Spurs’ Green sets NBA Finals record for 3-pointers

SAN ANTONIO (AP) – San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green set an NBA Finals record for 3-pointers Sunday with 25 against the Miami Heat.

Green broke Ray Allen’s 2008 mark of 22 in a finals series with his fourth 3-pointer of the night early in the third quarter of Game 5. He later added two more and finished with 24 points, shooting 6 of 10 from long range.

It was the fourth time that the once-unheralded swingman has hit at least four 3-pointers this series.

Green is shooting 66 percent from 3-point range this series after breaking the record. He’ll try to add to his total in Game 6 on Tuesday night in Miami.

Allen, who now plays for the Heat, set the previous mark as a member of the Boston Celtics.

The Spurs beat the Heat 114-104 on Sunday.


After Duke, March Is Coming Fast

Carolina fans don’t know exactly how to feel after last night. The Tar Heels lost to their sworn enemy, but also took the nation’s second ranked team right down to the wire on their home court. And out of nowhere Roy Williams essentially became the anti-Roy by switching his offense up and starting PJ Hairston.

It was only a few years ago in ’08 at Cameron that Roy duped Coach K by having his team switch on screens late in the game, prompting the Devils to not score a bucket over the final 5 minutes. And again Wednesday night the famed coach who famously “can’t coach” dumbfounded the Blue Devils for the majority of the game. And if it hadn’t been for The Duke Run at the 16 minute mark (11 points in just two minutes), this one might have had the same outcome as Hansbrough’s boys.

Though to be fair, that game was more about Danny Green’s 18-8-7-1 than Hansbrough. But I digress.

Duke had no response for UNC’s small-ball lineup. Though, just calling it “small-ball” doesn’t do justice. What the lineup allowed was for the Heels to go big on Duke’s guards. Williams cleared out the paint with McAdoo’s movement and sent his wings (Hairston, Bullock and McDonald) to post-up on Duke’s smaller perimeter players on the weak side.
Coach K had no answer. It wasn’t just a coincidence that the Heels hadn’t seen lanes that wide open since their last practice in the Dean Dome. Roy exploited Duke’s overplay on defense in the same way that an offensive coordinator purposely lets a team blitz to set up the screen pass.
But the Tar Heels just eventually ran out of gas — the inevitable downside to tightening up the rotation, even if it meant PJ Hairston was finally a bigger part of it.
At least Hairston didn’t disappoint. In the words of Charles Barkley, “That boy competed.”
PJ tied career highs in points and rebounds (23 & 8), but that doesn’t tell half the story. The easy narrative from the game will be that Hairston was finally in the box score starting lineup, but that won’t cover how much he was actually in the box score. Literally. PJ was the only Tar Heel to register a statistic in every category.
The kid was everywhere. He guarded the seven foot Mason Plumlee. He drew fouls. He drew charges. He got blocks. He was getting to tip-ins. And even when he was missing tip-ins, he was still getting to those tip-ins. Without Hairston’s scoring Duke would have gone on a 23-4 run from the 14 to 7 minute marks in the second period.
But with about 6 minutes to go, Hairston and Bullock both came back into the game with their hands on their hips, breathing hard. A few glances were exchanged around press row as if to say “whelp, it was fun, but that’s it.”

It’s no coincidence that this was when the Tar Heels started missing free throws. The Heels shot 56% from the chairty stripe (13-23), but the excuse is obvious: they just got tired. Four players getting over 30 minutes in this game will do that. Bullock and Hairston both had or tied season highs in minutes, and the heat was cranked up as always in Cameron.
After their run Duke never relinquished control of game in which they had 17 TOs and didn’t hit their second three until 25 minutes of play had passed.

How many Tar Heel fans would have taken those two stats and felt pretty good about their chances?
But box scores can be deceiving. On paper McAdoo had one of his worst games of the season with 9 points on 4 of 12 shooting — though that was more or less a product of Roy’s decision to go small. McAdoo probably took too many jumpers but that’s what your big man should do when you’re trying to clear the lane.
If anything, McAdoo did his job with a few dunks and fulfilled his timely role of keeping Plumlee as far from the basket as possible. Duke’s center looked good in the box score but was clearly frustrated for the first ¾ of the basketball game and JMM has to get some credit for that.
The nonstory of the night was UNC’s bench. Leslie played well and had a few solid rebounds but only three points total from your reserves isn’t going to cut it. Johnson and Tokoto were no shows (7 minutes total) but as their first game in Cameron, you can’t blame them. Brice looked fairly comfortable and had a few shots rim-out, but Roy was only going to play one big and a freshman wasn’t going to get it done.
—And not in an environment like Cameron. The theater and the showmanship for this game is first class every time (like Roy’s “last minute decision” to start PJ Hairston…). It could never be oversold. But the always fun discussion about whether this game is just another game is important because as far as the record book goes, it is. Wednesday was another L in the books; the Tar Heels are now 16-8.
And March is coming fast

You can follow Jordan on Twitter @BlackFalcon_net

image by trevor tinker


Don't Be Wall Flowers!

     Win or lose tonight in Cameron, Carolina has to give Duke a game. The Tar Heels cannot knuckle under to an early tsunami as they did at Miami Saturday and during certain halves of certain games earlier in the season.
The tradition of the rivalry demands it, regardless of how mismatched the teams might be. Heck, in 1972 – the day Duke Indoor Stadium was renamed for Eddie Cameron – the BAD Blue Devils (7-6 at the time) upset a third-ranked Carolina team that would win the ACC championship and reach the Final Four. They did it by hanging tough against a far more talented opponent until reserve Robbie West came off the bench to hit a 15-foot push shot to win it at the buzzer. West (like Fred Lind, another sub who keyed a triple overtime win against UNC in 1968) has remained part of Duke Basketball lore ever since.
Then came those two games in 1974, both won by the Tar Heels over last-place Duke teams in the ACC. But not before Bobby Jones stole an inbounds pass and laid in the winner at Cameron and a few weeks later Carolina came back from eight points down with 17 seconds left in regulation to force overtime, where the Heels won 96-92 at a delirious Carmichael Auditorium.
Except for Bill Foster’s first three years as Duke’s coach and Mike Krzyzewski’s first three, the rivalry has been amazingly even. Duke had an unparalleled run between 1997 and 2006 of winning the ACC regular season and/or ACC Tournament ever year. Since Roy Williams returned and defeated Duke for the first time in 2005, the Tar Heels won 6 of 7 games, including four straight at “Hansbrough Indoor Stadium.”  Duke has had the better of it lately, winning the last 5 of 7 – but that included Carolina blowing a big lead at Cameron in 2011 and losing on the Rivers’ buzzer-beater last season.
You play with who you have, so there should be no excuses. Still, I’m going to make a few. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Duke has lost more than two players to the first-round of the NBA draft after only one season – 1999, Avery, Brand, Langdon and Maggette.  It has happened to Carolina twice – 2005 and 2012 – and essentially three times, when you consider Spurs starter Danny Green was a second-round pick in 2009 with first-rounders Ellington, Hansbrough and Lawson. And, while I’m on this, let’s add a little more kerosene to the fire.
Really, who expected Kendall Marshall to go pro after his sophomore year? How much better would the Tar Heels be with Special K at the point and Marcus as his understudy? Want more?
Travis Wear, who left Chapel Hill with his twin brother like the Colts left Baltimore, would be a senior starter at UNC this season. Instead, he’s a 6-10, 230-pound red-shirt junior for mediocre UCLA, where coach Ben Howland is pretty much gone after the season, playing 30 minutes a game, shooting 53 percent (FG), 40 percent (3P) and 80 percent (FT) and averaging 5.5 rebounds and 11.1 points a game. How much better would he be here as THE low post guy?
And how about Alex Oriakhi, the 6-9, 240-pounder who was allowed to leave UConn and play somewhere else right away after the Huskies went on probation for this season. That somewhere was supposed to be UNC before Missouri’s Frank Haith swooped in and signed Oriakhi, who has started all 23 games for Mizzou, shoots 58 percent from the field and 80 from the foul line while averaging 11 points and just under nine rebounds.
Imagine the Tar Heels strutting into Cameron tonight with two or three (or, hell, even one) of those guys. But that’s not the case and, to be fair, Duke is playing without Ryan Kelly and may not get him back at all this season. Two years ago, the Blue Devils lost Kyrie Irving after a few games all the way to the NCAA Tournament. And after last year, they lost Austin Rivers, whose game-winner in Chapel Hill made him an otherwise-undeserving legend of the rivalry. Remember, a healthy Carolina team avenged that loss with an 18-point pounding the last time the arch rivals played in a game that wasn’t that close.
So the teams aren’t that even this time around. They weren’t back in 2010, when Duke exorcised those four straight home losses with a dreadful drubbing. And they weren’t even the other way in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, when Foster and Coach K were living in the shadow of the Dean.
Both emerged, yes thankfully, and the rivalry continues as the only relevant games of a regular-season diminished by the rush for an NCAA Tournament berth and conference realignment. Even Coach K, who turns 66 today, said it in one of only two mid-season press conferences he holds each year. He acknowledged, like his old rival Smith, he’ll be gone some day and so will ol’ Roy.
“What will remain?” he asked rhetorically. “Duke and Carolina.”
So tonight is the 235th edition and though one team is heavily favored, history has proven that either team could win.
Unfortunately, Carolina has to dance with who it’s bringing, which is short on just about everything but offensive rebounding and occasionally hot three-point shooting. But     , win or lose, let’s give ‘em a good fight.
Please don’t be wall flowers.



I had my first chance to make it back to Chapel Hill this weekend to see our Heels host the Hokies. I always forget how much fun it is to walk into the Dean Dome and feel the excitement brewing from the fans on game day.

I was looking forward to getting a close up view of the team in action while at the same time, getting a feel for the fans at the game. We have seen some exciting games this year, as well as some incredibly frustrating letdowns. I feel like you always get a better pulse on a fan base when you can judge their subtle reactions to real-time events of a game. I enjoy hearing people mutter their frustrations to each other after turnovers or bad plays. But the other reason I was excited to be at the game was because of a conversation I had the night before…

On Friday night my wife and I went out to dinner in Durham with some friends, and a conversation I had at dinner really stuck with me. My buddy asked something along the lines of “So… do you think its Roy’s fault we aren’t playing well, or do you think it’s the players’ fault, because I haven’t decided what I think yet?”

Having been a team player all my life I have a hard time placing blame in this type of situation. Lots of folks want to point a finger at Coach Williams, while others blame it on the players. Other things being called into question are effort, intensity, decision making, offensive prowess (or lack thereof), cohesiveness, etc… to be quite honest, I think the biggest challenge for our team is a lack of “experience.”

Nowadays, players are coming out of high school with raw talent. I feel like a lot of top recruits (no one specifically on our team) can simply “play,” while most aren’t polished on the basic fundamentals of basketball. When kids are playing pickup at the gym no one is screaming and yelling about setting a solid screen, or someone running “shoulder to hip” off the screen. You won’t hear someone yell “WHOAAA- did you see his shooting form?” “What a great post move!” “He is playing great defense.” “Did you see him fight over the ball screen?” For those of you who have played pickup, these comments are laughable. If you have ever been privileged enough to have a great basketball coach, you understand the importance of these fundamentals.

Though it’s fun to watch someone drive down the lane and dunk all over the opposition (i.e. Danny Green on Greg Paulus), it’s not necessarily what you need to win games. Basic fundamentals at all levels will set you on the right course to win games. Our secondary break, when run correctly, should be unstoppable. When we run our set plays, we should still be getting open looks. If guys are going 100%, setting solid screens, moving effectively and playing together, it shouldn’t matter how well someone scouts us, we should still be executing. I know we are practicing at full speed in practice and focusing on the fundamentals and our progress is really starting to show!

As this season has gone on, our team has continued to grow and progress and we are making fewer “freshman mistakes.” We are executing better on offense and we are playing with much more intensity on the defensive end. If we can mimic our performance in overtime against VT and our overall performance (minus a few mental blunders) against Wake, we will finish this year incredibly strong!

image by Todd Melet


Smoldering Ruins III

Let’s compare the Carolina basketball team that opens the season tonight to the last two that followed mass NBA exoduses. Are the 2012-13 Tar Heels younger and/or weaker than the 2006 and 2010 teams?
The 2006 team that lost the top seven players off the ’05 NCAA champions had one returnee – David Noel – with any considerable experience, if not numbers. Noel did play in all 37 games for Roy Williams’ first national champs as seventh or eighth man, averaging 3.9 points. So Noel was their best returning player.
Byron Sanders and Wes Miller were the only other seniors, and Miller turned out to be a big surprise, sharing the backcourt with freshman Bobby Frasor for much of the season and hitting 44 percent from 3-point range. Obviously, the 2006 team had no returning All-ACC players.

What it did have was a 5-freshmen class headed by Tyler Hansbrough, who turned out to be the most decorated Tar Heel in history – the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, four-time All-ACC first-teamer and pretty much a consensus All-American his entire career. He was also a leader nonpareil.

So with Psycho T stirring that drink, it is now easy to see why the 2006 Tar Heels shocked the world by going 23-6 overall, 12-4 in the ACC including the first of four straight wins at Cameron Indoor Stadium before bowing out to Cinderella George Mason in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The 2010 team is not fondly remembered for the way it played the last half of the season but, going in, it had higher expectations than the 2006 team. Huh? Yes.

It was young, too, with only two senior scholarship players and 9 freshmen and sophomores. But, relatively, it had a lot more experience than the 2006 team.

Deon Thompson was a returning starter from the 2009 champs. Ed Davis was the ’09 sixth man who, supposedly, could have been a lottery pick had he gone out, too, after his freshman year. Marcus Ginyard, who missed most of the 2009 season, allowing Danny Green to emerge as a star, was back and counted on to join Thompson as the heart and soul of the net-cutting leftovers.

Ginyard never regained any offensive touch, but junior Will Graves turned in a solid season, starting 34 of 36 games as the team’s third-leading scorer and rebounder and its best regular from the 3-point line.

The team was 12-4 at one point, but after blowing a big lead at College of Charleston, went 8-13 the rest of the way, missed the NCAA tourney completely and drove Williams to the brink of suicide even though it did somehow reach the championship game of the NIT. Hardly any consolation there.

Looking back, with more objectivity, what happened to that team is pretty clear. Thompson and Davis seemed like formidable post players, especially with sophomore Tyler Zeller and the Weird freshmen (twins Travis and David Wear, actually). But Davis, the leading scorer and rebounder at the time, missed the last 14 games, Thompson never stepped up to be a tough guy in the paint and sophomore Zeller was still filling out. Larry Drew II was the point guard everyone relied on, unreliably so. Drew II was gone less than a year later, and the Weirds went even sooner.

Williams rebuilt quickly, once the 2010 nightmare ended and the new freshman class arrived. John Henson, Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland looked less lost as sophomores and while Graves’ career ended prematurely with a suspension it allowed Williams to settle on a lineup that eventually won two ACC regular season titles and reached the Elite Eight game each year.

The 2012 team, like the ’05 and ’09 national championships, stayed in the top five and only untimely injuries to Henson and Kendall Marshall kept Carolina from what might have been a dream Monday night match-up with eventual national champion Kentucky. Despite not winning it all or even reaching the Final Four, three Tar Heels opted for the NBA draft and joined senior All-Everything Zeller as first-round picks.

So how does what’s left stack up against the smoldering ruins of the 2005 and 2009 national champions?

Well, the team that tips off against Gardner Webb tonight is every bit as young, with only one senior (Strickland), two juniors (Reggie Bullock and returning red-shirt McDonald) and nine freshmen and sophomores. Besides the underrated 6-7 Bullock, there are two sort-of starters back, Strickland before he was injured last season, and sophomore James Michael McAdoo, who replaced Henson while he tried to heal the long left arm of the lane. With the four first-round studs gone, no All-ACC players return.

And while there are no sure-shot pros (except maybe McAdoo) to compare with Hansbrough and Green from 2006 and Davis, Henson and Zeller from 2010, there is plenty of room for ample contributions from the young’uns.

P. J. Hairston will get plenty of minutes, more if he can improve on his dismal 3-point shooting as a freshman. You will love sophomore Luke Davis, a secret weapon transfer from Gardner Webb (hope Davis doesn’t go to the wrong bench tonight) who will share point guard duties with freshman lefty Marcus Paige. And Desmond Hubert will get his shot in the post rotation.

Besides Paige, the other frosh will have to play perhaps before they are ready. Joel James, at 6-10 and a slimmed down 260, is the eventual hope inside, while the much-leaner Brice Johnson has a ways to go. J.P. Tokoto, a 6-5 athlete still learning to play basketball, could be a wild card as a possibility at the 4 spot along with Hairston when Williams decides to “go small” as they say.

Though no one has said anything, my guess is the lineup that runs out to the drum line tonight will be Paige, Strickland, Bullock, McAdoo and James. But at least five others will get significant minutes. The expectations should be tempered while a young team figures it out, but this is Carolina Basketball and last year did not end the way the previous two seasons of mass exodus did. That will make fans more anxious to be good sooner.

The first game with Duke is a lucky 13 weeks away. So there is plenty of time.