Saturday, January 30, 2010

President Obama attends Duke-Georgetown

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Duke's basketball team often commands extra attention on the road, but the extra security at Saturday's game with Georgetown had nothing to do with the Blue Devils or coach Mike Krzyzewski.

President Barack Obama is attending the game, seated at courtside across from the Georgetown bench. It's uncertain, though, whether he will meet with the team after the game.

Duke spokesman Matt Plizga said there had been discussion of a possible meeting with the president, but he wasn't sure it was going to happen. Of course, after President Obama's latest conversation with a college basketball team, the Blue Devils might be better off without his advice.

Earlier this week, the president called Kentucky to congratulate the Wildcats on ascending to the No. 1 ranking in the polls. He warned them about getting complacent, to no avail.

Kentucky lost Tuesday at South Carolina.

Plizga said he expects that the president's personal assistant, Reggie Love, will stop by to meet with Duke's players and coaches after the game. Love is a former Duke basketball and football player from Charlotte.

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Queens-Pfeiffer rivalry hits the big-time

The fierce rivalry between Queens and Pfeiffer gets a national showcase Saturday when the Royals-Falcons game is televised nationally by CBS College Sports. The Conference Carolinas game -- to played at noon at Pfeiffer's Merner Gym in Misenheimer -- will be shown locally on Fox Sports South and Fox Carolinas.

This will be Queens' first time on national television.

"It will be fun," said Royals coach Wes Long. "We might lose guys we recruit to lower Division I schools in leagues like the Big South or Atlantic Sun. But they don't get on TV if they play there. on TV."

The Queens-Pfeiffer game is part of an eight-game Division II package by CBS College Sports, which is showing four men's games and four women's games this season.

Long, a former player and assistant at Clemson, doesn't take for granted the exposure the TV game will bring.

"When I was at Clemson, I was spoiled by being on television all the time," he said. "When I dreamed about being a college head coach, I'd think about being on television. But this is the first time."

Royals recruits got emails from Long this week, reminding them to watch the game.

"Pfeiffer will do a great job of creating a great environment," Long said. "And I'm sure places like USC Upstate (another Atlantic Sun team), can't be too excited about us being on there." -- David Scott

Duke didn't eject FSU fans, spokesman says

It appears that neither Mike Krzyzewski nor anybody else on the Duke staff Wednesday night followed North Carolina coach Roy Williams’ lead in dealing with loud opposing fans.

Three Florida State fans who drew attention to themselves in prime, front-row baseline seats during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium left those seats of their own accord in the second half, according to Duke associate sports information director Matt Plizga.

Plizga said the three were not asked to leave by Duke staff members or by the outside security officers Duke hires to staff the event.

Why was this even a question?

Earlier this season, Williams sent security officers into the stands to confront a Presbyterian fan at the Smith Center who hollered from several rows behind the North Carolina bench for Deon Thompson to miss a free throw.

The fan at North Carolina was ejected. The Florida State fans at Duke were not, Plizga said.
In the first half, Duke’s fans made fun of the most demonstrative of the three Florida State fans.

The students chanted, “Harry Potter, Harry Potter” at him because his shirt resembled something worn by the movie character.

Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Curry's absence good for Southern Conference?

Bobby Cremins and Bob McKillop might have two different views about what's good for the Southern Conference.

Cremins' College of Charleston Cougars face McKillop's Davidson Wildcats on Thursday at Belk Arena. The atmosphere will be different from last season, when the Charleston-at-Davidson game was so significant that it was televised by ESPN (with Dick Vitale on hand, too).

There will be no such national attention Thursday. Charleston should be favored: The Cougars lead the league's South Division with an 8-1 record (13-7 overall). Davidson, which has won the division's regular-season title for three straight seasons, is tied for third at 4-4 (9-11 overall).

Davidson, of course, is without departed star Stephen Curry, who helped the Wildcats to three straight division championships, two league tournament titles and two NCAA tournament appearances in his three seasons, before departing for the NBA a year early.

"When Stephen was there, Davidson dominated our conference," said Cremins. "They were an absolutely great team. But you hate to be (thought of as) a one-team conference."

Cremins, who coached at Georgia Tech from 1981-2000, remembers some of Duke's dominant teams in the ACC.

"Duke was on a ridiculous run, and it kind of hurt our conference from the point of getting teams into the NCAA tournament," Cremins said.

"(Without) Stephen, our conference is more balanced now."

McKillop, whose teams have finished lower than second place just three times since 1992, has a different take.

"With Stephen last year, we had ESPN and Dick Vitale doing the game," he said. "That quite clearly was something that was good for college basketball, the Davidson community and our conference as a whole.

"There are two sides of that coin. You can have balance and parity, but also a team that's the king of the hill. There's an argument for both sides."

And Cremins' concern about the Curry-era's dominance can be questioned, anyway. Charleston won that ESPN game 77-75, then beat the Wildcats in the Southern Conference tournament semifinals. Charleston lost to Chattanooga in the championship game. -- David Scott

N.C. State student paper mocks Heels

"TheTechnician," N.C. State's student newspaper, continued a tradition ahead of Tuesday's North Carolina at N.C. State basketball game, producing a mock newspaper, "The Daily Tar Hell," that wrapped their normal edition.

There's some, uh, semi-adult content, so beware before you click, but it's pretty funny college humor sort of stuff, complete with every stereotype you can think of.

Still, to the staff of The Technician, we say bravo. Except the one guy we showed it to who asked, "yeah, how'd the game go for them?"

Gamecocks: No offense, Mr. President

Few people gave South Carolina much of a chance against top-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday night. And when Gamecocks guard Devan Downey heard that even President Barack Obama was one of those folks, he tried not to take it personally.

Obama had said Kentucky "should be all right," against South Carolina earlier Tuesday. That made its way to the Gamecocks locker room.

"I'm scared to say anything," said Downey, minutes after South Carolina stunned Kentucky 68-62 at Colonial Life Arena behind his 30 points. "That's the president. Somebody might be knocking on my door in the morning. I'm not going to say anything about Obama."

Downey nearly single-handedly brought down Kentucky, scoring almost half of South Carolina's baskets (nine of the Gamecocks' 22) and making 10 of 11 free throws.

"I knew my team needed me to score," said Downey, who is from Chester, S.C. "I couldn't be gun shy."

Kentucky coach John Calipari, who also blamed South Carolina's offensive rebounding (the Gamecocks had 20 offensive boards) on the defeat, said his team did what it could against Downey, who's now averaging 20.9 points (31.6 in SEC play).

"(But) you don't want to put him on the foul line, which we did," said Calipari, whose team lost for the first time in 20 games. "And we knew he was going to take tough shots."

The game was billed as a showdown between Downey and Kentucky freshman point guard John Wall. Wall (was held in check for much of the game until late, when he scored Kentucky's final eight points. He also had a shot at the rim emphatically blocked. He finished up with 19 points, but had four turnovers to go along with two assists.

At least one South Carolina player wasn't surprised that Wall was held in check.

"I've known the kid for a while," said senior guard Brandis Raley-Ross, who played at Gaston Day. "He played against my little brother in AAU ball when he was in ninth grade. So I don't buy all the hype." -- David Scott

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

SoCon leaders light it up

The Southern Conference's divisional leaders got together Monday in Cullowhee. They didn't disappoint.

North Division-leader Western Carolina outscored the South's first-place team, College of Charleston, 100-90 in what could have been a preview of the league's tournament championship game March 8 at Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena.

"We couldn't stop them," said Charleston coach Bobby Cremins. "It was a typical Southern Conference shootout."

Western Carolina also couldn't stop Charleston, which set a Ramsey Center (and school) record with 19 3-pointers made.

With player such as Jake Robinson going for four-for-four from 3-point range (he broke Western Carolina's career record for 3-pointers made during the game), the Catamounts had enough firepower to overcome that. Western had five players in double figures, as did Charleston. Cougars guard Andrew Goudelock had a double-double (24 points, 11 assists).

It was the first loss in the league for Charleston (13-7, 8-1), which faces another tough test Thursday at Davidson. Western (16-4, 6-2) rebounded from a loss Saturday at Appalachian State.

Both teams have impressive nonconference victories this season -- Western beat Louisville; Charleston toppled North Carolina.

But now is the time for big nonconference games. Monday, Western and Charleston played a memorable one.

-- David Scott

Monday, January 25, 2010

Duke's Big Three log heavy minutes

Duke's fans - some of whom are concerned that the Blue Devils may be overworking Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith - aren't the only ones paying close attention to the minutes logged by the Big Three.

ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews said Clemson coach Oliver Purnell was urging the Tigers to keep pushing in an effort to tire the Blue Devils in Duke's 60-47 win on Saturday. Purnell admitted as much on Monday during the ACC's weekly teleconference call.

"We were monitoring minutes during the game and recognized that Scheyer and Singler had not been out of the game," Purnell said. "With our style and all of that, it was soemthing we were trying to do at the end. And quite honestly, they looked bushed. But I give them all the credit in the world. With tremendous mental toughness, those two, along with Smith and their other guys hung in there when they were tired."

But Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski sounded confident that superior conditioning is keeping his top players from wearing down. Scheyer and Singler played 40 minutes each Saturday, and Smith played 37.

"They're in great shape," Krzyzewski said Monday of Duke's three top players. "They finished the Clemson game, and all three of them, they could have played another 20 minutes."

Ken Tysiac

Monday, January 18, 2010

Update: Singler still probable for N.C. State

After further examination of his right wrist at Duke today, Blue Devils junior forward Kyle Singler is being listed as probable for Wednesday's 9 p.m. game at N.C. State.

Team spokesman Matt Plizga said Singler came in Monday for treatment on his wrist, which he hurt when he crashed to the floor after being fouled by Wake Forest's Tony Woods late in Sunday night's 90-70 Blue Devil win.

Singler went for tests after the game and wasn't available for comment, but Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said the wrist was stiff rather than sore.

By extending his arm when he fell, Krzyzewski said, Singler probably averted a more serious injury to the wrist. The initial tests showed no fractures.

"The way he landed saved him from having a broken wrist," Krzyzewski said. "That's why as we do the games, we have to always be careful about protecting an airborne player. You never want to see anybody get hurt. . . .We're not that deep anyway, but if you lose Kyle, you're losing one of the best players in the country."

Ken Tysiac

Drew, Davis latest injuries for UNC Tar Heels

The injury bug continues to bite North Carolina -- hard. Starting point guard Larry Drew II and starting forward Ed Davis did not practice on Monday, coach Roy Williams said.

Drew hyper-extended his knee and Davis sprained his left ankle during Saturday's loss against Georgia Tech. Drew is expected to play against Wake Forest on Wednesday, a team spokesman said.

They are just the newest injuries in a slate of twists, turns, breaks and pains that have sidelined five other players -- including reserve forward Tyler Zeller, who is out for 4-6 weeks with a fractured foot -- for at least one game.

"It's the most unsettled team I've had, just the nagging injuries, and taking people out of games,'' Williams said. "The last three years, we've had more injuries than any other five or six years that I've ever had as a coach. So lineup changes have been a lot, just because of that right there."

Williams said Davis' hurt ankle, which was re-taped during the game, likely contributed to his output.

" I think it really limited his effectiveness, needless to say, in the second half,'' Williams said. "Ed Davis didn't get a rebound from the 15-minute mark through the rest of the game, and he's one of the best rebounders that I've ever coached."

-- Robbi Pickeral

Wolfpack coach wants more from Horner, Gonzalez

Dennis Horner and Javier Gonzalez combined to score two points in 23 minutes for N.C. State in Saturday's 73-70 loss to Clemson.

Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe said he needs more from the two starters who are averaging a total of 21.4 points per game.

"We talked about how much we need them and how they have to play," Lowe said Monday on the ACC teleconference. "They understand that."

Lowe said Horner has been bothered by a sore right knee. Horner had both surgically repaired in the summer. He re-injured his right knee against Virginia on Jan. 9 and did not practice on Monday.

"I know Dennis has been bothered by his knee," Lowe said. "It really hasn't been well."

Lowe said Gonzalez, who also struggled against Florida State, had a "great" practice on Monday and said he did not have plans to change the starting lineup, despite the production from Julius Mays, who has 29 points in the past two games.

"We're not at the point right now," Lowe said.

-- J.P. Giglio

Coaches disagree on physicality

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Mobile version | 01.18.2010 | 55°F Blogs > ACC Now You may also like Canes Now | Balls and Strikes | Preps Now | Campus Notes blogs post

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Coaches disagree on physicality
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Submitted by kentysiac on 01/18/2010 - 10:17
Tags: ACC Now | Duke | UNC | Wake Forest
DURHAM - Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Dino Gaudio agreed that Sunday night's game was brutally physical.

But the two coaches seemed to have opposing views on whether college basketball overall has become too physical in their comments after eighth-ranked Duke's 90-70 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

"On both sides right now, our kids and their kids, this is like a football game," Gaudio said. "I think Coach (Roy) Williams (said) a couple weeks ago, the game is getting incredibly physical. It's unbelievable. And like I said, my kids and the other team as well. I'm not saying Mike's kids. The game is just so physical anymore, it's unbelievable. I don't know - I've seen a couple NBA games, and I don't know if it's that physical in The League."

So Gaudio, Roy Williams and some other coaches interviewed last week (Maryland's Gary Williams and Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt) agreed that college basketball is getting too physical. But Krzyzewski and Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg thought that the game has been just as physical at times in the past.

Krzyzewski held firm on that point Sunday night.

"It was really physical (Sunday)," he said. "I don't think that's the way games are always played. We're both 2-1 (in the ACC) coming into the game. Both of us had good rests. Just the nature of something like that takes it up a notch or two. I don't think that game is indicative of how all of the games are played, but certain games are played at a higher level and tonight was one of them."

Those are two very different takes on the same sport, but more coaches seem to agree that college basketball is too physical. And here's a radical solution, which ESPN analyst and former Duke player Jay Bilas suggested last week.

The Big East experimented with a six-foul rule in conference games from 1989 to 1992. Players did not foul out until they were called for their sixth foul. Traditionally players foul out on their fifth foul. The experimental rule was criticized and short lived because many believed it made the game more physical.

It stands to reason, then, that if players are disqualified on their fourth foul instead of their fifth foul, the game will become less physical. After watching huge players repeatedly crash to the floor during the Duke-Wake Forest game Sunday, it's clear that something needs to be done to protect players.

Experimenting with a four-foul rule - perhaps in the early-season tournaments in Hawaii, Alaska and elsewhere in 2010-11 - would be a good place to start.

Ken Tysiac

Early report: Singler probable for N.C. State

The preliminary report on Duke forward Kyle Singler's injured right wrist is good, coach Mike Krzyzewski said Monday morning.

Singler hurt his wrist when he crashed to the ground after being fouled by Wake Forest's Tony Woods late in Sunday night's 90-70 Blue Devil win. Singler went for tests after the game and wasn't available for comment, but Krzyzewski said the wrist was stiff rather than sore.

Krzyzewski said Singler is likely to be listed as probable for Wednesday's 9 p.m. game at N.C. State, but said he will have more information later in the day when the team meets for practice.
By extending his arm when he fell, Krzyzewski said, Singler probably averted a more serious injury to the wrist. The initial tests showed no fractures.

"The way he landed saved him from having a broken wrist," Krzyzewski said. "That's why as we do the games, we have to always be careful about protecting an airborne player. You never want to see anybody get hurt. . . .We're not that deep anyway, but if you lose Kyle, you're losing one of the best players in the country."

Ken Tysiac

Saturday, January 16, 2010

In-game: Clemson @ N.C. State

RALEIGH -- Clemson can't miss and N.C. State can't buy a basket. Throw in that Clemson's just better than the Wolfpack and it's 45-28 at the half.

Trevor Booker's 13 points leads the No. 24 Tigers, who have hit 60 percent (18-30) of their shots.

State shot 31.8 percent in the first half (7-22) and went more than 10 minutes without a field goal.

Tracy Smith's post move at 10:48 made it 20-14 and then Clemson went on a 16-2 run, capped by Demontez Stitt's running, off-balance bank shot at 4:47.

The 3-pointer was a friend to the Pack in Tuesday's upset at Florida State but has been absent on Saturday. The Pack is 1-of-9 from 3, with Scott Wood's 3 at 13:49 as the only make.

Wood, who scored 31 points on Tuesday, has been slowed by foul trouble. He has five points, on four shots, but picked up two fouls in an 11-second span and went to the bench at 5:30.

Smith leads State with eight points.

-- J.P. Giglio

Friday, January 15, 2010

UNC's big men must get tougher

CHAPEL HILL -- Things could get tough in the lane for North Carolina on Saturday now that reserve 7-footer Tyler Zeller is out 4 to 6 weeks with a stress fracture in the third metatarsal of his right foot.

The key for the 12th-ranked Tar Heels: get tougher.

In the blowout loss to Clemson on Wednesday, starting forwards Ed Davis and Deon Thompson combined for only eight points. They were often out of position, weren't aggressive, and when UNC's post players did get the ball, they had trouble finishing plays. By coach Roy Williams' count they missed five shots from within two feet of the basket in the first half, then five shots - in one possession - from two feet in during the second half.

After the game, Thompson said he had trouble getting in position because of the rapid pace.

"I told Deon, respectfully I disagreed,'' Williams said Friday. "His statement was that the game was so fast-paced and he and Ed were not able to get involved. Well, wasn't it the same pace for Clemson? And their guys were involved. When we have Deon and Ed and Travis and David [Wear] -- for four post guys to not shoot a single free throw, we're not involved. And their guys shot free throws.

"... We've got to get our big guys to post up, demand the ball, post up lower, post up stronger, and then we've got to get our guys to throw them the ball. That's something we have to do every game, but we really have to do it against Georgia Tech."

The 20th-ranked Yellow Jackets boast one of the most physical frontcourts in the country in 6-9 sophomore Gani Lawal and 6-10 Derrick Favors, plus 6-8 Zach Peacock, who comes off the bench. Williams called the trio "rugged."

"If you're talking about strength and athleticism, they're at the top of the list,'' Williams said.

Without Zeller's points, rebounds and five extra fouls, UNC is going to have to find a way to match that - which means learning how to tough it out.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Top guards meet when Wake Forest visits Duke

Senior point guards Jon Scheyer of Duke and Ish Smith of Wake Forest couldn't be more different.

Smith is almost universally regarded as the fastest player in the ACC. Scheyer is more deliberate but also craftier.

Their meeting should be a treat when Wake Forest (12-3, 2-1 ACC) visits eighth-ranked Duke (14-2, 2-1) at 8 p.m. Sunday.

"Ishmael, he's fast, lightning fast," Duke guard Nolan Smith said. "Jon is a more set-up point guard who gets us into our offense."

The guards are so different that Scheyer won't even guard Ish Smith when Wake Forest has the ball. That job will go to Nolan Smith, who's quicker than Scheyer but isn't as comfortable running Duke's offense.

But all of Duke's players will be watching for Ish Smith, who's averaging 13.0 points and 6.0 assists per game, in transition. That means that when one Duke guard drives to the basket, the other will have to rotate back for defensive purposes because of how quickly Smith gets the ball up the floor.

"It's about stopping them in transition and making them work for it on offense," said Scheyer, who's averaging 19.6 points and 6.1 assists.

While you'd rather have Ish Smith rushing the ball ahead in the open court, you'd prefer to have Scheyer on the foul line at the end of the game. He leads the ACC with a free throw percentage of .903.

Smith is shooting 43.9 percent from the foul line.

Ken Tysiac

UNC's Zeller to miss 4-6 weeks with foot injury

CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina reserve forward Tyler Zeller has a stress fracture in the third metatarsel in his right foot, and will miss at least 4-6 weeks, coach Roy Williams said.

He sat out Wednesday's loss at Clemson with soreness in the foot; he was averaging 9.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 16.4 minutes.

- Robbi Pickeral

Pack tries to dictate pace

As N.C. State seeks a second straight win over a ranked team, coach Sidney Lowe said slowing down will be the key for his players.

At noon Saturday, the Wolfpack (12-5, 1-2 ACC) will play host to No. 24 Clemson (14-3, 2-1). Both teams are coming off big wins.

N.C. State stunned No. 25 Florida State 88-81 on Tuesday in Tallahassee, Fla. Clemson crushed 12th-ranked North Carolina 83-64 on Wednesday in Clemson. The Tigers forced 26 North Carolina turnovers and are leading the ACC with 11.2 steals per game.

Under coach Oliver Purnell, Clemson plays a frenetic, full-court pressure defense.

"They do a great job of speeding up the game," Lowe said Friday during his weekly news conference. ". . .They force their opponents to speed up the game, and a lot of teams can't play that way."

Lowe hopes his players won't try. He's trying to get his players to slow down mentally and physically when they face the press.

During practice he showed his players where each of Clemson's traps come in a pressure defense that's called a "diamond trap." Lowe demonstrated which options will be open when Clemson traps.

Lowe also had his players practice against six defenders to simulate the intense pressure Clemson will bring.

"While they're trying to be going at one pace, we need to be going at a different pace," Lowe said. ". . .While they're speeding up our minds, we need to be able to slow our minds down."

The second key against Clemson's defense will be finding a quick way to score once N.C. State gets the ball over halfcourt. Because breaking the press usually eats away time on the 35-second clock, there's not a lot of time to work the ball around to look for a great shot.

"We've worked on some things we can get into quick to execute," Lowe said.

Ken Tysiac

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Heels can learn from Duke

This will be difficult for some people associated with North Carolina to hear.

It's never easy to realize that you can learn something from your rival. But after falling 83-64 on Wednesday night at Clemson, the Tar Heels could gain some perspective from the way Duke handled a 74-47 debacle at Clemson last season.

It would be tempting just to forget the Clemson game ever happened. But last season Duke didn't do that.

"We want to always try to remember how we felt," David McClure, a senior last season, said after the Blue Devils edged Miami 78-75 in overtime in their next game.

Duke guard Nolan Smith still was holding on to the memories a couple weeks ago before the Blue Devils defeated Clemson 74-53 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

"We have a lot of guys that are veterans that played in that game," Smith said of the loss at Clemson. "It's behind us, but it's not."

As difficult as the Clemson loss was last season, the Blue Devils decided to remember the feeling in order to motivate themselves so that they would never feel that way again.

They didn't bounce back right away, losing to North Carolina and Boston College after that defeat of Miami. But ultimately they got things turned around, winning 30 games and the ACC Tournament last season and reaching the East Regional semifinals in the NCAA Tournament.

If Duke can do that, the Tar Heels can, too. They have talented big guys in Ed Davis and Deon Thompson, and freshman guards Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald are starting to make a bigger impact.

North Carolina is inexperienced, but has senior leaders such as Deon Thompson and Marcus Ginyard who understand what it takes to turn things around. All is not lost for the Tar Heels even though they're struggling now.

Their rivals in Durham can tell them that.

Ken Tysiac

Student newspaper irks Krzyzewski

DURHAM - A bold column by Joe Drews of The Chronicle, Duke's student newspaper, got under coach Mike Krzyzewski's skin Wednesday.

In a column titled "It's time to bench Singler," Drews wrote that junior forward Kyle Singler should be removed from the starting lineup and play no more than 20 minutes against Boston College on Wednesday and perhaps against Wake Forest on Sunday.

In a 79-59 win over Boston College, Singler started and scored 15 points and grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds in 31 minutes.

"I thought Kyle played really well," Krzyzewski said. "There were some suggestions in our student newspaper that we shouldn't start him tonight. The first day back (from holiday break) and we read the student newspaper and he's benching our guy. It's welcome back, I guess. Unbelievable."

In Drews' defense, Singler's performance hasn't quite matched the preseason ACC player of the year and Associated Press' All-America accolades he received. Singler's teammate, senior guard Jon Scheyer, has had the better season and appears at this point more likely to gain both of those honors.

But Singler still is one of the best players in the ACC. He entered Wednesday's game ranked 11th in the conference in scoring (15.4 ppg), eighth in free throw percentage (.780), and 14th in rebounding (7.1 rpg).

If a coach is trying to win, he doesn't put that kind of player on the bench for half the game. A coach also is going to back a player who works as hard as Singler at every opportunity.

That's why a bold but flawed argument in the student newspaper didn't pass without a comment Wednesday.

"We're No. 2 in the RPI and the first article is, 'Bench Singler,' " Krzyzewski said. "Happy New Year. Unbelievable."

Ken Tysiac

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

UNC team bus in minor crash

North Carolina’s players and coaches escaped injury Wednesday when the team bus was involved in a car wreck on the way to the team’s shoot-around practice in preparation for a 9 p.m. game at Clemson, a team spokesman said.

Matt Bowers, associate athletics communications director for North Carolina, said a car hit the bus in the parking lot outside Littlejohn Coliseum. Bowers said the female driver of the car wasn’t injured. There were some minor scrapes on the bus, but the woman’s car sustained significant damage. The crash slightly delayed the Tar Heels’ arrival at Littlejohn for the shoot-around.

On his Twitter page, North Carolina freshman forward John Henson had a sense of humor about the crash. “Wow on the way too shootaround and car spears us coincidence .......I think not lol,” Henson tweeted.

-- Ken Tysiac

Czyz reportedly will land at Nevada

The Reno (Calif.) Gazette reports that former Reno High basketball star Olek Czyz has decided to transfer from Duke to Nevada.

The 6-foot-7 sophomore forward announced last month he intended to leave Duke because of a lack of playing time. He confirmed in a text message to the Reno Gazette-Journal on Tuesday that he has selected Nevada over Arizona State.

A native of Poland, Czyz played for two state championship teams at Reno High and was one of the most highly recruited players in the country out of high school. He played in only 19 games in his freshman and sophomore seasons at Duke, averaging 1.2 points a game.

He will be eligible to play for the Wolf Pack after the fall semester next season and will have 2 1/2 years of eligibility remaining.

UNC bus in minor crash

North Carolina’s players and coaches escaped injury Wednesday when the team bus was involved in a car wreck on the way to the team’s shoot-around practice in preparation for a 9 p.m. game at Clemson, a team spokesman said.

Matt Bowers, associate athletics communications director for North Carolina, said a car hit the bus in the parking lot outside Littlejohn Coliseum. Bowers said the female driver of the car wasn’t injured. There were some minor scrapes on the bus, but the woman’s car sustained significant damage.

The crash slightly delayed the Tar Heels’ arrival at Littlejohn for the shoot-around.

On his twitter page, North Carolina freshman forward John Henson had a sense of humor about the crash.

“Wow on the way too shootaround and car spears us coincidence .......I think not lol,” Henson tweeted.

Ken Tysiac

Tar Heels' Zeller to miss Clemson game

CLEMSON, S.C. – North Carolina sophomore Tyler Zeller will miss Wednesday's game at No. 24 Clemson due to foot pain.

The school says Zeller is sitting out for “precautionary reasons” due to soreness in his right foot. He is scheduled to be examined further after the 12th-ranked Tar Heels return to Chapel Hill on Thursday.

The 7-footer is the team's fourth-leading scorer at nearly 10 points per game.

-- Associated Press

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ginyard's ankle responding well

It sounds as if UNC senior Marcus Ginyard’s right ankle is responding well, after playing 20 minutes during the Tar Heels’ victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday night.

Ginyard had missed three straight game because of a right ankle sprain.

"He was by here 10 minutes ago, and said he felt better than he thought it would feel," coach Roy Williams said during the ACC teleconference this morning. "So I think he'll be fine." -- Robbi Pickeral

No denying Singler's struggles in Atlanta

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski didn’t try to dance around the issue Monday.

Junior forward Kyle Singler didn’t play well Saturday in Duke’s 71-67 loss at Georgia Tech. He shot 2-for-13 from the field, including 0-for-5 on two-point attempts, and committed four turnovers.

“Obviously you’d like everybody to play well,” Krzyzewski said Monday on the weekly ACC coaches’ teleconference. “But on every team you want your key players to play well every game. And if that doesn’t happen and nobody picks up that slack – sometimes someone off the bench or a fourth or fifth starter can do that. But we didn’t get enough of that.

“I’m not blaming it on Kyle. Kyle’s a terrific player for us, and he’s responsible for many wins. But we’re not immune. Our good players, like every team, the good players have to play well.”

Krzyzewski gave credit to Georgia Tech center Gani Lawal, who scored 21 points, shot 8-for-9 from the field, and grabbed nine rebounds.

“They’re all human beings,” Krzyzewski said. “They’re not going to play great all the time. If Lawal doesn’t play well we win. But obviously he played well.”

Meanwhile, Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt said Singler just missed some shots he usually makes.

“I thought Kyle had some great looks, he just didn’t make them,” Hewitt said. “Let’s put it this way, when we play them again at Cameron, if he has the same kind of looks, I don’t think we’ll be as lucky.”

Next up for Duke (13-2, 1-1 ACC) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Cameron Indoor Stadium is Boston College (10-6, 1-1), which is off to a disappointing start despite an experienced team.

Krzyzewski complimented the Eagles’ experience and balance, plus the talent of Boston College guard Rakim Sanders and the matchup problems Joe Trapani creates.
But Eagles coach Al Skinner said he’s surprised at his team’s struggles.

“There’s no question I’m a little surprised because of the amount of experience we have,” Skinner said. I thought minimally we’d be a little better prepared than what we are.”

Ken Tysiac

Sunday, January 10, 2010

UNC's Ginyard now a maybe

North Carolina shooting guard Marcus Ginyard, who has missed three games with a sprained right ankle, will go through pre-game warm-ups and may play against Virginia Tech tonight after all, a team spokesman said. Coach Roy Williams had said Friday he did not expect the fifth-year senior to play. But he practiced Saturday.

Meanwhile, wings Will Graves and Leslie McDonald, who were questionable because of right ankle sprains, will play.

Friday, January 8, 2010

UNC's Ginyard out; Graves, McDonald questionable for Sunday

CHAPEL HILL -- North Carolina shooting guard Marcus Ginyard, the team's best perimeter defender, third-leading scorer, and leader, will miss the ninth-ranked Tar Heels' season opener on Sunday against Virginia Tech because of a sprained right ankle.

It's an injury that appears to be contagious at UNC. Starting small forward Will Graves and reserve guard Leslie McDonald are both questionable to play, also because of sprained right ankles.

"If we played today, they would not play," coach Roy Williams said Friday. "If we played tomorrow, they would not play. ... So we'll just have to wait and see."

Sunday will mark the fourth straight game (and fifth overall) missed by Ginyard, who was averaging 11 points, 3.9 rebounds and a team-high 31.6 minutes before he got hurt. Graves (7.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg) has missed one game, and McDonald was hurt during Monday's loss at College of Charleston.

"I was encouraged by Leslie the other night, but I hate it for him that he sprained his ankle during the game. But he toughed it out and played the whole second half, and then it just ballooned up on him when he got back here," Williams said.

He said, however, that if McDonald were healthy, he would start tonight. Instead, expect freshmen Dexter Strickland and David Wear to open the game in place of Ginyard and Graves, again. Sophomore guard Justin Watts, who also missed a game with a sprained right ankle this month, should also be available to play more minutes.

"[Injuries are] a concern, but if we can get everybody healthy and playing, then the struggles that we've gone through now and the minutes that we've been able to give Dexter and Leslie will help us," Williams said.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Roy Williams becomes a grandpa

North Carolina’s Roy Williams has already won a second national championship and become a bestselling author in the past year. But on Jan. 1, he added a new title: Grandpa.

Aiden Allen Williams, the son of Scott Williams and his wife, Katie, was born on New Year’s Day in Charlotte. It is the first grandchild for Williams (whose middle name is also Allen) and his wife, Wanda.

UNC opens its ACC schedule on Sunday against Virginia Tech.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Mason Plumlee a key for Duke

CHICAGO - Freshman center Mason Plumlee's performance Wednesday night against Iowa State at the United Center merely reinforced what's become obvious about Duke for a couple of weeks now.

The fifth-ranked Blue Devils are a good team that can only become a Final Four contender if Plumlee (right) improves and emerges as a fourth standout in the rotation. Plumlee scored all seven of his points in the first half of Wednesday's 86-65 defeat of Iowa State, and did it in impressive fashion.

Left wide open on the perimeter, he sank a 3-pointer, the first of his career. He slammed home an authoritative one-handed dunk off a nice bounce pass from Kyle Singler. Plumlee also hit Jon Scheyer on a backdoor cut for a layup with a pretty pass from the top of the key.

Plumlee's only hiccup was failing to convert some shots in the post, including a couple of alley-oop passes. Coach Mike Krzyzewski wanted him to use two hands to catch the second missed alley-oop, but nonetheless was pleased.

"Mason played very well tonight," Krzyzewski said. "With a couple finishes, he could have been spectacular."

Although Duke is playing extremely well, its shortcoming is that only three players - Scheyer, Singler and Nolan Smith - are legitimate scoring threats. It's not easy to get to the Final Four when your opponent only has to guard three players.

And the bottom line is that while Krzyzewski calls Plumlee "ball friendly," Duke's other post players aren't as skilled with the ball. Miles Plumlee, Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek are fine defenders and rebounders, but haven't forced opponents to pay them a lot of attention when Duke has the ball.

So Mason Plumlee - who's still finding his way as a freshman who missed the first six games with a broken wrist - is the most obvious choice to become a third scoring threat. He still needs to play better on defense after having trouble defending the high ball screen against Iowa State.

Plumlee also needs to develop the delicate art of scoring around the basket. But there's no doubt he has the skill to become a big contributor for Duke.

If he does, the postseason possibilities for the Blue Devils will skyrocket.

-- Ken Tysiac

Honored players to return to N.C. State

Fans won’t just see Javi Gonzalez, Dennis Horner and the rest of the Wolfpack players at home games the rest of the season. Beginning Saturday, at least one of the 27 N.C. State players, coaches and support personnel whose jerseys, whistles or microphones have been honored or retired will be honored during the remaining ACC home games.

It’s all part of the Pack’s celebration of 100 years of men’s college basketball, and it begins Saturday when former All-America Thurl Bailey, now an announcer for the Utah Jazz TV broadcasts, returns. N.C. State plays Virginia in its ACC opener.

“These are the guys who are the foundation of our program,” Wolfpack coach
Sidney Lowe said in a prepared statement. “As Coach (Monte) Towe says, these are the guys who dug the well. It is up to us now to keep that tradition and that pride in our basketball heritage going.”

Not every honored player will be able to return, including NBA head coaches Nate
McMillan and Vinny Del Negro; former ACC Player of the Year Julius Hodge, who is playing professionally in Australia, won’t be able to come back either. But they won’t go unrecognized, according to the school.

It hasn’t been finalized, which players will return on which dates. But here’s a list of the N.C. State basketball honorees:

Retired jersey: David Thompson (No. 44).

Honored players: Nate McMillan (10), Chris Corchiani (13), Vinny Del Negro (14), Vann Williford (14), Lou Pucillo (20), Rodney Monroe (21), Tommy Burleson (24), Julius Hodge (24), Tom Gugliotta (24), John Richter (24), Monte Towe (25), Dereck Whittenburg (25), Kenny Carr (32), Sidney Lowe (35), Thurl Bailey (41), Lorenzo Charles (43), Todd Fuller (52), Dick Dickey (70), Vic Molodet (73), Sammy Ranzino (77), Bob Speight (80), Ronnie Shavlik (84).

Honored coaches: Everett Case, Norm Sloan, Jim Valvano.

Other honorees: C.A. Dillon, public address announcer 1945-99.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Arenas' troubles vindicate Krzyzewski

If Gilbert Arenas' suspension by the NBA has any effect locally, it vindicates the decision of Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski not to include him on the roster as Team USA pursued the gold medal it ultimately won in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

In January of 2007, Washington Wizards guard Arenas was disappointed at being left off the U.S. team coached by Krzyzewski. The team announced he was released because of a strained groin, but Arenas was upset.

On his blog, Arenas posted a quote saying that he would give up one NBA season if he could go back to college to play against Duke and exact some measure of revenge.

"One college game, that's five fouls, right?. . .Forty-minute game at Duke, they got soft rims, I'd probably score 84 or 85. I wouldn't pass the ball. I wouldn't even think about passing it. It would be like a NBA Live or an NBA 2K7 game, you just shoot with one person," he wrote.

On Wednesday, NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Arenas indefinitely for keeping guns in his locker. If Arenas is capable of judgment that poor, imagine the kind of disrepute he could have brought the United States on an international stage in Beijing.

It's more clear than ever now that Krzyzewski and Jerry Colangelo made the right decision by keeping Arenas off Team USA.

Ken Tysiac

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

UNC notes: Heels need to 'walk the talk'

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- During the ACC's weekly teleconference Monday morning, North Carolina coach Roy Williams downplayed the significance of last Thursday's team meeting, saying the team meets all the time.

And maybe there wasn't anything all-to-new to it, after all, considering Monday night's 82-79 overtime loss at College of Charleston, during which the Tar Heels squandered an 11-point lead in the final four minutes of regulation.

"Yeah, we talked," point guard Larry Drew II said of the meeting. "We always talk. There's something with this team - we've got to stop talking at a point, and start playing. We've got to start walking the talk. ... I feel like I've heard everything -- from the players, from the coaches. It's getting to a point where we've just got to start doing what we say we're going to do."

A QUESTION OF LEADERSHIP: Senior Marcus Ginyard and junior Will Graves were sidelined by right ankle sprains, and senior Deon Thompson was so dejected after the game that he didn't stop in the post-game locker room to answer questions.

So after squandering a lead and losing to a non-conference team not ranked in either poll for the first time since 2006, naturally a question about whether coach Roy Williams was satisfied with his leadership came up. His response: point the blame on himself.

"Not from the head coach, because I've got to coach them better," Williams said. "They've got to understand that you're three points down and [you've] got five fouls. We're screaming and yelling and doing everything, but we didn't get it done, so we're not getting the correct coaching."

Williams was referring to Charleston guard Andrew Goudelock's game-tying 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left in regulation. Williams was wildly gesturing for the Tar Heels to foul. Instead, Thompson got caught on a switch defending Goudelock, and the shot swished through to force overtime.

INJURY UPDATE: Reserve forward John Henson, who Williams considered starting in place of the injured Graves, sat out most of the second half with a headache. Williams said he is hopeful that one of UNC's injured starters -- Graves or Ginyard, who missed his third straight game with a sprained right ankle -- will be able to play when Carolina opens its ACC season against Virginia Tech on Sunday.

-- Robbi Pickeral

Re-live last night's 'classic'

In case you missed it, or if you just wanted to relive the agony (or joy, Duke and N.C. State fans) of UNC's overtime loss to College of Charleston last night, there will be an encore broadcast of the game Tuesday night.

The College of Charleston's sports information office sent out a news release announcing that the upset win has been dubbed an 'Instant Classic' by ESPN, which will broadcast the game again at 8 p.m. Tuesday on ESPN Classic.

Spoiler alert: in this re-run, the Cougars still go on a 12-1 run in the final 3:51 of regulation, capped by a three-pointer by junior Andrew Goudelock, to erase UNC's 11-point lead and send the game into overtime.

Tar Heels tweet reactions to upset

It was a quiet locker room after ninth-ranked North Carolina lost to College of Charleston 82-79 in overtime Monday night. Not so much on twitter.

A sampling of the UNC tweets in the hours after the Tar Heels blew an 11-point lead in the final four minutes of regulation:

Freshman John Henson (johnhenson31): Just made someone's college career relevant ... damn

Sophomore Justin Watts (MyNameisJWatts): On the way back to chapel hill .. Going to sleep as soon as I get back

Sophomore Ed Davis (eddavis32): Just got back to chapel hill. In this business us got to have a quick memory forget fast and move on

Senior Marcus Ginyard (MGINYARD): Charleston police should have their hands full tonight

Walk-on Terrence Petree (tpetree): Say what u want. I believe in my 15 brothers....

- Robbi Pickeral

Monday, January 4, 2010

Xavier coach: Ish Smith the difference

Xavier coach Chris Mack credited Concord's Ish Smith (above right), a Wake Forest senior and a player he recruited for the Musketeers, with a key role in Sunday's double-overtime victory by the Deacons in this story in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

An excerpt:

Mack commended his players for their effort and said the game could have gone either way. The difference, he said, was Smith.

The senior point guard surpassed the 500 career assists mark in the game and finished with a team-high 28 points on 10-of 14 shooting.

“I tried to recruit him to Xavier because Wake Forest was waffling for a long time. Coach Prosser got me and decided to take him at the end,” Mack said.

Gators' shocker is Lowe's most painful defeat

After a nearly sleepless night, N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe declared Sunday's devastating, 62-61 defeat to Florida the worst loss he has ever experienced.

Florida's Chandler Parsons fired in a 75-foot shot at the buzzer in overtime to win the game and shock the crowd at the RBC Center. Lowe said Monday morning that he replayed the game in his head until 4:30 in the morning, and awakened at 6:30.

He was asked during the ACC teleconference call Monday whether he'd ever been a part of a more difficult loss.

"No, I haven't," he said. "I would have to say that one there was the worst. That was the worst one. I've never been through anything like that and felt the way I did. All of them hurt. Every loss hurts. But to have it happen that way, it's tough."

Lowe clarified his instructions for guard Farnold Degand, who clanked the second of two free throws off the front of the rim with 2.6 seconds remaining in overtime before Parsons' game winner. There had been speculation that Degand missed the second shot on purpose.

That wasn't the case, Lowe said.

"He was trying to make it," Lowe said. "We didn't want him to miss, no, absolutely not. We wanted him to make it just in case something like what happened, happened."

Lowe said it will be a good thing for N.C. State to get back on the court soon, as the Wolfpack plays host to Holy Cross at 7 p.m. Wednesday. He said he will try to lift his players' spirits by focusing on the positive things N.C. State did in the game.

But he said the players' spirits were still down on Monday.

"I really felt bad for our kids, because they just played their hearts out and put themselves in position (to win)," Lowe said. "And to lose like that is tough."

Ken Tysiac

Heels' Ginyard, Graves out for Charleston

North Carolina starters Marcus Ginyard and William Graves will miss tonight's 7 p.m. game at the College of Charleston with sprained right ankles, coach Roy Williams said this morning on the ACC's coaches teleconference call.

Reserve Justin Watts, who's also been suffering from a sprained right ankle, will play tonight. Freshman Dexter Strickland will replace Ginyard as a starter in the backcourt.

Williams said he will decide by the pregame meal at 3 p.m. today which freshman - John Henson or David Wear - will start in place of Graves. Williams said he's not just holding Ginyard and Graves out of the game as a precautionary measure . Even if the Tar Heels were playing an ACC game, Ginyard and Graves would not play.

One or both players might also miss Sunday's opener against Virginia Tech. Ginyard, the team's fifth-year senior leader, will miss his third straight game and fourth overall this season.

"I think there's a chance by Sunday that one of them could play, but I really don't know," said Williams, who couldn't even guess which player might be ready by Sunday.

During the teleconference call, Williams expressed surprise at the significance players have placed on a team meeting that took place Thursday. Players have said Williams laid out his expectations that everybody on the team, including himself, should take accountability for problems ranging from playing the wrong defense to taking bad shots.

Williams, though, said the meeting wasn't anything unusual. He said it wasn't the type of meeting where he shut the door and gave a scathing speech.

"It was just a normal meeting," Williams said. "That's what we do throughout the course of the year."

The Tar Heels are 11-3 and were ranked No. 9 in last week's Associated Press poll. Williams said the team's lack of consistent play, which he partly attributed to injuries, has led to some struggles.

The only good news for North Carolina on the injury front was that the sling Williams has been wearing on his left shoulder is coming off. He will wear it during the game tonight one last time as a precaution in case he gets bumped, but he's already not wearing it during the day.

Williams suffered a torn labrum in October when he slipped on a wet step during a charity golf outing.

"I'll be about the happiest person around (without the sling)," Williams said.

Ken Tysiac

10 steps to a Charleston upset of Heels

Here's an interesting column from the Charleston Post and Courier's Gene Sapakoff on 10 things that have to happen for the College of Charleston to upset North Carolina tonight.

You can read the whole thing at the link above, but here's an excerpt on what Cougars fans should do:

--10. Act like you've been there. And after the Cougars win …

Uh, yes. After. It is very important to stay calm. Too much celebrating draws attention and Cremins will never get another big-time opponent to come to Charleston again.

Video of 75-foot shot that beat Wolfpack

Video of 75-foot shot at overtime buzzer that allowed Florida to beat N.C. State at the RBC Center Sunday:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Clemson-Duke rivalry growing

DURHAM - The score of Sunday night's game - 74-53 in favor of Duke - didn't necessarily reflect it, but there's no question that a healthy basketball rivalry is developing between the Blue Devils and Clemson.

It was obvious when Duke forward Kyle Singler jawed a bit at Clemson's Trevor Booker after blocking his shot late in the first half. It was obvious from Booker's response.

"I still got him on SportsCenter (with a dunk last year), so it's all cool," Booker said.

Until the past year and a half or so, Duke-Clemson was one of the least interesting basketball series in the ACC. The Blue Devils had defeated Clemson 22 times in a row until the Tigers won in the 2007 ACC Tournament semifinals.

Clemson followed that up with a 74-47 win in the teams' lone meeting last season and has appeared in two straight NCAA Tournaments under coach Oliver Purnell. Duke's players were eager to erase the memories of last year's loss.

"It's something that has stayed with us, obviously," Duke guard Jon Scheyer said.

The Blue Devils played like it meant something extra on Sunday, forcing the Tigers to miss 25 of their 30 first-half field goal attempts. It was Clemson's 13th consecutive loss at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and the eight Tiger players who hadn't played in that arena had a dreadful night.

They combined to shoot 3-for-20 from the field with eight points and nine turnovers. It would take a win at Cameron for the rivalry to grow even more, but Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said that won't be easy to accomplish.

"They've got an unbelievable crowd; they're into it all the time," Purnell said. "At least since I can remember, they've had great teams and great coaches, and they have great tradition. It's a small building, it can get hot in here, it can get loud."

Ken Tysiac

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Clemson debacle still hurts Duke's Smith

DURHAM - Duke junior guard Nolan Smith called the Blue Devils' last game with Clemson the worst game he's experienced at any level of basketball.

On Feb. 4 at Clemson, the Tigers handed Duke a crushing, 74-47 defeat. On Sunday in Duke's ACC opener at 7:45 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Blue Devils will meet Clemson for the first time since that loss.

"That night was just so awful," Smith said.

For Smith, the game was the start of a late-season slide in which he lost his confidence after a strong start. He struggled against the Tigers' full-court pressure defense, committing four turnovers, and scored three points in 23 minutes.

He was removed from the starting lineup, later suffered a severe concussion at Maryland and didn't regain his confidence or productivity until the ACC Tournament. This time, he is determined not to let Clemson's pressure knock him back.

"Just attack it and look to score out of it," Smith said. "That's going to give you the edge."

Smith has become one of the most productive players in the ACC this season, ranking third in the conference in scoring at 18.0 points per game. His game has progressed to the point where he's beyond the struggles of last season.

But at the same time, he is holding on to the memory of his most frustrating loss.

"We definitely remember the last time we played against them," Smith said. "We have a lot of guys that are veterans that played in that game. It's behind us, but it's not."

Ken Tysiac