Tag Archives: North Carolina Tarheels

Quick Hits: 1/06/10

Happy New Year.

Hope you all have enjoyed the holidays and all of the sporting events.

What a great time of the year.  The NFL is gearing up for the playoffs, college bowl season is fantastic, out-door hockey, and college basketball has started conference play.  Plus international soccer leagues are about to open transfer season and the NBA has been strong since the season started.

But let’s start with my favorite NFL Team – The Minnesota Vikings. Who are now taking the week off to rest before their match-up next weekend.

The Vikings beat-up a tired, ready-to-be-done New York Giants, 44-7.  Yes – we are back on track! I would be very careful about getting to comfortable with a win against a team that had a 0% chance of making the playoffs.

Let’s recap:

After the Vikings started 10-1 and gave a win away to the Steelers, they lost 3 of their last 5 games and really showed flaws – but we will not getting to that now.

Let’s look at their schedule.

  1. Of the thirteen different teams the Purple played in the year, only five had winning records. The Packers (11-5), Steelers and Ravens (9-7), Cardinals (10-6), and Bengals(10-6).
  2. Twelve wins were against teams with a combined record of 66-94, highlighted by wins against Green Bay (2 wins), Baltimore, Cincinnati, and two 8-8 teams in the 49ers and the Giants.
  3. Four losses to Arizona, Chicago (7-9), Carolina (8-8) and Pittsburgh with a combined record of 34-30.
  4. Total combined record of all opponents = 93-115*.

*Some of the numbers may look off – but I only used the records of conference opponents once.

I know you can only play the teams on your schedule, but there has to be more concern about a team that has played so inconsistently against poorer teams.  The Vikings have weapons all over the field – yet there now is an uncertainty that was not there in the first half of the year.

Losing E.J. Henderson was huge, Antoine Winfield missed a good deal fo the season, and Bernard Berrian is finally healthy.  Bryannt McKinnie is playing better of late, but was awful for a while.  The offensive line as a whole needs to give Brett Favre time.  Jared Allen looks like every other defensive end in the league, not like Allen who was an MVP candidate.  That falls on the defensive cordinator for not scheming enough to get Allen away from double and triple teams, because you know Allen’s motor is not problem.

We still have Favre, AP, Percy and Rice – the Sydney Edition – and very good defense.  Yet, I have this feeling that the Cowboys or Eagles are going to come to the Dome and blow it up.

The thought of the Vikings woes have not kept me up at night – I have a six-week-old baby girl to do that for me – but there has to be concern running through this organization.  Head Coach Brad Childress has never been in this situation – a first round bye.  A lot will be said about what kind of coach he really is with this much time to prepare.  Childress – prove you are worthy of the contract extension.  Because I don’t think you deserved it.

Best College Basketball Program Of The 2000’s

I started this around Christmas, and totally forgot about it.  But this decade has been quite the decade for College Basketball  powerhouses to reestablish themselves and new ones to appear.

So here the suspects: Michigan State (Champs in ’00), Duke(’01) UConn (’04), UNC (’05 and ’09), Florida (’06 and ’07), and Kansas(’08).  I did not include the ’02 Maryland and ’03 Syracuse – no real reason to explain.

And here are the Top Five.

Honorable Mention: UConn – The Huskies have been monsters in the Big East and had a great team in ’04.  But they were a George Mason run away from their second title of the decade in ’06.  Can you imagine that game Florida Vs. UConn?  Just to get to the Championship game.  So much NBA talent – head – going –  to – explode.

5.  Duke – Winning in 2001 with arguable the best team of the decade – Jason Williams, Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, Nate James and Chris Duhon.  Had more wins in the 2000’s than any other program with 291, won 7 ACC Tourney Championships and four regular season Championships.  But played in only two Final Fours and came up very short later in the decade – by Duke standards.

4.  Florida – I know what you are thinking how can the only back-to-backers in the decade be 4th.  A couple of reasons.  The “What have you done for me lately” mentality kicks in hard since the last title.  Only won three SEC tourney championships, but only one outright SEC regular season championship and two co-championships.

3.  Kansas – Consistency kills.  From Roy Williams to Bill Self, the Jayhawks never slipped.  Never fell into the funk that Florida did.  One very good team with Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison that played in two Final Fours and then one great team in the 2008 Jayhawks, led by Bradon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins, Darrel Arthur, and Darnell Jackson.  They also dominated the Big 12, like no other powerhouse dominated their conference with seven total regular season Championships.

2. Michigan State – One National Championship, four Final Four’s (with the ’99 Final Four, they made three appearances in a row.  Only other team to do that is UCLA in the last ten years).  Fall victim to the fact that they never dominated a conference that was very weak for most of the decade, winning only three regular season Championships and only one tourney crown in 2000.  The 2005 team is one of my favorite teams of the decade with Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, and Drew Neitzel which beat Adam Morrison’s 43 points and Gonzaga in triple-overtime in the Maui Invitational.

1.  North Carolina – Two National Championships, four Final Fours, and probably has built the biggest and best recruiting/NBA pipeline ever.  UNC does not rebuild – they “reload”.  But then you have the Matt Doherty fail.  Doherty took the team from No. 1 in the country in his first season to 8-20 in his second to 17-15 in his third.  He had players, the same players the Williams won with in 2005.  We can not forget Tyler Hansbrough.  Without him, 2006 would have been difficult.  This program has returned to dominance and there is not end in sight.

Coach of the Decade Award – Tom Izzo.  Roy Williams would be a very close second, but Izzo just wins.  And like many of the top coaches, his passion is obvious.  Izzo has also become such a part of the community like that make the fans love him even more.

College Basketball Mini Hits

  • Evan Turner is expect to be back tonight against Indiana, earlier than first thought.  And all is right in the Buckeye nation.
  • No. 4 Purdue beat the Gophers pretty handily, 79-60.  The first half was close only because the Boilermakers could not shot the ball.  That changed in the second half.
  • No. 2 Texas was pushed by Arkansas 96-85.  Even with foul trouble, Damion James won the game with a couple big jump shots to seal the game. 
  • UNC lost to Charleston 79-82.  While it is big for Charleston, it is still early January.  Everything will be OK.  UNC will be just fine, they just need to get healthy.

Landon Donovan Has Arrived In England

The US Soccer golden boy is set to begin his 10-week loan with Everton which is a soccer club in the English Premier League.

“I am ready to enjoy it and I want to personally get myself sharp while I am here,” Donovan said Tuesday. “Tim Howard has had nothing but great things to say about this team so I am excited. Going into a World Cup year this experience will keep me sharp.”

The loan is great for Donovan as he has come into his own as a player.  With his showing with the US in the Confederations Cup and with the LA Galaxy, Donovan is looking to replace the issues he has had in Europe with a good spell with Everton.

This loan also increase the amount of attention surrounding the US National Team’s opening group stage match against England in South Africa this summer.  SideNote:  ESPN will be showing World Cup games in 3-D.  WHAT?

Donovan will need sometime to get back into shape, but this is a great situation for him.  Donovan is a very sensitive person, and his play fluctuates with his emotions.  So having Howard there is key.  A fellow American who has seen Donovan play to the best of his ability and can be there to give guidance if needed.

Click here for the entire article.

Congratulations to North Carolina: Upper Classmen Win

North CarolinaIt was a great performance and Roy Williams has done it again.  Congrats UNC.

In one of the most dominating championship games I can remember, North Carolina completed the mission and proved everyone right – UNC is the best team in the country.

As a basketball fan that has been very critical of Tyler Hansbrough, I must say that I was happy to see a TEAM led by upper clasmen who came back from testing the NBA waters and was able to finish the job.

Like Kansas, Florida, UNC in 2005 and UConn before, UNC had veteran leadership at every position and off the bench.  It proves home the point that you need upperclassmen to win a championship. 

Since the 1997 Arizona team that had a freshmen Mike Bibby running the point (still had Michael Dickerson and Miles Simon) and with the 2003 Syracuse team that was lead by Carmelo Anthony, Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara as an exception, every championship team has had strong leadership from juniors and seniors.

Look at the teams:

  1. 1998 – Kentucky:  Jeff Shepard, Nazr Mohammad, Scott Padgett, Wayne Turner, Heshimu Evans, and Cameron Mills
  2. 1999 – UConn:  Rip Hamilton, Jake Voskuhl, Kevin Freeman, and Ricky Moore
  3. 2000 – Michigan State:  Mateen Cleaves, Morris Peterson, Charlie Bell, and AJ Granger
  4. 2001 – Duke:  Shane Battier and Nate James
  5. 2002 – Maryland:  Juan Dixon, Lonny Baxter, Byraon Mouton, Steve Blake, and Drew Nicholas
  6. 2003 – Syracuse:  Kueth Duany
  7. 2004 – UConn:  Ben Gordon, Emeka Okafor, and Taliek Brown
  8. 2005 – UNC:  Raymond Felton, Sean May, Rashad McCants, Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel, Melvin Scott, and David NoelTyler Hansbrough
  9. 2006 – Florida:  This is a slight expection to the rule, the leaders were sophomores, Al Horford, Jokin Noah, Turean Green and Corey Brewer.  But you still had Lee Humpry and Chris Richards play key roles.
  10. 2007 – Florida:  See above.  Juniors and Seniors this season.
  11. 2008 – Kansas:  Mario Chalmers, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kuhn, Russell Robinson, and Brandon Rush. 
  12. 2009 – UNC:  Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green,  and Bobby Fraser                      *Marcus Ginyard played only three games due to injury and will apply for a medical reshirt. 

While “one-and-done” maybe the fade, the teams with the titles have juniors and seniors on their rosters.  That last sentence, is a double edge sword for coaches.  Do you recruit the top tier recruits who may leave after on year?  Or do you search for the four player who has the potential to get better every year?

This is where Roy Williams has a leg up on the the rest of the country.  As a freshmen committing to UNC, you know that the chance to get enough minutes to get looks from NBA scouts if tough.  So you come back. 

UNC will reload next season and should be competing again for an ACC title, but the young Tar Heel may struggle in certain situations.  Williams will look to relatively “new” players to lead the powder blue nation in tough games.

Either way, this team was impressive.

Carolina Vs. Michigan State

To set the right mood for this post, please imagine the guy with the crazy deep, resonant voice from the movie previews.  Now you can continue to read the following. 

Ford Field – music swells.

Two teams – spot lights on teams.

Two quests – cue video montage of highlights from season.

One Shining Moment. – Crowd roars – Cue music and explosions. 

Add own confetti for added flair and mess. 

Now we are all in the right state of mind to look at the last game of the 2008-09 Men’s College Basketball Season.  I will not “breakdown” these teams, we all know them well.  Instead, I will highlight a few aspects that could change the outcome or guarantee victory, or do neither.

1.  Pace – MSU has a more control tempo and chooses it’s spots to fast break.  While UNC throws it in fifth and punches the pedal the whole game putting the opposition in tough positions. 

2.  Rebounding – More specifically, offensive rebounding.

3.  The Referees – If the refs call it tight, the advantage goes to UNC.  If the refs let them play, Michigan State will have a chance.  Either way, I would rather see it called a little looser. 

4.  Raymar Morgan – Morgan must continue to be aggressive and affect play like he did against UConn, even if he is not scoring.Tom Izzo

5.  Coaching – Roy Willams is a great coach, but Tom Izzo is very Bill Belichick in his game planning. 

*Fashion conscious side-note– Izzo is a much better dresser than Belichick.

6.  Three point shooting – Both teams jack-up alot from distance.  MSU averages 15.2 shots from three a game and UNC 16.4.

7.  Share With The Other Kids – Out the six loses MSU has lost this season, five times their opponent had more assists.  

8.  Home Court Advantage – The game is in Detroit but UNC will not be scared.  It could give MSU a needed lift.

9.  Mascot – The Spartan carrys more fear and more of the “I’m going to kick your ass” factor than the Tar Heel.  I still have no clue what a Tar Heel really is.  I don’t think it is a ram.  Anyone? 

10.  Who I Want To Win – I would like to see Izzo and Michigan State complete this season “tie to legend”, with Bird and Magic in ’79.  Much like Kansas did last year with the anniversary of “Danny and the Miracles”. 

Even though I am an admitted Duke fan, I think I will feel a little bit of sympathy to UNC and the players that came back to win a championship and did not.  You rarely see that kind of dedication in the One and Done Era.  I have great respect for the talent of those players and for Williams. 

11.  UNC in Close Games – UNC has not won a tournament game by less than double-digits.  In the regular season, the Tar Heels had only ONE win that was fewer than eight points.  That was a 69-65 victory on the road at Miami in mid February.

Ty Lawson12.  Point and Counterpoint – Ty Lawson or Kalin Lucas.  Both players are the main reason their teams are still playing.  Who ever plays better, their team will win.  Speed vs. Speed. 

 13.  Bench Production – MSU’s bench score 28 points per game, UNC’s scores 13.2 but even fewer in closer games.  Izzo expects production from the bench no matter how close the game.

 14.  Foul Trouble – Obvious I think.

15.  Annoucer – There have been a ton of combo’s with ESPN and CBS, but for all the is holy, Gus Johnson needs to calls this game!  PLEASE!

That covers it, everything that could possibly shift this game to either side.  I mus say that this is the best breakdown/preview I have done, EVER.  So much in depth details and just filled with vital data.

Enjoy the game.

I almost forgot – Prediction:  UNC 74, MSU 81

ACC Men’s Basketball 2008-09 Preview, Part Four: UNC, Duke, ‘Canes and All-ACC Awards

Player of the Year: Tyler Hansbrough, UNC

Freshmen of the Year: Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

All-ACC First Team
G Ty Lawson, UNC
G Jack McClinton, Miami
G James Johnson, Wake Forest
F Gerald Hernderson, Duke
C Tyler Hansbrough, UNC

All-ACC Second Team
G Tyrese Rice, Boston College
G K.C. Rivers, Clemson
G Wayne Ellingson, UNC
F Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
F Kyle Singler, Duke

Honorable Mention

G Jon Scheyer, Duke, F Danny Green, UNC, G James Dews, Miami, G Greivis Vasquez, Maryland, F Rakim Sanders, BC, G Lewis Clinch, GT, F Trevor Booker and G Terrance Oglesby, Clemson, G A.D. Vassallo and F Jeff Allen, VT

1. UNC #1 on Bleacher Report top 25
2. Duke #8
3. Miami #17
4. Clemson
5. Wake Forest #22
6. Virginia Tech
7. Georgia Tech
8. Boston College
9. Maryland
10. North Carolina Sate
11. Florida State
12. Virginia
Conference Rank: 1
North Carolina Tarheels

Head Coach: Roy Williams
2007-08 Recap: 36-3 (14-2 ACC)

2008-09 Roster
Key Losses: C 6’9” Alex Stepheson, G 6’3” Quentin Thomas
Key Additions: G 6’1” Larry Drew, F 6’10” Ed Davis, C 7’0” Tyler Zeller

Starting Line-up
G Ty Lawson 5‘11” Jr. 12.7 ppg, 5.2 apg
G Wayne Wllingson 6’4” Jr. 16.6 ppg, 4.5 apg
F Marcus Ginyard 6‘4” Sr. 6.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg
F Deon Thompson 6’8” So. 8.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg
F Tyler Hansbourgh 6’9” Sr. 22.6 ppg, 10.2 rpg

Tyler Hansbourgh came back to complete the mission. After winning every award and it being announced that his jersey will be retired at UNC, Hansbourgh could cement himself as one of the greatest college players ever.

Even at only 5’11”, there is no more important player on this team then Ty Lawson. While Hansbourgh gets the accolades, it is Lawson that drives this team. When he was out a handful of games last season, UNC looked slow and uncomfortable in their offense.

Smooth shooter Wayne Ellingson is the Tarheel’s first option on the perimeter. While shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc, Ellington will have to focus on defensive.

Marcus Ginyard is the defensive stopper and has guard most players from point to power forward.

The Tarheels are expecting improvement from Deon Thompson. After Alex Stepheson transferred, Thompson’s play must become more consistent.

Sixth man extraordinaire, Danny Green even though he is the only player off the bench that provides double digit scoring, it is his hustle and defense are what make him a Carolina favorite.

In the backcourt the Tarheels have experience at back-up in Bobby Frasier and we should see Larry Drew III as the “point guard in training” to replace Lawson when he leaves.

The freshmen forwards each have their specialty; Ed Davis is the rebounder and Tyler Zeller is the shooter. They bring in added height and depth to a rather short frontcourt.

FORECAST
Roy Williams has to be pacing in anticipation of the 2008-09 season. The Tarheels roster is stuffed full of talent and the expectations are higher that they have been since Williams has been on the UNC bench.

If there is a weakness one this team, it is that they are not a very tall team. There two tallest players are incoming freshmen Davis and Zeller, neither are going to be expected to add much more than five fouls and garbage time. Drew could see some time if Lawson gets hurt.

The only thing that could keep the Tarheels from bring the championship back to Raleigh would be injury – and a couple good teams!

Conference Rank: 2
Duke Blue Devils

Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
2007-08 Recap: 28-6 (13-3 ACC)

2008-09 Roster
Key Losses: G 6’4” DeMarcus Nelson, F 6’6” Taylor King
Key Additions: G 6’4” Elliot Williams, F 6’1” Miles Plumlee, F 6’8” Olek Cryz

Starting Line-up
G Nolen Smith 6‘2” So. 5.9 ppg, 1.3 apg
G Jon Scheyer 6’5” Jr. 11.7 ppg, 2.4 apg
G Gerald Henderson 6‘4” So. 12.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg
F Kyle singler 6’8” So. 13.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg
F Lance Thomas 6’8” Jr. 4.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg

At 6’4” he is the Duke player the takes the jump ball at tip-off. Gerald Henderson is a phenomenal athlete, and his basketball game is finally catching-up. At times he is flash of the best player in the ACC and then other moments he is completely invisible. Henderson must find a personal comprise and also find ways, in the offense, to get his shots.

Sophomore guard Nolen Smith was declared the started my Coach K just a couple weeks ago. Smith is a budding offensive threat and a much better defender than people give him credit.

After living in the sixth man role for two years, Jon Scheyer gets the chance in the starting line-up. When he first came to Durham he was known as a distance shooter, but his game has evolved and is really a threat from anywhere on the floor.

Kyle Singler added twenty pounds of muscle to his wiry frame, which should help in the post. Teams must be track of him everywhere he goes on the court. He is a solid post scorer, good outside shooter, and is the main weapon in the screen and pop. His defense will be an issue as he will be match-up with bigger post players, depending on how is in the line-up for Duke.

The second forward or center spot is a tossup right now. Lance Thomas started last season, but he very well could be plucked from the line-up for 6’10” Miles Plumlee or 7’1” Brian Zoubek. No matter the decision, the three of them will be need for added muscle along with David McClure. Olek Cryz can get off the floor and thinks every shot should be a dunk.

Greg Paulus is going to play his begin his senior off the bench after starting since his freshmen year. Don’t let this fool you, he will split minutes with Smith and whoever is having the better game, will be in at the end. He is deadly from distance and is the most experienced player on the roster.

McDonald’s All-American Elliot Williams is explosive. He has the handle off a point guard and is not afraid to get to the basket. Finding him minutes is a must, but where. This season he will back-up Scheyer and Henderson – and then next season start in place of Henderson.

FORECAST
Since Josh McRoberts left a few seasons ago, Duke has been thin on the front line. But this season, Coach K actually has options. While all the offense will flow through Singler, there are many bodies to help with defense and rebounding.

Even though Duke lives by the three, the new distance will not hurt them. Most of their guys stood five feet behind the old line.

Caoch K will have this team play is signature pressure defense and but will look to find different ways to get all the players to their full potential on offense.

Conference Rank: 3
Miami Hurricanes

Head Coach: Frank Haith
2007-08 Recap: 23-11 (13-3 ACC)

2008-09 Roster
Key Losses: C 6’9” Anthony King, F 6’7” Raymond Hicks
Key Additions: F 6‘6” Fr. DeQuan Jones, F 6‘9” Fr. Cyrus McGowan

Starting Line-up
G Lance Hudle 6‘2” Sr. 8.0 ppg, 2.4 apg
G Jack McClinton 6’2” Sr. 17.7 ppg, 2.6 apg
G James Dews 6‘3” So. 10.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg
F Brian Asbury 6’7” Sr. 8.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg
F/C Dwayne Collins 6’9” Jr. 8.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg

Who was the biggest impact player in the ACC not playing for a team in the Carolinas? That would be Jack McClinton. 6’1” he is a major threat from deep, is very capable of getting to the foul line and then shooting over 91 percent when he gets there, and is confident in the clutch. After considering jumping the NBA, McClinton came back to Miami and his stock should rise, along with the amount of wins for this team.

Super quick point guard Lance Hurdle is one of four key seniors on this team. Along with McClinton the offense starts with Hurdle. Hurdle must improve on his ability to deliver passes to the open shooter. Averaging only 2.4 apg with scorers like McClinton and James Dews, is ridiculous. Hurdle needs to connect to the rest of the offense in the natural flow of the offense to get easy and open shots.

James Dews is the last guard in this three-headed monster. He also shots over 90 percent from the foul line and 40 percent from the field. While he might have the stats of McClinton, he must elevate his game if this team wants to succeed.

Brain Asbury, another experienced senior for the Canes, should start at the beginning of the season. But Asbury has sixth man written all over him for the long of the season.

At 6’9”, Dwayne Collins is one of three players at that height. The Canes are not tall, but they take up space. He is a tough defender, great leaper, solid rebounder – especially on the offensive end – and can score on the block.

Arkansas transfer Cyrus McGowan is the most likely new face to compete for a starting spot.

Sophomore guard Eddie Rios is a starter in training and is a stellar ball-handler to take over next season

McQuan Jones will see plenty of playing time at the 3 spot. He is a very talented recruit and is the cornerstone for the future.

FORECAST
When would you have thought that the University of Miami would have a basketball team that has higher expectations that is football team?

Coach Haith knows that he is about to turn Miami from a cellar dweller to a top five ACC program.

Miami has talented pieces on offense, but it was their defense that was second in the ACC. If they can keep that a focus while getting a lift from the newcomers to the roster, this team should be ranked all season and make some of those Carolina teams very upset.