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Archive for November, 2006

Review of the Game: UNC 98, Ohio State 89 (WHOOOOOO!!!)

Posted by Mike on November 30, 2006

I was fortunate enough to be in the student section for this game, where i succeeded to scream so loud that nearly 24 hours later, my throat is still very sore. Before I delve into game analysis, some non-basketball observations while at the Dean Dome:

  • New seats have been installed in the entire lower level for this season. They’re cushioned in the bottom and allow for leaning back comfortably. The downside: when we sing “hark the Sound” at the end of the game, it’s harder to bang the seats in front of us.
  • My sister (who’s a junior at UNC) and I both noticed that quite a few freshmen were attending their first UNC sporting event, and did not know the cheers yet. You think the students would have been more synchronized for such a big game, to increase the “fear of God” effect for the opposing Buckeyes.
  • I was quite possibly the most vocal fan in my section, screaming every chance I got and 100 decibels plus. I’m pretty sure my sister was at least mildly embarrassed.
  • Only one person in my section was as enthusiastic as me: a red-haired girl sitting right behind me. I applaud her enthusiasm, but I was kind of hoping she would not be enthusiastic in such a high-pitched voice. There were several occasions where I was sure my ears were going to bleed.
  • If UNC fans want to dispel the belief that they are a wine-and cheese-crowd, they have got to stop leaving before the game ends. I’ve seen this too many times. The red-haired girl and I spent the last minute and a half of the game (after the Ellington 3-point play) yelling at departers, “Don’t leave! Come back here! ALL OF YOU GET BACK IN YOUR SEATS!”
  • This leaving early thing really angers me. UNC needs to have Carolina Fever fans acting as “security” to prevent fans from early departures (unless there’s a very good reason). If I ever become Athletic Director this will be the first act on my agenda.
  • If you were watching the game on ESPN near the end of the first half and wondering who was yelling “SHOTCLOCK!” at the top of their lungs for two minutes, that was me.
  • Around the mid second half, two guys dressed as the Blues Brothers normally do a dance routine while the band plays that song from the movie, and routine ends with a dunk. In this game the Blues Brothers missed the dunk, which I consider a bad omen. That miss is going to bite us in the a—- someday. Not today, not tomorrow, but someday.
  • Bizarre cartoon alert: Weebl and Bob are bringing Pastry Back. Nonstop hilarity. I must warn you that they are extreme enthusiasts of pie. Mmmmmmm, pie.
  • I’m very excited about the Butch Davis era, who held his first UNC press conference on Monday. My mm is convinced he’ll be successful if for no other reason than the fact that he is a ginger. (I should point out that my mom is also a redhead, who cannot get a tan to save her soul.)

Whew, glad I got that out of my system. Now, on to the game analysis.

  • The first half happened exactly as I feared: sloppy play, turnovers, Ohio State draining their 3-pointers off screens and missed assignments, Tyler Hansbrough getting triple teamed, and the Buckeyes getting away with a lot of fouls. Ant yet we were only down 4 at halftime. Words escape me.
  • When Ty Lawson is at the free throw line, he can’t hit the broadside of a barn. Sorry, it’s just a fact.
  • WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOOO! (guitar riff) Wayne Ellington had a huge game, particularly in the second half. He’s our best 3-point shooter; he hit threes from everywhere tonight.
  • Speaking of 3-pointers, Ohio State proved that they are legit, even without Greg Oden. The Buckeyes were able to hit threes to no end, and until the final 10 minutes the guards efficiently penetrated the paint very well, especially Ron Lewis, who scored 30 points all over the court. In the end, our depth and home court advantage was too much for them, and the Buckeyes ran out of gas.
  • Even though we may the most talented team in the country, the Heels seem to still be heavily reliant on Hansbrough. Whenever he was was on the court we played differently, and Ohio State collapsed on him whenever he touched the ball. And he still led the Heels with 21 points. I am simply amazed.
  • Brendan Wright used a baby hook shot a few times in this game, and he made at least three of them. That shot is cool, but I can’t help but wonder if he’s afraid of contact.

This may have been the loudest Dean Dome game I’ve ever attended, and I’ve gone to games since 1996. The Chapel Hill faithful has not been this excited about a team since I moved to this town from Boston eleven years ago. I can’t wait for the conference schedule! Tune in Saturday for UNC vs. Kentucky and the triumphant return of my live diary.

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Preview of Ohio State vs. UNC (ACC/Big Ten Challenge)

Posted by Mike on November 29, 2006

The ACC/Big Ten Challenge is always fun to watch, and this year is no different. Tonight is one the most interesting matchups of the entire season, Ohio State vs. UNC.

Ohio State is currently ranked #1 in the country thanks in part to losses both by the Tar Heels and the Florida Gators. Make no mistake, however, the Buckeyes are a very talented team, and would be even more formidable if they had a healthy Greg Oden. The defending Big Ten regular season champions, led by senior guard Ron Lewis, have several players returning from their successful 2005-2006 campaign as well as one of the most highly touted recruiting classes in the country. While Oden (who is out with a hand injury) is the most prominent freshman on the team, the Buckeyes landed other promising stars, including Oden’s high school teammate Mike Conley and forward Daquan Cook. Their schedule has so far been filled with patsies, so this will be their first true test.

(Extra Note: The Ohio State Basketball and Football teams are ranked #1 at the same time, the first time in Buckeyes history.)
North Carolina brings in an impressive freshman class of their own, including Brendan Wright, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Deion Thompson, and Alex Stephenson. But the Tar Heel offense undoubtedly revolves around sophomore sensation Tyler Hansbrough, whom my sister (a UNC junior) has a secret crush on. When allowed the opportunity he is perhaps the most dominant post player in college basketball right now.

The emphasis here is on “when given the opportunity”. Gonzaga was able to to cut off inside feeds to Hansbrough and ultimate handed UNC their first loss of the season. He was triple teamed nearly every time he got the ball; I’m sure that Ohio State has seen the Gonzaga tape as many times as I’ve seen The Matrix. The rest of the team will have to step up to lighten Tyler’s load if they want to beat a team as good as OSU.

Of course, this time the Heels will also ave home court advantage on their side. Over 21,000 fans will pack the Dean Dome tonight, including me. Yes, this means I won’t be able to live blog this huge event. One day I’ll get a BlackBerry and be able to live blog from the games, but until then yu’ll just have to sit back, enjoy the game, and then read my post-game analysis (SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION ALERT).

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Game of the Year: Michigan vs. Ohio State

Posted by Mike on November 18, 2006

Today is a historic day on college football. Never before in this rivalry has been #1 vs. #2. Who am I rooting for? My cousin is an Ohio State fan. GO BLUE!

3:30 pm: The Buckeye band just performed Script Ohio in Columbus. I have to admit, their band is good.

3:34 pm: This place got crowded in a hurry in anticipation of this game. Even in Chapel Hill ther are strong constituents of each scholl, most notably this 60-year old guy in a Michigan shirt who’s smoking a cigar right next to me. If he puffs it too long, I might have to change my allegiance.

3:40 pm: There are many reasons I want Michigan to win. For a shot at the National Championship. For Bo. To rub it in my cousin’s face. But most of all, I want Michigan to win because of Maurice Clarett. Clarett was a promising young running back, perhaps the best Ohio State’s ever had. If not for him, they would not have won the 2002 Championship. Then he is under NCAA investigation for accepting gifts from boosters (he was in dire financial straits). Godd coaches would have defended him. I know Bobby Bowden, JoePa and Pete Carroll have always defended their players if they get in trouble. But Jim Tressel abandoned Clarett in his hour of need. Tressel ruined a young man’s life, and I can never forgive him for that.

3:45 pm: Michigan starts out well. QB Chad Henne completes a long pass to Mario Manningham.

3;49 pm: Mike Hart is a powerful runner. He broke two arm tackles for a nine yard gain. Impressive.

Henne completes another long pass, to the OSU 1.

3:51 pm: Touchdown! Mike Hart waltzes into the end zone. 7-0. Michigan.

3:55 pm: Michigan was impressive in its first drive. Henne was 4-4 for 67 yards. OSU has been slightly less impressive. They haven’t given the ball to Antonio Pittman yet.

4:05 pm: I stand corrected. Troy Smith has quite an arm, completing some nice passes down the field to get into scoring range.

4:08 pm: Touchdown! Troy Smith completes an easy pass on the right side to WR #8, I think his name is Hall. It’s now tied, 7-7.

4:12 pm: On third and long, Henne fires a bullet to Steve Breaston for the first down. I like his quick release.

4:16 pm: OSU forces a punt. Do you know what else pisses me off? Alumni saying they went to “THE Ohio State University”. The emphasize “THE” with such arrogance. It might be excusable if they went to “THE Harvard” or “THE Princeton”, but please. All reliable indicators say Michigan is the superior school anyway.

4:22 pm: OSU doesn’t seem to be moving the ball on their second possession either. The Buckeyes are forced to punt. So far, these two teams have been playing eerily even. It’s almost like the ghosts of Bo and Woody are controlling the game today.

4:25 pm: The quarter ends with Henne getting sacked. Michigan 7, OSU 7.

4:33 pm: Antonio Pittman has a huge run for the Buckeye touchdown. This guy can fly; he was able to break the line of scrimmage and outrun everyone else. OSU 14, Michigan 7.

It’s looking like USC will ultimately get to play the winner of this game for the title if they win out. I think it should be Rutgers or Arkansas, because they are both undefeated in their respective conferences. USC has already lost to Pac-10 opponent Oregon State.

4:40 pm: OSU force Michigan to punt, but a penalty gives the Wolverines a first down.

Bizarre ad alert: Nivea aftershve balm. I first saw the ad six months ago during Univision’s coverage of the World Cup in Spanish. I must tell you, watching soccer in Spanish is much more enjoyable. Five mothns later, here it is, on the TV, in English. Bizarre.

4:47 pm: Big play for the Buckeyes; #80 catches a pass at the 30, and runs all the way to midfield.

All the power went out on one side of the bar. I’m now on battery power.

4:49 pm: Touchdown Buckeyes! Troy Smith runs a great play action fake and throws it to an open Ted Ginn in the End zone. It’s now 21-7, Ohio State.

Bizarre ad alert: Show Me the Money on ABC: It’s Shat-Tastic!

4:53 pm: As big as this game is, I’m even more interested in Tar Heel games. I hope it isn’t too obvious.

Mike Hart busts a huge run to midfield. Michigan is finally getting something going again.

4:56 pm: On third down, OSU is called for pass interference. Someone behind me then says something I cannot repeat on this website.

4:58 pm: Touchdown Michigan! Henne completes a long pass to WR #16 (Arrington) for a 40 yard touchdown. It’s now 21-14, OSU. The level of play is so much higher than the UNC-NC State game that it’s almost demoralizing.

5:05 pm: OSU is again driving the ball well. I think the difference for the Buckeyes has been third down conversion. Last I checked, Michigan was 1 for 5 on third down, and OSU was 4 for 5.

UPDATE: Auburn 14, Alabama 9.

5:09 pm: Touchdown Buckeyes! Troy Smith completes another great pass, this time to Anthony Gonzalez. It’s now 28-14, OSU.

The half ends. Ohio State is just as good as advertised. I would like to see the adjustments the Wolverines make in the second half.

5:35 pm: I’ve returned home for the second half. The electric sockets at Shorty’s went out, and my battery is fried.

Ohio State goes 3-and-out and has to punt to open the second half.

5:40 pm: Mike Hart has a HUGE run on third and short to ultimately set up a touchdown for Michigan. 28-21, Ohio State.

5:45 pm: The Buckeyes get the ball back, and a Troy Smith pass is tipped and intercepted by a defensive end. Michigan now has great field position.

5:50 pm: Michigan is unable to take advantage of the turnover; they only manage a field goal. 28-24, Buckeyes.

5:56 pm: Ohio State responds immediately. Great blocking and great speed by Antonio Pittman lead to a 56 yard easy touchdown. 35-24, OSU.

What does an Ohio State player have to do for a buckeye sticker? Are players still motivated by getting stickers on their helmets? I think they are, because everyone on the team is playing well, and they all have their helmets at least 70% filled with stickers.

6:04 pm: Michigan is driving the ball again. Every yard against the Buckeyes has been a fight.

UPDATE: Auburn 22, Alabama 15.

6:06 pm: The Wolverines stall, and they’re just out of field goal range. They go for it on fourth down, and it falls short. Breaston slips on the sod, which I heard the Buckeyes replaced in October. I’m convinced it was strategy for this game.

It was a good idea to go for it on fourth down. However, I don’t like Henne’s throw short of the marker. You have to throw the ball beyond the first down line unless you’re sure the receiver can get the first down after the catch.

6:10 pm: Fortunately, Michigan’s failed 4th down doesn’t haunt them, as the defense forces a 3-and-out.

6:12 pm: Mike Hart is very tough to bring down. He just broke three tackles to get a nine yard gain.

Then, on third and 1, Michigan tries to surprise the defense with a deep pass. The gamble fails, as Henne throws a near interception. Michigan is forced to punt on fourth and 1. Normally I’m against this, but in this case if Michigan goes for it an fails, Ohio State has great field position and a chance to put this game away.

6:21 pm: At the start of the fourth quarter. Michigan runs a reverse…and it works! Steve Breaston runs down to the 1/2 yard line.

6:24 pm: Touchdown Michigan! Mike Hart cannot be stopped. That’s his third touchdown of the game. 35-31, OSU.

6:35 pm: Just as the Buckeyes are driving into field goal range, a bad snap is recovered by Michigan! The Wolverines now have the ball with a chance to take the lead.

6:40 pm: Michigan goes 3-and-out. Michigan is shooting themselves in the foot. It’s harder than I thought to blog two games back-to-back.

6:52 pm: The Wolverines continue to shoot themselves in the foot. First, a defender makes a late, out of bounds, helmet-to-helmet hit on Troy Smith, then they allow another wide open touchdown pass. The way the Buckeye defense is playing right now, I doubt Michigan can come back.

7:00 pm: Less than four minutes left, Michigan is driving. Henne is making good passes but he keeps throwing up the middle. Tick tick tick tick tick…

7:02 pm: Henne is sacked on third and long! OSU’s defense is really good today.

7:03 pm: Fourth down, Henne throws deep…interference! OSU interferes with Manningham, first down!

7:06 pm: Touchdown, Michigan! Henne throws to the Tight End, Ecker, and converts the two-point conversion to make it  42-39.

7:10 pm: Michigan tries the onside kick, and the Buckeyes recover.

7:15 pm: The game went final: Ohio State 42, Michigan 39. Troy Smith and Mike Hart had a great game, but ultimately the difference was the Ohio State defense, who stepped when they were needed most. I wasn’t convinced before, but I am now: These are the two best teams in college football. I think that if the game were played in Ann Arbor, it might have gone the other way. After seeing this game, I’m not entirely sure that Michigan doesn’t deserve a rematch in Glendale, AZ on January 8th.

This game was so close that the difference in the game was something most fans didn’t notice. Early in the fourth quarter, it was Ohio State leading 35-31. The center fumbled the snap and Michigan recovered with a chance to win the game. The defense held the Wolverines to 3-and-out. If Michigan scores a FG, It’s 42-42 and we’re still watching the game. A touchdown and it’s a Michigan victory. That possession won’t make the highlight reel, but that was the defensive stand that won the game for Ohio State.

These guys play so much better than UNC, I hate to say it.This was a game for the ages.  I want a rematch!

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Bunting’s Last Stand: UNC vs. NC State

Posted by Mike on November 18, 2006

12:10 pm: This game was almost pre-empted on TV by the Raleigh Christmas Parade. WTF?

Before the game, four F-15s flew over Kenan Stadium. On Thursday the same F15s flew by my house-4 times. It was awesome.

12:15 pm: UNC is driving the ball well. Joe Dailey has made some good throws.

But, like clockwork, they fumble the ball in scoring position and NC State gets the ball back.

12:20 pm: Carolina’s defense steps up and forces the Pack to punt.

12:22 pm: TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR!…

12:24 pm: Carolina converts on third and long with a Dailey pass to Brandon Tate. He’s a return specialist and doesn’t catch a lot of passes. They should give him more action; he might be their fastest player, and in this game speed kills.

12:26 pm: They’re finally giving McGill the ball. I can’t help but think they may abandon him in the second half. That would be a bad move, yet UNC has done it repeatedly during his career. Trust me, he will end up on an NFL team and make an impact. It’s a shame he hasn’t been used enough.

Enough ranting…McGill keeps getting the ball, and he keeps gaining yards.

UPDATE: BC 14, Maryland 0.

12:30 pm: TOUCHDOWN!!! McGill gets the ball instead of Dailey throwing an interception, and he gets in the end zone. 7-0, UNC!

12:35 pm: Another 3-and-out for the Pack. No offense to our friends on Raleigh, but so far QB Daniel Evans hasn’t been able to hit the broad side of a barn.

12:40 pm: Barrington Edwards is now at RB for the Heels. That doesn’t stop them from running the ball, though. Where was this all season?

Bizarre ad alert: Is it Monday yet?

12:42 pm: NC State lost so many of their starters on defense last year to the NFL Draft. Perhaps the biggest reason they’re struggling, however, is because of the penalties they commit. They are by far the most penalized team in the ACC.

12:45 pm: UNC runs the reverse…and it works! First and goal, Carolina.

Wow…Joe Dailey throws the ball into the end zone, and it isn’t intercepted! He really has made strides.

12:48 pm: UNC ends up kicking a field goal. 10-0, UNC near the end of the first quarter. I would have gone for the TD, but hey, this is the biggest lead we’ve had all year against a 1A opponent.

12:50 pm: At the end of the quarter, Daniel Evans throws a good pass to the tight end. I swear to you it looked just like a Joe Dailey interception.

12:55 pm: At the start of the 2nd quarter, NCSU gets its first 1st down. On their next 3rd down, Evans throws an interception! This is the best I’ve seen the Heels play in a while. Where was this all season?

Interesting side note: UNC may have the Botanical Garden, but NC State is the aggie school; thus they have an excellent School of Horticulture. Its influence can be felt throughout NC, including in Hillsborough, where my family recently bought five apple trees. The purchase was inspired by a trip to Altapass, perhaps the most beautiful orchard in America (along the Blue Ridge Parkway). But that’s another post. Maybe this information is not important to you, but your brain is stuck with it.

1:08 pm: Still 10-0, NC State is pinned back at it’s own 3. The Pack gets out of the nasty situation; they get to the 30 in 5 plays.

During the drive they committed an illegal formation penalty. For an offensive formation to be legal 7 of the 11 players must line up on the line of scrimmage; on that play the Pack only had 6.

1:10 pm: I eat way too fast. I ordered an entree of cheese steak with a side of chips at Shorty’s on W. Franklin St. and I think I ate the whole thing in 5 minutes.

Bizarre ads alert: Nissan Titan Heisman ad, Bojangles ad with Carolina Panthers QB Jake Delhomme.

1:15 pm: Enough with my stupid segues! NC State’s driven the ball into the red zone!

They’ve used a good balance of run and pass to drive 90 yards so far. They haven’t scored yet; remember, they started on their own 3.

1:18 pm: Here’s an interesting stat: The pack drove the ball 99 yards including the penalty they had to overcome, and they only get a field goal. 10-3, UNC.

UPDATE: Miami trails Virginia 14-0, and BC leads Maryland 21-3.

1:25 pm: That’s what separates NC State from the rest of the ACC. A Pack defender flat out dropped an INT. Whatever team you play for, when Dailey throws you a pass, you have to catch it.

1:27 pm: Some one explain this to me: It’s a Saturday afternoon in November, and not only is the Greensboro CBS station not airing football, they’re airing POKER and commercials for STOMP! the broadway show. There is no, I repeat, NO excuse for this.

1:30 pm: Less than two minutes left in the first half. I can’t believe the first half is going to end already. The ready to play rule has cost us so much exciting football. The NCAA needs to axe it after this season.

1:35 pm: Chuck Amato has an odd look on his face. I can’t say exactly what it is; maybe he’s worrying about the game, maybe he’s trying to compose himself after being told he’s been fired over his headphones. My guess is that it’s hemorrhoids related.

1:40 pm: NC State has played a lot better in the second quarter, and UNC has played worse. Holy s—, John Bunting has exactly the same look on his face as Chuck Amato!!

1:42 pm: The pack kick a field goal to end the half. 10-6, UNC. The first halftime lead for UNC against a Division 1A opponent this season.

1:55 pm: Our offense looked anemic in the second quarter. Guess who didn’t get the ball? that’s right, McGill. He had 81 total yards in the first quarter, yet I only saw him touch the ball once in the second quarter. He needs to get the ball if UNC wants to win.

2:05 pm: NC State gets the ball to start the third quarter. A long run by the RB Blackman was negated by an illegal formation call.

I found this out by accident; you’re never going to believe this. While playing darts here at Shorty’s, I found that playing for an extended period of time (30 min or more) works the oblique muscles. A few weeks ago I felt soreness in those muscles the day after blogging one of these past football games. So the next time you’re thinking of getting rid of those “handles de amor”, don’t buy a complicated machine; buy a dartboard.

2:10 pm: NC State pins itself back thanks to penalties and is forced to punt. UNC gets the ball back in great field position.

2:15 pm: Carolina converts on third and long with a 25+ yard pass play to Brooks Foster.

UPDATE: BC 28, Maryland 6. Boston College returned two fumbles for touchdowns.

2:17 pm: Connor Barth attempts a 54 yard FG…AND HE MAKES IT! Wow. He’s got a very strong leg. 13-6, UNC. That field goal was huge.

2:20 pm: This weekend my sister, a junior at UNC, is extremely busy with work. She had to choose between going to the NC State game or going to the basketball game against Gardner-Webb. She didn’t even hesitate with the decision; she’s going to the basketball game. It’s been that kind of season.

2:24 pm: The Heels defense holds, and UNC quickly gets the ball back. 13-6 UNC, 6:18 left in the third quarter.

UPDATE: No 1-A team has any right to face a 1-AA team in November, especially a title contender. Florida 55, Western Carolina 6. I’m going to puke.

2:30 pm: One great thing about Earth is that it manages to keep balance. Animals exhale Carbon Dioxide for plants to breathe, and plants exhale oxygen for animals to breathe. The heels finally get a big run, and soon afterwards they receive a holding penalty. It is all so very Zen.

2:32 pm: UNC gets into scoring position with a big pass to Jesse Holley, who runs to the NCSU 31. We are now certainly in Connor Barth kicking range. Deep down I just know Dailey’s going to throw an interception.

2:36 pm: UNC is at the 21 now. McGill seems to have gotten cold now. He really seems to be havin a hard time avoiding tackles. Perhaps it’s because the Wolfpack have adjusted to him.

2:37 pm: Barth kicks another field goal, and NC State gets another penalty. It’s 16-6, UNC. We may have actually run into a team worse than us!

2:40 pm: Now they’re showing rodeo in Greensboro. I respect rodeo, because my parents used to live in Texas, and my mom is from Spain, home of the Matadors. But something still isn’t right about showing anything but fooball on an autumn weekend. UNC is up ten at the end of the third quarter.

Only 50 minutes to the biggest game of the year.

2:45 pm: NC State is now driving the ball well down the field. Right now the UNC defense overpursues the QB once he runs out of the pocket, leaving receivers open. They need to stay disciplined.

2:50 pm: UNC holds the Wolfpack to a field goal. 16-9, Heels. Forty minutes to the game of the year.

Bizzare ad alert: Chick-Fil-A: “COW! Yes sweetie, ‘cow’. Hey honey, where’s our burgers?”

2:53 pm: TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS!….

2:55 pm: Less than nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter, UNC 16, NCSU 9. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I like our chances in this one. Now watch as the gods smite me and the Wolfpack score three touchdowns in the next five minutes.

3:00 pm: Chances are there’s agreat rivalry game this month that you don’t even know about. Take, for example, the Brawl of the Wild the annual game between division 1-AA opponents Montana and Montana State. Think it isn’t good football? Montana has won two 1-AA championship and has appered in the finals five times since 1990. Montana State is no pushover either, having beaten 1A Colorado this year. This rivalry is son intense that there are often fights between opposing fans at the tailgates. Chances are there’s a great rivalry game no matter where you live.

3:05 pm: INTERCEPTION! Quentin Person intercepts a tip ball thrown by NC State. With 6 minutes left in the game, the Heels are now in control, barring a turnover.

3:09 pm: UNC is forced to punt, but They pin the Wolfpack at their own 10 with three minutes left, factoring in the ready to play rule.

3:13 pm: UNC forces a fourth down, one last chance for the Pack.

3:14 pm: YES! YES! YEEESSSSSSSSS!!!! Sack, fumble touchdown! we’re gonna win this one! YEEEAAAAAH!!!! 23-9, UNC, two minutes left.

DA-dada-DA-dada-DA! (GO Tar Heels!) x4! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

3:21 pm: NC State certainly hasn’t given up yet. They have driven the ball into the red zone with a little over a minute to go.

3:22 pm: but then…INTERCEPTION! YES! YESSS!!! The game is over! we’re gonna win!

3:25 pm: The final score: UNC 23, NCSU 9. I’m glad that John Bunting won his final home game. He truly desrves it. Now bring on Butch Davis!

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Time for Two-a-Days: UNC-NC State, #1 Ohio State-#2 Michigan

Posted by Mike on November 18, 2006

Thanksgiving approaches, and for football fans like me this means only one thing: college football rivalries! For the next two weeks, we’ll see some of the biggest rivalries in college football: Alabama-Auburn, Texas-Texas A&M, Florida-Florida State, Colorado-Nebraska, LSU-Arkansas, Virginia-Va. Tech, Oregon-Oregon State, and USC-Notre Dame, to name a few. I will be covering two games in particular. First, I will stick to my alma mater and cover UNC vs. NC State, and then I will cover the Game of the Year: OSU-Michigan, #1 vs. #2.

First at noon in UNC vs. NC State. With his impending dismissal, this will be John Bunting’s final home game as head coach. If the Tar Heels watn to win one for Coach, they will need the Joe Dailey from the Notre Dame game to show up (3 TD, 0 INT) instead of the Joe Dailey we all know and love (2 TD, 9 INT). The Heels will need to keep the defense honest by giving the ball to their best athlete, Ronnie McGill. They simply haven’t given him the ball enough. Meanwhile the defense played very well last week against Georgia Tech, forcing turnovers and not allowing the Yellow Jackets to get the ball to Calvin Johnson. They will need a repeat performance if they want to win.

NC Sate is also a struggling squad, and Chuck Amato is in some hot water of his own. After a promising start they have lost five games in a row. Still, they have good defense and UNC will have to watch out for their running game, led by Andre Brown and Toney Baker.

I never thought I’d be more excited about a non-UNC game, but this is no ordinary day.  #1 Ohio State plays #2 Michigan. This is perhaps the biggest game ever in their historic rivalry. The winner of this game can almost certainly punch their ticket to the National Championship game. Adding to the story of the game was yesterday’s passing of legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, bringing back memories of the Ten Year War from 1969-1978, when Bo coached against Woody Hayes’ Ohio State team, at which point this became college football’s premier rivalry.

Fast forward to the present. Ohio State will be led today by Troy Smith, considered to be this year’s leading Heisman trophy candidate. He will have plenty of weapons to work with, including RB Antonio Pittman and WRs Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez. The surprise of the team, however, has been their defense. In spite of losing 9 starters from their squad last year, in 2006 Ohio State has the best scoring defense in the NCAA. The Buckeyes have yet to truly be challenged this season.

Today, they will get their challenge from Michigan.  The Wolverines are undoubtedly worthy of the hype; Wisconsin and Notre Dame are dominant teams this season, but they have each lost only once, to Michigan. After going 7-5 last season, few expected the Wolverines to perform this well. The key to their success is that this year, star RB Mike Hart has been healthy all year, allowing Chad Henne to more efficiently throw the ball (having a multi-dimensional offense makes it more difficult for the defense to stop them). Their defense is also the best the Buckeyes have faced this year.

My cousin Jimi is a big fan of the Buckeyes. Guess who I’m rooting for?

Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
The leaders and best
Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
The champions of the West!

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One Small Step for Heels…UNC vs. Sacred Heart, NIT Tip-Off

Posted by Mike on November 14, 2006

In case you haven’t noticed, football season has been over for about two months here in Chapel Hill, so I am very excited about the return of basketball.The 2006-2007 UNC Men’s Basketball season begins tonight. As a Tar Heel fan I must give you my preview of the basketball team, but as a journalist I must also prevent myself from guaranteeing that UNC will win the National Championship. You have no idea how hard this is going to be. Give me 5 minutes.

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UNC IS GOING TO CAPTURE THE NATIONAL…..uh, spotlight! Yes, Dickie V loves those guys. Holy s—, I almost said it. Please forgive me. On to the real preview.

Last year was supposed to be a rebuilding year, as 93% of UNC’s offensive production from the 2005 National Championship team had left. That team ended the 2006 season 22-8, including a 12-4 record in the ACC and a huge victory over Duke in the seaon finale, spoiling J.J. Redick’s Cameron curtain call in perhaps 2006′s most exciting regular season game. Now sophomore 6-9 forward Tyler Hansbrough took the ACC by storm his freshman year, averaging nearly twenty points and eight rebounds per game, becoming the first player in ACC history to be selected unanimously to the All-ACC team and making Chapel Hilleans think, “Sean who?” Players like David Noel, Reyshawn Terry, and Wes Miller, leftovers from the 2005 squad who were not expected to contribute much, became essential to the team’s success. The 2006 Tar Heels were very special because they succeeded when no one expected them to.
With the exception of Noel and Byron Sanders, every important piece of that team has returned for 2007. The big reason they’ve been picked to run away with the ACC, however, is the new arrivals. Six All-American freshmen will don the blue, white and argyle this season in addition to the incumbents such as Hansbrough, Terry, Miller, Marcus Ginyard, Bobby Frasor, Danny Green, and Quentin Thomas. Freshmen of particular interest this season will be Brandan Wright, a 6-10 forward from Tennessee with enough talent that he is already projected to be an NBA lottery pick in 2007 if he declares, and Tywon Lawson, a 5-11 point guard who is drawing comparisons to Raymond Felton. This team is perhaps the most talented, top to bottom, in college basketball this year.

As much talent as the Heels have, they will certainly receive their fair share of challenges in the 2006-2007 season. Tonight UNC begins the NIT Tip-off with much weaker Sacred Heart, but they could very well face teams like Gonzaga, Indiana, and Tennessee. They play Ohio State and Kentucky at home and Arizona on the road. Then there’s the always challenging ACC schedule. It is highly unlikely that the Heels will make through this season undefeated, but their team depth would certainly give them a edge when March comes.

The 2006 Tar Heels were exciting because no one expected them to succeed. Now that everyone expects them to succeed, let’s see how they perform, starting tonight.

One more point I’ll leave you with about our team this season, that I learned about Tyler while attending Late Night with Roy:

hansbrough.jpeg

Worst. Dancer. Ever.

7:05 pm: The starting five: Hansbrough, Wright, Terry, Wayne Ellingtom, and Frasor.

7:07 pm: 2-2. The game starts a little sloppy.

7:08 pm: 5-4, SHU. SHU hits a three, but Terry makes a great offensive rebound and Tyler scores.

7:10 pm: 9-5, SHU. Sacred Heart is really hitting its outside shots; they don’t even try to go inside.

Nothing scares Roy more than one of his big men on the free throw line. I swear Brandan Wright was shooting two and the fear of God was in his eyes.

7:11 pm: Terry commits two quick fouls; he’ll get an earful from Roy. 10-6, SHU. The football team must have jinxed them or something.

7:20 pm: 16-16. The swarm is insatiable at Shorty’s tonight; the delay was just trying to order.

All 16 of SHU’s points are long range, while all 16 of UNC’s points are in the paint, excluding free throws. Tyler hasn’t missed a step from last season.

7:22 pm: 20-18, UNC. Ty Lawson is fast, he wen t coast-to coast in three seconds. Tyler continues to own the paint. Our defense is suspect; no one has even tried to defend the perimeter.

7:23 pm: The hiring of Butch Davis is very exciting for the football team, but with the Buccaneers (NFL) struggling, I can’t help but wonder: what if we got Jon Gruden? He would whip those underachievers into shape. Fast.

7:24 pm: 25-18, UNC. Wes hits a three, ad Lawson hits a layup. Basketball goes at a much faster pace; it makes it so much harder to blog live. SHU has yet to attack the paint, and for good reason. they just aren’t big enough.

7:25 pm: 27-20, UNC. Tyler looks like he’s playing in the paint by himself. That’s his third dunk this half.
7:28 pm: Frasor’s back at point.There have been a lot of turnovers in this game. It may because it’s the first game. 27-22, UNC.

7:31 pm: Tyler’s out of the game, Wright fills his role. UNC still succeeds in attacking the paint. 29-24, UNC.

7:32 pm: No Bizarre ads yet. I’ve seen little of Marcus Ginyard, a big contributor last year. Tyler’s back and makes his presence felt.

7:33 pm: At this point, they should just let Tyler play by himself. He cannot be stopped. 33-26, SHU. Still too sloppy for my taste.

7:35 pm: Shocker to end all shockers–SHU attacks the paint…and scores! 35-28, UNC.

7:38 pm: Shorty’s is perhaps the only bar on W. Franklin Street with ESPNU. Maybe that’s why I look around me and “sardines” comes to mind. An elderly couple has been kind enough to let me sit with them, as all tables are taken and half the customers are standing.

7:41 pm: Ty Lawson’s back in the game. UNC hits a three to make it 40-34, but we’re still committing way too many turnovers.

7:43 pm: Wright’s an excellent post player, but he’s afraid of contact. He needs to bulk up more. 42-34, with 1 min left in the half.

UNC has these ridiculous shoulder stripes on their jerseys now. Go old school!

7:45 pm: SHU hits a three to end the half. 42-37, UNC. Two things the Heels MUST do better in the second half (and this season) is to:

  • Commit fewer turnovers: UNC is just too sloppy with the ball.
  • Defend the perimeter. SHU has had too many open looks at the three.

7:48 pm: I knew ESPNU wouldn’t let me down! Bizarre ad alert: Steve Nash has a basketball instructional video now, a la Tom Emanski, and College coaches were endorsing it, including…Coach K! Nash is a great player, is it kosher to do an instructional video while you’re still playing? Wouldn’t that give away his secrets? I think he lost his mojo the moment he shaved his head, and it will show this season. Mark my words.

7:57 pm: I knew Tyler was playing well, but Holy s—! He has 18 points and is 8-8 on his field goals. WOW.

7:59 pm: Does anyone know the most diplomatic way to brush off a Hare Krishna asking for donations? If so, I could use that advice right about now.

8:00 pm: ESPNU has a ticker counting down the hours, minutes and seconds to Ohio State vs. Michigan. That game is so big, it will be the first time I cover a non-UNC game.

Speaking of big, on October 13 (Late Night with Roy) The Dean Dome was packed with 21,500 fans who came to watch the Heels…practice. It’s obvious Chapel hill’s allegiance is to the round ball, not the pigskin.

8:05 pm: Game’s back on. 47-40, UNC. How crowded is it at Shorty’s? I ordered 45 minutes ago and have yet to see my dinner. Tylers scores again, and the foul! He’s a monster. At this point I think he throw up anything and it would go in. 50-42, UNC.

8: 09 pm: SHU commits a flagrant foul on Wright, and guess what? He misses his free throws! But Terry brings the house down with a huge dunk. 52-44, UNC.

8:13 pm: SHU keeps getting open looks. I don’t understand it. Frasor drains a three. 55-44, UNC.

8:14 pm: Apparently Bob Knight’s in hot water again, but I think it’s unjustified. Not since Tom Brady’s first Super Bowl has so much attention been paid to a chin in the sports world.

8:15 pm: Bizarre ad alert: Buffalo wild wings ad where everyone’s clapping over saving wings and cleaning up beer.

8:18 pm: Terry chases the ball wherever it goes. First he gets a basket off an offensive rebound, then he steals and dunks, then he receives an alley-oop. 61-45, UNC’s pulling away now. Terry has 10 points, all in the 2nd half.

8:21 pm: Ty Lawson’s back at point. There’s a scrum for the ball under the UNC basket, and SHU gets the ball. They miss an open 3, UNC gets the rebound, and Ginyard throws it away. Ugh.

8:24 pm: All I’m going to say about Sacred Heart: It’s in Fairfield, CT and is the second larget catholic university in New England.

8:25 pm: Just saw it first hand: Big game + alcohol + short fuses = trouble. Let this be a lesson to us all. 68-49, UNC.

8:28 pm: More excitement from Terry. 70-49.

8:30 pm: Tyler has to get hacked to miss his first shot of the night. Sacred Heart continues to hit the three. 73-54, UNC.

8:33 pm: Akron leads Gardner-Webb by 18. This may not be important to you, but I crammed it into your brainspace anyway.

8:34 pm: The lead is now 77-59, UNC. The heels have cut down on turnovers, but it’s still an issue.

8:40 pm: Something interesting I saw just now: UNC has a sizable lead, They’re not going to relinquish it, yet Roy has a look of horror on his face. Unbelievably, I understand why. This is the kind of analysis you can only get if I was at a bar.

8:42 pm: Over six minutes left, UNC leads 81-67. SHU is getting a little too close for comfort.

UNC is playing in Bobcats arena. the WNBA season has been over for two months. so why is the Charlotte Sting logo in the center of the court? Please explain. It’s now 83-67.

8:46 pm: The comparisons are justified. Ty Lawson does remind me of Felton when he plays out there. He attacks the paint and is ultra fast. 89-68, UNC.

8:49 pm: You gotta love JoePa. Nothing can take him away from football; he’s going to coach Penn State this Saturday with a broken leg and two torn knee ligaments. Doing so from the press box makes it no less impressive.

8:51 pm: One thing Tyler has regressed on this year: free throw shooting. He’s a dominant force in the paint (29 points tonight), but he hasn’t made his free throws, even though he was about a 75% shooter last year. Teams might start hack-a-Hansbrough this year. It’s now 96-70 UNC after a Wes 3-pointer with 2 minutes left This one’s pretty much over.

8:54 pm: UNC has hit 101 points. Bring in the substitutes! If this were a home game, we’d get free biscuits at Bojangles tomorrow.

8: 56 pm: Game’s over. Final Score: UNC 103, Sacred Heart 81. UNC played better in the second half, but the defense needs to be fixed, and soon.

Tyler Hansbrough was unbelievable tonight. He scored 29 points on 11 of 14 FG attempts. I he can play like that the entire season, he could be the National Player of the Year. I’m very optimistic about this team, but I won’t say Championship yet.

UPDATE (11/16/06): UNC played in a very similar fashion against Winthrop. In the first half UNC was sloppy, committing 14 turnovers and allowing the Eagles to score on the perimeter. They adjusted in the second half and the depth was just too much for Winthrop as the Heels pulled out the win, 73-66. The Heels have to play better if they want to go deep into March. Hansbrough was again the star, scoring 20 points and playing with nonstop intensity.

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