Posted on: March 3, 2012 9:13 pm
Edited on: March 3, 2012 9:14 pm
By Jeff Goodman
DURHAM, N.C. - There was no miraculous comeback this time, no heroic shot from freshman Austin Rivers.
Talent won out -- and that meant that North Carolina did what it was chosen to do, win the ACC regular-season title and also lay claim to a No. 1 overall seed with a fairly resounding victory at Cameron over rival Duke.
The Blue Devils made it interesting in the second half, but only because the margin had grown to 26 points at one point.
Duke had a chance to cut it to single-digits with less than five minutes left, but Rivers missed the front end of a one-and-one -- and the Tar Heels were truly never threatened.
For the first 20 minutes, it was complete dominance in just about every aspect of the game.
But this time was there no meltdown.
North Carolina finishes the regular-season 27-4 and 14-2 in league play. Not what we all expected from the preseason number one team in the land, but the win at Cameron showed that this team is still a legit national title contender.
In case anyone forgot about these guys from Chapel Hill, they may just be Kentucky's biggest roadblock to cutting down the nets in New Orleans.
It's pick your poison now with the Tar Heels on the offensive end without Dexter Strickland. All five starters finished in double-figures and Roy Williams' team put up 88 points.
And the Tar Heels, despite a few bumps in the road, still achieved their first goal -- to win the ACC.
Posted on: February 16, 2012 2:28 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 3:19 pm
Since Nerlens Noel announced a few weeks ago that he was reclassifying to the class of 2012, he’s been the most talked-about recruit in the country.
Noel, a 6-foot-10 Massachusetts native who plays at Tilton (N.H.), immediately moved to the No. 1 ranking in the nation. Moreover, the schools pursuing him have really turned up the heat.
“Recruiting has gone crazy all of a sudden,” Noel told Jeff Goodman on SiriusXM’s Inside College Basketball on Thursday afternoon. “I just need to plan out some visits to get out to all these schools. Keep talking to coaches, build better relationships with them.”
Noel is currently considering Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina, Florida, Georgetown and Connecticut. He later tweeted that Providence was also on his list, but did not mention them during the interview with Goodman.
He visited Syracuse this past weekend for the Orange’s win over Connecticut, and he will trip to Kentucky this coming weekend.
“I’m talking to a few more coaches to get down to their campuses during vacation,” Noel said.
Noel is the best shot-blocker in the country, and would immediately be the best in the college game too. He has tremendous dexterity defensively, able to cover a lot of ground and alter shots with either hand. Noel’s offensive is constantly getting better, and he is developing post moves and is taking defenders off the dribble as well.
He would dominate defensively wherever he ends up.
“Just a good program where I can go and play and be comfortable with the coaching staff, the whole program,” Noel said. “I know I can develop as long as I’m there, as a player and a person.”
Noel maintains that he is wide open among the six schools he mentioned, and he is still a long way from making a decision.
“I don’t really have a timeframe,” Noel said on the show. “I just want to make sure I get in all my visits to these schools. However long that takes.”
Posted on: February 15, 2012 3:25 pm
Ever since North Carolina collapsed in the final two and a half minutes against Duke last week, we’ve been hearing that the Tar Heels don’t have a killer instinct and can’t put away teams down the stretch.
Sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall’s quote to the Durham Herald-Sun won’t help matters.
Let’s be clear: I don’t think Marshall is saying that the Tar Heels have never practiced late-game situations or run plays to get baskets late in the game. Every team does it (no matter what Larry Drew said two years ago.)
It seems more along the lines of executing down the stretch, having the mental toughness to turn a close game into a comfortable lead late in games. Not letting lesser teams back into games – things that championship teams do on a regular basis.
This season, North Carolina is 1-2 in games decided by three points or fewer. Interestingly, the Tar Heels went 8-1 in those games last season – when the lineup was a year younger and less experienced.
Marshall also added that UNC worked on using the clock late in games after the Duke game – and it worked against Virginia over the weekend. They turned a close game into an 18-point win, ending the game on a 13-2 run.
If the Heels can get the mindset to essentially step on a team’s throat when they’re down, their Final Four aspirations will get a nice boost.
Posted on: February 11, 2012 6:30 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 7:02 pm
By Gary Parrish
The North Carolina Tar Heels cruised Saturday to a 70-52 victory over Virginia that helped put behind them Wednesday's crushing loss to Duke, you know, that loss in which Tyler Zeller missed free throws, scored on his own team and let Austin Rivers bury a jumper at the buzzer.
This win over Virginia was good.
But that loss to Duke was really bad.
It was so bad Roy Williams was asked Saturday how Zeller handled it.
A portion of the coach's answer quickly made its way around Twitter and other social media sites.
"We had a chance to visit and [Zeller] said I was one of the few guys who could make him laugh," Williams said, according to an audio clip provided to CBSSports.com by Inside Carolina's Dijana Kunovac. "I asked him Thursday night when I called him late, I said 'Are you thinking about getting the knives out and slicing your wrist?' He said 'Maybe.' I said, 'Well if you're gonna do that then call me and I'll come do it with you.' I told him my son would want to know it first so he could change the will and get control of everything. He liked that statement, too."
Roy Williams slicing wrist audio
I mean, the man was just joking.
Have we really reached the point where jokes aren't allowed?
All I ever hear are people bemoaning the idea that our sports lack real characters. We say we hate coachspeak then attack those who try not to deliver it, and that seems dumb. So let the record show that I have no issue with Williams' story ... and, yes, I realize suicide is a serious issue.
I've had friends commit suicide.
I've had friends survive suicide attempts.
Guns. Pills. Razors-to-wrists. We all have stories.
Suicide is a very serious and sad thing. I can't imagine what it must be like to reach a point where ending your life seems like a better option than continuing it. But trainwrecks are serious, too. And people have died that way, too. And yet I sat at the KFC Yum! Center last Monday watching Louisville dismantle Connecticut while folks publicly described the Huskies as a "trainwreck," and I don't remember anybody reminding the world that it's not funny to joke about trainwrecks. Because it's just a term we use to make a point. Everybody basically understands this. It's fine.
Raise your hand if you've never joked around and said the words, "Man, I'd rather die than do that."
Raise your hand if you've never shaped your fingers like a gun and pointed them at yourself.
Raise your hand if you've never typed the letters KYS.
My guess is that most reading this have done at least one of those things, and I bet most didn't mean any of it literally. You don't really mean you'd rather die than eat black olives, you wouldn't really put your finger under your chin if it were a loaded gun, and you don't really want a Facebook friend to kill himself. Those are just expressions designed to make points, and that's all Williams was trying to do Saturday. He was just trying to make a point about how devastating that loss to Duke was to he and Zeller and UNC in general, and I thought he made the point rather well.
Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:09 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 12:14 pm
By Gary Parrish
North Carolina freshman P.J. Hairston will miss Saturday's ACC clash with Virginia because of a sore left foot, the school announced Friday. Consequently, the Tar Heels will be forced to play Tony Bennett's Cavaliers without three guards that at one time projected to be on this roster. The other two are Leslie McDonald (injured in the preseason) and Dexter Strickland (injured during this season).
Hairston had played in each of UNC's first 24 games.
He's averaging 6.6 points per contest.
North Carolina is ranked fifth nationally and coming off a home loss to Duke.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 12:02 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 12:17 pm
By Matt Norlander
As Duke was improbably bombing its way back into the game against North Carolina Wednesday night, I suddenly, near the very end, remembered how I'd seen this show before. Eleven years ago, Duke erased a 12-point deficit in less than a minute at the end of regulation in Maryland's Cole Field House. Duke won 98-96 in overtime. It's become one of the five biggest games in Blue Devils lore. It's definitely the most memorable Duke game from that season. By the way, the Blue Devils won it all that year. It might take you a second or two or five to remember the team they beat in the national title game.
But you remember the Maryland game instantly.
I think we'll remember Duke 85, North Carolina 84 instantly 11 years from now as well.
Wednesday night, Duke swiped away a 10-point Carolina lead in the final 2:15. And unlike the Maryland game, this one didn't need overtime. Unlike the Maryland game, this one had the best ending a basketball game can get: a do-or-die shot that falls true with not a millisecond remaining on the scoreboard. Was it better? Which game was better? I don't know, and don't care much to debate that. I'd have to re-watch the Duke-Maryland game (which can be done on ESPN Classic tonight at 8 p.m., by the way) to get a true sense.
Instead, let's debate the comebacks. Which tops the other? Duke had more time to kill off the lead against its hated rival, and is considered the inferior team. In the Maryland game, against its faux rival, both teams were good, but Duke was seen as superior. Maryland still hadn't slayed that dragon yet. In fact, in retrospect, it's interesting to see Maryland lose that game. It's like the Jordan Bulls continuing to lose to the Pistons before getting over the hump. Maryland won the '02 title, you'll recall.
The most impressive aspect to the '01 game was the fact Duke didn't have any timeouts. Watch the video below. Interesting to hear the crowd cheer when the PA announcer says, "We have one minute play," the Maryland fans in attendance blissfully ignorant of imminently being first-hand witnesses to Terp brutality and ACC history.
Once Jay (back then, "Jason") Williams sinks a twisting layup, Mike Patrick says, "They need a miracle." And they get it. Drew Nicholas botches two free throws, and even when Duke's five points and 45 seconds away from sending the game to an extra session, Patrick and Brad Daugherty seem to know what's going to happen before it happens. Eerie to listen to them know yet not know at all what's around the corner.
That wasn't the feeling you got last night. Last night's comeback seemed to shrink from 10 points to 3 on that last possession, when after Zeller missed the free throw, we all realized, Hey, Duke can win this thing right now. That's when Dick Vitale and Dan Shulman, as Austin Rivers was bringing the ball up the floor, had their premonition.
To me, last night trumps '01, and here's why: Rivers hit the first true, game-winning buzzer-beater in the history of North Carolina-Duke. That's weighty and really, quite surprising. Williams, who had a game-high 25 -- eight coming in the final minute -- in the Miracle Minute, even said last night's game might top what he and Carlos Boozer and Shane Battier and the rest of the Devils did in Cole Field House.
Last night's game also had a play you almost never see, that accidental tip-in by Tyler Zeller that gave Ryan Kelly's errant 3 ... two points, since it wasn't going to fall through the hoop. There is also a twinge of controversy to Duke's comeback, as Seth Curry hit a 24-foot shot with 1:47 to go. The problem? He clear-as-day traveled before releasing the ball. Officials didn't pick it up, as his momentum and natural shooting motion seemed to play tricks on the stripes as they ran up the floor during a transition offensive play. The butterfly effect was in play.
In the Maryland game, Duke never lost the lead in overtime. They carried the momentum into the extra session and
finished off the game with plays you never see in highlights these days. But Duke was expected to win that game. Against Carolina, most expected UNC to win by double digits. Duke was coming off a miserable home loss to Miami. It was out of flow and without direction.
But then punky frosh Austin Rivers capped off a comeback, hitting his team's 13th 3-pointer with one of the biggest daggers this rivalry will ever know. If it doesn't get bigger than Duke-Carolina, than how can last night's double-digit comeback on the road not eclipse the Miracle Minute? Wednesday night's game doesn't have the flashy nickname or unprecedented packed-in run of points, but it does have the better highlight. Watch both videos and give me your vote.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 1:19 am
Edited on: February 9, 2012 1:25 am
The Duke vs. North Carolina rivalry has had dozens of memorable moments throughout its history. On Wednesday night, Duke freshman Austin Rivers etched his name into Tobacco Road lore with a 25-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer over Tyler Zeller to give the Blue Devils a come-from-behind 85-84 win. As soon as the dust settled, discussions turned to where the shot would rank among the best moments in the history of the rivalry. For the sake of brevity, we’ve narrowed it down to Duke buzzer-beaters – where does Rivers stack up?
2012 – Austin Rivers
As mentioned above, Rivers’ 3-pointer capped a 13-2 run in the final 2:38 to give Duke a shocking win in Chapel Hill. Rivers finished with 29 points and six 3-pointers, with the final one going down in history.
2004 – Chris Duhon
This wasn’t technically a buzzer-beater, but Duhon’s coast-to-coast reverse layup with 6.5 seconds left in overtime gave Duke an 83-81 victory. After Rashad McCants knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game, Duhon simply raced past the North Carolina defense and then switched hands under the basket to avoid getting blocked. It was a tremendous, yet understated, finish.
1995 – Jeff Capel
Duke was winless in the ACC heading into this one, but that didn’t matter against North Carolina. Down by three with three seconds left, Duke’s Cherokee Parks grabbed a missed free throw and gave it to Capel, who was able to dribble freely past midcourt and hoist a running 3-pointer to sent it into overtime. Carolina eventually pulled it out, but this was memorable.
1981 – Gene Banks
Much like Capel’s shot, this wasn’t a buzzer-beater to win the game; it sent the game into overtime. On Duke’s Senior Day, Duke was down by two, 58-56, with one second left. Banks received the inbounds pass above the foul line, and he only had time to turnaround and shoot. Duke went on to win the game in overtime.
So, which one was the best?
Posted on: February 8, 2012 11:42 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 11:50 pm
By Gary Parrish
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- I had a bunch of words written and ready to post 25 minutes go.
Then North Carolina stopped scoring.
And Duke kept making shots.
And then Austin Rivers, with his Blue Devils somehow down by just two after trailing by double-digits for most of the second half, pulled from 25 feet on the right wing and buried a game-winning jumper at the buzzer that will never be forgotten around these parts. So now the scoreboard reads Duke 85, North Carolina 84, and that's the final. And now this building is quiet. And people are stunned. And I don't believe I've ever seen anything quite like what I just saw here at the Dean Smith Center.
"See y'all," Rivers yelled to the North Carolina students as he jogged off the court.
"[Expletive] you!" one student yelled back.
And, yeah, this Duke-UNC rivalry is as intense as ever.
"I've never seen anything like that," said UNC coach Roy Williams. "But this is North Carolina and Duke."
The game seemed over about an hour ago.
If you watched it, you know that.
Harrison Barnes was rolling, Tyler Zeller was overshadowing both Plumlee brothers, and John Henson looked like he might get 20 rebounds. The fifth-ranked Tar Heels were up 13 on their homecourt. I didn't see any reason to wait around before I started typing. So I started typing. I typed a bunch of words. And then North Carolina stopped scoring. And Duke kept making shots. And then Rivers buried a winning jumper that will never be forgotten around these parts, and I don't believe I've ever seen anything quite like what I just saw.