First look Heels 2021 – Grades

Like preseason polls, preseason games and lineups give quite different looks from what we expect to see as the season progresses.  So goes preseason game evaluations.  After a coaching change, multiple transfers in and out, and freshman additions; new lineups and adjustments to style of play were expected.  Hubert Davis’ starting lineup in the Smith Center exhibition game against Elizabeth City State University included Armando Bacot, Dawson Garcia, RJ Davis, Caleb Love, and Kerwin Walton; with Brady Manek, Justin McKoy, Leaky Black, then Anthony Harris leading off the bench.  D’Marco Dunn and Dontrez Styles filled in for a few minutes before Davis cleared the bench with less than one minute remaining.  First reactions and ratings:

  • Team as a whole showed flashes of improvement.  Defense seemed a little uneven.  Seem to be stuck between deciding between getting out to run and waiting to set up in the half-court.  Team exhibition performance:  B minus.
  • Bacot – (A) – Looks like he’s already told the dealership which car to order.   
  • Walton – (D) – Did not look good.  Offense was off.  Did not see defensive improvement.   
  • Love – (C minus) – Hasn’t shown anything different yet.  Turnovers when primary ball handler is a concern.    
  • Davis – (B minus) – Early play as primary ball handler was promising.
  • Garcia – (B) – Good start offensively.  Need to be more aware on defense.
  • Manek – (A) – Better than expected.  Has a good motor on both ends of the court.
  • McKoy – (D) – Appeared to be lost on offense and defense. 
  • Black – (B) – Good energy off the bench.  Defense was steady.  Great outlet passes and push up the court after rebounds.  Had sneaky good all-around game though he only took one shot.  Best multi-position player. 
  • Harris – (C) – Gets in motion quickly.  A little out of control.  Looks confident.
  • Styles and Dunn – To be determined.  Unfair to rate with such limited playtime.          

Aaron being Aaron

Answer:  He selfishly put his own health, teammates, team goals, and opponents in danger. 

Question:  Who is Aaron Rodgers?

Just like the popular game show, the NFL has the question and answer reversed.  When it comes to Covid-19 protocols, this confusion should be eliminated.  If the NFL has considered Aaron Rodgers unvaccinated all season as reported, then we should expect an explanation as to why one of the league’s high profile players has been allowed to attend practices, team interactions, games, and press conferences as if he is fully vaccinated?  The NFL already has rules to prevent taunting.  Perhaps the league should consider broadening the rules, and apply a retroactive penalty for Rodgers.  He is clearly getting away with taunting by openly challenging league safety mandates; then tap dancing around the truth.  Even worse, team and league officials have been standing by, watching it happen.  Anything less than a 2-game suspension for Rodgers, and team punishment for not following safety protocols is unacceptable. This cannot be written off as Aaron being Aaron.     


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

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


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…

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


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!


UNC fast start against BC

Tar Heels looked confident early against Boston College.


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.