Tag:North Carolina
Posted on: February 21, 2009 8:43 pm
 

Vasquez's triple-double turns bad week good

Who is better at recovering from a beatdown than Gary Williams?

Seriously, who?

Just four days ago the Maryland coach was getting his brains kicked in at Clemson, losing 93-64 and looking like he was headed toward a fourth NIT in five seasons. It was bad and ugly and deflating for a team that had previously won consecutive games and pulled to .500 in the ACC, so bad and ugly and deflating, in fact, that I mentioned in the Friday Look Ahead that it doesn't matter that Roy Williams thinks North Carolina "f-cking stinks" at pressing , because the Tar Heels wouldn't need to press Saturday to handle an out-manned group of Terrapins.

Stupid, me.

And did you see Greivis Vasquez?

We've had a bunch of insane performances this season -- Jodie Meeks' 54-point game at Tennessee probably being the most notable -- but good luck trying to find one more impressive on a huge stage than the 35-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist effort Vasquez delivered in Maryland's 88-85 overtime victory over third-ranked North Carolina. The junior guard literally scored Maryland's first 16 points en route to recording the school's first triple-double since 1987, and if you're into stunning statistics, take a look at these:

  • Vasquez made as many 3-pointers (five) as UNC did as a team (five).
  • Vasquez recorded twice as many assists (10) as UNC did as a team (five).
  • Vasquez recorded more rebounds (11) than everybody not named Tyler Hansbrough (11).

That, my friends, is some kind of all-around performance.

And suddenly Maryland doesn't look like an NIT team anymore.

And Gary Williams has again silenced his critics with another stunning victory.

Posted on: February 18, 2009 2:49 pm
 

Dear Gary (on my pick to win it all)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Who is your pick to win it all?

-- Navin


North Carolina.

That's who I'm picking.

But there's no question the Tar Heels won't waltz to this national title the way many of us expected back in November. Without Marcus Ginyard, they're simply not as good as they could've been or we thought they'd be. But the Tar Heels still have two dominant players at two crucial positions -- Ty Lawson at point guard and Tyler Hansbrough at center -- and I think that's a good enough reason for me to pick them to win it all.

As for other contenders, let's try this: How about I think on it tonight, come back here tomorrow and give you a list of six schools, from which I'm willing to guarantee a national champion will emerge. What am I guaranteeing, you ask? Nothing. I don't really have anything to wager. But it always sounds better when somebody GUARANTEES something. So I'm guaranteeing it, by God, and I promise you I'll be right.

(Also worth noting: My promises mean nothing.)

Posted on: February 13, 2009 3:59 pm
 

Dear Gary (on the Duke-North Carolina rivalry)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: I understand that the Duke-North Carolina rivalry gets press, and that is one of the reasons it is hyped. But what about another notable rivalry in Kansas-Missouri? That rivalry predates the Civil War and actually is historically significant. Why doesn't the press hype it a little more?
 
-- Matt


The reality is this: Duke-UNC is the most-hyped rivalry in college basketball because it's the best -- and only nationally relevant -- rivalry in college basketball. It's not some grand conspiracy, Matt. It's treated a certain way because it's the only rivalry that matters to fan bases from coast to coast. Meanwhile, Kansas-Missouri -- as great as it might be -- is a regional rivalry, just like Marquette-Wisconsin, Kentucky-Louisville, Xavier-Cincinnati, whatever. Those matter in those regions every year, and nationally some years depending on the quality of the teams. But Duke-UNC matters every year. So if the question is why does that rivalry always get national attention, the answer is because it's the only rivalry worthy of always getting national attention.

It's like I've said before, the reason people say the Beatles are the best band ever is because they are the best ever. Likewise, the reason people say Duke-North Carolina is the best rivalry in college basketball is because it is the best rivalry in college basketball, and I hope that clears this up for you.

Posted on: February 12, 2009 3:11 pm
 

Griffin leading straw poll for Player of the Year

Blake Griffin is running away with the National Player of the Year award.

That's what the results of a straw poll conducted by Michael Rothstein show. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette writer reached out to 55 media members from across the country (myself included), and 51 of them placed Griffin at the top of their ballot (myself included).

The top three in order were ...

1. Blake Griffin (Oklahoma)

2. Stephen Curry (Davidson)

3. Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina)

Click this link to see the full results.

Posted on: February 12, 2009 2:45 pm
 

Dear Gary (on why North Carolina is 'Carolina')

Here's Thursday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Why does the national sports media identify the University of North Carolina as "Carolina"? In turn, they always identify the University of South Carolina as "South Carolina". I've lived in North and South Carolina for years, and residents of both states use the term "Carolina" for both universities. We understand and respect the moniker for both schools. Why can't the national media give the same respect?

-- Kenny


In short, because it would be confusing.

Right or wrong, when I type Carolina -- and I never do this, by the way -- people are trained to think of North Carolina, not South Carolina. Likewise, when I type USC -- and I do indeed do this -- people are trained to think of Southern California, not South Carolina.

Which means South Carolina really is in a tough spot.

South Carolina can't be Carolina or USC.

But on the bright side, the school does have the word Cocks all to itself.

Posted on: February 12, 2009 12:42 am
Edited on: February 12, 2009 12:47 am
 

Lawson key to UNC win/hopes for title

Tyler Hansbrough and Danny Green will finish their careers with a 4-0 record at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

They should thank Ty Lawson for making it possible.

In a classic example of what a fast and quick point guard can do to an opponent who isn't quite as fast or quick, Lawson spent the second half of Wednesday night's showdown slicing Duke's man-to-man defense to pieces while leading North Carolina to a 101-87 victory. He scored 21 of his 25 points in the final 17 minutes, and to understand the difference the junior made all you have to do is look at the box score.

It looks like this ...

UNC      44  57  101
Duke    52  35     87

You see that?

When Lawson was ineffective, Duke outscored UNC by eight.

When Lawson was effective, UNC outscored Duke by 22.

Trust me when I tell you that was not a coincidence, which is why it's fair to suggest that though Hansbrough is the star and face of North Carolina, Lawson might actually be the reason the Tar Heels win a national title, assuming they do win a national title. When he plays well, they're virtually unstoppable on offense, proof being how North Carolina became the first school to hang 100 on Duke in more than nine years.

And Duke is not a bad defensive team.

The Blue Devils actually entered with the third-most efficient defense in the nation, meaning they allow fewer points per 100 defensive possessions than everybody except Louisville and Memphis. But it was difficult to see that Wednesday night with Lawson running up and down the court, slicing through the lane, converting layups and leading North Carolina to a blowout win that placed Hansbrough and Green into rare company.

Thank-You cards are in order.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 10, 2009 3:55 pm
 

Dear Gary (on Duke-UNC)

Here's Tuesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Will this Duke team become the first since 1985 to lose four straight to North Carolina in Cameron Indoor Stadium?

--Marcus

Yeah, I think so.

Here's why: I have long said that barring any (more) injuries I'm picking North Carolina to win the NCAA tournament the second the NCAA tournament bracket is announced, and though that looked a little silly when the Tar Heels lost at home to Boston College, it's now starting to seem reasonable again. UNC has won seven consecutive games, six of them by double-digits, and between you and me, I don't think UNC is losing again this season.

Of course, I thought the Tar Heels might never lose up until they lost.

Then they lost again a week later.

So I've been wrong before.

But if recent history is any indication, this North Carolina team is not the type of team that will be overwhelmed by Cameron Indoor Stadium -- by the history, tradition, students or big stage ESPN will provide. As you pointed out, Marcus, Tyler Hansbrough and his teammates have handled all that just fine the past three years, and the guess here is that they'll handle it again Wednesday night while solidifying themselves as the favorites in the ACC.

Posted on: February 4, 2009 2:30 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2009 3:05 pm
 

Dear Gary (on the loss of Ginyard)

Here's Wednesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: How badly do you think the Marcus Ginyard news hurts North Carolina?

-- Mitchell

There are two ways to look at this.

The first is that the announcement that Ginyard will sit the remainder of the season because of a foot injury means the North Carolina team everybody picked in the preseason to win the national title isn't the North Carolina team that'll actually be trying to win the national title. Remember all that talk about five starters returning? Well, one of those was Ginyard. So this is no longer the team that returned all five starters and added three McDonald's All-Americans, because one of those starters (Ginyard) and one of those McDonald's All-Americans (Tyler Zeller) are gone for the season.

That's tough to overcome.

On the other hand, it's not like Ginyard was hurt yesterday; he's played 37 minutes all season. So while this UNC team has been (somewhat) of a disappointment relative to its lofty expectations, it's still 20-2 and ranked third in the nation. Translation: Even without Ginyard, the Tar Heels are good enough to win the ACC, ACC tournament and NCAA tournament. To think otherwise would be silly. So yes, it will be more difficult, because Ginyard meant more to this team than most realized until after he was hurt. But I still think the Tar Heels are the favorites to win the national title, and so does Las Vegas, which is always a good sign.

-- ODDS TO WIN THE NATIONAL TITLE (per Sportsbook.com) --

  • North Carolina +250
  • Connecticut +450
  • Duke +800
  • Pittsburgh +1000
  • Louisville +1000
 
 
 
 
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