Tuesday, April 07, 2009

UNC 2009 Champs!!

From an old high school classmate who now lives on the west coast but wishes he could have been in Chapel Hill last night. Thanks, Geramy!

Vitale put dook in his top 5? Never saw that one coming.

Roy can't win the big games.
Roy's a great recruiter, but chokes in the big games.
Roy won the title with Doherty's players.
Roy will get outcoached by (fill in the blank).

UNC is overrated.
UNC can't play defense.
UNC will choke again.
UNC hasn't faced a team as tough/deep/talented as (fill in the blank).

The entree of the day is Crow. Eat up folks!

Nothing can be done to placate the jealous, the haters, the whiners, and those who simply do not understand the game at all. There are still a lot of defective craniums out there who still believe the following:

Anybody can "coach" that kind of talent and win a championship.
Rebuttal: Doherty couldn't. Remember John Thompson & Georgetown of 1985? Remember that Houston team of 1983? It's a very long list...

UNC has all those future nba players on their roster. It wasn't fair.
Rebuttal: Izzo (a great coach) had the same opportunity to recruit every single player on UNC's roster. A vast majority of you seem to think all those UNC players will fail in the pros anyway, so how could they be so dominant? Who knows or even cares what type of professional career they'll have, and that has no bearing at all on this season or the game last night.

UNC gets all the talent, they don't even have to try, those recruits just fall in their laps.
Rebuttal: Remember Roy? He's that guy that does all that great recruiting. He's also the guy that makes all that talent jell together into a championship team. How many more does he need to win to prove it? Weren't Pitt, UConn, Louisville, etc. supposed to have just as much, if not more talent? I know, it gets confusing. Denial does that to a person.

I could turn this into a novel, but why bother? Congrats to a great UNC team.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More on that shot (because it's fun to talk about, okay?)

I, too, didn't think about the lack of defense on Ty Lawson until well after the fact, but in retrospect, that decision was absolutely ludicrous.

Let's compare it to the 1992 Duke-Kentucky game. You know, the one where Christian Laettner gets the ball on an inbounds play with 2.1 seconds left to beat Kentucky in the NCAA East Regional Finals. On that play, Kentucky coach Rick Pitino opted not to defend the inbounds pass.

Pitino knew the decision wasn't a great idea, but due to the circumstances presented to him, decided to allow Grant Hill to inbound the ball undefended. Perhaps he overthought the situation; perhaps it was just bad luck. But regardless, Pitino cited valid reasons for not defending the inbounds pass. Furthermore, Pitino did have a man on Laettner, that man just wasn't able to prevent Laettner from scoring.

The Seminoles, with 3.2 seconds left in the game (read: more time than was left in the Duke-Kentucky game) not only chose not to defend the inbounds pass, but also didn't guard the person most likely to receive the ball (read: it took no effort whatsoever to get the ball to Lawson; perhaps they were hoping that he would trip over his own feet).

I am quite sure that anyone who knows anything about college basketball knows that Lawson can run the entire length of the floor, while dribbling the ball, in less than 5 seconds.

So again...why did FSU play absolutely no defense on in the inbounds pass? The more I think about it, the more it baffles me. I have yet to find an explanation.

But hey, I'll take the outcome of the game.

Heels win on last second shot

I was too elated last night to think about it then, but this question occurred to me this morning as I drove into work: Why on earth did Ty Lawson even have the ball? If you're FSU, why aren't you face guarding the one guy on the floor who would be able to get even that close to the basket in three seconds? Joe Ovies shares my confusion.

Oh well, works for me. On to Raleigh.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Did you like the calls during the UNC-FSU game?

No, no, you did not like the calls during the UNC-FSU game. It doesn't matter if you're a UNC fan, an FSU fan, or just a plain ol' basketball fan. The game was not well-officiated. Karl Hess is partially to blame. The funny thing about Hess & Company's poor performance is the rant posted below, written by Jonathan Howard before the game even started. He's a VCU alum, so he's none too happy about the VCU-Northeastern game:

When comparing college sports, sometimes it's really difficult to figure out which is better, football or basketball. On the one hand, college football season affords fans to build up excitement for an entire week before cheering their guts out on Saturday. On the other hand college basketball's post-season system is one of the most exciting in all of sports. However, there is one thing that I believe college football has that college basketball has yet to figure out: Consistency within the refereeing system.

Now, I'm not trying to say that all college football referees are great. Some are just plain horrible. ACC fans such as myself have yet to figure out how Ron Cherry is still employed. However, at least it's consistent. College football referees are not independent contractors. They work in crews with specific conferences. Basically, while Ron Cherry tends to be a giant question mark in the eyes of the arm-chair quarterback, at least he and his crew are the same giant question mark week in and week out while doing ACC games. If something goes wrong, they'll hear about it – as a group.

College basketball is a completely different animal. Referees are independent contractors. While they may appear in a number of conference games, they are not tied down to any specific conference, enabling to do a number of games in different conferences per week. Also, because they are independent contractors, they can do as many games as they want. I'm sure the same fans who shutter at the thought of Ron Cherry on the football side, have the same reaction to Karl Hess, Duke Edsall and Jamie Luckie on the basketball court.

However, the performances of these officials have more factors attached to it. For one, because they are independent, they don't work with the same people every time. This makes for a different flow in officiating for every game. Referees can work together many times, but it's not a night-in and night-out kind of thing. Also, referees are humans just like the athletes, and have to do just as much running. If referees are traveling the country and doing multiple games per week, it puts strain on their bodies. Like an athlete, they suffer from fatigue. And to put it bluntly, like an athlete it leads to a decline in performance.

Hess is a great example of this. Tuesday night he officiated a CAA contest between Virginia Commonwealth and Northeastern. It was his sixth game in seven days and rumor around the arena was that he'd be doing the North Carolina-Florida State game on Wednesday. It's safe to say that those in attendance found Hess' (and really the entire crew's) performance on Tuesday below par. And why not? He's been running up and down a basketball court all week, he just did a Big East game the night before with an ACC showdown the following night. Why is a Colonial Athletic Association game important? The fact is, the VCU-NU game was for first place in a conference that is highly competitive at the top. It deserved the same type of attention that a UNC-Duke or Pittsburgh-Georgetown game would receive. Unfortunately, it did not, and the flow and consistency of the game showed it.

I have a simple solution for this problem and perhaps the NCAA will one day think of it to. Simply manage basketball referees the same way they manage their football counterparts. Make them work in crews, within one conference, and limit their games. Games will instantaneously become more consistent and have an even flow. No referee will have to be singled out because it will be on the crew to have a solid performance. Until this happens, college basketball officiating will continue to be a joke.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Pack pumps it up...and in

I went to the RBC Center yesterday afternoon and watched NC State beat up on UNC-Greensboro. As a person who doesn't have much loyalty to either team, I have a few observations.

First, State is a lot better this year than they were last year. The folks at firesidneylowe.com should have less to gripe about during the 2008-2009 season. Courtney Fells and Ben McCauley looked fantastic. Courtney Fells looks fantastic. Tracy Smith and Trevor Ferguson were fun to watch. Brandon Costner did not have a particularly good game, but still carries high expectations.

They still need better guard play, and also need to make sure they don't take naps on defense. The only time UNCG looked good was toward the beginning of the first half when the Pack seemed to forget that aspect of the game. Other than that, it was a strong showing for the Wolfpack.

Second, there are several differences between the RBC Center and the Dean Dome, many of which are rather obvious:

1. The RBC Center is newer than the Dean Dome, and therefore has nicer amenities, including luxury suites. No such thing in the Dean Dome.

2. I was much colder in the RBC Center than I've ever been in the Dean Dome, partly because there was a Hurricanes game scheduled a few hours after the basketball game, and partly because I was sitting in an aforementioned suite. It's hard to get warm when you're not packed like sardines in the nosebleed seats, especially when there's a sheet of ice somewhere below the visible floor. I kept my sweater on the entire time, whereas I would have taken it off immediately in the Dean Dome.

3. In the Dean Dome, you can hear the sound of the students jumping up and down in the riser section. In the RBC Center, you can hear the sound of students jumping up and down in the riser section...

...but wait...I could hear the sound of jumping up and down, but I could not identify any groups of fans jumping in a manner that would create such a noise. Does State pipe in "bleacher jumping" noise? I honestly want to know. If someone knows where that sound is coming from, please let me know. Is the Pack the Indianapolis Colts of the NCAA?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Puck on Tobacco Road: October 5, 10, 13: RBC Center

If you think there wasn't any hockey in North Carolina until the Hurricanes arrived, you're wrong!

Want proof?

The Puck on Tobacco Road, an exhibit about the history of hockey in North Carolina, will be displayed in the RBC Center on October 5, 10, and 13 during Carolina Hurricanes games. A series of panels will convey photographs and information about hockey teams in Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and Fayetteville going as far back as the 1950s.

This exhibit is a joint project between the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA) and the Carolina Hurricanes in order to celebrate North Carolina Archives Week and American Archives Month.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A rule's a rule, stupid or not

Maybe I'm just mean, but I think everyone's lost their minds. According to an ESPN poll, 78% of the nation thinks that the excessive celebration penalty called against University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker was a bad call (most of the 22% who voted otherwise, not surprisingly, appear to be from the state of Utah).

Maybe I'm missing something here.

According to referee Larry Farina, "After scoring the touchdown, the player threw the ball into the air and we are required, by rule, to assess a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It is a celebration rule that we are required to call. It was not a judgment call." This statement was backed up by ESPN's SportsCenter, which aired the portion of the rule book in question. The rule is rather clear: no throwing the ball in the air after scoring a touchdown.

Period. The end.

But after airing the rule, several ESPN personalities, including Mark May, forcefully commented that they thought the referee made a horrible call. Given reasons included the following:

-they followed the language of the law, not the spirit of the law
-the refs shouldn't be allowed to decide the outcome of the game/the refs shouldn't be allowed to make calls in key situtations
-Locker had just made a great play
-the rule is stupid

Well, Locker had just made a great play, and perhaps the rule is stupid. Unfortunately, I'm rather sure there's nothing in the rule book stating that refs can pick and choose which rules they enforce. I'm also rather sure there's nothing in the rule book stating that the refs can choose not to enforce rules after great plays. But hey, I've never read the rule book cover to cover, so, you know, maybe those statements are in there somewhere. I'm not going to hold my breath, though.

Perhaps the spirit of the law is to reduce taunting, but that's not explicitly stated in the rule. It's clear that throwing the ball high in the air is not allowed.

As far as whether or not the refs should be allowed to decide the outcome of the game/the refs shouldn't be allowed to make calls in key moments is concerned...I've never understood this argument. Are you telling me that the call would have been legit had it happened in the first quarter? Or a mere five minutes earlier? Isn't it just as unfair to call a penalty at certain times and not other times? I've always been baffled by this argument in basketball, when people argue that the refs shouldn't be allowed to call fouls at the end of a close game. Furthermore, there appears to be a universal assumption that had the PAT been kicked from the standard 15 yards instead of 27 yards, the block wouldn't have occurred. I guess we'll never know, but I'm not sure I buy that assumption.

Would a Washington win have been great? Yes. Do I feel sorry, once again, for Ty Willingham? Yes. But I'm not going to hang the refs for the game's outcome. They were just doing their jobs. The rule can be reviewed during the offseason.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Brett Favre? Whatever. Brandon Jennings is the story.

For starters:

At this point, I'm not sure I care what happens between Brett Favre and the Packers. Is anyone surprised that he's changed his mind about retiring? No. Is anyone surprised that the Packers are now between a rock and a hard place? No. Let's just get him in a Panthers jersey and call it a day. Yeah, right.

Okay then, now:

Has an 18-year-old kid just opened the floodgates for reforming the NCAA/NBA system? The potential is certainly there. By signing with Pallacanestro Virtus Roma Oak Hill Academy's Brandon Jennings has proved what everyone should have known all along: American players don't need to go to college in order to go pro and make a lot of money. Hell, they don't even need to go to the NBA in order to go pro and make a lot of money.

I'll admit, I have, in the past, been one of those people who griped about players leaving college early for the NBA. I liked the idea of the one-year rule. Why? Because I'm a college basketball fan, and college basketball is less fun when your favorite players don't stick around for all four years, or don't show up on campus at all. Had the one-year rule been in effect back in 1996, oh, can you imagine: Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Ed Cota, and Kobe? Together? In the Dean Dome? Oh, I salivate at the thought.

But you know, Kobe's done rather well for himself without the NCAA, and that's really the point here. Was college going to benefit him at all? Does college benefit basketball players who don't want to be there, but do want a chance to play pro basketball?

Not necessarily.

College basketball should be played by college students who want to play basketball, but would probably be on campus even if they didn't. It should not be played by basketball players who would never consider going anywhere close to another academic institution after high school graduation if it weren't for the current system of making it to the NBA.

But the one-year suits both the NCAA and the NBA quite well. The NCAA makes money off of the talented players, many of whom probably don't want to be in college anyway. NCAA games make NBA scouting easy, or at least a lot easier than locating all of the high school gyms the scouts would otherwise need to visit.

And, theoretically, the rule suits the players. Go to college. Get the education that you need. Get more exposure. You'll be better off, really.

It's true that many college players benefit from the exposure. But there are some--Kobe, LeBron--who have done just fine without it. Do basketball players need a college education? Not if they don't want one. Does the NCAA need those same players in order for them to make the amount of money that they're accustomed to making? Absolutely.

But if they don't go to college, what will they do once they retire from basketball? I would buy this point if it weren't for the numerous people I know who willingly, without the promise of NBA fame and fortune, spent an average of four years obtaining completely useless degrees. Are you telling me that upon retiring from the NBA, a player is going to easily transition into the mundane world of non-NBA players because he has a Communication Studies degree (or in the case of Michael Jordan, a Geography degree)?

I don't think so. Brandon Jennings doesn't seem to think so. I applaud him, and am waiting to see if other high school players follow his lead.