Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pound for Pound – UNC is the Nation’s BEST in 2006-07

Pound for Pound – UNC is the Nation’s BEST in 2006-07
For those of you who have been waiting anxiously for a pro-UNC blog (and my partner is the worst offender of this), the time has come to answer your call. First of all, let me state upfront that I am a die-hard Duke fan – even watching before Johnny Dawkins signed his letter of intent in 1982 and Bill Foster was at the reins. At the time THE poster boy for the program was a gentle giant named Mike Gminski.
History now refers to that period as Pre-K. Of course even before Duke, there was a program just down the road that had had some modest success of its own and it is about that program that I will aim my keyboard strokes. Let’s talk about UNC.
Anyone with any interest in collegiate basketball already knows that the ‘Heels boast one of the best, in not THE best, recruiting classes in recent memory (not quite Michigan’s Fab Five but REALLY talented nonetheless) and about the only question on most experts’ minds is whether Coach Williams can get the group to share the toys in the sandbox nicely. Of course ole Roy is no stranger to getting his guys to work together. At Kansas Roy Boy had as many MacDonald All-Americans as his mentor Dean Smith or Coach K and for the record currently boasts the highest winning percentage in among active Division 1 coaches so there is no questioning his credentials.
For the rest of the country, the cold hard fact is that the Heels go fourteen deep. What I’m saying is that they could conceivably put together three QUALITY Division 1 programs from their current roster alone! But to paraphrase Peter Parker, “With great firepower comes great expectations.” This team has more talent on it than UConn last year, than Duke in 2001, than UCLA in 1975. Pam Anderson isn’t stacked like this team and she had her own TV show called ‘Stacked.’
Brandan Wright is a stud; Ty Lawson is a stud; Wayne Ellington is stud; and least known Deon Thompson may be the biggest stud on the team. Oh yeah, some kid named Hansbrough, the hardest working kid in college (maybe pro) sports is an All-American already and may be better this year than last. Reyshawn Terry is senior “do everything” guy that kind of reminds me of Shane Battier (of Duke renown, naturally); Bobby Frasor is as tough a competitor as the ACC has seen at point since Steve Blake from Maryland; nobody hits the open three ball better than Wes Miller; Danny Green is a defensive ball of energy who pales in energy to his teammate Quentin Thomas who is so fast that he actually goes back in time when he runs; and don’t forget Marcus Ginyard, a reliable contributor who could start on seventy-five percent of the schools in the country. And that’s only eleven of the guys who have seen time on this team so far this year because I can’t remember all the damn names.
At any rate, IF UNC can work together toward a common goal (a championship), then come March I see the Tourney as nothing more than a formality because with a group this strong, running this deep, there are no discernable weaknesses. Sure, sure, on any given night blah, blah, blah, but when you factor in Roy Williams as the head that makes this body move, you’re talking about one of the three best coaches working in the business today. Sadly for us Duke fans, for all fans not attached to UNC, it all adds up to Carolina cutting down the nets come April 2. But didn’t I tell you, when I’m not rooting for Duke I’m a Heels fan and I’ve already got my plane reservations and tickets for Atlanta so “GO HEELS.!”

Duke’s Christmas Gift This Season – A Number 5 Ranking in the Polls

Duke’s Christmas Gift This Season – A Number 5 Ranking in the Polls
Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!
There goes Santa Claus, heading back to the North Pole after a very solid and successful holiday (number 2006 and counting – talk about a dynasty – nice work St. Nick). The list of gifts he brought this year to collegiate programs is long but I’ve put together my top ten list of college basketball Christmas (and Hanukkah where appropriate) gifts this season for teams and fans alike. Keep in mind, as always, some of the gifts are deserved and some not so much…
Number 10 – Dance Teams in spandex (‘nuff said – provided there are screening filters in place – you all know what I’m talking about).
Number 9 – Mid-major TV madness. This year more than any other we’ve seen a lot of Mid-major basketball on national television (deservedly so)…this is going to be more of a trend than an anomaly and it will make for better basketball viewing for a larger audience.
Number 8 – Big conference match ups early in the season. Even outside of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and Thanksgiving Tourneys we have seen some nice early season match ups between college powerhouses and I for one hope it continues.
Number 7 – More games in HD. It ain’t just good for football (and it’s great for Dance Teams in spandex – provided said filters ARE in place) and networks are catching on…
Number 6 – Florida gets Ohio State on a day where Greg Oden can’t hit the backboard with a beach ball (it was bound to happen but I was hoping it wouldn’t come against that goofy, long-haired, lanky mess of chest bashing energy – Joakim Noah)…
Number 5 – Gary Williams gets a new supply of sweat resistant suits in time for the ACC regular season (for most coaches these are sweat proof but we know that Gary has the glands of ten fat men).
Number 4 – Tyler Hansbrough has the entire regular season to make UNC fans forget about his inexcusable disappearance against Gonzaga, which resulted in their lone loss SO FAR this season.
Number 3 – Bobby Knight watch. He says it doesn’t matter to him, but I know Carolina fans have an opinion. Whatever you think of Knight and his methods, he HAS done it the right way – he runs a clean program and his kids graduate. That’s college sports in my book.
Number 2 – UCONN gets a top 10 ranking in spite of an 81 RPI ranking and a 316 SOS (Strength of Schedule), plus they haven’t left home once this season. Congrats Coach Calhoun and a VERY Merry Christmas.
Number 1 – Duke is number 5 in the polls even with the loss of Redick and Williams; but it is validated by a number 3 RPI ranking and a number 2 SOS. Once again, Coach K shows that it’s his methods that get the results. My predication: Coach K gets ACC and NCAA Coach of the Year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Let's Get it Started!

Let's Kickoff the Holiday Season

With ACC basketball finally set to arrive (even here for a couple teams) I can finally sit back, get comfortable and begin dreaming of Duke's eighth Championship banner in the last nine seasons. Obviously, there are a few obstacles in the way – Virginia has an experienced and athletic back court, BC has Jared Dudley, Georgia Tech has three talented freshmen who seem to do everything, and Maryland seems to have found what some might call "chemistry" to go with legitimate talent – but aside from that the path still looks pretty clear.
What with the return of Josh McRoberts and Greg Paulus and the early season emergence of DeMarcus Nelson as one of the best swing guards in the country, not to mention Jon Scheyer's potentially deadly shooting, Brian Zoubek's upside just because of his size, and Gerald Henderson's athletic abilities at the wing, it's hard not to like Duke come February and March once again.
Yeah, I know, it feels like a broken record to simply proclaim Duke the favorites yet again, but history is often a fine historian when it comes to seizing a pattern and refusing to let it go – therefore, I say for 2007, make mine Duke.
What's that?
North Carolina?
Are you serious?
Sure Roy Williams won his 500th game and yeah some people argue that his 06 recruiting is one of the top two in the nation and of course they have that guy, the pre-season All-American whatzisname, on the low blocks, with several other weapons at their disposal and scoring out the wazoo but really, aside from that what else is there to like about this overachieving team?
Alright, let's say for the sake of argument that Williams is able to get each of these prima donnas to agree to play together and defer to whatzisname as the "go-to" guy down low. That being the case here is my pre-season pick for the upcoming regular season.
1.Duke (15–1)
2.BC (14-2)
3.Maryland (12-4)
4.UNC (11-5; twice to Duke)
5.Virginia (10-6)
6.Georgia Tech (10-6)
7.Florida State(10-6)
8.Virginia Tech (9-7)
9.Clemson (8-8)
10.Wake Forest (6-10)
11.Miami (5-11)
12.NC State (4-12)

And unfortunately, I expect continued pressure to include more "mid majors" and "independents" in the NCAA Tournament this year, which I predict (with admitted facetiousness and bias) will translate into only two at-large ACC teams getting invited to the Dance in March in the wake of Duke's automatic bid (naturally).
In the end chalk it up to another disappointing season for UNC but at least they won't have to suffer the embarrassment of not even being the most unlikely victim of the most surprising run to the Final Four in tournament history...again.
Happy Holidays!