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Ten takes on UNC win

1 – UNC 84 – NC State 74. They did what they had to do and move to 21-8 overall 13-5 in conference play.

2 – Armando Bacot was super with 28 points and 18 rebounds. Just work to avoid the touch fouls and stay in the game.

3 – Brady Manek continues to give solid play. Improved defense and rebounding are very noticeable.

4 – Puff Johnson had a career game with 16 points and 5 rebounds while filling in for the Leaky Black who left the game before halftime with a knee sprain and did not play in the second half.

5 – RJ Davis had a quiet, controlled offensive game while playing great defense.

6 – Caleb Love added 16 points and played a good defensive game but continues to turn the ball over at a high rate and continues to make questionable decisions on the offensive end.

7 – Winning by 10 is great. Not scoring in the last 2:07 and allowing NC State to score the last 9 points of the game is concerning.

8 – Key to next game for UNC: Be happy with this win, stay on the game plan, be smarter with fouls and decision making. Don’t look ahead. Remember that the next game is not important until after you win this game.

9 – Avoiding history – NC State needs to win one of their last two games to avoid being the first team in school history to lose 20 conference games.

10 – Any team can win it. As of this post, two games separate the top four teams in the conference with one week to go in the regular season.

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Maryland wins thrilling finish over Indiana

#10 ranked Indiana University’s Women’s Basketball team topped #14 University of Maryland for the first time ever when the teams met earlier this season in Bloomington. That 70-63 overtime win helped then #6 Indiana secure its place near the top of the Big 10. Both teams entered Friday’s game with a losing streak with Maryland winning 8 in a row before its loss at #9 Michigan on Sunday, and Indiana on a 2-game losing streak. Even though they only outscored Indiana in the first quarter of the game, Maryland seemed to be in command and responded with a score or defensive heroics every time Indiana moved closer. But Maryland’s 7th turnover in the 4th quarter added more drama when they failed to advance the ball out of the backcourt before the clock expired, giving Indiana the chance to get closer. Though she had missed all of her previous shots, graduate point guard Nicole Cardano-Hillary stepped back to hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to pull Indiana within one at 65-64 with 35 seconds to go. Then, Maryland graduate point guard Katie Benzan drove and scored on a floater with 11.8 seconds left. Maryland stepped up with defense to close the game as sophomore power forward Angel Reese pressured Cardano-Hillary into a missed shot on a 3-point attempt as time expired. Maryland’s win secured a top 4 conference finish, guaranteeing a double bye for the conference tournament. Indiana finishes 5th and will start tournament play a day earlier.

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Ridiculous notions about race

Some things are harder to figure out. The ridiculous notion that Carron J. Phillips makes in his Deadspin article on Tuesday (2-22-2022) is not.

1 – Phillips rightly points out that Juwan Howard also got into a “fiery” exchange with former Maryland coach Mark Turgeon in last year’s Big Ten Tournament but is being disingenuous in relating Howard’s punishment for his latest behavior to Black men in leadership positions not getting as much leeway as their white counterparts. Most men in leadership positions do not punch competitors on national television. This action does not fit the same narrative of a person of color not having as much room for error in their job performance.

2 – Creighton, Wichita State, and Gonzaga have nothing to do with this incident. There is no way this should be looped in with Greg McDermott’s racist behavior, Gregg Marshall’s senseless actions, or Mark Few driving under the influence, but feel free to debate why only one of the three is out of a job!

3 – While black assistant coaches were fined, jailed, suspended and fired during recent FBI investigations into college basketball, Rick Pitino and Sean Miller did lose their jobs, and Will Wade should have been dismissed as well. This too is unrelated to a coach throwing a punch at another team’s assistant.

4 – To say punishments are absurd, but not accurately explain the context of what lead to the punishments leaves out the real story. We should expect more from our leaders. No matter their race or ethnic background. We can’t say a suspension is just in one sentence, then play the race card to end the paragraph.

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CIAA Tournament – 76 years

The CIAA kicks of its 76th basketball tournament in Baltimore this week. The CIAA Basketball Tournament has an interesting beginning and unique history. It was first held in 1946, eight years before the first ACC Tournament, and has been an economic engine powered by alumni and a family reunion type atmosphere from the beginning. Though the tournament has moved between Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina over the years, it has always been well-attended, and provides an enviable example of corporate sponsorship.

All games are being played at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, MD, and can be seen live on ESPN+.

CIAA Tournament Schedule

First Round

Men

Game 1: (8) Virginia State vs. (9) Claflin University, 6:40 p.m. Tuesday

Game 2: (7) Elizabeth City State vs. (10) Bowie State, 8:50 p.m. Tuesday

Game 3: (6) Shaw University vs. (11) St. Augustine’s University, 10 a.m. Wednesday

Game 4: (5) Livingstone College vs. (12) Johnson C. Smith University, 12:10 p.m. Wednesday

Women

Game 1: (5) Fayetteville State vs. (12) Livingstone College, 10 a.m. Tuesday

Game 2: (7) Virginia Union vs. (10) Claflin University, 12:10 p.m. Tuesday

Game 3: (8) Winston-Salem State vs. (9) St. Augustine’s University, 2:20 p.m. Tuesday

Game 4: (11) Virginia State vs. (6) Shaw University, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday

Second Round

Men

Game 5: (1) Fayetteville State University vs. Virginia State/Claflin, 6:40 p.m. Wednesday

Game 6: (2) Virginia Union University vs. ECSU/Bowie State, 8:50 p.m. Wednesday

Game 7: (3) Winston-Salem State University vs. Shaw/St. Augustine’s, 8 p.m. Thursday

Game 8: (4) Lincoln (Pa.) vs. Livingstone/Johnson C. Smith, 6 p.m. Thursday

Women

Game 5: (2) Elizabeth City State University vs. Claflin/Virginia Union, 2:30 p.m., Wednesday

Game 6: (1) Lincoln University vs. Winston Salem State/St. Augustine’s, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday

Game 7: (4) Johnson C. Smith University vs. Fayetteville State/Livingstone, noon Thursday

Game 8: (3) Bowie State vs. Shaw/Virginia State, 2 p.m. Thursday

Semifinals

Men

Game 9: Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 6 p.m. Friday

Game 10: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 8 p.m. Friday

Women

Game 9: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 12 p.m. Friday

Game 10: Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 2 p.m. Friday

Championship

Women: 1 p.m. Saturday

Men: 4 p.m. Saturday

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Sports brawls not new – expectations have changed

Fights and all out brawls are not new to basketball. Episode 2 (1958-1968) of “The Tournament: A History of ACC Men’s Basketball” which is currently showing on the ACC Network presents black and white footage of a brawl between Duke and Wake Forest near the end of a heated game in Durham nearly 60 years ago. Police had little control as players and some fans went at it on the court for six minutes! The University of Michigan and the Big 10 Conference have a slightly different concern to deal with after Michigan coach Juwan Howard punched Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft during an altercation in the handshake line after Wisconsin coach Greg Gard called a timeout with 15 seconds left in the game and Wisconsin up 14 points. Howard objected to the timeout and first reacted strongly in an exchange with Gard as they passed in the line, then reached past others in the crowded line to punch Krabbenhoft. Players on both teams joined in the fracas. When asked about his feelings and seeing his players join in the fight, Howard noted, “Unfortunately, it had to end up like that. I respect our young men for saying what they’re saying as far as – ‘we are a family’ – but did not want to be in a situation with anything like that.”

More is expected of Howard in his role as head coach at the University of Michigan. His comments of feeling the need to protect himself are ludicrous! I can understand the frustration surrounding the timeout, and the bad taste of a 14-11 season after a #6 preseason ranking but throwing punches during a time to demonstrate sportsmanship is not the answer. Still, almost 24 hours later, the University of Michigan and the Big 10 Conference leadership have not issued any suspensions. This is easy! Howard should be suspended for the rest of the season, then evaluations of additional actions taken after a review of the program if necessary. The only other public statements that need to come from Michigan should be Howard’s apology for his actions, and an acknowledgment of the weight of his responsibility to be the example of the leader of men that is expected by the players that he recruits, their parents, the university, and the community that looks up to him as a role model and supports him. This is not about what Bobby Knight and other coaches got away with in the past. Their actions would not be accepted today. Times have changed. Expectations have changed. This is about now! If other suspensions are warranted, the Big 10 Conference should issue a statement by the end of day. No blustering required! This is not hard!

Update: Juwan Howard suspended for the rest of the regular season.

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“Hoops is hoops!”

Many years back over a conversation about women’s basketball, a man, who I don’t know to credit, told me “If you know the game, hoops is hoops!” While concerns about post-season tournament berths worry many that follow ACC Men’s Basketball, the women’s teams are competitive within the conference and nationally with five teams ranked in the Women’s Top 25 polls. Only one team is ranked on the men’s side. The ACC Network and partner RSN gave fans another full night of exciting games featuring nationally ranked teams as #24 UNC defeated #3 Louisville 66-65 while #19 Notre Dame traveled to #16 Georgia Tech for a 72-66 overtime win, and #4 NC State maintained first place among the women’s teams with a 92-61 win over Wake Forest. With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, all 15 teams could see their league standing change with each game. Key games to closes the season on February 27th, that may decide final seedings for the ACC Tournament include NC State at Virginia Tech, Louisville at Notre Dame, Georgia Tech at Wake Forest, and Duke at North Carolina. Enjoy the hoops!

NCAA Women’s Basketball Rankings

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UNC not far from same old concerns

You’ve seen this clip before. The worst shooting team on your schedule comes in and has their best performance of the year. It happens. Maybe all too often for North Carolina. But this isn’t new. Think back. No, further back. This has been a concern even back to Dean Smith, on through Roy Williams’ tenure and now with Hubert Davis and the current Tar Heels. Seriously, break out the Google! This mention is only to say that far from the talk of UNC’s NCAA Tournament resume hits because of losses and inconsistent play this year is the fact that North Carolina’s performance today is actually closer to historical performance than many realize. Smith’s teams initially did little to defend the 3-point line and had bad losses. Maybe Smith was ahead of us all on advanced analytics? Most teams shot the 3-pointer badly initially. I can understand the initial hesitation to defend this part of the floor. Williams’ teams periodically played better defense but not great 3-point defense. They simply outraced or out hustled many opponents. Still, both coaches had their share of embarrassing losses to less talented teams when the other team just shot lights out.

Back to the worst shooting team in the conference. Every ACC team has talent! This talent can shoot 29% from the 3-point line for the season, but shoot 60% in any given half. Note: Pittsburgh against UNC at the Smith Center. Look at the box score. It didn’t matter the gym. Of course, UNC not hustling and not playing solid team defense makes it easier for a usually poor shooting team to score, but Pittsburgh also made some incredible shots to go 51% from the floor, 59% from the three, and 18-20 for 90% from the free throw line. Meanwhile, UNC shot poorly throughout most of the game. Where was the play that showed up in the last 7 minutes? Breaking down the whole game and individual performances just to show that the starters shot poorly and played pretty bad defense will not help us understand why this team cannot give a high level of play from game to game. Even great teams have bad days on offense or bad days on defense. It’s the bad teams that don’t play well on both sides of the floor again and again. This is not a bad Carolina team, but their inability to give it all every game on both or even one end of the floor has many still trying to figure out exactly what they are good at.

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Duke survives wild game ending and media coverage

Duke and Mike Krzyzewski usually get more than their share of free positive media coverage. Both the university and hall of fame coach likely welcomed a change of media focus Tuesday after a day of coverage surrounding details in an upcoming book by Ian O’Connor that reportedly details more about the school’s choice of Tommy Amaker to lead the basketball program and the coach’s preference for eventual coach-in-waiting Jon Scheyer. Mark Williams granted that wish with a game winning put back against Wake Forest when Paolo Banchero’s shot rolled off of the front of the rim with .4 seconds remaining in the game. Duke showed some vulnerability by giving up a 19-point second half lead with Krzyzewski out sick after halftime, but the Blue Devils will surely take the win and 1/2 game lead over Notre Dame for first place in the conference.

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Olympics drug ruling damages court and games

While young female track and field athletes were banned from the 2021 Summer Olympics, or not allowed to compete in select events because of naturally occurring high testosterone levels and for using marijuana, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Monday in favor of a Russian figure skater, allowing her to continue on in the 2022 Winter Olympics after she tested positive for a banned heart medication. The Court of Arbitration for Sport handles anti-doping cases and is the final stop for disputes relating to Olympic games. While seemingly ruling without consideration of circumstances on use of banned substances by track and field athletes, the court actually considered that “preventing the young (Russian) athlete from competing at the Olympic Games would cause her irreparable harm…”

Though I disagree with some of the suspensions that the Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld, I find it hard to understand how an athlete from a country that cannot compete under its own flag because of past sanctions for using banned substances is allowed to compete after proof that she used a banned substance. This is the type of decision that damages the reputation of the court and does harm to the games, while applying a backhand slap to every athlete that is competing the right way or those that have asked for leniency for using less harmful banned substances.

Update: Russian teen skater explains how she may have been exposed to grandfather’s heart medication.