Art Chansky

Get Ready To Rumble

Frankly, I am worried Carolina’s basketball team may be too good for its own good. The Tar Heels have improved their defense and intensity since early season losses to UNLV and Kentucky, and they blew out their first two ACC opponents. Miami, with whom they’ve had trouble the last couple of years, had the guards and big men to test Carolina. But the Hurricanes flunked. Another supposed test comes tomorrow at Florida State, which was picked to finish behind UNC and Duke in the ACC race this season. I hope it’s a tough, hard-fought victory for the Heels because they need it to begin getting ready for the road to the Final Four and to prove the rest of the ACC won’t pave that road with fool’s gold. Remember 1991, that awful weekend in Indianapolis when Carolina lost to Kansas, and when Duke shocked undefeated and top-ranked UNLV, the defending national champion? Most people thought the Blue Devils couldn’t play with the Rebels and would get whipped like the year before in Denver. Well, leading up to that week, Mike Krzyzewski’s entire motivation was that Vegas was vulnerable because it had creamed everyone that season and had no experience in a close game. Coach K convinced the Blue Devils, who were damn good in their own right, that if they kept it close UNLV would fold down the stretch. Bingo....

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Good Chemistry, At Last

Even as Larry Fedora injects a youthful, wide-eyed energy into Carolina Football not seen here since Mack Brown, the Butch backers and Holden haters continue to view the glass as more than half empty. I ran into such a group this week having lunch at the Crook’s Cafe — one who said he had three degrees from Carolina — that insists a significant segment of UNC alumni cannot move forward until Thorp is out of office. I’ve heard that others are still withholding their financial pledges for the same reason. They insist the chemist Chancellor belongs back in the lab, and the timing of Davis’ firing was so egregious that it leaves them obsessed with the past instead of looking to the future. Some even argue that the 11th-hour dismissal has kept the deposed Carolina coach from getting another job because it looks like there is a smoking gun somewhere. Here’s some news for this group that needs to get over it. Whether he knew or not, whether his big toe or six-foot frame was in the hot water, Davis was making $3 million while heading up a program under NCAA investigation for more than a year at a university that long ago decided such a probe cannot happen here. The Chancellor has had 18 months he will never forget, going from “Gee Whiz” we have Butch Davis and...

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The Bowl 'System'

Many viewers who watched Carolina’s dismal loss to Missouri in the Independence Bowl Monday night – an apt ending to the ugly Butch Davis era – wondered why the Tar Heels even agreed to go to Shreveport, Louisiana, over Christmas. If the NCAA is coming with at least a one-year bowl ban, why not self-impose it this season that ended with a thud anyway? If UNC officials knew they were headed for perhaps the worst bowl and site among the 35 post-season games, perhaps they would have done so. But up to virtually the last minute before bowl selection Sunday on December 4, Carolina was hoping for a bid to the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C., where the fan support would have been 10 times what it was in Shreveport. The way it turned out and the bowl “system” works, UNC might have netted out more money by not going to the Independence Bowl. And the players, some of whom bitched before, during and after the game, could have spent Christmas at home with their families. As is, Carolina claims to have used about 1,000 of the 10,000 tickets it was required to purchase. I asked a few people who were actually there, and they said a “smattering” of blue was seen among the estimated attendance of 10,000 in a 50,000-seat stadium on a cold, damp night. And that...

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A 'Subtle' Case

On the surface, Ohio State’s NCAA sanctions in football do not bode well for Carolina’s forthcoming verdict. In almost every case, the NCAA extended the Buckeyes’ self-imposed penalties, adding four lost scholarships to the five Ohio State already sacrificed over the next three years and issuing a one-year bowl ban that came as a surprise to many in Columbus. The actions stem from a handful of players, including star quarterback Tyrelle Pryor, who played in all 12 games plus the Sugar Bowl last season when head coach Jim Tressel knew they had violated NCAA rules. The Buckeyes had already vacated all 12 wins, including the Sugar Bowl championship, and will return more than $300,000 from the bowl game. When you compare what Ohio State did, the penalties it self-imposed and the sanctions ultimately received, it’s hard to imagine UNC getting off any lighter. The Tar Heels self-imposed the loss of nine scholarships over three years, took an NCAA probation for two seasons, vacated all victories from 2008 and ’09 (because Marvin Austin, Greg Little and company played in those 16 wins), and said the school would pay a $50,000 fine. As with Ohio State, no bowl ban was offered. There are subtleties supporting both sides of the argument that Carolina will get equally hammered or that, perhaps, it may escape with a shorter rap sheet. First off, the NCAA...

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Chapel Hill Saturday

For me, Saturday was a bright blue reminder of why we’re so lucky to live in Chapel Hill. Compared to other places, it’s just so easy and friendly. Went out to get the paper and on the way in I saw my right rear tire was almost flat. It’s a brand new tire, so something weird must have happened. I used my stand-up bicycle pump, pretending I was detonating old buildings, until the tire was hard enough to endure the drive down to Eastgate BP.   There, the nice older attendant helped me unravel the air hose and asked what happened. I told him and he said, “Start the car and roll it a few feet forward and a few feet back, and leave the window open so I can tell you when to stop.”   I did what he said, and when he yelled “OK” I got out of the car. He pointed to a silver nail I had picked up in the brand new tread. “Can you fix it?” I asked.   He nodded. “Can I wait for it?”   “Fifteen, 20 minutes,” he said. “Wait inside where it’s warm.”   I told him I had a few things to do in Eastgate, so I’d be back.   I really didn’t since my mission was to get my tire inflated and/or fixed and pick up breakfast, but...

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Blue Skies Ahead

It still may not seem so to the knuckleheads who hate Holden Thorp, but the Chancellor had a plan that he could finally hatch last July 26, when he decided that Butch Davis and the embarrassment his football program cost UNC had to go. For whatever reasons Thorp did not dump Davis in August of 2010 or right after the Musical Chairs Bowl – and believe me, they were good ones – he knew by making the move when he did that Carolina at least had a chance to recover. Key was getting Dick Baddour to step down, step...

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The Weekend Watch

If you’re a devout Tar Heel and ACC sports fan, who did not succumb to the Saturday sunshine, it turned out to be a helluva weekend watch, beginning with the Carolina-Kentucky tip at high noon and ending with Russell Wilson hoisting the Big 10 Championship MVP trophy close to midnight. In between was a classic college basketball game, two looks at possible new (and old) Carolina football coaches, and Clemson coming back from the dead to reach the Orange Bowl for the first time in 30 years. And, during a late afternoon window, you still could have caught UNC’s...

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On The Road Again (Updated)

LAS VEGAS – They came from Idaho, South Dakota, New Mexico and across the deserts of Nevada, all decked out in Carolina blue hats, shirts and fine wear.   It’s a phenomenon with Tar Heel basketball, wherever the team plays and especially when it’s too far away for anyone to ever make it to Chapel Hill. The national following that Dean Smith built over 30 years shows up in all sizes, sexes, ages and accents.   “We used to drive if they played within 10 hours,” said the father of a family of four from Idaho, “but we flew...

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Rating Dean The Best

I did not mind the well-deserved accolades for Mike Krzyzewski after he set the new victory record for Division 1 basketball coaches. What gave me a slow burn is how Dean Smith was left outside the three-point line by certain “analysts” comparing the greatest coaches of all-time.   Bob Knight was in every conversation, of course, because he owned the record until a week ago and is still on TV adding his dead-pan commentary to game broadcasts. UCLA’s John Wooden will be included for perpetuity with his never-to-be-matched 10 national championships. Adolph Rupp gets an occasional nod because he held the record for coaching victories so long until Smith broke it in 1997.   But in my (Carolina blue) book, Smith should never be left out of any discussion, and he ranks as a better all-time coach than Krzyzewski for reasons beyond national championships and all-time victories, categories in which the Duke coach leads the retired UNC legend. Both coaches could have, and probably should have, won more NCAA titles. The Tar Heels lost star players to the pros with eligibility remaining and had some horrible Final Four Saturday performances. The Blue Devils also lost some stars early and blew some big leads in semifinal and championship games.   For the record, Smith finished with 879 career wins to Krzyzewski’s 904 and counting. Coach K caught Smith with his 13th...

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