Posted on: October 26, 2011 3:07 pm

UNC will wear camo for Carrier Classic

By Matt Norlander

I can't see why UNC wouldn't opt to go with this look for the Carrier Classic.

One of the coolest regular-season events in the history of college basketball is almost two weeks away (Obama's going, remember), and it's all but guaranteed that both Carolina and Michigan State will wear camouflaged-themed uniforms as a way of honoring the troops/the fact they're playing on an active United States Military vessel.

The event keeps getting better and better. Lots of build-up. Only hope it doesn't rain.

Wait a second -- this is in San Diego. We're in the clear, literally.

Michigan State hasn't released their alternate threads formally yet, but Tom Izzo's confirmed it and there's already been a camera that's caught the alleged green-and-grays.  Wonder if these uniforms will go up for auction/charity afterward. They're one-of-a-time style kind of lends itself to an auction, right?

Photo via UNC athletics
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:03 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:14 pm

Preseason Tour: Thoughts from Duke

By Jeff Goodman

Now that I've returned home and had an opportunity to catch my breathe from my Preseason Tour, I'll try and run through my thoughts from each practice I attended. I've already done so for Ohio State and North Carolina:

Here are my thoughts and observations from Duke:

1) These guys could struggle early since every single player will fill a different role than a year ago. Even Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski admits he's probably never coached a team like this one. "I can't even equate it to any other year," K said. "We have talented guys, but they haven't established themselves yet."

2) Miles Plumlee was the most dominant big man - and maybe even player - on the floor. He's gained weight in the offseason, but even more important was the acquisition of confidence and swagger. If he can sustain that, he could be a major factor for Coach K and the Blue Devils this season. By the way, someone let Doug Gottlieb know that this Plumlee is pretty darn athletic.

Season tips Nov. 7
3) No one alters what they do more effectively than Coach K. A year ago, the Blue Devils were perimeter-driven. This year the plan is for Duke to be tilted towards its big men, but I'd be shocked if this weren't a balanced group once freshman Austin Rivers gets adjusted to the college game.

4) Ryan Kelly was arguably the Blue Devils top player on their trip to China and I bought into the fact he'll be one of the team's top players, but now I'm not quite convinced. Kelly can make shots, but I think he'll be inconsistent this season. He's also suspect on the defensive end.

5) Speaking of defense, I'm concerned about Duke's perimeter defense. The trio of Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins and Austin Rivers isn't exactly known for their defensive prowess. All three want to score the basketball. That's why Tyler Thornton will likely see plenty of time because he's the most consistent guard on the defensive end. "We're not going to be a team that forces turnovers," Coach K said. "That's not their DNA. But we need to be a team that limits second shots and keeps people off the foul line."

6) Austin Rivers will be interesting to watch. He's got that swagger - and the ability to score the ball - but he'll need to be careful about disrupting team chemistry. He's a Type A personality on the floor who has the potential to rub his teammates the wrong way if he's not careful.

7) Freshman Alex Murphy will play this season. Duke has a need for a big wing - and Murphy fits the bill. He won't score much this season, but he'll be asked to defend athletic wings and will need to rebound the ball and do the little things.

8) Mason Plumlee may never live up to the hype. He looks the part - skilled, good size and also possessing the swagger. But the light still hasn't turned on and he hasn't yet become the dominant player that many felt he'd already have turned into.

9) The Seth Curry point guard experiment will be critical for Duke this season. Curry, like his older brother, is a scorer at heart. However, Stephen was able to make the transition to point guard at Davidson. Can Seth do the same at Duke? It's going to take time and will be far more difficult because Stephen had to carry Davidson while Seth has to balance scoring the ball and also keeping his teammates happy.

10) There aren't too many teams in the nation who have a more formidable perimeter shooting duo than Curry and Dawkins. These two can flat-out shoot the ball.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 1:02 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 1:11 pm

Goodman Preseason Tour: Thoughts from UNC

By Jeff Goodman

Now that I've returned home and had an opportunity to catch my breathe from my Preseason Tour, I'll try and run through my thoughts from each practice I attended. I've already done so for Ohio State.

Here are my thoughts and observations from North Carolina - where I was for Midnight Madness:

1) Harrison Barnes will pick up where he left off last season and then some. The Tar Heels sophomore has that swagger back and while he isn't exploding to the basket, he's certainly more assertive. He's also far more comfortable playing with his buddy and roommate, Kendall Marshall.

Season tips Nov. 7
2) Speaking of Marshall, his perimeter shot has improved. That, along with his quickness, were the areas of focus this past offseason. However, Marshall's most important attributes will continue to be making his teammates' lives easier and also leading this team vocally. I wouldn't be surprised if he leads the nation in assists and also averages double-figures this season in scoring.

3) It'll be interesting to see which one of Reggie Bullock or P.J. Hairston emerge. Both are terrific perimeter shooters - arguably among the Top 50 in the nation - but Bullock has the edge - when healthy - because he's further along defensively.

4) James Michael McAdoo may come along slowly since he has been on the mend due to tendinitis for a month or so. The positive is that, barring an injury to one of the frontline guys, McAdoo will be a piece this season. A damn good piece. Then he will turn into a star as a sophomore.

5) Dexter Strickland will be a huge key for this team and its national title hopes. He's a glue guy, but his perimeter shot appears to be more consistent - and his ability to run the team has improved as well. He will likely split his time between both backcourt spots, but the critical component for Strickland will come on the defensive end where he'll need to become a lock-down defender.

6) John Henson's offensive game is a work in progress. He's still raw on that end of the floor, but I still say he's as important on the defensive end as just about anyone in the country due to his length and ability to both block and alter shots.

7) Tyler Zeller is vastly underrated and is also the biggest beneficiary (Barnes is a close second) of Marshall and his floor game. Zeller, one of the best big man "runners" in the country, should be the recipient of a couple fastbreak baskets per game from the pure point guard.

8) Leslie McDonald said he hasn't ruled out playing this season, but it appears far-fetched. He tore his ACL this past summer in a Pro-Am game and said there's a chance he could be back on the court shortly after the New Year. My guess is he winds up redshirting.

9) Spent some time with ex-Tar Heels Tyler Hansbrough and Bobby Frasor. Psycho T is completely healthy after a brutal offseason a year ago in which he wasn't cleared to do anything - and Frasor is trying to break into college coaching.

10) Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes need ping pong lessons.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 9:14 am

Coach K says schools leaving NCAA 'could happen'

By Matt Norlander

From our Rapid Reports last night (and if you're wondering what Rapid Reports are, click here), Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski offered up an interesting quote about conference realignment and the somewhat unstable marriages of college and the NCAA.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski thinks if the NCAA wants to keep the top conferences, it needs to change its prospect contact rules.

“The old NCAA is no longer,” Krzyzewski said. “To go back can’t happen. The NCAA needs to change. I’d hate to see the top conferences not be a part of it, and that could happen.”
Many believe the big schools will one day shuffle away from the NCAA, once they have the money (read: power) to do so. When arguably the greatest coach in the history of the sport is talking like that's a possibility, the NCAA has a problem.

Today is ACC media day. I'm sure K may get asked about this once or twice.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 17, 2011 1:16 pm

Miles Plumlee can become Duke's backbone

By Jeff Goodman

After shuttling between North Carolina and Duke for a couple days on Thursday and Friday, I took a break from my annual Midnight Madness road trip for a family function down in Florida over the weekend.

Now it's back on the road, with the first stop coming today in Columbus with Ohio State.

I'm going to catch Buckeyes practice, may even take a charge from Jared Sullinger and will also give Aaron Craft an opportunity for redemption after his singing exhibition a year ago.

But before I move forward to the Buckeyes, let's still flip back to Tobacco Road. Here's my column (and video) of Tar Heels sophomore Harrison Barnes -- and how he appears far more comfortable these days than he did a year ago. While there aren't a ton of question marks with UNC, that's not the case down the road at Duke, where just about everyone on the team has a new role.

Austin Rivers has high expectations placed upon him as a highly touted freshman, but the most impressive and consistent player, according to the Duke coaching staff, has been senior big man Miles Plumlee. Plumlee (pictured above dunking over little brother Marshall during Friday night's festivities) has been an enigma for his first three seasons in Durham. Blessed with size and athleticism, the issue for Plumlee, more than anything else, has been confidence.

But after a summer in which he actually got away from Duke, Plumlee came back bigger, stronger and with a swagger. He dominated practice on Friday afternoon against the middle Plumlee, Mason, and Ryan Kelly. He was a presence in the middle and had one spectacular dunk that would have made Doug Gottlieb re-consider his comment of Duke being "un-athletic."

The 23-year-old Plumlee has a different look to him now. He's up to at 255 pounds after spending the summer working out with Marquis Jet co-founder Jesse Itzler in New York. Itzler also owns a company called Hundred Mile Group, where Plumlee interned this summer.

"Working out with him is no joke," Plumlee said.

Plumlee admitted when he arrived at Duke he wasn't sure he belonged. Remember, he committed to Stanford and was a late pick-up for the Blue Devils after the coaching change that sent Trent Johnson to LSU and, ironically, Duke assistant Johnny Dawkins to Palo Alto. It's taken time not just for Plumlee to understand he belongs, but to sustain that belief.

"I'm the senior leader now," he said. "I never had to step up before. I have to take ownership in this team."

Plumlee realizes they'll be those that won't believe it until they see it in the games - and that's alright.

"Now it's time for me to show it when it counts," Plumlee said.

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 14, 2011 10:51 pm

North Carolina trio made right decision - for now

By Jeff Goodman

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller were on the court, acting, well, like college kids.

They were performing the annual dances that have become a staple at North Carolina's Midnight Madness.

However, they could as well have been in the stands, sitting next to Vince Carter and Raymond Felton, waiting for the NBA lockout to end.

Barnes, Henson and Zeller all considered leaving Chapel Hill early for the NBA.

But the moment all three opted to return, the Tar Heels became the frontrunners to cut down the nets in New Orleans this April.

"They did make the right decision - for that reason," Felton said following the festivities. "And for the opportunity to do something special."

This group has a different outlook than some that have been tabbed as the unanimous (find me one idiot who doesn't have UNC at No. 1 in the preseason) top team in the country.

Remember, upperclassmen Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Dexter Strickland had endured a year and a half of getting crucified.

Two years ago, the Tar Heels were 20-17.


A year ago, they were hammered again - even after the addition of a freshman class which featured Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall.

Until Marshall entered the starting lineup in mid-January.

Then it all changed.

The pieces began to click - and everyone fell in love with the Tar Heels.

No. 1 to start the season, no shortage of accolades.

While the NBA players can only sit and wait.

However, Zeller isn't quite ready to anoint his decision as a success.

Not just yet.

"We'll see at the end of the year whether it was good or bad," he said of the decision to return to Chapel Hill for another go-around.

Zeller is hoping that'll be determined on April 2 in New Orleans.
Posted on: October 14, 2011 3:50 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 6:12 pm

Meet Duke's starting point guard: Seth Curry

By Jeff Goodman

DURHAM, N.C. - Stephen Curry made the transition at Davidson a few years back.

Now Seth Curry is doing the same at Duke.

The younger Curry, who has spent his entire college career playing shooting guard, will slide over to the point guard spot this season.

And almost certainly start for the Blue Devils.

"It's a little weird," Curry admitted. "I'm still learning - and am in the early stages. But I think I'm handling it well."

"It's different. I'm used to just worrying about myself," added Curry, regarded (not unlike his brother) as a knock-down shooter. "Now I've got to get everyone involved in the offense. I can't just worry about myself."

Curry said the last time he played point guard was as a senior in high school. He spent most of his time at Liberty playing off the ball - and did the same for nearly all of last year.

"It just fell into place," Curry said of being the frontrunner to start at point guard. "I wasn't brought here as a point guard, but it's a great opportunity."

Curry said he did pick up experience running the second unit two years ago - against Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith - while he was sitting out following his transfer.

Curry said he has spoken to his older brother, who is now with Golden State in the NBA, and heeded his advice on going through the transition.

"He told me to just be who I am," Seth said. "Don't lose your aggressiveness. Still be a scorer. For me, I have to find that balance."

Obviously, Stephen Curry had to do it all at Davidson, averaging 28.6 points and 5.6 assists in his junior campaign when he slid over to the point guard spot.

Seth, who is about the same height and weight as his older brother, knows he won't have to put up gaudy numbers with guys like Austin Rivers, the Plumlee Brothers (Miles and Mason), Ryan Kelly and Andre Dawkins surrounding him.

"We may not have guys that have proven themselves yet, but we have a lot of talent," Seth said.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: October 14, 2011 9:39 am
Edited on: October 14, 2011 2:58 pm
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