year, although he puts the team's goals first.

"I do want to be national player of the year, along with as many wins as possible," he said.

As for the most difficult question of the day, though, Singler didn't let himself get boxed in. Will the season be a disappointment if Duke doesn't win it all?

He said he just doesn't know.

"You just have to understand that we have to be ourselves," Singler said, "and things will take care of themselves."

Ken Tysiac

Pack's Smith facing up

CHARLOTTE - One of the ACC's most significant position changes this season will occur at N.C. State, where senior Tracy Smith is moving from center to power forward.

Smith, who ultimately decided to come back to school after initially entering the NBA draft, said he appreciates coach Sidney Lowe's support in allowing him to explore a position Smith expects to play as a future pro. Smith is listed at 6-foot-8, which is big enough to play center in college, but not in the NBA.

At the ACC's media tipoff event today, Smith said he spent the offseason preparing for his new position. Throughout his career, he has been effective as a low-post scorer. He averaged a team-high 16.5 points per game last season.

"This whole summer, I've been working on my face up, working on my jump shot," Smith said.

Smith said the development of sophomores DeShawn Painter and Jordan Vandenberg at center has helped make the move possible. Smith said Painter particularly has improved his shooting and blocking out on the boards, and Vandenberg has become a better defensive player and shot blocker at 7-foot-1.

Ken Tysiac

Zeller says turnovers a focus for UNC

CHARLOTTE - North Carolina junior center Tyler Zeller said he notices differences in coach Roy Williams after the Tar Heels' disappointing, 20-17 finish last season.

At the ACC's basketball media tipoff event this morning, Zeller said Williams is using the same system, but is more intense in this preason. According to Zeller, Williams also is honing in with sharper focus on some of the technical aspects of the game, and turnovers in particular.

The Tar Heels ranked last in the ACC in turnover margin last season at minus-1.5 per game.

"Turnovers are a big thing, and he's always harping on, 'You've got to take care of the ball,' " Zeller said.

Zeller also said losing senior Will Graves, who was dismissed from the team for an unspecified violation of team rules, was "tragic." Zeller said Graves' ability to score from the perimeter and make big players try to guard him outside will be missed.

"It's a great loss for us," Zeller said, "but at the same time, we'll be able to recover."

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, October 14, 2010

UNC's Williams: No reason to believe NCAA probe has ties to hoops

CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina coach Roy Williams said the school has researched his players, and reviewed their emails – as well as those of the team’s academic advisor. So as his Tar Heels prepare to open basketball practice Friday night, he has no reason to believe that the NCAA probe into agent benefits and possible academic misconduct on the football team spills over to his program.

“I know that they’ve [the school] told me we’re in great shape and I know they haven’t requested any meetings with me, or any meetings with any of our players,’’ Williams said at his team’s media day Thursday. “I’ve got enough things to worry about, and with the Chancellor and with Dickie [Baddour, the athletics director], I think we’ve got great guidance and they’re doing everything they have to do to not be surprised.

“And so I would feel like if there was anything negative, I would know about it – and I haven’t heard one thing whatsoever.”

Reached Thursday evening, Baddour said he had nothing to add to Williams’ comments.

Williams first said about a month ago that none of his players had academic ties to the former undergraduate tutor (who worked for both the school, and football coach Butch Davis) who possibly gave too much help to athletes on papers for class. Monday, Baddour that the agent benefits that led to wide receiver Greg Little to being ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA were received after his 10-game stint with the basketball team in 2008. In all, 14 football players have missed at least one game as part of the probe.

Williams acknowledged that contact between agents and his players is always concern, and he goes out of his way to personally try to monitor it in his program.

“I can’t imagine anybody in the country that worries about, and tries to keep their eyes and ears open on that more than I do,’’ Williams said. “I cannot imagine. I check every ticket list – personally check every ticket list. I’m the guy that stuffs the envelopes [with tickets] in every road game. I want to know who it is hanging around the locker room; I want to know who that guy is. We start from the first day, talking about it.”

NCAA bylaws don’t prohibit players or their families from meeting with agents, as long as they don’t agree (orally or in writing) to be represented by the agent or accept benefits. And while the NFL Players’ Association forbids agents from contacting football players until after their junior seasons (when they are first allowed to turn pro), there is no similar rule for basketball (where players can turn pro after their freshman season).

That’s one of the reasons forward Ed Davis’ biography ended up posted for a brief period of time on PTA Sports Management's Web site last February -- making it appear as if the then-sophomore was ready to give up his remaining eligibility for the NBA. (He eventually did, signing with another agent.) Vincent Porter, founder of the Chicago-based agency, said then that he had been in contact with the Davis family on several occasions, having met them through a mutual friend.

Williams on Thursday made it clear, though, that he thought there was little agents could do for basketball players while they were still in school – especially because NBA rookie contracts are already set.

“There’s really nothing they [agents] can do for you; you can either frickin’ play or you can’t,’’ he said. “ … I don’t like the guys, even the guys that are good, I don’t like them. I tell them, ‘You’re the best in a terrible profession.’ And I’ve got some guys that I’ve had two or three of my guys stay with, and I say, ‘I still don’t’ like you.’”

Williams re-iterated that he can’t imagine that anyone tries to monitor his players’ interactions more than him or his staff. But he also acknowledged that it’s a difficult job for the school.

“We have 800 student-athletes on this campus,’’ he said. “That means we have 1,600 parents. That means we have 2,400 people, and there is no way in Hades you can monitor what they do all the time. The only thing you can do is educate them, and plead, and beg, borrow and steal, and get them to come around to your line of thinking – and that’s exactly the way I feel.

“… You have no way of monitoring everything they do, every second of the day. And yet, that’s what you want to do, and that’s what you’re held accountable for in some cases. But it’s not an easy deal. … The bottom line is, people have to make decisions, and the bottom line is, people should know right from wrong.”

-- Robbi Pickeral

Kryzyewski: 'It can happen to anybody'

DURHAM -- Mike Krzyzewski never mentioned North Carolina’s football team, not once. He didn’t have to. The context of the Duke basketball coach’s comments on agents and their influence was abundantly clear.

“I don’t think it’s easy to prevent a kid, whether you have one kid or a dozen kids, from doing something that’s wrong,” Krzyzewski said today, in response to a question about whether it is easier to keep track of 12 scholarship basketball players than 70 or 80 scholarship football players.

“I think it takes … you have to develop a family culture, a team culture, that doesn’t accept that. Because obviously, if something happened, somebody knows about it. And you would hope that somebody in your culture, not necessarily just a coach, would stop that. Hopefully you would hire people that would not become a part of another culture which would subvert the culture you’re trying to build.

“I don’t know what the answer to that is, when you trust somebody and that trust is not warranted. These things can happen to anybody. Just like something can happen socially or academically. It can happen to anybody, and you just have to do as much as you can to reduce the chance of that happening, whether you have 12 or 80 or 100 … I don’t know what’s easier. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to try to stop it. Including the agents. Including everybody involved.”

Three North Carolina players have been dismissed from the team and associate head coach John Blake resigned as a result of the NCAA’s ongoing probe into the UNC football program, part of which focuses on improper benefits received from agents.

Krzyzewski said he feels confident in the way his program handles agents, relying heavily on Duke law professor Paul Haagen and Krzyzewski’s personal relationships with many agents, but that it requires commitment from players and their parents to do the right thing.

-- Luke DeCock

Monday, October 11, 2010

Woods parts ways with Wake Forest basketball

WINSTON-SALEM - Junior center Tony Woods has received a release from the Wake Forest basketball program.

The school said Monday that Woods asked for a release so he could pursue other options.

Woods was suspended indefinitely from the program last month after he was arrested on assault charges. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeamor charge of assaulting a female and was given a suspended 60-day sentence.

Coach Jeff Bzdelik in a statement says that he met with Woods "a number of times and we felt this was the best course of action for him."

Woods averaged about five points and three rebounds in 31 games last season.

-- Associated Press

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Graves dismissed from UNC basketball team

Fifth-year senior forward Will Graves has been dismissed from UNC’s basketball team for failure to comply with team rules, coach Roy Williams announced in a statement Thursday afternoon.

“This is 100 percent not related to any NCAA matters on campus,” Williams said in a prepared statement. “I hate this for Will. He worked extremely hard this summer to get himself physically in the best shape he’s been in years, but he did not do everything he needed to do to be a part of our basketball program. This is a huge blow to our team, but an even bigger blow for Will. Playing for the Tar Heels meant so much to him.”

Graves red-shirted in 2006-07 then played in 92 games over the past three seasons – although he suspended mid-way though the 2008-09 NCAA title season for breaking team rules. A team spokesman would not say whether his dismissal was for the same reasons as his previous suspension.

Graves, a 6-foot-6, 240-pound forward from Greensboro, has scored 513 points at UNC, including 353 last year, when he averaged 9.8 points per game and was the Tar Heels’ third-leading scorer.

Robbi Pickeral

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wake Forest suspends center Woods

Wake Forest junior center Tony Woods has been suspended indefinitely from the men's basketball team, coach Jeff Bzdelik said in a statement Monday, "in order to allow him to devote his time and effort to address the allegations that he is facing."

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, Woods is facing charges resulting from an incident on Labor Day.

Woods is alleged to have kicked and pushed down Courtney Lorel Barbour, with whom he lives. Woods, 20, was charged with three misdemeanors: assault inflicting serious injury, assault on a female and assault inflicting injury in the presence of a child.

According to the Journal, police said that Barbour, the mother of their 1-year-old child, sustained a lumbar spine fracture.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Friday, September 3, 2010

Duke's Singler has arthroscopic knee surgery

Duke senior forward Kyle Singler, who was named the most outstandidng player of the 2010 Final Four, had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee this afternoon at the Duke University Medical Center, the school announced.

Singler is expected to make a full recovery before the start of practice on Oct. 15.

“Kyle had some discomfort in his knee following a very busy summer so we elected to go in and clean it up prior to the start of the season,” said Duke associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski. “By all accounts, today’s surgery was a success and Kyle will be back at full strength before the start of practice.”

A first-team All-ACC selection, Singler averaged 17.7 points and 7.0 rebounds last season whilie leading Duke to the NCAA championship and its second straight ACC tournament title. He ranks 18th all-time at Duke with 1,767 career points.

Duke will open practice on Oct. 15 with its Countdown to Craziness celebration. The Blue Devils' regular season begins Nov. 14 against Princeton in the opening round of the CBE Classic.

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, September 2, 2010

ACC schedule highlights

Some marquee nonconference games for defending NCAA champion Duke are among the highlights of the ACC men's basketball schedule, which was released today.

Within a four-day span, the Blue Devils will meet two of the teams that played in the 2010 Final Four. Duke plays host to Michigan State on Dec. 1 and will play Butler on Dec. 4 in East Rutherford, N.J.

The Blue Devils, who will be among the favorites for a second straight NCAA title, also will visit Oregon on Nov. 27 and will play in the CBE Classic in Kansas City against Marquette on Nov. 22 in the semifinals and against either Kansas State or Gonzaga on Nov. 23.

Duke's games with North Carolina, which almost always are among the most highly anticipated meetings of the college basketball season, are scheduled for Feb. 9 in Durham and March 5 in Chapel Hill. The Blue Devils' most challenging section of their ACC schedule occurs in early February, when they will meet Maryland, N.C. State and North Carolina in succession.

North Carolina will count heavily on freshmen as it attempts to rebound from a disappointing 2009-10 season that ended with a loss in the NIT final. The Tar Heels and highly regarded recruits Harrison Barnes and Reggie Bullock will visit Illinois on Nov. 30 and play host to Kentucky on Dec. 4 in a couple of high-profile games.

They also will meet Texas in the Greensboro Coliseum on Dec. 18 and play three games in the Puerto Rico Classic from Nov. 18-21. The Tar Heels will be tested by what's expected to be a much-improved N.C. State team on Jan. 29 at Chapel Hill and Feb. 23 in Raleigh.

N.C. State, which will feature senior low-post scorer Tracy Smith and three highly regarded freshmen, will visit Wisconsin on Dec. 1 and Syracuse on Dec. 4 in its most difficult nonconference games.

The Wolfpack's conference schedule includes a stretch of five ACC games out of seven that will be on the road beginning with a visit to Clemson on Jan. 25. That stretch also includes games at North Carolina (on Jan. 29) and at Duke (on Feb. 5) before closing with a trip to Maryland on Feb. 20.

N.C. State will finish the schedule, though, with three of its final four ACC games at home.

Wake Forest, which is under new leadership as former Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik takes the helm, will play host to Iowa on Nov. 30, visits Xavier on Dec. 18, and plays at home against Gonzaga on Dec. 29.

In November, the Demon Deacons will play in the preseason NIT. They get a bit of a break in their ACC schedule, though, because they meet Duke and North Carolina just once each. Wake Forest plays host to Duke on Jan. 22 and visits North Carolina on Feb. 15.

Ken Tysiac

UNC coach: My players had no contact with tutor

North Carolina coach Roy Williams said Thursday morning that his basketball players have not had contact with the tutor who is being investigated for possible academic misconduct with football players.

In an interview with The News & Observer, Williams said no one can ever be 100 percent sure that the school’s academic investigation won’t carry over to other programs.

“But I have, since the news has been out there, checked with our people to see if we had anybody involved with that specific tutor; is this something that I’m going to get a call about in the middle of the night?” he said.

“And I’ve been assured that it’s not going to be a call I’m going get in the middle of the night, and I’ve been assured that there has not been any contact with that particular tutor. That’s as far as I can go; that’s as far as they want me to ask. They want me to keep my nose out of it, and I’m trying to do that – and gladly doing that, to be honest with you.”

The football program is currently mired in two investigations. The NCAA, since early July, has been looking into the Tar Heels’ possible improper contact with agents.

Last week, the school also launched a probe into whether a tutor – who formerly worked for both UNC, and head football coach Butch Davis – gave improper help to football players with papers written for class.

- Robbi Pickeral

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Is Henson 1st casualty of UNC's social networking policy?

A day after North Carolina revealed revised policies for social networking in its Student Athlete Handbook, it appears as if one of its most prolific tweeters might be leaving Twitter.

Basketball sophomore John Henson, who has more than 7,100 followers on the site, wrote on his account at about 5 p.m. Tuesday: “bye bye twitter. im off this after pickup today. At least until I leave unc. love yall.”

But after posting more the 2,900 updates, is Henson really done? Or might he be pulling a fast one -- say, tweeting again once he leaves unc['s campus for a burger]?

Henson, a projected starter last season, has had trouble editing himself on the social network before. After UNC was upset by College of Charleston last season, Henson tweeted that the Tar Heels had just made a guy's college career; the post was later erased.

Earlier this summer, he, as well as teammates Dexter Strickland and Larry Drew II, posted variations of the same message on their individual Twitter accounts: "well coach just talked to us about twitter and told us we offend some people n what not so this is a farewell to bein' myself..lata tweeps."

(They continued to tweet, with their posts toned down a tad.)

UNC has updated its 2010-11 Student Athlete Handbook to stipulate that “each team must identify at least one coach or administrator who is responsible for having access to and regularly monitor the content of team members’ social networking sites and postings.” The athletics department also reserves the right to have other staff members monitor athletes’ posts; and if any of an athlete’s online content violates the law or NCAA, University or athletic department policies, sanctions could range from removal of the posting to dismissal from the team.

Last year’s Student Athlete Handbook reminded players that what they post on social networks is public information; that they are a representative of the University and always in the public eye; that information is accessible after they remove it; that they should exercise caution about posting their whereabouts or plans; and that future employers might use their sites as a background check.

The updated handbook expands on those, stating that the athletic department “will not tolerate disrespectful comments and behavior online.” That includes derogatory language; comments that constitute a credible emotional or physical threat; and photos that depict unlawful abuse, hazing, harassment, discrimination, drug possession or use, and any other illegal conduct.

-- Robbi Pickeral

(Photo: UNC's John Henson watches as the Tar Heels fall behind by 20 points to Virginia in the second half on Sunday January 31, 2009 in the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. ROBERT WILLETT

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

ACC-Big Ten pairings announced

ESPN has announced the pairings for the 2010 ACC-Big Ten Challenge, according to the Big Ten's official web site.

Defending NCAA champion Duke will visit 2010 NCAA semifinalist Michigan State on Dec. 1 in one of the marquee games of the Challenge. That same day, N.C. State will travel to Wisconsin.

North Carolina will visit Illinois on Nov. 30. The only home game in North Carolina during the Challenge will be Iowa's Nov. 30 visit to Wake Forest in new Deacons coach Jeff Bzdelik's Challenge debut.

The Big Ten won last year's Challenge 6-5 after the ACC won the first 10 challenges in a row.

The 2010 ACC/Big Ten Challenge schedule is listed below.

Monday, November 29
Virginia at Minnesota - 7pm ET on ESPN2

Tuesday, November 30
Iowa at Wake Forest – 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU
Georgia Tech at Northwestern – 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Ohio State at Florida State - 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Michigan at Clemson – 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2
North Carolina at Illinois - 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Wednesday, December 1
Indiana at Boston College - 7:15 p.m. ET on ESPNU
NC State at Wisconsin - 7:15 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Purdue at Virginia Tech - 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
Maryland at Penn State - 9:15 p.m. ET on ESPN2
Michigan State at Duke - 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Ken Tysiac

Saturday, August 7, 2010

UNC's Knox graduates, but won't play in Bahamas

Soon-to-be North Carolina forward Justin Knox graduated from Alabama Saturday morning, his uncle said in a text message: “Congrats 2 Justin Knox as he graduates from Alabama this morning at 9 a.m,’’ Darien Knox said in the message. “The final step to being [in] UNC grad school and to become a member of the UNC hoops family. Go Tar Heels #25”

Under the NCAA's graduate student waiver program, the 6-feet-9 Knox is eligible to play for UNC this season. However, he will not travel with the Tar Heels in their exhibition trip to the Bahamas next week, his uncle confirmed.

Although the NCAA now allows new incoming players to play on such trips, the athletes must have completed at least one summer school class at their new school. Although incoming Tar Heel freshmen Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall did so, Knox needed to take summer school classes at Alabama to complete his undergraduate degree in business management.

His uncle, however, said Knox is eager to move to Chapel Hill and join the team later this month, in time for fall classes.

Knox averaged 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in 19.8 minutes a game last season for Alabama but decided to transfer in part because he didn't feel like he was fitting into the system after coach Anthony Grant's first season.

The wide-bodied banger is a key late addition for UNC, which lost last year’s starting forwards, Deon Thompson and Ed Davis, to the NBA; plus two key reserves, David and Travis Wear, who opted to transfer to UCLA. Junior Tyler Zeller and sophomore John Henson are expected to start, but Knox is only the third scholarship player 6-feet-8 or taller on the roster.

Knox said earlier this summer that he opted for UNC because he wanted to play for Hall-of-Fame coach Roy Williams.

“At the end of the day, it came down to what the better opportunity was for me in the future,’’ he said. “And you can't really go against a Hall of Fame coach in Roy Williams. So I really want to learn under him, and hopefully he can teach me a couple of things, and get me over that hump and into the league [NBA]."

-- Robbi Pickeral

Triangle hoops coaches earn top scores

The NCAA this week released its first Academic Progress Rates tied to coaches, and in men’s basketball, the Triangle led the ACC, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (which calculated the SEC and ACC averages for today's editions).

UNC’s Roy Williams topped the league with an average score of 992.8 (out of 1000) over the past six years, followed by N.C. State’s Sidney Lowe (990.8), and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (983.2).

The NCAA has released APR scores by team for the past six years, but unlike those team scores schools won't be penalized if their coaches' number falls below 925.

For scoring purposes, an athlete re­ceives one point per semester for remaining academically eligible and another point each semester for staying at that school or grad­uating.

Here are the averages, as calculated by the Journal-Constitution, for the ACC’s current basketball coaches since 2003-04. (Note that the tallies for some coaches also include numbers from their previous schools.)

Roy Williams, North Carolina 992.8

Sidney Lowe, N.C. State 990.8

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke 983.2

Steve Donahoe, Boston College 981.3

Brad Brownell, Clemson 976.7

Frank Haith, Miami 956.8

Tony Bennett, Virginia 954.3

Seth Greenberg, Va. Tech 950.2

Leonard Hamilton, Florida State 943.3

Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest 941.7

Paul Hewitt, Georgia Tech 926.8

Gary Williams, Maryland 923

Thursday, August 5, 2010

UNC, Davidson get Puerto Rico schedule

North Carolina will meet Hofstra at 5 p.m. and Davidson will play West Virginia at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 18 in the Puerto Rico Tipoff in San Juan according to a tournament schedule released today.

Nebraska, Vanderbilt, Minnesota and Western Kentucky also will participate in the tournament as each team will play three games. The tournament will continue Nov. 19 and Nov. 21, when the championship game will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Ken Tysiac

Duke to meet Marquette in tourney semis

Marquette will be defending NCAA champion Duke's opponent in the semifinals of the CBE Classic on Nov. 22 in Kansas City, according to a tournament schedule released today.

Duke will meet Marquette at 7:30 p.m., with a Kansas State-Gonzaga semifinal to follow. The championship game will be held Nov. 23 following a consolation game that will start at 7:45 p.m.

In regional round games in the tournament to be held at Duke, the Blue Devils will meet to Princeton at a time to be announced on Nov. 14 and will play Miami of Ohio at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 16.

Regardless of the regional round results, Duke, Marquette, Kansas State and Gonzaga will advance to the semifinals.

Ken Tysiac

Monday, August 2, 2010

Duke's Smith, Singler named to USA Select Team

Duke seniors Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith – as well as FSU junior Chris Singleton – will be part of the USA Men’s Select Team that will train against the 2010 USA Men’s World Championship team in New York later this month, Duke announced. All three ACC players were on the Select Team that trained against the World Team in Las Vegas last month.

Joining the trio on the Select Team: JaJuan Johnson (Purdue); Jon Leuer (Wisconsin); Shelvin Mack (Butler);; Howard Thompkins (Georgia); Mike Tisdale (Illinois); Kemba Walker (Connecticut); and Chris Wright (Dayton). Villanova head coach Jay Wright will also return to direct the 2010 USA Select Team in New York.

The 10 returning players will gather in New York on Aug. 9, and train against the USA World Championship Team finalists on Aug. 10 (1-3 p.m. EDT at John Jay College); Aug. 11 (1-3 p.m. EDT at John Jay College); Aug. 12 (time and site TBD); and Aug. 13 (11 a.m-12:30 p.m. EDT at the New York Knicks practice facility, Tarrytown, N.Y.).

North Carolina forward Tyler Zeller, who played on the Select Team in Las Vegas, is scheduled to be playing with the Tar Heels for two exhibition games in the Bahamas on August 11 and 12.

"One of the great developments of our Las Vegas camp was the USA Select Team which consisted of juniors and seniors out of the college ranks that we brought in to scrimmage against the USA National Team,’’ USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said in a prepared statement. “ Lorenzo Romar and Jay Wright did a terrific job of coaching the select players in Las Vegas. It worked so well we've decided to bring to New York a smaller group of players from that Select Team to do the same thing. They were very valuable to us and it's a great experience for them.”

-- Robbi Pickeral

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rogers draws applause at N.C. Pro-Am

Rodney Rogers received an extended ovation at N.C. Central's McDougald-McLendon Gym on Thursday when he spoke to the crowd at halftime of the 6 p.m. game at the SJG Greater NC Pro-Am.

Rogers, the former NBA, Wake Forest and Durham Hillside star, has been confined to a wheelchair since a dirt-bike accident left him paralyzed below the shoulders in 2008. He was at the Pro-Am on Thursday to raise money for his foundation, which provides financial support to paralysis victims.

"Keep praying for me, that I'll get up and walk out of this chair someday," Rogers said. "I want everybody to know I made it through. It was tough at first, but I made it. I want to get to more of these games, so I can have some fun."

Rogers wasn't the only celebrity in attendance Thursday night. John Wall, only a month removed from being selected first overall in the NBA Draft, came by with a few friends to watch Duke recruit Kyrie Irving play in the 7 p.m. game.

-- Luke DeCock

Duke's Kelly gets stronger, keeps shooting touch

DURHAM -- Ryan Kelly’s most pressing need for the summer was to get stronger.
Consider it done.

Kelly, the former Ravenscroft standout, started last season at about 210 pounds and played sparingly as a freshman forward during Duke's run to the 2010 NCAA title. A rigorous workout program and high-volume diet have increased his weight, and he now carries 234 pounds on his 6-foot-10 frame.

While banging against Duke teammate Mason Plumlee in a game Tuesday at the North Carolina Pro-Am, Kelly made it obvious that he is a different player.

"I definitely feel a lot more comfortable out there," he said. "Not being bumped around. Taking contact. Rebounding the ball. I think that's going to translate as the season begins."

The extra weight doesn't appear to have diminished the perimeter shooting ability that helped make Kelly a McDonald's All-American as a senior at Ravenscroft. Guarded mostly by Plumlee, he poured in 28 points (to Plumlee's 26), scoring mostly on mid-range jumpers and a few 3-point shots. Being strong enough to defend and rebound in the low post could give him more opportunities to be on the floor and display those skills.

Based on minutes played last season, only Mason and Miles Plumlee are ahead of Kelly in terms of returning post players because starters Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas both were seniors last season. Kelly, who turned 19 on April 9, seems to be maturing physically at the right time.

"I'm even kind of young for my [grade] anyway," he said. "Certainly hard work is the big part, but my body is going to catch up. I'm not done yet. My body has got a ways to go, but it’s on its way to catching up."

He isn't shy about saying Duke is going to win a lot of games again, although that's hardly a revelation with Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and the Plumlees returning from last season’s championship team. Kelly also is determined to play a bigger role.

"I'm just going to compete," he said, "and I'm going to find a way on the court."

Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

UNC players top N.C. State's guys again

DURHAM - C.J. Leslie clapped in disgust late Tuesday night as Ryan Harrow's pass slipped through his fingers and out of bounds, the fumble preventing what would have been an easy layup.

It was that kind of night for N.C. State recruits Leslie, Ryan Harrow, Lorenzo Brown and Joseph Uchebo of Team McGladrey in the North Carolina Pro-Am Summer League at N.C. Central.

They ran out to an 18-point, first-half lead, but trailed by halftime and ultimately fell for the second time to Team Stackhouse, whose roster includes North Carolina freshmen Reggie Bullock and Harrison Barnes, Tar Heel sophomore John Henson, and Tar Heel commitment P.J. Hairston.

After defeating Team McGladrey 82-72 a week earlier, Team Stackhouse rallied for a 59-51 win in the rematch.

"We fought back," Henson said. ". . .That's what we always do at Carolina. It's a good preview of what we have to do this year, fight back from early deficits."

Barnes, the top-rated recruit in the Class of 2010, led Team Stackhouse with 18 points. Harrow scored 17 points to lead Team McGladrey, which played without N.C. State senior Tracy Smith. Leslie added 16 points, including two free throws that put his team ahead 47-46 late in the game. But Barnes answered with a 3-pointer and two free throws as the lead changed hands for the last time.

Leslie shot 4-for-12 from the foul line, missing seven in a row at one point. N.C. State fans, whose roars filled the gym as Team McGladrey built the early lead, exited quietly as Team Stackhouse ran out the clock.

Ken Tysiac

Monday, July 12, 2010

NCAA unveils complicated, new 68-team format

Cramming 68 teams into a bracket that’s ideally suited for 64 teams was bound to be complicated.

The NCAA - whose Division I bylaw manual for 2009-10 takes up 419 pages - has a new format for its Division I men's basketball tournament, which was announced Monday in a news release.

Sure enough, the 68-team field created by the Division I men's basketball committee features an unusual configuration. It has a catchy new slogan ("the First Four") for the four new first-round games that should play well on TV as the NCAA embarks on its new 14-year contract with CBS and Turner Broadcasting.

But when you look at which teams will play in those first four games, it gets complicated. Two of the games will feature the teams rated 65 through 68 in the field, which will go on to face No. 1 seeds in the second round.

The two other first-round games will feature the last four at-large teams selected for a field that includes 31 automatic bids and 37 at-large bids. The at-large, first-round teams will occupy the seed line where they would normally have been placed in a bracket in the past.

For example, one first-round game might feature two No. 11 seeds and the other could have two No. 12 seeds. The winners of those games would then advance in the second round to face their proper seeds in the bracket, with No. 11 playing a No. 6 seed and No. 12 playing a No. 5.

The schedule and location of the first-round games will be announced at a later date. Teams in the new brackets will continue to be assigned to the closest geographic location while avoiding regular season rematches and conference opponents.

Second- and third-round games will be played Thursday through Sunday, March 17-20 in 2011. That includes games at Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena set for March 18 and 20.

In April, the Division I men's basketball committee was charged with creating a new format for the tournament after it was decided that the tournament would expand to 68 teams from 65.

"With the new bracket essentially featuring four additional at-large teams, the committee determined it was appropriate to have the teams play in the first round," Dan Guerrero, the UCLA athletic directory and 2009-10 committee chair, said in a statement. "We believe this format provides an extraordinary opportunity for the championship's first-round games to be quality match-ups as March Madness begins."

The tournament had featured 65 teams and one first-round game from 2001 to 2010. From 1985 to 2000, the field had 64 teams. The expansion to 68 announced in April came in part as a response to a significant number of coaches who said the 65-team field wasn't large enough reward an appropriate number of teams for their successful seasons.

Ken Tysiac

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Duke's Chelsea Hopkins transfer to S.D. State

Duke women's basketball player Chelsea Hopkins announced on Friday that she's transferring to San Diego State after two seasons with the Blue Devils.

Hopkins, a 5-foot-8 guard, said she's leaving to pursue more playing opportunity, having seen limited time as a point guard behind senior Jasmine Thomas. She moves closer to her hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Last season, Hopkins averaged 1.2 points, 1.0 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 0.7 steals in 26 games. She played in 46 games during her career at Duke.

"These last two years at Duke have been a great experience,” Hopkins said. “I would like to thank my teammates, coaches and everyone else in the Blue Devil program for making it such a wonderful time. I just think I will be able to maximize my potential at San Diego State to close out my career.”

Hopkins exits the program as Duke brings in what many are calling the top recruiting class in the nation for 2010-11 season, which includes the second-ranked high school point guard Chelsea Gray from Saint Marys High in Manteca, Calif.

-- Edward Robinson

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

ACC basketball preview: Wake Forest

Wake Forest

2009-10 record: 20-11 overall, 9-7 ACC (fifth)

Postseason: NCAA Tournament (1-1, lost to Kentucky)

Projected starting lineup: G Tony Chennault, G C.J. Harris, F Ari Stewart, F Tony Woods, F Carson Derosiers


• Size

In Tony Woods (6-11), Ty Walker (7-foot), Carson Derosiers (6-11) and Melvin Tabb (6-8), the Deacs have plenty of size to go around.

The quality of that size is debatable, but you know what they say, "You can't teach size."

Wake's still waiting for Woods and Walker to meet their potential. It wouldn't be surprising to see Derosiers, a freshman from New Hampshire, be a starter from Day One.

• Sophomore hope

C.J. Harris and Ari Stewart were being groomed as the leaders of this team by former coach Dino Gaudio. Jeff Bzdelik will likely keep Harris and Stewart in prominent roles.

Despite some bumpy patches, particularly at the end of the season, both were productive as freshman and should be better because of that experience.


• Guard play

Harris was a pleasant surprise last season, adding 9.9 points per game as a freshman, but his role is going to change dramatically.

Instead of hitting the occasional outside shot, handling the ball some in the halfcourt set and playing solid defense, he's going to have to be the best guard on the team.

Will he be good enough to be Ish Smith and C.J. Harris? He might have to be because it's possible Tony Chennault's not ready to be a starting ACC point guard (and it's possible that a new coach who didn't recruit Chennault doesn't want him to be a starting ACC point guard).

The other options at guard are limited. Senior Gary Clark is supposed to be a shooter but hasn't been a factor in three seasons. J.T. Terrell's jump shot should help but ballhandling is not exactly his bag.

• Unfamiliarity

You can bet if we (the media and fans) are asking, "Who's Jeff Bzdelik?" than the players are, too. Bzdelik has been in the NBA or out west in the college game for the better part of 20 years. The players recruited Gaudio likely felt some loyalty to him after experiencing the success that they did together in the past three years.

Problem for Bzdelik is this was going to be a transition year for Wake, who lost Al-Farouq Aminu to the NBA draft, a year after losing Jeff Teague and James Johnson, regardless of the coach.

He has been put in a tough spot, albeit with low expectations, for his first season.

Bottom line

Wake lost its best player, a four-year starting point guard and two other starters from an NCAA tournament team that won nine ACC games.

Wake AD Ron Wellman knew this would be a rebuilding year and instead of letting Gaudio burn, he decided to start over with a new coach. That's not a bad premise but he took a risk in hiring a 57-year-old with little connection, at least recruiting-wise, to the region.

Maybe Bzdelik, a coach well-versed in the finer points of the game's strategy from years as a scout in the NBA, can pull a rabbit from his hat. Maybe the freshmen are better than advertised. Maybe Harris and Stewart are ready to be leaders. Maybe Woods and Walker are ready to live up to their prep billing.

Maybe, maybe, maybe. It just sounds a lot like last place to me.

Returning players
G C.J. Harris Soph. 9.9 1.8 1.2
F Ari Stewart Soph. 7.3 3.2 0.3
F Tony Woods Jr. 4.6 3.2 0.1
G Gary Clark Sr. 3.2 0.6 0.2
F Ty Walker Jr. 1.9 1.4 0.1
F Al-Farouq Aminu (NBA) 15.8 10.7 1.3
G Ish Smith 13.2 4.9 6.0
G L.D. Williams 8.7 5.6 1.8
F Chas McFarland 7.2 7.0 0.8
F David Weaver 2.6 2.1 0.2
F Carson Desrosiers Fr. 6-11 225 41
F Travis McKie Fr. 6-6 180 54
G J.T. Terrell Fr. 6-3 175 65
F Melvin Tabb Fr. 6-8 210
G Tony Chennault Fr. 6-1 170
F Nikita Meschcharakou (transfer) Jr. 6-7 215

Recruiting analysis by Dave Telep,

Desrosiers: "This is Bzdelik's kind of guy. Carson's skilled, smart, tall and can stroke it. He'll be tougher inside in time and the offense should be an exact match to his talents. We feel he's a major ACC sleeper who went under-ranked by others."

Terrell: "A volume scorer in high school, Terrell's jump shot will bring back memories of bombers Archie Miller and J.J. Redick (and his range extends beyond both). The biggest transition will come in shot selection where he'll have to dial it back a bit. Wired up to score and athletic to boot, he's the ' X factor.' "

McKie: "It won't take long for him to be a crowd favorite. McKie has the smile, plays with bounce in the lane and spent the last three years worried about his ranking. All that is in the past and he'll be a leader and contributor from the start."

Chennault: "Fresh off a storied high school career, Chennault has the Philly edge to his game. He's going to play and challenge for minutes early especially if he can defend. Frankly, we aren't sure exactly how his game will translate but he's one of those guys that is tough to keep off the court. He's got a winner's background."

-- J.P. Giglio

ACC basketball preview: Boston College

Boston College

2009-10 record: 15-16 overall, 6-10 ACC (eighth)

Postseason: none

Projected starting lineup: G Reggie Jackson, G Dallas Elmore, F Joe Trapani, F Corey Raji, F Josh Southern


• New coach

After Boston College quit against Virginia in the opening ACC tournament game — four days after quitting in the second half against N.C. State — it was obvious the Eagles either had to get rid of the coach or their entire roster.

Boston College AD Gene DeFilippo took the path of least resistance and fired Al Skinner, despite seven NCAA tournament appearances in 10 years and a school-record 247 wins.

Enter Steve Donahue, who took Cornell to the Round of 16 in 2010 and three straight NCAA trips. And don't dismiss that accomplishment as "Oh, it's the Ivy League," because before Donahue got there, Cornell hadn't won an Ivy title since 1988.

Under Donahue, Cornell led the country in 3-point field goal percentage and ranked third in 3-pointers per game last season. Given how many coaches in the ACC attempt to win with defense and play at a glacial pace, Donahue gives BC a different and promising perspective.

• Reggie Jackson and Joe Trapani

With seven scholarship players on the roster, and zero freshmen as of June 29, Donahue's options are limited for his first team. In guard Reggie Jackson and forward Joe Trapani, he at least has two players who will excel in his up-tempo, perimeter-based system.

Given the transfer of Rakim Sanders, it doesn't take much imagination to project Jackson (12.9 ppg last year) and Trapani (14.1 ppg) to be in for big statistical seasons.


• Tough transition

It's not quite as jarring as Nebraska football going to the West Coast offense, but BC's in for a difficult transition with a roster of players built for Skinner's physical, halfcourt offense going to an up-tempo scheme.

Even Jackson and Trapani are inconsistent from the 3-point line, where Cornell made its living.

• Dry well

Skinner had a knack for finding and winning with players overlooked in the recruiting process (Craig Smith, Jared Dudley, Tyrese Rice). He understood how to develop players for his system but not necessarily how to coach within the 40-minute walls of the game.

He got lazy, beat or both on the recruiting trail in his final two classes, adding zero players in 2009 and having the one he signed in 2010 (Kevin Noreen) skip town with him.

It's tough to sustain a program's success when you aren't adding any players.

It's likely that Donahue will still add freshmen to this roster but he's obviously picking from the scrap heap.

Bottom line

DeFilippo made a good hire and it's going to work out in the long run but BC's in for some Steve Carell-hot-wax pain this season.

The Eagles are going to take a bunch of 3s and they have a roster built for a flex offense, which doesn't preclude good 3-point shooters, but it's not predicated on them, either.

The Eagles will definitely finish with fewer wins than scholarship players. Four, maybe five, seems about the level best that anyone could in this situation.

Returning players
F Joe Trapani Sr. 14.1 6.4 1.3
G Reggie Jackson Jr. 12.9 5.7 4.5
F Corey Raji Sr. 11.4 5.8 1.0
G Biko Paris Sr. 4.8 2.0 4.1
F Josh Southern Sr. 4.4 3.2 0.8
G Dallas Elmore Jr. 3.9 1.6 0.6
F Cortney Dunn Jr. 3.2 2.7 0.5
F Rakim Sanders (transfer) 11.3 3.7 2.1
F Tyler Roche 7.2 2.4 0.7
G Brady Heslip (transfer)

ACC basketball preview: Virginia


2009-10 record: 15-16 overall, 5-11 ACC (ninth)

Postseason: None

Projected starting lineup: G Jontel Evans, G Sammy Zeglinski, F K.T. Harrell, F Mike Scott, F James Johnson


• Tony Bennett can flat-out coach

Liked Tony Bennett before his first season at Virginia, liked him when he started 5-2 and even liked him when he finished 0-9. Dude can coach and in the ACC, that puts you in front of two-thirds of your peers.

Bennett had some success early, notably at N.C. State and UNC's expense, and then struggled after Feb. 3. In the ACC tournament, you saw Bennett's real value, getting a team, minus its best player, to win one game and nearly another, and the second games was against the national champions.

Now that he's thinned the weeds from the roster, Bennett's on the brink of making Virginia basketball relevant again.

• Recruiting bonus

UNC, Duke and N.C. State all landed higher-profile players but of the six that Bennett signed, two figure to start — K.T. Harrell and James Johnson — and the others all fit Bennett's pragmatic, hard-nosed style.


• Youth

With Sylven Landesberg, the team's leading scorer (17.3 ppg), failing out of school, Jeff Jones and Tristan Spurlock transferring, the Cavaliers are going to need their freshmen to play early and play well.

Senior forward Mike Scott and junior guard Sammy Zeglinski will provide veteran leadership but you get the sense from Bennett that last year was an audition and he found a bunch of "Solid Gold" dancers but no stars.

He will add the leading roles through recruiting and typically an overhaul of program takes more than two years.

• Talent

Even if Johnson and Harrell are good, there's just not a lot behind them. A roster with Mustapha Farrakhan, Will Sherrill and Assane Sene doesn't exactly scream "Final Four."

Bottom line

Be patient, UVa fans (and I know you have been), because there's going to be a payoff in Bennett but it's going to take some time.

This class was a great start and he'll mine more talent but in the interim, there's going to be a learning curve and it figures to bend at about five or six ACC wins.

Returning players
F Mike Scott Sr. 12.0 7.2 1.2
G Sammy Zeglinski Jr. 8.9 3.8 2.6
G Mustapha Farrakhan Sr. 6.5 1.7 2.0
F Will Sherrill Sr. 3.0 3.0 0.5
G Jontel Evans Soph. 2.4 1.5 1.9
F Assane Sene Jr. 1.6 3.6 0.2
G Sylven Landesberg (NBA) 17.3 4.9 2.9
G Jeff Jones (transfer) 7.3 1.3 0.4
F Jerome Meyinsse 6.5 4.1 0.4
G Calvin Baker 3.0 1.2 1.9
F Tristan Spurlock (transfer) 2.4 0.8 0.1
G K.T. Harrell Fr. 6-3 170 36
F James Johnson Fr. 6-8 210 37
G Billy Baron Fr. 6-1 185
F Akil Mitchell Fr. 6-7 200
G Joe Harris Fr. 6-5 200
F Will Regan Fr. 6-8 215

Recruiting analysis by Dave Telep,

Harrell: "UVA must replace its wing scoring and Harrell will get his chance to earn the shots Landesberg left behind. A late bloomer, he was a priority SEC recruit that got away."

Johnson: "We're higher on him than most and its because of his work ethic, developing frame, athleticism and scoring tools. He's an early starter and reports out of Charlottesville are that he's ready to impact as a freshman which is in line with our evaluation."

Baron: "When Tony Bennett looks in the mirror he sees a version of Billy Baron. An overachieving gym rat, Baron is the son of a coach, brother of a shooter and combo guard."

Harris: "Bennett recruited him to be a sniper and student. He's equipped to be both and he could be UVA's designated zone buster."

Regan: "He's blue collar all the way. The cerebral insider knows the value of hardwork in the paint and he's a max effort role player for the Cavs."

Mitchell: "He's the guy who's going to have to work the hardest to crack the rotation. Mitchell has a nice touch to mid-range. To get freshman PT he'll have to find a niche and that means getting stronger from the perimeter and in the weight room."

-- J.P. Giglio

ACC basketball preview: N.C. State

N.C. State

2009-10 record: 20-16 overall, 5-11 ACC (11th)

Postseason: NIT (1-1, lost to UAB)

Projected starting lineup: G Javier Gonzalez, G Lorenzo Brown, F C.J. Leslie, F Tracy Smith, F Rich Howell


• Level playing field

With the addition of freshmen C.J. Leslie, Ryan Harrow and Lorenzo Brown to a core of Tracy Smith, Scott Wood, Rich Howell and Javier Gonzalez, N.C. State has as many functional parts as any team in the league.

You could never write that sentence under Les Robinson and maybe only once or twice under Herb Sendek (2003-04, Julius Hodge's senior year, was arguably his best roster).

That means Sidney Lowe has put himself in position, in Year 5, to win games not by fluke but by simply being better than the other team. That's a major step up from any position he's operated under in his professional career, going all the way back to some bad NBA teams in Vancouver and Minnesota.

• Flexibility

Brown and Leslie have the ability to play multiple positions which adds a flexibility to the program. Brown can handle the ball, shoot and create his own shot. Leslie can defend the "four" and play the "three."

One of the freshmen guards can be on the floor with Gonzalez and move him off the ball, where he has proven to be an effective 3-point shooter.

Wood should get more space to do what he does best (hit shots) while not having to defend the other team's best forward (although he still could).

There are options for Lowe, which, of course, is both good and bad, because he has shown a propensity to do too much with his rotation for too long during the season, but at least he has options.

• Light bulb

It's dangerous to extrapolate too much from the end of one season to the beginning of another, but the way State finished 2009-10 — with six wins in nine games and an emphasis on defense and decision-making — suggests the light finally clicked.

A "Oh, so this is how we have to play to win" kind of epiphany for a group that returns three starters and loses really only one valuable piece (Dennis Horner).

It was not an accident that State went 6-1 down the stretch when it held an opponent under 70 points.


• Turning potential into reality

Lowe's in a delicate position because he needs to win now to keep his job but he also needs to tread carefully with this team.

For the better part of two years, we've all heard how good this class is — including the current players — so there's a natural tension between the returning players and the new ones.

That tension doesn't have to be combustible, the way the 2007-08 roster was, but the situation needs to be managed carefully lest it turn into the sequel of "Nightmare on Hickson-Costner-McCauley-Grant Street."

Gonzalez has given his blood and guts to the program, paying his dues early in his career in some trying and overmatched situations, and developing into a productive (yet still erratic) ACC player. How will he mesh with Harrow and Brown?

Wood was the only player to start every game last season, as a freshman no less. How will he handle coming off the bench, if that's how the lineup shakes out?

Smith was the center of this team's universe last season and had the numbers (16.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg) to prove it. How will he handle not being options 1 through 4? His touches are going to be reduced, is that going to be a problem?

• Schedule

This is both a plus and minus because with six games against Duke, UNC and Florida State, N.C. State's RPI certainly won't be lacking but the conference record could be.

The good news is Georgia Tech, in a similar situation last year, went 7-9 in the ACC and got into the NCAA tournament (they did reach the ACC tournament final, though, keep in mind) while Virginia Tech went 10-6 and watched the NCAA tournament on TV because it didn't have enough wins (or games) against the top ACC teams.

Bottom line

Lowe compiled a 79-229 record in parts of five NBA seasons. His ACC record is 20-44 at N.C. State. He has been quick to point out the discrepancy in talent between his teams and his competition.

That's no longer the case and if he doesn't win enough this season, it will be his last head coaching job for the foreseeable future.

That could be construed as pressure or a challenge. It's up to Lowe to decide which one it will be in what promises to be an entertaining season.

He will have to manage the roster, and egos, better than he has previously but the way the 2009-10 season finished suggests this team is ready to listen and continue its progress from March.

Given the schedule, it will be difficult for this team to win 10 ACC games but a 9-7 record is there for the taking if the right buttons are pushed.

Returning players
F Tracy Smith Sr. 16.5 7.3 1.1
G Javier Gonzalez Sr. 9.5 3.3 3.7
G Scott Wood Soph. 7.8 2.9 1.4
F Rich Howell Soph. 4.9 4.6 0.6
G C.J. Williams Jr. 4.3 2.6 1.3
F DeShawn Painter Soph. 1.6 1.2 0.0
F Jordan Vandenberg Soph. 1.0 1.8 0.2
F Dennis Horner 11.9 4.9 1.4
G Farnold Degand 5.5 2.4 2.5
G Julius Mays (transfer) 4.6 1.2 1.6
F Josh Davis (transfer) 2.6 1.7 0.5
F Johnny Thomas (transfer) 0.8 0.9 0.2
F C.J. Leslie Fr. 6-8 190 11
G Ryan Harrow Fr. 5-11 155 25
G Lorenzo Brown Fr. 6-4 175 28*

Note: Brown's rank from the class of 2009.

Recruiting analysis by Dave Telep,

Harrow: "A trickster with the ball and a major threat to find the bottom of the net. He has work to do in the weight room but what he lacks in strength he makes up for in swagger. The Pack needed a guy to get buckets and he's at the front of the line to provide the punch."

Brown: "Don't be surprised if he becomes the primary offensive decision maker. He's physically ready, can score it in his own right and may be most ready to handle the decision-making as a freshman. Either way, he and Harrow are a super 1-2 tandem."

Leslie: "End to end, he's as athletic as they come plus he gives the Pack a helpside shot blocker, above the rim player and forward who can create his own offense. He's the perfect complement to Tracy Smith."

-- J.P. Giglio