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Just a ranking

AP and UPI were the names that we looked to for college football rankings before ESPN offered 24-hour sports programming.  The Associated Press first published college football rankings in 1936.  United Press International (Originally United Press) started with a weekly poll in 1950.  The AP Top 25 is most recognizable, while the UPI poll has been had multiple brands including:  USA Today/CNN, USA Today/ESPN, USA Today, and Amway.  The AP and coaches polls do not always agree, so I expect you might disagree with my “After They Played Rankings” for Sunday October 17, 2021.  This week, let’s take a look at the top 10 undefeated teams:

  1. Georgia
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Michigan St.
  4. Cincinnati
  5. Oklahoma St
  6. Michigan
  7. Coastal Carolina
  8. Wake Forest
  9. SMU
  10. San Diego St  
Another unrelated Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com
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Question and answer

Question:  “Why do we go to a buffet that only serves common sense and expect a NBA player, that once said he believed the Earth is flat, to understand the impact of losing $380,000 every time that he misses a game for being unvaccinated?”

Answer:  “Ignorance is served exclusively to those who can’t appreciate their fortune.” – Gary Brown

“Now you see that you can put a price on “stupid.” – Demetrius Booker

Brain pain. Photo by Nicola Barts on Pexels.com

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Shiny new objects

Most people like shiny new things.  Jewelry, cars, toys, and for college football fans:  New faces!  Why boo your own team of college students?  Make a mistake, put in the new guy.  Win, but don’t score a lot of points, put in the new guy!  This is insane!  College football fans seemingly know little about the relationships that coaches have to build with players, or the relationships that players build with each other to better the team.  Coaches have to be careful not to create a “shiny new objects” reputation.  Fans don’t understand that, but players do.  Yes, every player should think he is the best, and should be in the game.  Players should also be confident that, after dedicating themselves to a program and having success; they are not going to be passed over for the next highly ranked player for making a mistake.  That would just confirm our fascination with shiny new objects. 

Shiny things…
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When it’s deserved…

ECU critics:  Time to admit it!  Like many who follow the Pirates, I have expressed concerns about offensive play-calling, on-field decision-making, and the team, overall, not showing the expected progress on game day.  When this ECU football team was playing in an emotion-filled stadium at Marshall, behind by double-digits, and managed to play themselves into a win, a bit of cautious optimism was created.  Falling behind by 14 to Charleston Southern left room for doubt to slide in, but East Carolina took control and dominated the middle of the game before giving the home crowd a scare, then winning by three.  Saturday’s homecoming match with Tulane may have been the most complete game that ECU has played in the last three years.  While play-calling was still concerning at times, the offense was much more dynamic and unpredictable.  While the defense gave some, they pushed more and set the tone!  Simply, the team looked prepared, and played a determined, aggressive style of offense and defense.  They earned it on the field again this week.  Three in a row!  When it’s deserved, give the praise! 

Team provoked smile! October 2, 2021

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Is now the time?

May 31, 2020 | Young protesters rally in uptown Charlotte, NC | Tyler Capel

When is it appropriate to talk about life?  Equality?  Fairness?  Morality?  Race?  The challenges of our country?  One would think these are questions that most could respond to quickly and easily.  Yet, we struggle!  We struggle to find the right moment.  The right place.  The right atmosphere.  So, when?  When do we have “The Talk?”  The graphic death of George Floyd forced the world to see just how imperfect our Union is.  Wherein we often find beauty in imperfection, this tragedy further exposed the ugliness of our experiment in democracy.  What was normal suddenly appears to no longer be acceptable.  But why now?  Many recordings of law enforcement officers ignoring their oaths to “serve and protect” have come to light before.  Yet, this time, “I can’t breathe!” not only signified life being taken away from George Floyd, but the igniting of a fight for answers and accountability!  George Floyd was not a well-known athlete, politician, or world leader, but the world has been awakened by his death.  Millions are marching, protesting, and demanding change!  From Minneapolis, to New York, Los Angeles, Raleigh, Boston, Atlanta, Paris, the U.K. and around the world, George Floyd’s plight and the request for people of color to finally be treated equally and with respect rings out!  While the leader (of what has been) the world’s most respected democracy offers to “dominate” protesters, and many with influence continue to deny the inequalities that exist, we march!  Non-violently!  For answers:  We march!  For democracy:  We march!  For our now:  We march!  For our future:  WE MARCH!  On foot, and online:  We march with enthusiasm, and with purpose!       

Now is a time to honor the work done by previous generations for “US.” The United States that is. We continue to face challenges as we struggle to understand the basics of equality, shared prosperity, health, and safety. Still, every day is a new day that offers the opportunity to make “US” better. As James Baldwin said: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” The power of now, this moment, can insure that we get closer to being that nation envisioned in the Preamble: “We the People… in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility…” Now is a time to honor the work. Let’s face our challenges head on!

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UNC fast start against BC

Tar Heels looked confident early against Boston College.

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Getting it right

Having a record of 9 and 10 has never felt as good to a team as it does for Norton Carolina! Winning as the Tar Heels did, besting an equally short-handed Miami team, showed that being ready to shoot, taking good shots, hustling on defense, and limiting turnovers is a winning formula.

Brandon Robinson missed Wednesday’s game at Virginia Tech as a precaution, after an auto accident a few days earlier, but returned to another career game performance with 29 points, including 6/10 on 3-pointers. Add Christian Keeling 4/6 for 9 points in 15 minutes and Justin Pierce 4/8 with 9 points in 17 minutes, and the team finally got the needed strong play expected from the two graduate transfers.

UNC had its best game from the floor all year, shooting 58% overall, while going 10/23 from behind the arc, with five different players scoring from deep. Garrison Brooks (14 points/5 rebounds) and Armando Bacot (19 point/12 rebounds) were steady, but the Tar Heels also got strong games from Andrew Platek and Leaky Black.

On a historical note, Roy Williams earned coaching win number 880, surpassing mentor Dean Smith in career wins, but as Williams noted, getting win number 9 for this team was much more important.

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Pirates open 2020 with win

East Carolina improved to 7-8 with a 62-59 win over 8-8 University of South Florida.  The Pirates are now 1-1 in conference play with SMU visiting for a nationally broadcast contest on Saturday.  ECU lead 51-38 after going 9 of 11 from the floor to start the second half, before USF outscored the Pirates 11-4 to pull within 55-49 with 7:49 to play.  The last minute of the game was intense as a David Collins layup pulled USF within 59-60 before two Tristen Newton free throws gave ECU the final 3-point margin with 15 seconds remaining.  Collins was able to get off two 3-point shots int he last 12 seconds, missing on the first, and having the second shot negated by a perfectly timed Jayden Gardner block.

USF-ECU

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Not a normal season

Normally, 50, 45, and 85 (field goal, 3-point, and free throw percentage) shooting in the second half gets a win for North Carolina. But this is no normal season for the Tar Heels. When a team misses their first 15 attempts from the floor, this is not a normal season. When more than 13 minutes tick off the clock before the home team at the Smith Center scores from the floor, this is not a normal season. When that home team trails Georgia Tech, or any team, 27-4 to start a game, this is not a normal season. When UNC players miss the same defensive assignments for a whole game; multiple games, this is not a normal season. When players haven’t figured out, after 14 games, that it takes head and heart to win, this is not a normal season. When players are not focused for a milestone game, this is not a normal season. THIS IS NOT A NORMAL SEASON!
North Carolina played a respectable second half, and put together a nice run to cut the 24-point Georgia Tech lead to single digits, but the missed assignments on defense, and resiliency of Tech’s players stood out. The Yellow Jackets improved their shooting from the floor to 63 percent in the second half, finishing at 59 percent for the game, while improving to 60 percent on 3-point attempts in the second half, and maintaining a 75 percent clip from the free throw line. Tech also forced 15 turnovers, while only giving up the ball 13 times, nicely below their season average of 17 giveaways.
There is cause for alarm if you expected the Tar Heels to be poised, and showing improvement at this point in the season. It’s hard to put the first 13 minutes of the game to the side, but look at the play over the next 13 minutes. Yes, UNC gave up 49 points in the second half, but they scored 56. Yes, they missed assignments, but disrupted Tech’s flow with traps, and showed toughness on defense outside the paint. It’s a team game. Garrison Brooks played the offensive game of his career, while Armando Bacot looked lost, and only played 16 minutes. Leaky Black had a positive game scoring 8 points on 4 of 7 shooting, with no turnovers, and a steady defensive game, while Brandon Robinson scored 12 points on 4-of 11 shooting, hitting four three-pointers, but the first half turnovers hurt. Jeremiah Francis was off from the floor, and had three careless turnovers, while missing multiple defensive assignments, but showed flashes of hope. Justin Pierce continues to show improvement, contributing 11 points in 24 minutes, but still hesitates to shoot when open. Christian Keeling shot the ball with less hesitation, going a respectable 3 for 5 from the floor, but four turnovers in 16 minutes is not acceptable.
At 8-6, many teams would panic. Not yet! North Carolina has 17 games left before the ACC Tournament. Expect a few more losses, but expect improvement on defense, and better offensive flow as well. Some have already written off the Tar Heels, but THIS IS NOT A NORMAL SEASON!