Seeing Red

This Saturday morning found me as most have in recent weeks: huddled with my friends in a line outside of the Dean E. Smith center. Congregated under my roommate’s oversized golf umbrella, the half-dozen of us waited beneath a gray Chapel Hill sky and watched as puddles encroached. It was cold and my bed was much too far away for my liking. But everyone present knew that foregone sleep in a dry bed was simply the going rate for a much sought after commodity: revenge.

The Heels had an ax to grind on Saturday and certainly played like it, finally bringing a level of intensity worthy of the name on the front of their jerseys. Though it was far from a perfect performance, the boys in blue made further strides along what has been a steady learning curve as of late.

Freshman Marcus Paige continued to show improvement at the point, notching 8 assists against 0 turnovers and putting up 14 points. Paige looked comfortable running the show in the game’s closing minutes and once again proved himself to be a valuable asset at the charity stripe, knocking down 4 late free-throws to keep the wolfpack out of striking distance.

Of course, Paige’s progression seems to have been expedited by Roy Williams’ decision to go with a smaller lineup. With fewer big men crowding the paint, both Paige and Dexter Strickland have excelled in finding open driving lanes to the basket. Also of note is the sudden reappearance of the fast break. In the 4 games since P.J. Hairston was inserted into the starting lineup, the Heels have fought their way to a 77 to 38 advantage in points off turnovers, indicating that Coach Roy’s four guard experiment has not only paid dividends in the half-court, but in the transition game as well.

The most noticeable transformation on Saturday, however, took place off the court rather than on. Carolina played in front of an absolutely electric crowd that was hungry for payback. For the first time this season the risers behind the basket were filled to the brim, each step stacked two people deep. Student turnout was so high that the cheerleaders (who were somewhat surreptitiously implemented in the front row of the risers during Winter break games and who have, much to the chagrin of the students who wait in line hours before each game’s tipoff, remained there throughout the conference schedule) resumed their original post along the sideline to make room for the horde of blue-painted and, in many cases, rain-soaked undergrads.

The capacity crowd was voracious, exploding with each Tar Heel bucket and making its presence known during each crucial defensive stand. When James Michael McAdoo picked off a lazy pass by Lorenzo Brown at the top of the key and took it the length of the floor for a reverse jam late in the first half, the Dean Dome shook at its foundations. It was the loudest I’d heard the Smith Center since witnessing Harrison Barnes throw down a filthy put back dunk against Kentucky two years ago.

And the noise wasn’t limited to the regular die-hards found along the home baseline. In fact, one of the game’s loudest moments occurred midway through the second half when a “Let’s go Tar Heels!” chant erupted from the student general seating behind the home end-zone and was echoed by just about every Carolina fan in the building.

Stay focused, but stay angry. I like us when we’re angry.

image by todd melet

http://chapelboro.com/hoop-it-up/view-from-the-risers/seeing-red/

The Rap On Roy

There’s an old story about Roy Williams from a coaches’ clinic just after he returned to UNC. Williams was speaking to a couple of hundred of his peers, and the subject was the Carolina fast break.

 
“Our break is pretty simple,” Williams said. Then he went on to detail how it worked: Sean May gets the rebound and outlets to Raymond Felton, who blows up the court as fast as he can. Felton drives into the lane, and if the defense collapses on him he finds Rashad McCants open in the corner for a jumper. If the defense stays home, Felton is free to go to the basket or pull up for a high percentage shot.
 

Sounds easy and, of course, it worked with those guys, who won a national championship in 2005. But most of the coaches who did not have a May or a Felton or a McCants in their program – rather slower, whiter guys instead of McDonald’s All-Americans — wanted to know how THEY could run an effective fast break.

 
The story reveals how Williams has become one of the most successful coaches in the history of college basketball. For many of his 25 years as a head coach – and the 10 he spent as an assistant to Dean Smith – Williams has worked with better players than the opposition had. He has coached at two of the most legendary basketball schools, and he became a great recruiter at Kansas and Carolina.
 
When asked once what his biggest needs were as a coach, he said a private jet at his disposal. Ol’ Roy prides himself on out-working the competition. If Mike Krzyzewski was making five visits to see Harrison Barnes in Ames, Iowa, Williams wanted to be there 10 times. In Barnes’ case, it worked.
 
When Williams escaped the cancer scare last summer against overwhelming odds, the doctors told him he was a lucky man. Williams said he knew that because he has lived a charmed life. The poor kid from outside of Asheville, the first in his family to go to college, would have been content following in the footsteps of his high school coach, Buddy Baldwin, and made a nice life for himself and his family coaching in western North Carolina.
 

But, in 1978, Smith offered him one of the new NCAA restricted-earnings positions on his staff, and the story from there is the stuff of sappy books and movies. Smith then helped him get the Kansas job – again against overwhelming odds – in 1988, and there ol’ Roy proved he had listened to and learned from his mentors very well. The 38-year-old first-time head coach knew his stuff. Fifteen years and four Final Fours later, he answered the call and came back to his alma mater.

 
At Carolina, he inherited a national championship-caliber roster that only needed to be taught how to play together and get tougher. It took two years, but by his second season the Tar Heels were beating mighty Duke, finishing first in the ACC and stripping the nets in St. Louis. The following season came a once-in-a-lifetime player named Tyler Hansbrough, around whom Roy built a second NCAA title team. Three other years at UNC, his Tar Heels fell one game short of reaching the Final Four.
 
So, for Roy Williams, the formula is as simple as diagramming the Carolina fast break at a coaching clinic. Work your tail off and recruit the best players to two of the best basketball schools in the country. That’s really all he has had to do; with better players most of the time, Williams could merely mimic what he learned from Smith and some of the other coaches he admittedly has copied from.
 
A great recruiter, yes. An innovator, most certainly no. He admits to being stubborn as all get-out, and some of the things his Tar Heels do on the court, they have been doing for much of the last 50 years, beginning with Smith’s own ascension to royalty. But with more underclassmen leaving early, and some unexpectedly, for the NBA, the game is changing for Roy Williams.
 
The current season is the third when he has been caught short on the superior talent he usually has by out-recruiting most of the competition. Come to Carolina, where we’ve won for years and will continue to win, play on national TV 25 times each season and make the NCAA Tournament with as good a chance as any school to reach the Final Four and maybe win it all.
 
If Hansbrough hadn’t turned out to be all-world as a freshman, the 2006 team might have struggled like the 2010 team that also lost its top five or six players to graduation and/or the NBA draft. And after the rebuilt 2012 team, good enough to challenge Kentucky for the national championship before four key injuries depleted the lineup, lost four more starters, the current Tar Heels are again searching for success and an identity.
 
But recent indications are that ol’ Roy may be getting less stubborn with age.  In what was a must-win at Florida State Saturday, the underdog Tar Heels did some things they hadn’t all season – besides playing much, much harder on both ends of the floor. They seemed less determined to dump the ball inside to a low-post game that isn’t there yet. They spread the court with the kind of spacing Duke has adopted in recent years. And they even ran players off ball screens set by teammates, as opposed to the tried-and -true Carolina tradition of passing and screening to get players open in the freelance offense.
 
Sophomore P.J. Hairston had the monster game of his college career by exploding for 23 points, many off set plays Williams called to either free a lane for a P.J. put-down at the rim or an open three-pointer. Heck, Carolina even played one possession of zone (its first all season?), although it was a miserable failure.
 
“We played zone out of bounds under their basket, even though we haven’t practiced it much, to keep them from getting another open three,” Williams laughed at himself after the 77-72 victory in Tallahassee. “And we let them throw the ball inside for a basket and a foul. So they got three points anyway.”
 
Williams also went to one-time walk-on Jackson Simmons, a 6-7 sophomore with the highest grade-point average and likely IQ on the team for 15 important minutes of smart basketball. Besides scoring eight points and grabbing three rebounds, Simmons did several of the “little things” Smith used to harp about and he was in there all the way to the final buzzer. Simmons won’t be a star or starter, but he won’t be a bench-warmer any more.
 
Until recruiting reinforcements arrive, or some of UNC’s young “bigs” develop more of an inside presence, Carolina looks to be a different team for the rest of this season. Whether it will work enough for the Tar Heels to make another NCAA Tournament remains to be seen. But, at 62, Roy Williams looks like he’s willing to play the game differently than he has for most of his Hall of Fame career.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/the-rap-on-roy-2/

Art's Angle: A So-So Season Going Nowhere

 

Looks like it’s another Year of Living Dangerously. In other words, expending our energy rooting against Duke.

We’ve had these seasons before (i.e., 2010), although rarely. When our own basketball team is so young or weak (literally) or mediocre that it is not a safe use of our emotions to pull FOR the Tar Heels as it is to root AGAINST Duke. After losing their second straight ACC game to open 0-2, the Tar Heels obviously are not going very far in the unlucky ides of March ’13. So why not channel our frustration and anger where it can be better utilized: trying to keep the Blue Devils from winning another national championship.

Look at Thursday night’s home loss to Miami on paper, and I don’t mean the stats. The Hurricanes’ roster of 13 players has 10 seniors and juniors. And one of the seniors has been trolling South Beach for five years, another is on the six-year plan! So, as a shell-shocked Roy Williams said after the 68-59 defeat, a lively near-capacity crowd in Carolina blue at the Smith Center wasn’t going to make any waves with the well-seasoned ‘Canes. And their biggest and maybe best player, center Reggie Johnson, didn’t even suit up!

Meanwhile, if there was no such thing as the NBA, John Henson would be a senior, Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall juniors. James Michael McAdoo wouldn’t be lost somewhere between post player and small forward and the rest of the Tar Heels wouldn’t be so upset  after only the second time in 16 years (including the completely forgettable 8-20 season) that the Tar Heels opened 0-for-2 in the ACC. History buffs have to go back to 1997, Dean Smith’s last season on the bench, to find an 0-3 ACC start. But that team had future pro names Carter and Cota and Antawn and Shammond and seven-footer Serge who wasn’t afraid to go under the basket and throw someone around. (By the way, that team righted itself by winning 16 straight games, cutting down the ACC Tournament nets and reaching the Final Four. Footnote, don’t make your travel plans for Atlanta this season).

That Tar Heel team also had a couple of guys who went out early (Vince and AJ) but not until the next year. When was the last time Miami lost someone prematurely to the NBA? Hell, the Hurricanes’ greatest player ever — Rick Barry — not only stayed four years, he married the coach’s daughter!

After the game, ol’ Roy continued his flimsy reasoning about his players not transferring what they do on the practice court to the game floor. Listen, if your first seven or eight aren’t up to Tar Heel standards, they are in jeopardy of building false confidence trying to get better against worse players. So, it’s like a cat chasing its tail. Whatever success McAdoo has against Joel James and Jackson Simmons in practice isn’t going to help much when Miami’s 6-11, 242-pound senior and future pro Kenny Kadji is shooting his herky-jerky jumper over them or steamrolling down the lane for a slam. Or keeping guards Deron Scott, Rion Brown and Shane Larkin (The U’s only sophomore) from making 6 of their team’s other 9 treys.

And when the pressure of a tight game over the first 30 minutes grabs them by the throat, their three best players — McAdoo, Reggie Bullock and P.J Hairston — fire up enough bricks to start a small house and wind up missing 23 of their 37 shots that contributed to the fatal five-minute stretch in which the Tar Heels managed only three points and went from a tie game to watching the crowd head for the Chapel Hills early. This was such a bad ending that the team gets penalized with one practice before a quick trip to Tallahassee where the Seminoles smacked a much-better Carolina club by 33 just about a year ago.

As ugly as the numbers were, they do show HOPE for the future, but probably not this season that will be fortunate to end with a low seed to the NCAA Tournament. In fact, I now have to agree with some Duke dufus who called a local talk show Thursday and said the Heels aren’t going dancing in March. Maybe he’s not such a dumb Duke dufus after all. While senior Dexter Strickland was struck with a zero line in 26 minutes (check the box score if you dare), skinny but skilled freshmen Brice Johnson, Marcus Paige and J.P Tokoto put together their best collective game and helped the Heels stay alive until the dreaded drought down the stretch. Brice’s basket, Tokoto’s tap-in and Paige pretty three from the top of the key kept Carolina in it before it began to counter pressure-packed clangers with Miami’s wide-open 3′s born from defense that hopefully did not translate from practice. Surely they don’t work on staying with the double team so long that the pass recipient gets the ball, looks down at the three-point line to make sure his toes are clearly behind the stripe before draining one of five treys that buried the Heels in the second half.

No, they did not have the injured Lesley McDonald, which gave more minutes to Strickland, Bullock and Hairston, who were all either near tears in the locker room or non-communicado with the media. They all know they have a lot work to do before the flight to FSU and so little time to do it. Meanwhile, two hours prior to the Saturday 2 p.m. tip-off, No. 1 and undefeated Duke plays at No. 20 and offensively gifted N.C. State in Raleigh, a game pitting clearly the two best teams in an otherwise-average ACC this season.

The Blue Devils will be without starting senior forward Ryan Kelly (injured foot), so the Year of Living Dangerously could actually be fun since the Wolfpack should be favored in the game. And State might win, which wouldn’t be a bad way too start would could be another terrible afternoon in Tallahassee.

You can follow Art on Twitter @ArtChansky
 

Image by Todd Melet

http://chapelboro.com/hoop-it-up/game-recap/arts-angle-a-so-so-season-going-nowhere/

The Name Game

Sorry, sports fans, it’s no longer about the name on the front of the uniform. It’s about the name on the back. That has been the case in professional sports since free agency began, but now it has become endemic to college basketball as well.

And who can blame the kids? Look at the numbers for the first round of the 2011 NBA draft:

Selected Guaranteed Rookie Salary Selected Guaranteed Rookie Salary
No. 1 $5,305,080 No. 16 $1,696,920
No. 2 $4,746,480 No. 17 $1,611,960
No. 3 $4,262,520 No. 18 $1,531,440
No. 4 $3,843,000 No. 19 $1,446,440
No. 5 $3,480,120 No. 20 $1,404,000
No. 6 $3,160,800 No. 21 $1,347,320
No. 7 $2,885,520 No. 22 $1,293,840
No. 8 $2,643,480 No. 23 $1,242,240
No. 9 $2,563,320 No. 24 $1,192,440
No. 10 $2,308,320 No. 25 $1,144,800
No. 11 $2,192,880 No. 26 $1,106,880
No. 12 $2,083,320 No. 27 $1,074,840
No. 13 $1,979,160 No. 28 $1,068,240
No. 14 $1,880,280 No. 29 $1,060,560
No. 15 $1,786,080 No. 30 $1,052,760

For that kind of jack, few 19- or 20-year-olds are staying in school, even if they spent a year or two or three with NORTH CAROLINA written across their chests. The two Tylers at Carolina might, as did Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler at Duke. For them, the college experience may have been too rewarding to leave early, or maybe they didn’t need the money as much as most young stars and their families.

But, clearly, the game is changing and only those programs that change with it are going to stay strong or get stronger. Right now, Carolina and Duke look like they are using obsolete plans.

Both have lost one-year players – Carolina Marvin Williams and Brandan Wright, Duke Corey Maggette, Kyrie Irving and probably Austin Rivers. But neither is now restocking fast enough to keep pace, and the Tar Heels or Blue Devils may not be picked to win the ACC next season for the first time in a long time. N.C. State, with young talent already on the roster, is adding more next season.

And it’s not about where a player may be drafted this season; it’s also about where he might go next year if he stays in school.  The domino effect forces some kids to go before they may really want to.

In 2005, Sean May and Roy Williams did not have the conversation that Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and later Marvin Williams had with their coach during the regular season. They were all dedicated to winning a first national championship for Coach Williams, but Felton and McCants particularly knew that was also their best route to being high first-round draft picks. Though he never started a game as a freshman, Marvin’s talent and potential were obvious to the pro scouts who had him rated as a first-rounder all season. Meanwhile, May insisted he was staying in school.

Then May got on a roll in late February and March, finishing the regular season with 26 points and 24 rebounds against Duke in the nationally televised finale at the Smith Center. His pro stock kept rising through the NCAA Tournament, where he won the MOP in the Final Four after Carolina beat Illinois.

THEN May and his coach had a conversation. Considering he had come off his first completely healthy season in college and he would be returning to a team without a proven point guard and no other incumbent starters, May wondered how his pro stock could possibly be as high as a senior. So he went out, too, and made Carolina the first team to ever have four lottery picks in the same year.

The Tar Heels recovered quicker than expected after losing their top seven players, mainly because they had an incoming freshman named Tyler Hansbrough, and a top-rated recruiting class the year after. An Elite Eight season (2007) was followed by a Final Four (2008) and another national championship (2009).

Carolina lost four starters from 2009 and the next season missed the NCAA Tournament completely. Fortunately, Williams followed up with two more good recruiting classes and only untimely injuries kept the 2012 team from getting back to the Final Four and perhaps winning another NCAA title.

It may not be as quick of a recovery this time, because the model is changing. Kentucky has proven it can compete for a Final Four berth every season with virtually a new team. The so-called one-and-done high school stars, who only go to college because they have to, are no longer labeled as bandit outcasts.

They are simply basketball players who are not revered because they make good grades, but are star ballers. So that is making it okay for players to watch their draft status through their careers and go when it looks like they can maximize their guaranteed first-round money.

Maybe Kendall Marshall doesn’t go out this year if all three of his fellow starters weren’t leaving, threatening his perceived value on a less-talented team next season. Marshall is this year’s May, climbing the draft board late to the point where he almost had to go.

Harrison Barnes stayed a second season and probably hurt himself, because his limitations were exposed as a sophomore and, despite making first-team All-ACC, leaves as a widely considered overrated player compared to his enormous expectations coming in to college. He needs to be careful about his pre-draft workouts or perceived weaknesses could leave him sitting in the green room until late in the first round. According to the chart above, that could cost him a couple of million bucks.

John Henson could have stayed and perhaps improved his current top 20 draft status next season, but debilitating wrist and ankle injuries during the tournaments surely gave him pause. If he got hurt again, he might have been branded as too fragile for the rigors of the NBA.

Carolina now waits on what would be the most devastating loss, freshman forward James Michael McAdoo, who got to shine ironically due to Henson’s injuries. Many pro scouts think he has the most upside of any Tar Heel player already declaring for the draft.

McAdoo’s departure, which could be announced next week, would leave Carolina with zero experienced big men and a front court of raw sophomore Desmond Hubert and incoming recruits Joel James and Brice Johnson. The Tar Heels may be all right at point guard with incoming freshman Marcus Paige, not quite the passer but a better scorer than Marshall, and Dexter Strickland returning to back him up.

But, clearly, UNC is not seen in the same light as Kentucky, where it’s become a haven for one-year stars on their way to the NBA. Coach John Calipari gets them to play together and showcase their talent, which are both assets put toward winning a national championship and getting drafted early.

Two still-unsigned players who fit that mold eliminated Carolina from their consideration – Las Vegas 6-5 forward Shabazz Muhammad and 6-11 center Nerlens Noel from Connecticut, the top two high school stars in the class of 2012. They will wind up at Kentucky or another school that not only supports one-and-dones, but now actively recruits that path.

Carolina and Duke may have to rethink their recruiting strategy or start overstocking their rosters. Because, in the short run, it’s no longer about the name on the front of the uniform.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/the-name-game/

Good Business by Harrison Barnes & UNC

It’s hard not to be impressed by UNC sophomore, Harrison Barnes  on the basketball court. 

And then – there is the business side of Barnes.

A friend sent an article to me yesterday and while reading it,  I decided I had to share it with the readers of Good Business because of the excellent lessons it includes:

  • tailoring  pitches to the prospect
  • the importance of managing your own personal brand
  • and a few specifics on how to do it

Below is an excerpt and link to the article.  I hope you enjoy it the way I did.  Thanks to Jason Zengerle for the great article.  Thanks to UNC coaches for taiiloring their recruiting approach in just the right way so that Harrison Barnes could share his B&B talents with us.  And to Harrison for doing that in such an impressive way.

Here’s a excerpt from Moneyballer by Jason Zengerle
 

In the fall of 2009, Harrison Barnes was the best high-school basketball player in America. But the 17-year-old from Ames, Iowa, was more than just a hoops phenom. An honor student with a 3.6 GPA who, when he wasn’t honing his jump shot, would practice Bach and Chopin on his saxophone, Barnes was something of a renaissance man. So the college-basketball powerhouses trying to recruit him tailored their pitches accordingly.

Read more

Comments, questions, suggestions?
Please send them to Jan@Chapelboro.com

http://chapelboro.com/columns/good-business/good-business-by-harrison-barnes-unc/

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 “other” soccer team live, since the NCAA quarterfinal was at Fetzer Field before a record home crowd.

After the improved effort against Wisconsin Wednesday night, the hoop Heels had every expectation of taking down the top-ranked Wildcats at Rupp Arena. And it would have happened if not for some silly mistakes that will hopefully be history by March – particularly two missed dunks and fouling a three-point shooter with the clock about to expire – the game might not have come down to John Henson being on the wrong end of a blocked shot.

Carolina finally found its mark from behind the arc, hitting 11 of 18 that helped give the visitors in blue a nine-point lead in the first half and the traditionally raucous Rupp fans a slight panic attack. It was a bit of fool’s gold because, when it counted, Carolina could not pound the ball inside and finish like a team with its size and skill should be able to do and put the game away.

To the contrary, the Heels looked dead and buried, losing the lead for good with 7:30 to play and falling behind by five points late in the fray. Big three-pointers by Reggie Bullock and Harrison Barnes put them back in position and they actually had the ball down one with 25 ticks to go. Roy Williams should have called one of those timeouts he likes to save for the end instead of letting his team play on.

The reason: Barnes has become almost deadly off a set play out of a TO, while he finds it tougher to get the ball in position to shoot from the freelance offense. But who knows? The Heels still would have had to inbound in front of their own bench, which is always a risky proposition. So Ol’ Roy waved them on.

The rock ended up going to Tyler Zeller, who looked like he was fouled at least twice before it wound up in Henson’s hands 12 feet away from the winner. But Kentucky’s Anthony Davis gave Gumby a little of his own medicine, somehow tipping the shot that might have produced another Fantastic Finish. Meanwhile, still four seconds remained and everyone acted like the game was over including the refs, who missed an obvious Kentucky travel in its own backcourt.

“It’s a long season,” sighed Williams, “probably a lot of people don’t remember that we beat Kentucky at our place early last year. They only remember we lost to them in the (NCAA) round of eight.” The implication was clear, that what just went around could come around again next March.

Channeling Football or Futball

Viewers who could not let go of the clicker switched over to ABC to watch the end of the surprising Conference USA championship game between Southern Mississippi and Houston. Why would they care? Well, one of the guys on the opposing sidelines could be stalking the Kenan Stadium white stripe this fall.

Supposedly, Southern Miss’ Larry Fedora and Houston’s Kevin Sumlin are on Bubba Cunningham’s short list that got shorter when Vanderbilt pre-empted suitors for its coach, James Franklin, by suddenly making a big-time commitment to football – at a school where a coach NEVER makes more than the chancellor by rule. The 39-year-old Franklin, who led the Commodores to only their fifth bowl eligible season in history, was at the top of Bubba’s blotter.

So now it could be Fedora or Sumlin, both in their late 40’s with about five good years on their resumes. Trouble is some bigger schools are also looking, like Texas A&M (where Fedora grew up and Sumlin once worked as an assistant). By the way, Fedora’s Golden Eagles convincingly ended a perfect season for Sumlin’s Cougars, so neither is going to a big bowl and could be hired away this week.

Mack BrownAt 3:30 came the Texas-Baylor game on ABC, which was still of interest to those Mack Brown fans who hope two mediocre seasons will get him run out of Austin and back to Chapel Hill for the final stop of his coaching career. The rumor mill says that Brown and Bubba have talked, if for no more than advice on coaches, but there are some wealthy oilmen in Austin who have forgotten what Brown has done for the Longhorns since 1998 while remembering they are still paying him $5 million a year.

“I plan to coach a lot longer, and when I stop it won’t be over some twit from Topeka, Kansas,” Brown responded recently, probably meaning a “tweet” from the said Topeka twit. Those who are wanting Brown, at 60 the same age as Butch Davis, to come home (because, like Roy Williams in 2003, the family business needs him) know he’s about the only coach out there who can galvanize a still-divided fan base and sell out the stadium before the first kickoff of 2012.

So when Baylor and Heisman Trophy candidate RGIII (quarterback Robert Griffin, the third) doubled up the Horns 48-24, it left Texas with a 7-5 record to follow last year’s 5-7 finish and some Tar Heels with the hope that Mack actually might come back. After all, he and Sally still have a home in Linville and he never did move into his office at the Kenan Football Center. Or maybe he and Cunningham were just talking candidates.

After that, there was still time to run out and catch the second half of Carolina’s 2-0 win over St. Mary’s on goals by Matt Hedges and Ben Speas. With the three-decade dominance of UNC women’s soccer and the recent coaching change from Elmar Bolowich to fomer assistant Carlos Somoano, it has gone unnoticed to many that Carolina has now reached the men’s College Cup four consecutive years. The fete was witnessed by 5,810 fans, a record crowd at Fetzer Field. Interestingly, if Carolina and Bolowich’s new school Creighton win their national semifinals, the two men who built UNC men’s soccer into a power will meet for the NCAA championship Sunday.

Back home in front of the flat screen, there was more football worth watching – two games with ACC ties. Clemson, which had won eight straight and all but clinched the Coastal Division before losing three of the next four, was supposed to be Tiger meat for perennially ranked Virginia Tech. But the ACC’s best quarterback and two of its best receivers came alive and sent the Hokies back to the hills. Clemson is returning to Miami, where it won the 1981 national championship at the old Orange Bowl long since demolished. The name’s still the same but now the game is played at the NFL Dolphins’ stadium.

That makes five different ACC schools – Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest – that have made it since the league went to a championship game. Good balance, if not great football. As far as title games go, the ACC’s was a dud.

Not so for the Big Ten, which staged its first championship game after expanding to 12 members. The last game of the day went down to the last play, a long punt return by Michigan State that would have carried the Spartans to victory had it not been called back by a penalty and gave the title and MVP award to Wisconsin and quarterback Russell Wilson.

Wilson, of course, was released by N.C. State to play his senior season at another school. He chose Wisconsin and led the Badgers to the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day on ABC. While Wilson travels 1500 miles to Pasadena, his old team will bus 150 miles to Charlotte to play in the newly named Belk Bowl (formerly the tire and muffler bowl) against Louisville.

That will be one of many games not worth watching in December.

http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/the-weekend-watch/

You Can Call Him Jones

A few things you may not know about the new radio Voice of the Tar Heels:

His proper name is Monrovie Jones Angell, IV. That’s on par with Forest Orion Mixon, III, which is Mick’s official moniker, and a lot more eccentric than just Woody Lombardi Durham (the First).

His dad is Monrovie, the Third, but goes by “Rovie” and is a retired Marine Corps officer who now works for the Marine Federal Credit Union in Jacksonville, N.C. Jones never knew his grandfather, Monrovie, Jr., who died when Jones’ father was a teenager. The original Monrovie? Jones hasn’t a clue and needs someone to build him a family tree.

Jones’ mother is Elizabeth Makepeace Angell, who is a retired public a school teacher. Jones’ wife is Elizabeth Martin Angell, who was a public school teacher and is now a literacy specialist at Glenwood Elementary in Chapel Hill. Jones’ mother did not hand down any “EMA” embroidered towels to her new daughter-in-law.

Young Elizabeth is actually three years older than Jones, lived five blocks away in Jacksonville and attended the same high school, but she wouldn’t give the pimply-faced freshman a second look when she was a pretty senior, Class of 1994.

They both went on to UNC – as had Jones’ parents and his sister Molly – but never hung out together there, either, perhaps because Elizabeth was always studying. Jones says the rumor that he made 1600 on his SATs is untrue and his wife is the brains of the family, having made “one grade under an A all the way through school, and she’s still mad about that B-plus.”

They met formally back in Jacksonville, when Jones was a sophomore at Carolina and Elizabeth had already graduated to a teaching job in Raleigh. It was a holiday Cotillion party when they both had dates with other people, but got seated together at dinner.

“Can I call you when we get back?” Jones asked. “Sure,” Elizabeth said, acknowledging that he was finally old enough to be noticed.

They were married (in Jacksonville, of course) in 2003, and Caroline Angell was born in 2008. Elizabeth is now pretty pregnant with child No. 2.

Monrovie IV grew up loving all kinds of sports (especially the Tar Heels and Redskins) but was never good enough to make any of the Jacksonville teams. So he turned to musical theater, beginning as the Artful Dodger in Oliver in the 5th grade and later acting, singing and dancing (in his admitted order of competence) in big spring high school productions such as Mame, 42nd Street and My Favorite Year.

“I was a better actor than a singer,” he said, “and it helped prepare me to be in front of a crowd.” Beginning this fall, he’ll play to the biggest audience in North Carolina.

Jones’ first play-by-play job was during his student internship with the Tar Heel Sports Network, when engineer John Rose asked him to go to Henderson and call “a minor league baseball game” over WIZS-AM, the station owned by the Rose family.

Jones jumped at the chance but when he arrived found it was more “minors playing baseball.” He did that Little League game with the same enthusiasm he has called the College World Series five times in the last six years. By the way, John Rose is now the engineer for the Duke Radio Network, but that has nothing to do with the surprise he pulled on the young intern.

Jones Angell has since called hundreds of Carolina baseball games, dozens of UNC women’s basketball games and few men’s games when Woody was taking a break or off with the football team. The September 3 opener against James Madison in Kenan Stadium will be the first football game he has ever called from the play-by-play chair. No other candidate in the national search lacked such experience.

“That was definitely a big point of discussion during the interview process, and it’s understandable and a valid question,” said the third banana in the UNC broadcast booth for the past six years. “But I really have prepared as if I was going to do the play by play, so with preparation it won’t be a huge change.”

Jones says he will sit in the radio booth and call every scrimmage during preseason practice and then listen and critique the tapes. Certainly, he won’t sound like Woody, but even Woody had an adjustment period taking over from Bill Currie 40 years ago.

The familiarity with Carolina, which Jones has followed closely his entire life, and keeping the same broadcast teams together for both sports trumped the fact that he will have to grow into certain parts of his new role. He is already an employee of the UNC Athletic Department and will remain as involved in the production of the broadcasts and coaches’ shows as he has been for years. Like Woody, he’ll be paid additionally by Learfield Communications to call the games.

Will he have pet expressions that become legendary, such as “Go where you go and do what you do” or “Go to war Miss Agnes” – two of his predecessor’s favorites.

“The way I am approaching it is let’s get it right, be factual and accurate, and tell the story of the student athletes,” he said. “As time goes on and people get to know me and are more comfortable listening to my style, the other stuff will come. Right now I don’t have anything ready to pull out if, say, Harrison Barnes makes a big 3-pointer.”

What he does have, right out of the shoot, is a one-word name that will become a staple for Carolina fans, like Woody. That’s because it’s a middle name that sounds like a last name that he uses as his first name. “Back to you, Monrovie . . .” just won’t cut it.

Best of luck, Jones. We’ll be listening.

Jones, Elizabeth and Caroline Angell with “Lily”
http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/you-can-call-him-jones/

Roy To Face KU's Self In Skins Game

Everyone knows that Roy Williams’ favorite off-season past time is golf, chasing that little white ball around his favorite courses all over the country and the world. Williams keeps a list of the top 100 golf courses in America and at last count ol’ Roy had played about 65 of them.

While he is never a phone call or thought away from his basketball team and the latest recruiting target, Williams strategically schedules his golf games from April to October in basically three categories: regular matches with his closest cronies wherever and whenever they can tee it up; carefully planned trips for his so-called Foxhole Gang of long-time friends (sometimes they even bring their wives!) and a few of the hundreds of charity events he is invited to play in.

In the last month, after completing his 2011 high school recruiting class and learning happily that Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller will return for the 2012 season, Williams has been executing all three of his golfing missions. He will occasionally meet three of his local buddies early in the morning at the Chapel Hill Country Club and, riding carts quickly between shots, try to complete a competitive match in record time. His goal is to always be at his office three and a half hour after they tee off (which if you don’t play golf is considered a very fast round).

In the last month, Williams went on a “boys’ golf trip” to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico and a “wives’ trip” to Palm Springs, California. This weekend he is headed back to Kansas, where most of the hard feelings from his emotional departure in 2003 have subsided. He will participate in a Skins Game at the grand opening of the Firekeeper Golf Course at the Fire Brand Casino and Resort outside of Topeka. It is to support the Notah Begay III Foundation, which benefits Native Americans all over the country. Begay, the professional golfer who was Tiger Woods’ roommate at Stanford, designed the Firekeeper course and will play in the Skins Game with Williams, head pro Randy Towner and current Kansas Coach Bill Self, who is a 12 handicap compared to Williams’ 10.

“Trust me, he is a better golfer than me. When I played with him before, he was (better),” said Self, who recalls playing two rounds with Williams when Self worked at Oral Roberts and Williams was at KU.

“It’s a nine-hole Skins match with two pros, one really good player and one hack,” added Self, referring to himself as the hack. “I’ll definitely be the weak link in that group. It should be a lot of fun playing with those three. Of course, Roy will add so much to it. Everybody respects the job he did at KU.”

Self succeeded Williams at Kansas and has had the Jayhawks highly ranked in the last eight years, including the 2008 club that hammered the Tar Heels in the Final Four semis in San Antonio and won the national championship two nights later over John Calipari’s Memphis team. (Williams, lest we forget, has won two NCAA titles since coming home to Carolina).

The following week, Williams is scheduled to be paired with Calipari, who has since moved to Kentucky and has played UNC three times already. Kentucky won in Lexington in 2010 and the Tar Heels returned the favor in Chapel Hill this past December. Then, of course, the Wildcats won the rubber match in the 2011 Elite Eight game in Newark for a trip to the Final Four.

Self and Calipari are the last two coaches to take Williams’ teams out of the NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels will face the coach and team they beat in between – Tom Izzo and Michigan State for the 2009 national championship – in the first annual (aircraft) Carrier Classic in San Diego on Veterans Day.

So far, no golf game is scheduled with Izzo this summer.

Any suggestions for golf or basketball tips Roy should offer Self and Calipari?

http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/roy-to-face-kus-self-in-skins-game/