Monday, October 17, 2011

New AD and the direction of the football program

Well, Carolina just hired itself a new athletic director:  Bubba Cunningham.

This was a critical hire because the new AD will be responsible for hiring a new football coach ASAP, and, in all likelihood, he'll have to replace Roy before too long.  So, UNC needed someone who could get the job done.

Bubba sounds like a guy who could do that.  He doesn't have much experience hiring big-name basketball coaches, but the UNC name should be able to attract great coaches in basketball.  In football, he hired Brady Hoke and Todd Graham to Ball State and Tulsa respectively, and those coaches have both moved onto better gigs.  He also has connections with other rising coaching stars like Chris Petersen and Gus Malzahn.  So, this guy knows good football coaches, which is something UNC desperately needs out of an AD.

Before this past weekend, I wanted to convince myself that maybe UNC didn't need a new football coach.  I thought Everett Withers might have a chance to win the permanent job.  Judging from some of Bubba's comments, that seems highly unlikely.  It's even more unlikely after the big egg UNC laid on Saturday against Miami.  They came out flat and fell behind 27-3 at one point before battling back to a respectable final score.  Still, I feel like this coaching staff "left some meat on the bone" - to steal a line from Coach Withers.

On offense, OC John Shoop continues to out-think himself with slow-developing plays that lead to sacks.  Nevermind that Gio Bernard gashed Miami the entire game.  Instead of feeding the beast, Shoop wrecked drive after drive with play-action fakes, reverses, fake reverses, etc. that often ended with Bryn Renner being sacked from his blind side.  Then, when UNC was down 3 scores in the 4th quarter, Shoop called Bernard's number so often I had to keep looking at the scoreboard to make sure I didn't have the score backwards.  There was no sense of urgency, all the way up until the final seconds when UNC tried to drive for the winning score.  They never ran any semblance of a no-huddle offense.  Unfortunately, I don't think that's in Shoop's playbook.  He likes the ball-control, clock-eating, chess game mentality on offense - not the quick strike approach.  When the offense needs a sense of urgency, I'm not sure Shoop can flip the switch to that.  It's unfortunate because this offense has all the tools to be great.

Withers and DC Art Kaufman don't get a pass for the defense either.  They have a talented group, but the soft zone that they employ is entirely too conservative for the offense UNC runs.  The reasoning Withers continues to give is that he doesn't care so much about yards - he'll give up yards between the 20's if the defense can shut down the opposition in the red zone.  The problem with this philosophy is that it keeps the defense on the field way too long and it's no good if your offense can't score.  Plus, UNC didn't stop Miami much in the red zone Saturday.

At this point, I'm ready for a change in philosophy.  I'm assuming that will probably have to come in the form of a new coaching staff, and I'm fine with that.  I'd love to see a mentality that is more high-octane on offense and aggressive on defense.  If the offense can score points, it doesn't much matter if you get beat a couple of times being aggressive on defense.  At least if the other team scores quickly, you get another opportunity to score again on offense.  If your offense is proficient enough, that should be seen as a good thing.  In theory, you would want to maximize your number of offensive possessions, hoping that your defense is good enough to stop the opposition's offense more than their defense can stop yours.  If UNC had that philosophy this year, it could be a very dangerous team.  Unfortunately, we'll have to continue to watch this team try to grind out some wins, at least for another five games or so.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ashamed of my university

I haven't posted here in awhile because of other obligations along with the quiet offseason for both the UNC and dook basketball programs.

However, I have to talk a little about the Butch Davis firing.  Despite this blog, I'm as big a UNC football fan as I am a basketball fan, and this day will go down as one of the most infamous in the school's athletic history.

It's not so much that I disagree with the firing.  I do, but I can somewhat understand the justification for it.

My problem is with the timing, and with the complete 180 the administration has made.  There is absolutely no reason to make this change now unless new information about the NCAA investigation had come to light, and Chancellor Thorp's release assures us that is not the case.  Thus, the timing of this decision is terrible.  While the powers that be think they're helping the school, they have effectively doomed UNC football for the foreseeable future.  The program won't be able to recover from this.  Not only have they made it impossible to get a replacement coach this season, they have killed recruiting for this year and beyond.  They also have blown up this season, which without the infusion of recruits that is now sure not to happen, would have been a pretty good season.  It will still probably be considered a good season in retrospect compared to the ones that are sure to follow it.

The entire athletic department at UNC is facing an unprecedented downward spiral.  The lack of leadership in UNC athletics is glaring.  All signs point to Dick Baddour heading out the door sooner rather than later, and that will place the decision to hire a new athletic director and head football coach squarely on the shoulders of a chancellor who clearly isn't up to the task.

Surely, no good coach will want to come to UNC after seeing the lack of devotion to big-time football.  This power play, whether orchestrated solely by Chancellor Thorp or by Board of Trustee members, or both, has accomplished nothing but to show that UNC is not ready for big-time football.  In fact, I believe it shows that they don't even want it.  That's the saddest part of this mess.

As for Coach Davis, I believe his is a good man who has been left out to dry.  He is ultimately responsible for what happens under his watch, but I don't believe this scandal is his doing.  Apparently, until recently, neither did Dick Baddour or Holden Thorp.  What happened to change that?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Great season

Well, it was a frustrating loss for the Heels to Kentucky, a team I hate almost as much as dook, but this season can be considered nothing but a success.  Even in yesterday's game, the Heels showed fight until the very end, which is more than I can say for another team from the Triangle that played in the tournament.  The simple matter is that Kentucky was hot from the outside all day yesterday, the Heels were cold, and yet they still had a chance to take the lead a couple of times in the final two minutes.  There's no shame in that.  That's just facing a team that was better that day.

Looking back, what an amazing turnaround for the Heels this year.  Making the Elite 8 and being a couple of plays away from the Final Four was beyond all imagination in December and early January.  But, this team kept fighting and they made that a reality.  I'm so, so proud of this team and their fight.

The future is bright no matter who leaves for the NBA and who returns, but it would be much brighter with everyone returning.  It'll be interesting to see what happens.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Down goes dook...

Thank you 'Zona!  It was beautiful watching dook choke away a lead and get demolished tonight on the way to their fifth Sweet 16 loss as a #1 seed.  Derrick Williams kept his team afloat with 25 first half points, and the cavalry came in the second half to put dook away.

It really seemed like dook got punched in the mouth and didn't know how to respond.  Kyrie Irving made some plays to keep them in it, but Nolan Smith looked completely rattled.  Seth Curry got banged up, Kyle Singler got in foul trouble, and the rest of the team could do nothing to help out.  Ryan Kelly and the Plumlees brought their F game.

It's not often that you see dook give up like they did tonight.  To Coach K's credit, he usually has his team ready to play in big game situations, but having success against them is all about taking and withstanding their initial punches.  K can motivate his guys to run through a wall for him, so they'll usually come out fired up - but it's hard for a team to sustain that kind of intensity for 40 minutes.  Usually, all they have to do is come out and punch the other team in the mouth, and they've set the tone for the game.  The opponent will back down and run away like a scared animal.

Arizona didn't do that.  Outside of Williams, they struggled in the first half, but they obviously knew how lucky they were to be down only 6 at the half.  They knew dook couldn't come out and sustain that same intensity for another 20 minutes.  dook thought they had taken Arizona's best shot, and they thought a fast start to the second half would put 'Zona away.  On the other hand, the Wildcats knew if they fought back, dook wouldn't know how to handle it.  Arizona wisely kept attacking even after grabbing the lead and building on it, and dook didn't know what to do.  They got cold from the outside, and Arizona was manhandling them inside.  Even Coach K was stumped, as he showed when he inserted Tyler Thornton into the lineup.  He was grasping at straws at that point, and that was the moment I knew this game was over.

It's definitely sweet to see dook go down like this.  They were the darling coming into the season, heralded by all as a certain Final Four team and likely repeat champion.  The Kyrie Irving injury changed things, but I was definitely glad to see him heal up and make it back in the lineup.  I wanted it for the kid because I didn't want him to not get the chance to play in the NCAA tourney.  As much hatred as I have for dook, I couldn't wish that on a player.  The other reason I was glad to see him play is that it takes away the excuse that dook didn't have Kyrie.  As the year progressed after his injury, Kyrie's legend grew greater and greater among the dook fanbase and the media.  If he hadn't played in the tourney and dook had lost, that would have been a built-in excuse for dook.  As it was, he played - and played pretty well.  So, that excuse goes out the window.

I do think his return created some chemistry problems, despite what anyone might say.  That doesn't necessarily mean any players were disgruntled or didn't want Kyrie to return.  I believe they all wanted him back.  It just means that they didn't know what their roles were now that he was back.  Nolan Smith looked like a completely different player with Irving playing, for instance.  He didn't know when to defer and when to take over, and what made dook a great team at times this year was when Smith took over games. 

Still, it seemed like they might be able to get past that and perhaps get back to being a dominant team.  A part of me feared that once dook got past Michigan last week, they were also past any potential chemistry issues related to Kyrie's return.  Not so, says Arizona.

Going forward, it will be strange seeing dook next year without Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith.  Despite what you think about them, they were definitely the heart and soul of this dook team.  If Irving returns, I think they still have a chance to be really good.  If he goes pro, as I suspect he might, then it will be a completely different feel to next year's dookies.  I'm sure they'll still be a great team, but they won't have the experience that this year's squad had.  I do know enough about Austin Rivers to know that he will be easy to pull against....

For now, here's to celebrating the end to dook's 2011 season!

Monday, March 14, 2011

ACC championship thoughts... and the NCAA brackets

Well, I was all set to come on here and give congratulations to dook for yesterday's rout.  And, I will give them some credit - they came out the aggressor, and they played with much more effort at the start.  Coach K has made the ACC tournament a priority from the start of his coaching career, and it continues to be.  Roy stubbornly keeps calling it a "cocktail party" and continues to treat it that way.  Each coach's respective teams seemed to follow their coach's lead this past weekend, as has been the case recently.  So, for that, kudos to Coach K and dook for their effort.

What I can't applaud, after taking some time to let the game sink in a little (and checking out some replay), is the officiating.  Now, I'm not going to say that the refs cost UNC the game.  There's no way to tell something like that.  You never really know how the final score would have been affected when poor officiating changes the outcome of the game.  Sometimes it doesn't really affect the outcome, and sometimes it does, to varying degrees.  But, there's a comeback argument about officiating that I often hear and disagree with.  It usually goes something like this:  "Well, change a few of the calls.  Your team lost by 17 points, so those couple of calls don't really change anything in the grand scheme of things."

I think that's flawed logic, and here's why:  The way the game is called sets the tone for what will be allowed defensively and offensively for both teams.  That's especially true when the officials establish early on that one team is going to be able to get away with things that the other team won't be able to do.  That kind of officiating doesn't just affect one or two plays - it affects the way a team is allowed to play the entire game.

Yesterday, dook was allowed to play "aggressive" defense.  What I mean by that is constant hand-checking, pushing, reaching in, grabbing, arm-barring, and slapping of the defender.  Their strategy was to do this as much as possible, hoping that the officials would only call some of it.  I think they were probably surprised by how much they were still able to get away with.

Here's an example of one play that sums of dook's "defense" on the day, starting at the 0:31 mark.  Nolan Smith played this type of defense against Kendall Marshall all game long, which is the reason why the stellar freshman that dominated two previous games against them was shut down this time.

Also, one or two big plays called the wrong way can have a huge impact on the momentum in a game.  Even thought it's just one call, the momentum shift can affect a point swing of more than just the two or so points from that one play.  Also, if a player gets in foul trouble faster because of that play, the effect can be even greater.  A great example of this yesterday was the Dexter Strickland "charge" early in the game when he dunked over Kyle Singler.  There are many reasons why this wasn't a charge:

1) If a player can get dunked on while trying to draw a charge, he's too far under the basket.  This should be the only argument necessary here.
2) Singler had his back turned to the play and then turned around at the last second as Strickland was rising for the dunk.
3) Strickland tried to avoid Singler by shifting to his left while jumping, and Singler accounted for this by leaning to his left.
4) If there was any contact at all, it was on Singler's shoulder as Strickland was trying to go around him and Singler was sliding under him.  As the overhead replay showed, Singler started falling backward before the (minimal, if any) contact came.

That one play changed the momentum of the game in more than one way.  That dunk would have cut the lead to 13-8 and given a jolt of life to the UNC team.  Instead, it demoralized them even more.  It put Strickland in foul trouble, which he stayed in the rest of the game.  It completely changed the momentum of the game from that point forward.

I can argue the calls further, but the point is that dook had an unfair advantage this game.  Again, I won't say that it cost UNC the game.  I just wish we had been able to see a fairly officiated game, because I think that would have been a dandy.

Moving forward, my hope is that this was a wake-up call for UNC's players.  They heard everyone talk about how great they were for a week, and now they'll hear a lot of criticisms and expectations for them to lose early in the NCAA tourney.  Those criticisms could become great motivation for this team if they use it as fuel going into the tourney.

My feeling about the tourney draw is that it wasn't great, but it's not terrible either.  The first round is what it is.  If UNC loses that game, then that probably says more about them than Long Island.  Both Washington and Georgia could be tough in the second round.  Neither team really ever got blown out in games, and most of their losses were extremely close.  I would expect a close game if UNC gets to that point.  If they're lucky enough to get beyond that, then Syracuse is a potential opponent.  Everyone talks about their vaunted zone like it would be the death of UNC, but they were able to beat plenty of teams that zoned them this year.  Also, there were teams that were able to score on Cuse's zone.  I'm sure it would be a tough challenge if that game came to pass, but I think UNC could make it a good game.  And, I won't even mention Ohio State.  If UNC somehow makes it that far, I think everything is gravy at that point no matter who they play.  Every game from that point on would be extremely tough.

As for dook, they got a relatively favorable draw with San Diego St. as their #2, but a potential Sweet 16 matchup with Texas or Arizona could trip them up.  Also, UConn could take them down if those two meet up (if UConn makes it that far).  I wouldn't be surprised to see dook lose as early as the Sweet 16 or make the Final Four.  But, I don't think a championship is in the cards for the dookies unless they get a healthy Kyrie Irving back.  The refs won't let them get away with their normal tactics in the big tourney.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Round 3

Tomorrow will be the final and deciding game between the Heels and dookies, barring a meeting in the NCAA tourney.  I'm a little surprised to see the Heels here, to tell the truth.  I would have said that before seeing them the last two days, but I'd certainly say that now.  They didn't really deserve to win either of these games, but they did.  There's not much more to say about that.

dook will come out a lot harder tomorrow than they did in either Chapel Hill or Durham.  They love playing in the ACC tournament - and especially in Greensboro.  If the Heels come out like they have the past two games, then they have no shot.

I have faith that they'll put those games behind them and play like champions.  After all, it's dook they're facing this time....


Sunday, March 6, 2011


Last night, the Heels redeemed themselves with an 81-67 victory over the Devils.  It wasn't just redemption for the loss earlier this year in Cameron.  It was for last year's 32-point loss on dook's Senior Night.  It was for all of last season, when the Heels lost 17 games and went 5-11 in the ACC.

This season looked bleak when the Heels lost two early games in Puerto Rico... even bleaker when they got blown out at Illinois... and basically over when they got waxed by one of the ACC's worst teams, Georgia Tech.  The Wear twins transferred before the season, leaving the team with such little post depth that Justin Watts had to play the 4.  Will Graves got caught smoking pot (again) and was dismissed from the team, taking away the only legitimate three-point threat from an already poor outside shooting team.  Then, Larry Drew transferred mid-season, leaving the Heels with one true point guard.

Somehow, this team fought through all of that to become ACC regular season champs.  I still don't know quite how it happened, but I do know I'm proud of this team.

I could go on and on about the victory, but if you care enough to read this, you know what happened.  Unlike last time these two teams met, this time the better team won.  Enough said.

Going forward, my only concern is that the Heels don't lose focus.  Beating dook is special, but it shouldn't define a season.  This team still has great things to accomplish if it sets its mind to do so.   I think back to the 2006 team that overachieved and beat dook the last game of the regular season on Redick's Senior Night.  After that win, those Heels couldn't seem to gain the same intensity through any of the postseason.  That's the double-edged sword of such an intense rivalry.  When you put so much of yourself into that game, it's hard to keep it up when you follow it up by playing someone other than dook.  My hope is that these Heels don't make the same mistake.

Last night sure was fun, though... wasn't it?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Round 2 tonight

Tonight, the Heels and Devils face off for the ACC regular season crown.  For the Heels, this game is a chance at redemption.  They played well a month ago in Cameron, but their inexperience did them in.  Some other factors contributed, but I won't go into that again.

Hopefully, playing at home in a friendly environment will be the difference this time around.  These games always start off intense, but the middle 20 minutes of the game will be key.  Whatever the score is at halftime, the Heels have to come out and play well to start the second half.  If they can do that, I think they've got a good chance.  I guess we'll see....


Thursday, February 17, 2011

A note on the Cameron Crazies

Here's a shot of the Cameron Crazies taunting Harrison Barnes courtesy of Bob Rosato of Sports Illustrated.  I believe this photo shows much of what is wrong about the Crazies.

First and foremost, notice that many of them are checking themselves out on the videoboard.  This is my #1 pet peeve about the Crazies.  Collectively, they are not about supporting the team, as Dick Vitale and other media personalities would have you believe.  I'm sure many of them feel they are doing this, but the vast majority think they - the Crazies themselves, that is - are the main attraction.  This is their reasoning behind the cheer sheets, taunting, bobbing up and down, etc.  It's not about being a fan - it's about putting on a show.

Also, what is it about pointing in the face of and yelling at an opponent makes them great fans?

I am all for being loud and supporting your team, and for that I can commend the Crazies.  They do make an impact on the game.  However, where they used to be witty and original, they've now become a tired cliche.  It's the same old taunts - the speedo guy trying to distract free throws, counting the footsteps of players that foul out, pointing in the faces of players on the sideline.  I haven't seen anything from them in years that jumped out to me as even halfway creative.

Carolina fans are often known as a "wine and cheese" crowd, and I often wish for more from them.  But, thank goodness they aren't the Crazies....

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Off and running...

Alright.  As you can see from last night's (really this morning's) post, this blog is off and running.  What better night to start it than the night of a UNC-dook game? 

I'm not really sure where I plan to go with this blog.  As much hate as I have for dook - and that hate is immense - I'm not sure I can fill up a blog solely on that.  I have much more love for my Heels than hate for dook, and I hope to celebrate that too, if not moreso.  "BEAT DOOK" is more of a slogan to live by than it is a testament to the amount of dook-bashing I plan to do here.  But, don't worry - there'll be plenty of that too.

As I reflect on last night's game in a clearer state of mind, I wish I could say that my rantings were solely out of frustration.  I am normally not the type to whine about refereeing, because I truly believe that in most UNC-dook games, the refs do an outstanding job of letting the game go and letting it be decided on the court.  I can say this as a Carolina fan that my team definitely gets calls at times because of the name on the chest, and obviously I feel that dook does as well.  The cool thing is that usually when these two teams face off, the refs let them decide the game on the court.

Unfortunately, I do feel like the refs had an outcome on the game last night.  I won't back down from that just because it's not PC to mention the refs' impact on a game.  The PC thing is to say that it's not an excuse and the players have to fight through some bad calls.  I do believe that a team has to fight through the bad calls, but I don't believe in sweeping those calls under the rug.  The refs make mistakes just like the players do, and they shouldn't be above criticism.  Sometimes their mistakes even out or don't add up to much at all, and sometimes they have a big impact in the way a game is played.  I felt like last night the way the game was called rewarded one team for playing lazy basketball and punished another team for playing patient basketball.

I mentioned some patented dookie tactics to gain a cheap advantage.  Here's a list of things I noticed last night - some of which are legal, and most of which aren't:

  • Flopping - Dexter Strickland's third foul was a flop where the defender slid underneath him as he was going up for a shot.  dook players last night could not challenge Carolina's players defensively underneath, so they made up for it by flopping whenever UNC got near the basket.  When refs reward this, they continue to push the game farther from the basket into a three-point shootout.  Because of dook's great outside shooters, they will win often when refs allow them to flop and take other teams out of their inside game.
  • Moving screens - dook's offensive system is based on three-point shooting.  That is obvious to anyone that knows the game.  As effective as dook's shooters can be, you'll notice they aren't quite as good when the defense gets a hand in their faces.  In the first half, Carolina defenders switched on dook's screens and harassed their shooters.  In the second half, I'll put it this way:  dook was more "adamant" about their screening.
  • Fouls on offensive rebounds - dook's inside players (the Plumlees) got abused inside in the first half.  Carolina rebounded at will against them.  They responded to this by going over the back often in the second half to tip out many offensive rebounds, as well as shoving skinnier UNC players under the basket.  The happened numerous times on offensive rebounds of missed free throws.  By definition, if a player with rebounding position gets shoved under the basket, that's supposed to be a foul.  It wasn't called once.
  • Catching made shots and throwing the ball to the ref - This is a ploy a lot of teams use to slow down a fast-break team.  Technically, it's legal to throw the ball to the ref if you "rebound" a made basket, if you will.  Obviously you can't back off every shot and assume they'll all go in; sometimes you'll accidentally catch a shot that goes in because you were primed for a rebound.  However, there's a difference between that and going out of your way to catch made baskets to slow down the game.  When that happens, the refs should give a delay of game warning.  Instead, they let it happen over and over last night.
  • Jumping into a defender to draw a foul - This hasn't happened as much with this year's dook team, but JJ Redick and Jon Scheyer were masters at this.  They initiate the contact on the defender but somehow still get the foul call.  It happens underneath the basket often, but the most frustrating part is when Redick or Scheyer used to do this while shooting a three-pointer.  Again, giving this advantage to the offensive player is just rewarding lazy basketball.
  • Hand-checking - dook has gotten away with this for as long as Coach K has been there.  They are hailed as a "gritty" defensive team, but in reality they scratch and claw and slap their way to "good" defense.  I always think back to Ed Cota's talking to the media about DPOY Wojo's gritty defense:  He showed the press his scratched up arms and said, "He fouls.  A lot."  Unfortunately, that's another type of lazy basketball rewarded by poor refereeing.  Good defense is supposed to be about moving your feet, staying between your man and the basket, and getting a hand in his face on shots.  It's not supposed to be about pushing and slapping - i.e., playing defense with your hands.
There are others, but that's a greatest hits compilation of cheap dookie tactics.  They were on full display last night.

Tough night

It's a tough night to be a Carolina fan.  As usual, this Carolina-dook game was hard-fought by both teams and basically came down to the final minute.  A cursory glance at the final score would show the higher ranked team winning on its home court, as expected.  Nothing out of order in that, right?  It would seem that the best team won.

Surprisingly, though, I'm not sure the best team won.  What I saw tonight left the impression of Carolina as the more athletic and more skilled team.  When both teams played straight up basketball, dook looked panicky and desperate, and Carolina looked confident and poised.  dook was the team hoisting up rushed three-pointers and Carolina was the team patiently working the ball around for better looks at the basket.  Obviously, I'm biased, but one of those styles of play is so much more beautiful than the other.  It's a shame that jacking up three-pointer after three-pointer is rewarded in college basketball these days.

Anyway, as I see it, the difference between the two teams in the final score relied on two somewhat related factors.  The first is experience.  Carolina played with poise in the first half, but they got rattled in the second half and couldn't get their mojo back.  dook took advantage of this like a team of their experience should.  They shot the ball better and had more confidence down the stretch, and that points to experience.

The other factor was refereeing, and I want to focus on that a bit more (because this is an anti-dook blog, after all).  I know, I know - that's a sore loser mentality, and I usually don't accept referee bias as an excuse for losses.  However, I truly believe poor refereeing had a tangible impact on this game.

I call it "poor refereeing" and not "bias" because I don't believe refs - at least most of them - truly miss calls on purpose to help a team win.  For example, I don't believe tonight the refs made any calls in dook's favor to help them to victory.  What they did do was swallow their whistles throughout the majority of the first half when dook couldn't buy a bucket.  I feel like that was an attempt to keep the game from getting out of hand, because the refs wanted to be a part of a close Carolina-dook classic game.  I don't think was intentional, but deep down when dook was teetering on the edge of collapse, there were some calls that normally would have been made that were not, simply because if they were then the game would practically be out of reach.

In the second half, calls were even more skewed not only because dook was the aggressor, but also because they starting playing a cheaper style of basketball that half.  Unfortunately, the refs allowed them to do this.

One of the most egregious examples of the shift in strategy were constant moving screens on three-point shots - one in particular where a dook screener shoved the defender into the lane while the defender was trying to fight through the screen.  Of course that resulted in a made three.  That is a common dookie tactic, by the way.  Another common tactic is the flop.  dook has been known for this for years, but tonight it came out in full force.  Other dookie tactics included the constant pushes in the back and over-the-backs on rebounds, particularly by the Plumlee brothers.  They got whipped in the first half on the boards, and it was obvious that they were determined to push and shove their way to rebounds in the second half.  They never once were called for an over-the-back or any kind of foul on a rebound, which is somewhat shocking to me.  Meanwhile, Carolina got called for numerous rebounding fouls.  Anyone who watched the game should be scratching their head over that discrepancy.

It's no coincidence that these tactics showed up more and more in the second half.  What that tells me is that in the first half, dook couldn't play straight up with Carolina.  The Heels were too athletic for the Devils, and they couldn't compete.  Obviously, at halftime Coach K told his players to pull out every cheap tactic in the book to gain an advantage.  Thus, the moving screens, flops, over-the-backs, persistent hand-checking, etc.  Coach K vowed that his guys would scratch and claw (literally) their way to a victory, and the refs stood by and let it happen.  It's a real shame, because that kind of refereeing kills the game.  It just rewards the lazy and impatient.

I do want to give props to Nolan Smith and Seth Curry.  They were literally the entire team for dook.  They were the only players who in my opinion showed up and played straight up tonight.  Those two definitely deserved the win.  It's really a shame to me that the rest of the team played cheap basketball, because those two came to play and really put on a show.

From a Carolina perspective, I couldn't be prouder of my team.  They fought through it all with class.  They played an honest game, and took every shot from dook (and the refs) in stride.  I'm not sure how they kept their cool out there - because I sure couldn't have.

So, that's it - a 79-73 final in favor of the dookies.  The score is disappointing, but the effort was not.  I'm looking forward to the rematch already.