Saturday, April 25, 2009

Five big NFL draft boo-boos

Here's a list of NFL draft busts that should make every general manager nervous when the league's draft gets underway today:

1. QB RYAN LEAF: He was considered to be at least the equal of Peyton Manning when they entered the 1998 draft. Washington State's Leaf went to the Chargers with the second overall pick and immediately flamed out, throwing 33 interceptions and 13 touchdowns. Colts breathing sigh of relief ever since after taking Manning with the top pick.

2. QB HEATH SHULER: Had a great career at Tennessee, but was a flop with the Redskins after they took him with the third overall pick in 1994. An injured shoulder and rookie-season holdout didn't help him. He came back, though: He's now a U.S. Congressman from North Carolina's 11th district.

3. LB BRIAN BOSWORTH: “The Boz” entered the league in 1987 overhyped and overinflated (he had steroid issues at Oklahoma). Taken by Seattle in the first round of the supplemental draft out of Oklahoma, he's best remembered as a pro for being run over by Bo Jackson on Monday Night Football.

4. OT TONY MANDARICH: Taken No.2 overall by the Packers in 1989, he has since admitted that he, too, took steroids at Michigan State and in his early days in the NFL. Had an up-and-down (mostly down) career with Green Bay and Indianapolis.

5. QB TIM COUCH: Left school after his junior season at Kentucky and was taken No.1 overall in 1999 by Cleveland. That's as good as it got for Couch, who threw 64 touchdowns and had 67 interceptions for the Browns (he also fumbled 37 times).

-- David Scott

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

5 must-see NFL games this season

CHICAGO AT GREEN BAY, SEPT. 13: The Jay Cutler era begins for the Bears at Lambeau Field

NEW YORK GIANTS AT DALLAS, SEPT. 20: Talk about hype. Dallas opens its new flashy stadium against the Giants on a Sunday night, prime-time game (Panthers will be there the next week).

CAROLINA AT ATLANTA, SEPT. 20: These were two of the league's surprise teams in 2008, making the NFC South one of the NFL's tougher divisions. They split – each team winning at home – last season in a rivalry that has definitely taken shape.

INDIANAPOLIS AT ARIZONA, SEPT. 27: Two future hall-of-fame QBs – Colts' Peyton Manning and Cardinals' Kurt Warner – face off.

PITTSBURGH AT BALTIMORE, NOV. 29: This ferocious rivalry went to new heights when the eventual Super Bowl-champ Steelers beat the Ravens in last season's AFC Championship game. This season they don't play until late November, then again four weeks later in Pittsburgh.

-- David Scott

Friday, April 3, 2009

Best-ever Tar Heels: SFs and post players

Is James Worthy, of Gastonia, the top post player in Tar Heels history?

With North Carolina in the Final Four again, we thought it would be a good time to list our choices for the Tar Heels’ top five players at small forward and post players: Point guards and shooting guards were in Thursday's O List.

Small Forwards

5. JERRY STACKHOUSE (1993-95): Unfair pressure from those who expected the Next Michael Jordan, but a spectacular player nonetheless. Stackhouse was a consensus all-American in 1995, specializing in magnificent dunks, and he also was a proficient three-point shooter.

4. AL WOOD (1977-81): One of the purest shooters to ever wear Carolina Blue, and remembered largely for scoring 39 on Virginia and Ralph Sampson in the 1981 Final Four semifinals. But Wood was smooth and consistent. Fifth on the school scoring list with 2,015 points.

3. LENNIE ROSENBLUTH (1953-57): Led the most magical Tar Heels’ season ever, when North Carolina went 32-0 and won the 1957 national championship. That season was the Year of Lennie. Rosenbluth, a prolific scorer and tenacious rebounder, was named NCAA National Player of the Year, ACC Player of the Year, ACC tournament MVP, and NCAA regional MVP.

2. LARRY MILLER (1965-69): Just 6-foot-4, Miller still managed to dominate at the college level. He was a tremendous banger inside and a driver who also had an on-target jumper from the wing or the corner. He led the Tar Heels to Dean Smith’s first two Final Fours. And he was twice named ACC Player of the Year, in 1967 and ’68. By the way, he scored an ABA-record 67 points in one game as a Carolina Cougar.

1. BILLY CUNNINGHAM (1962-65): The Kangaroo Kid – check this out – led the ACC in scoring in both 1964 and ’65, and averaged 24.8 points and 15.4 rebounds for his career. A great leaper, Cunningham is UNC’s all-time leading rebounder despite standing 6-foot-6, and the 1965 ACC Player of the Year was named one of the league’s 50 best players. Also starred for years in the NBA and ABA.

Post Players

5. ANTAWN JAMISON (1995-98): Led UNC to Final Fours in 1997 and ’98, and in the latter season he was the unanimous national player of the year. He also became the first UNC player in 22 seasons to average double figures in points (22.2) and rebounds (10.5). A quick leaper with a deft touch inside that carried over into the NBA.

4. SEAN MAY (2002-05): OK, so you’re not happy about his weight as a Charlotte Bobcat. We’re talking college here, where he got better and better (and in better shape) until he was Final Four MVP in UNC’s 2005 national title run. May was a combination of finesse and power inside, with some of the best hands ever given a big man.

3. SAM PERKINS (1980-84): North Carolina’s all-time leading rebounder (1,167) helped the program to three straight regular-season ACC titles. Perkins was so quick and smooth that his play seemed effortless, and he seemed to do everything well. Somewhat overshadowed by Michael Jordan and James Worthy, he was still a three-time first-team all-America.

2. JAMES WORTHY (1979-82): Gastonia’s own “Big Game James” was exactly that. Remember him at 6-foot-9, taking the ball right at Georgetown’s 7-foot Patrick Ewing in the 1982 national title game? Worthy and the Tar Heels won (he scored 28), and he was named national player of the year. He would become a member of both the top 50 ACC players and top 50 NBA players.

1. TYLER HANSBROUGH (2005-09): Relentless inside, always working, always hustling. Some folks get tired of hearing that, but it’s said so often because it’s true. The leading scorer in ACC history and a four-time consensus all-American. He returned for his senior year to put the last notch in his resume, a national title. Hansbrough might not have as good an NBA career as others on this list, but a more effective college player is hard to find. Stan Olson

Disagree with any of the choices? Remind us who we left out in the comments section below. No matter how much you beg, though, Pete Budko doesn’t make it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Best-ever Tar Heels: PGs and SGs

With North Carolina in the Final Four again, we thought it would be a good time to list our choices for the Tar Heels’ top five players at these positions: Point guards and shooting guards, which are below, and small forwards and post players, in Friday’s O List.

Point Guards

5. LARRY BROWN (1960-63): The current coach of the Charlotte Bobcats is better known for his long and here-there-and-everywhere career, but Brown had game. He was All-ACC in 1963, and would go on to win a gold medal with the 1964 Olympic team.

4. KENNY SMITH (1984-87): Lithe and lean, Smith led the Tar Heels to 14-0 ACC regular-season marks both as a freshman and a senior. A consensus All-American in 1987, he dropped a career-high 41 points on Clemson that year. Smith left North Carolina with then-school records of 768 career assists and 195 steals.

3. RAYMOND FELTON (2002-05): A blur of a point guard who brought Roy Williams’ feared transition game to peak efficiency, Felton guided the Tar Heels to the 2005 national crown. The only North Carolina player to finish his career with more than 1,000 points, 600 assists, 300 rebounds, 100 steals and 100 3-pointers.

2. TY LAWSON (2006-): If Lawson, the deserved ACC player of the year, can push the Tar Heels to the national championship, he can make a legitimate case for the No..1 spot on this list. The quickest player in school history; just try to slow him on the break.

1. PHIL FORD (1974-78): The master of Dean Smith’s Four Corners delay offense; you simply could not take the ball away from him as he dribbled away the clock to protect a lead. When he helped the Tar Heels upset David Thompson and N.C. State in the 1975 ACC tournament final as a freshman, it was just a taste of what was to come. In ’78, he would be the national player of the year.

Shooting Guards

5. DONALD WILLIAMS (1991-95): Suffice it to say that without his sweet jumper, the Tar Heels would not have won the 1993 national championship. He played the best basketball of his career at exactly the right time.

4. RASHAD McCANTS (2002-05): He was up and down as a player, but when he wanted to impress, he was almost unstoppable. He knocked in 221 3-pointers at North Carolina and was a key to its 2005 title run.

3. WALTER DAVIS (1973-77): Davis, from Charlotte and South Mecklenburg High, played more SF with the Tar Heels. He was called “Sweet D” for his smooth and sleek game. The master of the difficult mid-range jumper, he was also an excellent passer, decent rebounder and tough defender. And he made “The Shot,” that 30-footer that capped the Tar Heels’ incredible eight-points-in-17-seconds comeback against Duke in 1974.

2. CHARLIE SCOTT (1966-70): North Carolina’s first black varsity basketball player could score inside and out, and had the ability to carry a team. A quick example; in the 1969 ACC tournament final, he torched Duke for 40 points, 28 in the second half on 12-of-13 shooting as North Carolina wiped out overcame a nine-point halftime deficit.

1. MICHAEL JORDAN (1981-84): Do we really need to explain this? While the accepted wisdom is that Jordan really didn’t explode until he reached the pros, he was a two-time consensus all-American in Chapel Hill, and national player of the year in 1984. Then he went on to be the best basketball player of all time.

-- Stan Olson

Disagree with any of the choices? Remind us who we left in the comments section below. No matter how much you beg, though, Rich Yonakor doesn’t make it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Replacing a basketball coaching icon

Restoring - or at least maintaining - glory at some of college basketball's most successful programs isn't easy. After firing Billy Gillespie last week, Kentucky is reportedly hiring Memphis' John Calipari as its sixth coach since legendary Adolph Rupp retired in 1972. Here's how five programs have fared after their iconic coaches retired:

5. NORTH CAROLINA: Dean Smith coached the Tar Heels for 36 seasons, winning two NCAA championships and retiring as college basketball's all-time winningest coach (a record since broken) in 1997. North Carolina returned to the Final Four twice under coach Bill Guthridge, but then had two rough seasons (including 8-20 in 2002) with Matt Doherty in charge. Roy Williams has the program back at Smith-like levels.

4. UCLA: Coach John Wooden took the Bruins to 10 national championships before retiring in 1975. UCLA won another title in 1995 under Jim Harrick, but continued to churn through coaches for the next decade until Ben Howland arrived in 2003 as the Bruins' eighth coach since Wooden. Under Howland, UCLA went to the Final Four for three straight seasons (2006-08).

3. KENTUCKY: Whomever gets this job, it's going to be difficult to satisfy the Wildcats' often-irrational fan base. Rupp's teams won four NCAA championships, but Kentucky has also since won national titles under Joe B. Hall, Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith. That still has never seemed to be good enough in Kentucky.

2. INDIANA: The Hoosiers were beginning to slip before Bob Knight left in 2000 after 29 seasons and three NCAA titles (failing to advance past the second round of the national tournament for six consecutive seasons). Although Knight's successor, Mike Davis, took Indiana to the 2002 national championship game, the program fell into disrepute under Kelvin Sampson. Indiana won just six games this season under Tom Crean, but has an excellent recruiting class coming in.

1. ST. JOHN'S: Under coach Lou Carnesecca, the Red Storm made the postseason 24 straight seasons, including the 1985 Final Four. Since Carnesecca retired in 1992, St. John's has slid into obscurity under five different coaches. The Red Storm finished 13th in the Big East this season.

-- David Scott

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Five most hated/loved sports teams in N.C.

With the Lakers in town to face the Bobcats tonight, we got to thinking; which sports teams inspire the strongest feelings among fans across North Carolina? We’re talking about those that make your gut churn — with enthusiasm or bile. The five most loved/hated squads in the North Carolina. (In South Carolina, of course, either the Clemson Tigers or South Carolina Gamecocks are at the top of this list, depending on your point of view.):

5. LOS ANGELES LAKERS: Start with Kobe Bryant; he chased off Shaq, right? And then there was that deal back in Colorado. But he also may be the best hoops player in the world, and that in itself creates a fan base. The franchise has the most wins and the most NBA Finals appearances (29) ever, which means they always — ALWAYS —seem to be in your face when you flip on the TV.

4. DUKE: OK, let’s be honest; the Blue Devils don’t come close to making this list without Coach K. Football has been a disaster, and nobody hates bad football teams. But K — that’s all we need here — gets Duke on the list by himself, for two reasons: the basketball program is really, really good, making for a big bandwagon effect and prompting intense dislike from UNC fans. And K can appear smug and arrogant at times, depending on your point of view.

3. NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels have the most fans of any school in the state by a wide margin, but then there’s that ABC Club — Anybody But Carolina. UNC’s success, particularly in basketball, is a burr in the hides of all those ABCers. As one prominent college coach once told me, “I’d pull for the Russians before I’d pull for Carolina.” You can probably blame a lot of that on Dean Smith. If Butch Davis makes the Heels good in football, they could be tops on this list.

2. DALLAS COWBOYS: The NFL’s version of our No. 1 team. The whole arrogance of the “America’s Team” concept gets under your skin unless you happen to be a fan, and there are many. And if you love ‘em — from Dandy Don Meredith and Roger Staubach down through Emmitt Smith and Tony Romo — you love ‘em with a remarkable passion, one that irritates your friends and prompts you to wear a Cowboys jersey into a bar full of Panthers’ fans.

1. NEW YORK YANKEES: Can there be any doubt? You either love ‘em or hate ‘em, and you don’t even have to be a baseball fan to appreciate their wretched excesses. And yet they are the most successful franchise in sports — try 26 World Championships. They have had the most recognizable symbol (that classy interlocking NY), stadium (but of course they replaced it) player (the Babe) and owner (George Steinbrenner). They are American Sport, for better AND for worse.

--Stan Olson

Monday, March 30, 2009

Top 5 national champs from N.C.

Since 1957, Triangle-area ACC teams have won eight national basketball championships, each carving its own place in history. Here's one look at how the best of those teams rank against each other:

1. N.C. State, 1974: With David Thompson, Tommy Burleson and Monte Towe, the Wolfpack took down the UCLA dynasty while Thompson proved to be a player for the ages.

2. North Carolina, 1982: With Michael Jordan introducing himself to the world, the Tar Heels with James Worthy and Sam Perkins finally delivered Dean Smith a national championship.

3: Duke, 1992: Living with enormous expectations, Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill answered every challenge -- and threw in a miracle against Kentucky in the process.

4. Duke, 2001: A great example of team basketball with Shane Battier, Jason Williams, Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Boozer.

5. North Carolina, 2005: With Sean May, Raymond Felton and Marvin Williams, the Tar Heels made Roy Williams' return to Chapel Hill complete.

-- Ron Green Jr.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Top 5 N.C.-native baseball stars

North Carolina has a long and interesting baseball history, producing many great players along the way. We think these are the best five to ever come from the Tar Heel state. Feel free to argue otherwise.

5. BUCK LEONARD: Born in Rocky Mount, Leonard was known as the “Black Lou Gehrig,” since he played first base and batted behind Josh Gibson, the “Black Babe Ruth” in the lineup of the legendary Homestead Grays of the Negro National League. He played from 1933-52, and is in the Hall of Fame.

4. JIM “CATFISH” HUNTER: The Hertford native won 224 games from 1965-79, picking up a Cy Young Award along the way. A Hall of Famer, Catfish played in five World Series with Oakland and the Yankees, and appeared in eight all-star games.

3. LUKE APPLING: The High Point native was a career .310 hitter as a shortstop for the Chicago White Sox (1930-50). He won two American League batting titles, once with a mark of .388, and was an all-star seven times. A Hall of Famer.

2. GAYLORD PERRY: He came out of Williamston to win 314 games from 1962-83. He collected two Cy Young Awards and was a five-time all-star, but Perry was most famous for throwing the best illegal spitball in the game, and getting away with it. Also in the Hall of Fame.

1. HOYT WILHELM: Born in Huntersville, Wilhelm went on to revolutionize relief pitching, becoming one of the first pitchers to specialize in closing out games. His 124 victories in relief is still the record. His money pitch was the knuckleball, and he may have thrown it better than anyone. He also had success as a starter, once throwing a no-hitter. He pitched in the majors from 1952-72, until he was almost 50, and appeared in more than 1,000 games.

--Cliff Mehrtens and Stan Olson

Friday, March 27, 2009

Biggest NCAA tournament disappointments

This has been a disappointing NCAA tournament for many area basketball fans. Here are the top five disappointments of the tournament so far, from bearable to gut-wrenching:

5. DUKE: The Blue Devils fans were starting to believe after 10 wins in 11 games. Coach K seemed to have righted the ship, and then it all fell apart Thursday night against Villanova.

4. CLEMSON/FLORIDA STATE: You guys lost to Michigan and Wisconsin, and both in the first round. Whatever happened to that domination of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge? And where were the Tigers who beat Duke by 27 points?

3. MEMPHIS: The Tigers had been crying about a lack of respect when they received a No.2 seed instead of a top spot. They also seem to believe that Conference USA should be considered one of the country’s top leagues. Yeah, and pigs can fly. Missouri quickly silenced all that blather.

2. WAKE FOREST: Dino Gaudio’s Deacons had three players consistently ranked in the top 15 in NBA mock drafts. The talent was overwhelming; the poise and coaching were not. For this bunch, a first-round loss to the no-names of Cleveland State is not only unacceptable, it’s ridiculous.

1. THE ACC: All year, fans of the league kept drumming into us how the ACC was the best in the country. I believed it. So seven league schools received bids. Four lost in the first round. Maryland lost in the second. Only Duke and UNC made the Sweet 16.

Meanwhile, the Big East has four -- that’s right, four -- teams still playing.

--Stan Olson

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fore! Anthony Kim's NCAA title favorites

Anthony Kim (left), who will defend his title at the Quail Hollow Championship April 27-May 3, is a basketball junkie. He likes to play and he’s an avid fan. During his visit to Charlotte this week, Kim took a moment to pick his five favorites to win the NCAA championship. It’s worth remembering that Kim attended Oklahoma for three years.

1. Oklahoma. I’m not saying they’re the most likely to win but I want them to win the most. I have to go with my heart there. (Blake Griffin, top) is a monster.

2. Louisville. They’re tough to beat. Terrence Williams is ridiculous and Clark is coming into his own.

3. Memphis. They’re just so athletic, it’s unbelievable. And if they have more people like (Maryland’s) Greivis Vasquez popping off, they seem pretty motivated.

4. North Carolina. I did win here so I’ll with North Carolina…if (Ty) Lawson’s healthy. He didn’t have a great game (against LSU). He made an impact but he didn’t have a great game.

5. Missouri. They’re my sleeper, not really a sleeper but their press is ridiculous. Marquette tried to press them and that didn’t really pan out even though the game was closer than I thought it would be.

-- Ron Green Jr.


OK, you tell us: Is Kim nuts? Who'd he leave off that you would include? Should he just stick to golf? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Davidson's Stephen Curry: Stay or go?

Should Davidson all-American guard Stephen Curry, now a junior, stay or should he go? The NBA will make him a certain first-round selection if he decides to take the money following this season, and that will mean millions of dollars. So we thought we would list the pros and cons of leaving early:

Five Reasons He Should Stay

5. No chance
to play Furman in the NBA.

4. Could end up
pushing his school-record points total to one zillion.

3. Davidson an easier commute
for Mom and Dad than Sacramento or Portland.

2. Will miss the melodious tones of Coach Bob McKillop’s practice screams.

1. These are the best years
of your life; just ask Adam Morrison, Sean May and J.J. Redick.

--Stan Olson

Five Reasons He Should Go

5. Five-star hotels,
not college apartments.

4. No need to play
point guard and shooting guard.

3. Mom and dad
can upgrade to watching opponents better than Southern Conference teams.

2. Mo’ money,
mo’ money, mo’ money.

1. Hanging with LeBron

--Cliff Mehrtens

Friday, March 20, 2009

Top 5 modern-era television comedies

Following Thursday's list of old-school television comedies (and anticipating some of you need another laugh after your NCAA bracket imploded), today we bring you the top five of the modern era. We had a hard time leaving off perhaps the most underrated of the recent shows, “King of Queens.” If you never saw it, watch the reruns.

5. 'Frazier': Frazier Crane is the pompous Seattle radio host who was spun off so successfully from “Cheers.” Most of the shows found him having his ego popped—many laughs at his expense—and learning lessons from it. Strong supporting cast. This one edged out “Murphy Brown.”

4. 'The Simpsons': The funniest animated serious of all time, and one of the funniest of any kind. It has stayed hilarious and topical through the better part of two decades. I’ve heard people say, “It’s just a cartoon.” To that, I respond with a hearty, “Doh!”

3. 'Cheers': The best thing about the place where everybody knew your name was the wide range of characters that supported bartender Sam “Mayday” Malone. Norm and Cliff, Carla and Woody, Frazier and Coach and Diane and Rebecca. They were a slice of very funny life, and we did indeed know all their names.

2. 'The Office'/'30 Rock': I made them a combined entry because they make up the best current hour (9 p.m., Thursday, NBC) on TV. I love the subtle expressions The Office characters are always giving the cameras of the unacknowledged and never-ending documentary makers that are filming Dunder-Mifflin. Pam is the prototypical girl next door, and on 30 Rock, Tina Fey is the Mary Tyler Moore of this decade.

1. 'Seinfeld': Comedy has never been done better; the show about nothing, as both fans and the unimpressed liked to call it, was really about everything. And, unfortunately, there’s a little bit of George in all of us.


Disagree? Post your starting five in the comments section.

—Stan Olson

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Top 5 old-school TV comedies

Today, a debate while you wait for NCAA tournament games to begin -- top five old-school television comedies.

5. 'The Andy Griffith Show': Is it possible to turn on your TV and not find Andy and the gang carrying on in Mayberry on some channel? A classic show about another time that holds up well largely because Barney was the best comedic sidekick in the history of TV (sorry, George).

4. 'The Dick Van Dyke Show': Start with the obvious; Mary Tyler Moore, who played Rob Petrie’s wife Laura, was the hottest babe of the ‘60s. And Van Dyke was outstanding at physical comedy (remember his trip-over-the-ottoman entrance) as well as a deft main character. Just plain funny, and still funny, even though the married Rob and Laura slept in twin beds.

3. 'M*A*S*H': Humorous and serious and tragic at the same time, passing along its messages about war and death with wry twists that usually made you think. Hawkeye made Alan Alda an icon. Don’t you bet the guy who played Trapper John (uh, that was Wayne Rogers) is sorry he ever left the show?

2. 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show': You get a show named after you, you’ve made it, at least temporarily. Then you’ve got to be consistently funny. Moore and her cast did that, bringing their Minneapolis TV newsroom to entertaining life. Mary wanted to make it on her own and did, in a big way.

1. 'All in the Family': The first program to really add bite to comedy, taking pokes at topics ranging from racism, sexism, everything-ism. Archie Bunker was the little man launching malapropisms, raging against the machine and on the wrong side of history in almost every area. But, over time, he still managed to learn a few things and make us laugh in the process.

I’m sorry but “I Love Lucy” and “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” haven’t held up all that well, although Lucy still has her moments. The sleeper that just missed was “The Bob Newhart Show.” You may have other ideas, so give us your list.

Comedies of the modern era come tomorrow.

—Stan Olson

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Top 5 announcers for an NCAA upset

Sports announcers you'd want to call an NCAA tournament upset:

1. Gus Johnson: This Howard U grad got his start in D.C. area TV and we’ll forgive him for the over-the-top calls of Kimbo Slice in MMA fighting. No TV guy captures the excitement and emotion of a big upset like Gus. Dude’s got to be hoarse after every game.

2. Dickie V: A shame he doesn’t get to call tournament games anymore since CBS runs the show. Vitale is the best college basketball color guy ever. I love his passion and his knowledge and how he lets everybody have a little fun -- even at his expense.

3. Kevin Harlan: I’ve never heard somebody get so many words and catch-phrases into one sentence or one breath. And -- other than Johnson -- few can match his exuberance or energy. Plus, Harlan’s really clever, too. We like clever.

4. Bill Raftery: One word: “Onions!”

5. Ian Eagle: A veteran whose done high-level tennis and football, Eagle was formerly “the voice” of the Syracuse Orangemen. And with all these screamers around, you need someone to keep it calm.

-- Langston Wertz Jr.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top 5 all-time NCAA tournament performances

He would not let them lose ...

He carried the team on his back ...

This tournament has become his personal showcase ...

He has a date with destiny, and her parents are away for the weekend ...

Seems like we never run out of cliches to describe dominating basketball players.

With the first round of the NCAAs fast approaching, it's time to weigh in on who took over an entire tourney, not just a single game.

Mere game-winning shots need not apply (sorry, MJ).

Our list tilts toward the stars of title teams, but there are plenty of others who came up short but will be long remembered.

Lew Alcindor (UCLA, 1968 champions): We'll take 1968 over his just-as-impressive 1967 or 1969, and here's why -- Alcindor and the Bruins avenged their one loss of the season, to Houston and Elvin Hayes, by beating the Cougars 101-69 in a Final Four rematch. Oh, and dunking had been banned before the season because of Alcindor's singular dominance.

Bill Bradley (Princeton, 1965 Final Four): Ivy League legend made believers of everyone, scoring 58 points in the third-place consolation game. Later became a U.S. senator, but don't hold that against him.

Christian Laettner (Duke, 1992 champions): When he wasn't using the chest of Kentucky's Aminu Timberlake as a welcome mat, he was putting up 31 points in what some folks call The. Best. Game. Ever. And that was just the East Regional final. (Something about a big basket at the end, too. Can't remember the details.)

Bill Walton (UCLA, 1973 champions): 44 points in the finals against Memphis State. Still found time during his college days to protest the Vietnam War (getting arrested in the process) and call for the impeachment of Richard Nixon. Whatta guy.

James Worthy (UNC, 1982 champions): Of all the horses in that final game -- Perkins, Jordan, Ewing, Sleepy Floyd -- it was Gastonia's own who stole the show (and the pass from Georgetown's Fred Brown) with a 28-point performance.

So there you have it. Who stands out? Who's missing?

Step right up. Post your comment. Fire away. Make your case. See the blog. Be the blog.

-- Trent Roberts

Monday, March 16, 2009

Bob McKillop's five potential NCAA Cinderellas

Last season, Davidson coach Bob McKillop’s Wildcats were the surprise team of the NCAA Tournament, not expected to win a game in the 64-team field but winning three and advancing to the Elite Eight. With Davidson not a participant this year, who better to ask for an O List of possible Davidson-type surprises than McKillop (right)?

His choices:

5. Butler: Well-coached and unselfish, but it could be difficult for them because they’re so young and going through an NCAA tournament the first time with youth is always a new experience.

4. Syracuse: I like Syracuse because to fight through what they’ve fought through, to have a point guard like they have in Jonny Flynn (above), and to have been there before, they might do pretty well.

3. Cleveland State: I know (coach) Gary Waters; he’s tough as nails. He’s physical, his teams defend.

2. Virginia Commonwealth: With (guard) Eric Maynor (above) and with (forward) Larry Sanders they have that inside-outside attack, and Anthony Grant is a marvelous coach.

1. Siena: They were there last year and they won and advanced last year, so they got a taste of it. It’s not going to be a new experience for them. (Coach) Fran McCaffery (above left) has been in the tournament on several occasions; he’s been there as an assistant, as a player, as a coach. I think he understands the dynamic of getting a team ready.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

All-time ACC starting fives: The Index

An index of the O List's All-time ACC starting fives:

Boston College



Florida State

Georgia Tech



North Carolina

N.C. State


Virginia Tech

Wake Forest

All-time starting five: Wake Forest

The O List's all-time starting five for Wake Forest basketball:

Tim Duncan (1994-97): Helped Deacons to four straight 20-win seasons, including two consecutive ACC championships. Duncan (above) is ACC's career blocked-shots leader with 481.

Len Chappell (1960-62): The only 30-points-per-game scorer (30.1 in 1962) in ACC history. Key member of Wake Forest's only Final Four team (1962), Chappell (above) is school's third all-time leading scorer.

Dickie Hemric (1952-55): Still the ACC's all-time leading rebounder (1,802) and third on scoring list (2,587). Hemric (above) won the ACC's first two player-of-the-year awards and had career scoring average of 24.9.

Charlie Davis (1969-71): Shooting guard who was a scoring machine, Davis averaged 24.9 points in his three-year career. That's the sixth-highest average in ACC history. Scored 51 points against American in 1969, school's highest point total. Made 87.3 percent of his free throws, third best in ACC history.

Skip Brown (1974-77): Do-everything guard who ranks fifth in team history in scoring (2,034), second in assists (579) and fourth in steals (195). Once made 43 consecutive free throws.

-- David Scott


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All-time starting five: Duke

The O List's all-time starting five for Duke basketball:

Johnny Dawkins (1983-86): Mike Krzyzewski’s first big-time recruit was named national player of the year in 1986, when he led the Blue Devils to the NCAA championship game as a senior. Dawkins (above) also was a first-team All-American as a junior and is the school’s second-leading career scorer with 2,556 points.

Jason Williams (2000-02): In his third and final season in 2002, Williams (above) was the consensus national player of the year and led the Blue Devils to an NCAA title. He scored 2,079 points in just three seasons.

Art Heyman (1961-63): His best season included national player of the year and most outstanding player at the Final Four honors in 1963, followed by a No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. Heyman (right) averaged 25.1 points per game over three seasons.

Christian Laettner (1989-92): A member of four Final Four teams, including two NCAA champions, Laettner is the NCAA Tournament’s career scoring leader with 407 points. Laettner (left) was the national player of the year in 1992.

Mike Gminski (1977-80): Named ACC player of the year as a junior and first-team All-American as a senior. He led Duke to the NCAA championship game as a sophomore.

-- Ken Tysiac


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All-time starting five: North Carolina

The O List's all-time starting five for North Carolina basketball:

Phil Ford (1974-78): Probably the best pure point guard ever in the ACC, Ford (above) earned an important place in history when he led the Tar Heels to a win over N.C. State and David Thompson in the 1975 league championship game at Greensboro. It’s often forgotten that he was the 1979 NBA rookie of the year.

Michael Jordan (1981-84): The skinny freshman who first was referred to as “Mike” in 1982 later that season hit the winning shot against Georgetown in New Orleans to help Dean Smith secure his first NCAA championship. In the pros, of course, Jordan (above) went to become one of the most storied players in hoops history.

James Worthy (1979-82): “Big Game” James may forever rank as Carolina’s consummate warrior and best on-court, off-court leader. His epic battles against Virginia’s Ralph Sampson and Maryland’s Buck Williams will be included in highlight films years into the future. Later, he starred on some of the Los Angeles Lakers’ best teams.

Lennie Rosenbluth (1954-57): Arguably the most important player in Carolina and ACC history, Rosie’s 1957 season cemented college basketball as a fixture in the state’s social fabric. He averaged 28 ppg on a 32-0 team that beat Michigan State and Kansas in back-to-back triple-overtime games at the Final Four.

Tyler Hansbrough (2005-present): On the verge of passing former Duke star J.J. Redick as the ACC’s all-time career scorer, Hansbrough (above), the guy they call “Pyscho T,” has turned production of jersey No. 50 into a cottage industry. All that’s left for his resume is the one thing he wants most, a national championship ring.

— Caulton Tudor


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All-time starting five: Florida State

The O List's all-time starting five for Florida State basketball:

Bob Sura (1991-95): Sura (above) is the Seminoles' all-time leading scorer and played with a dynamic style that made him one of the program's most entertaining players ever.

Sam Cassell (1991-93): A junior college transfer, he had an enormous impact at both ends of the floor and with his personality. He gets credit for the famous "wine and cheese crowd' line about crowds at the Smith Center.

Dave Cowens (1967-70): Considered the best player in Florida State history and it's hard to argue, considering he made the NBA's list of the 50 best players of all time.

Ron King (1970-73): Holds the school's individual game scoring record with 46 and he did something more impressive -- led the Seminoles to their only Final Four.

Al Thornton (2003-07): An exceptional talent, Thornton (above) finished second in ACC player of the year voting in 2007 while earning first-team All-ACC and All-American honors.

—Ron Green Jr.


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All-time starting five: Virginia

The O List's all-time starting five for Virginia basketball:

Sean Singletary (2004-08): The three-time team captain and all-ACC pick ran the offense and was its best weapon. Singletary (above) led the Cavaliers in assists, steals and scoring three years in a row.

Jeff Lamp (1977-81): Tremendous in the clutch, the 6-6 Lamp tied or won 14 games in the final minute of play. A rare four-time all-ACC pick, he finished with 2,317 career points.

Barry Parkhill (1970-73): Great at either guard position, the 6-4 Parkhill was Virginia's first ACC Player of the Year in 1972. A two-time all-American, he was named to the league's 50th anniversary team.

Bryant Stith (1989-92): Versatile swingman was a scoring machine who led Virginia to four straight 20-win seasons and three NCAA appearances. A great clutch player, Stith was a three-time all-ACC selection.

Ralph Sampson (1980-84): Despite roaming the perimeter too often, the 7-foot-4 Sampson (above) was simply the most dominant player in the sport during his era. A two-time national player of the year.

-- Stan Olson


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All-time starting five: Boston College

The O List's all-time starting five for Boston College basketball:

John Austin (1963-66): The Eagles' all-time scoring average leader with a career average of 27.1 points per game, including a 29.2 average as a sophomore.

Michael Adams (1981-85): Was the school's fifth-leading all-time scorer when he retired. Adams went on to have a long professional career as a dangerous 3-point shooter.

Craig Smith (2002-06): Big and burly, Smith (top) finished his BC career as the program's second all-time scorer and the all-time leading rebounder.

Jared Dudley (2003-07): With a game built on strong fundamentals, Dudley (above) was chosen the ACC player of the year in his senior season when he averaged 19 points per game and shot 56 percent from the field.

Terry Driscoll (1966-69): Led the team to the 1969 NIT finals where he was named the tournament's MVP. Was the fourth player selected in the 1969 NBA draft.
-- Ron Green Jr.


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All time starting five: N.C. State

The O List's all-time starting five for N.C. State basketball:

Chris Corchiani (1988-91): Point guard ended his senior season as the NCAA’s career assist leader with 1,038. He ranks third in ACC history with 328 career steals.

Julius Hodge (2002-05): The 2004 ACC player of the year, Hodge (above) led N.C. State to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances. He finished his career ranked third in school history in scoring and first in minutes played.

Sammy Ranzino (1948-51): Averaged 20.8 points as a senior to become one of two consensus first-team All-Americans in school history. Helped N.C. State win four straight Southern Conference titles.

David Thompson (1973-75): Considered by many to be the greatest player in ACC history, Thompson (above) was The Associated Press’ national player of the year in 1974 and 1975. He led the Wolfpack to the 1974 NCAA title and averaged 26.8 points per game over his career.

Ronnie Shavlik (1954-56): A two-time second-team All-American, Shavlik is N.C. State’s career leader with 1,598 rebounds. He was the ACC player of the year in 1956, when he led the Wolfpack to the ACC title.

-- Ken Tysiac


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All-time starting five: Maryland

The O List's all-time starting five for Maryland basketball:

John Lucas (1973-76): The consensus pick as best point G in school history, Lucas, a three-time all-America, led the Terps to AP Top Ten finishes in three straight season. Still the No.4 assist man and No.5 scorer in school history.

Juan Dixon (1999-2002): A two-time all-American who led Maryland to the national title in 2002. Winningest Terp ever (110 victories), the 2002 ACC Player of the Year led his team in scoring and steals three straight seasons.

Len Bias (1983-86): The ACC's Player of the Year in both 1985 and '86, Bias (right) was a magical player whose pro career ended before it began with a drug overdose. He was 6-8 and agile, a good outside shooter, both quick and powerful in the paint.

Buck Williams (1978-81): In just three seasons, wound up fourth-leading rebounder in school history. A 6-8 powerhouse inside, Williams was a 1981 all-America who went on to play 18 pro seasons.

Len Elmore (1972-74): A 6-9 force on the glass, with an Afro that occasionally made him appear 6-11. Elmore (left) was a three-time all-ACC pick who holds Maryland records for rebounding in a season (14.7 pg) and career (12.2).

-- Stan Olson


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All-time starting five: Clemson

The O List's all-time starting five for Clemson basketball:

Terrell McIntyre (1995-99): Considered the best point guard in Clemson history. Nicknamed 'Boogie,' McIntyre (above) is the school's career leader in multiple categories.

Jim Sutherland (1964-67): He was the key player in the '60s when the Tigers had consecutive winning seasons in ACC play, something they didn't do again until the past two seasons.

Horace Grant (1983-87): Consensus ACC player of the the year in '86-87 when he led the league in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. Grant (left) was named to the ACC's top 50 athletes of all time.

Dale Davis (1987-1991): The first basketball player inducted into Clemson's Ring of Honor. Also, Davis (above left) is one of three ACC players with at least 1,500 points, 1,200 rebounds and 200 blocked shots (joining Mike Gminski and Ralph Sampson).

Tree Rollins (1973-77): He was one of the league's dominant big men whose mere presence on the court changed the game. Still ranks as the ACC's fifth-leading rebounder of all time.

-- Ron Green Jr.


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All-time starting five: Georgia Tech

The O List's all-time starting five for Georgia Tech basketball:

Mark Price G (1982-86): Tremendous shooter with the all-around game to go with it. Price (above), just 6-1, was a three-time all-ACC choice and the 1985 league’s top player. Averaged 36.5 minutes per game.

Roger Kaiser (1958-61): We’re going old school here, because Kaiser finished his career as a two-time all-American who owned 18 of GT’s 25 hoops records. A remarkable shooter who was ’61 SEC top player.

Dennis Scott (1987-90): The lynchpin of Lethal Weapon III, Scott (above) could fill it up from outside despite his 6-8 height. He was the 1990 ACC Player of the Year after averaging 27.7 ppg.

Matt Harpring (1994-98): At 6-8 and 225 pounds, Harpring (above) could score from the perimeter and bull around inside. Three-time all-ACC pick averaged 17.9 points and 8.0 rebounds for his career.

Rich Yunkus (1968-71): At 6-9, one of the early mobile centers. Yunkus could score at will on you, and finished his career with a 26.6 average, still the Yellow Jackets’ record.

—Stan Olson


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All-time starting five: Miami

The O List's all-time starting five for Miami basketball:

Rick Barry (1962-65): School's all-time leading scorer (29.8 ppg) and rebounder (16.5 rpg). Went on to become a legend in the ABA (above right) and NBA, too, making the underhand free-throw style famous.

Jack McClinton (2006-present): Hurricanes' first-ever All-ACC first-team pick in 2007-08, he repeated that as a senior this season. He's the ACC's all-time leader in 3-point percentage (44.3) and second in free-throw percentage (90.0). Transferred from Siena.

Tim James (1995-99): Two-time All-Big East player, also made some All-American teams as a senior. James, a bruising inside player, had career averages of 14.9 ppg and 7.4 rpg.

Don Cornutt (1967-70): Second-team All-American in 1970, Cornutt is Hurricanes' third all-time leading scorer behind Barry and Eric Brown. Averaged 26.1 points in three seasons.

Darius Rice (2000-04): Another long-range sharpshooter who made 260 3-point baskets in his career. His 1,865 points is fourth on the school's career list.

-- David Scott


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All-time starting five: Virginia Tech

The O List's all-time starting five for Virginia Tech basketball:

Bimbo Coles (1986-90): Probably the most prolific basketball player in
school history, the speedy Coles finished his career with a 21.6
scoring average and 4.8 assists in 115 games.

Dell Curry (1982-86): Later an NBA fixture in Charlotte, Curry (above) left Blacksburg
in 1986 as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 2,389 points. He
also averaged 3.2 assists and 1.9 steals.

Allan Bristow (1969-73): A star in the days before freshman eligibility, his
23.1 scoring average in 78 varsity games still is the best ever for a
Hokie. Bristow (above, as a coach with the Charlotte Hornets) was the key player on the 1973 NIT title team.

Bill Matthews (1952-56): In the mid 1950s, the versatile Matthews was one of
the nation’s best and most durable players, averaging 16.5 points and
13.8 rebounds.

Ace Custis (1993-97): It’s too bad that ACC fans never had the chance to see
much of Custis (above), who led Bill Foster’s 1996 team to a 23-6 record. Over 124 games, he averaged 13.7 points and 9.5 rebounds.

—Caulton Tudor


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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

All-time starting five: Charlotte

The O List's its all-time starting five for Charlotte basketball:

Cedric Maxwell (1973-77): Was named the Mideast Regional most valuable player during the 49ers' 1977 Final Four run. Charlotte was 58-0 in home games during his career, during which he amassed 1,824 points, 1,117 rebounds and 94 blocks. Maxwell (above) played 11 seasons in the NBA, getting drafted by the Boston Celtics.

Eddie Basden (2001-05): During his career with the 49ers he was named Conference USA Player of the Year in 2005, and the league's defensive player of the year in 2004 and 2005. In his senior season, several national college basketball analysts tapped Basden (above) as the national defensive player of the year.

DeMarco Johnson (1994-98): The 1998 C-USA Player of the Year played on three NCAA Tournament teams, helping two (1997 and 1998) advance to the second round. One of just four players in school history to surpass 2,000 career points. He averaged 16.8 points and 7.8 rebounds during his career.

Byron Dinkins (1985-89): The former East Mecklenburg High star was the first recruit of the Jeff Mullins era. In 1988 he led the 49ers to their first Sun Belt regular season and tournament championships and the school's first NCAA bid since the 1977 Final Four.

Henry Williams (1988-92): One of the best 3-point shooters in Charlotte history, he is the school's all-time leading scorer with 2,383 points, including 308 long-range shots. Williams (left) produced a record 65 games of at least 20 points. In 1992, he led Charlotte to the Metro Conference tournament championship and trip to the NCAA Tournament.

--Jim Utter


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Carolinas Mount Rushmore: NASCAR in S.C.

ESPN is naming its "Mount Rushmore" for sports in each of the 50 states. We liked the idea, so we're taking a smaller sliceh. Today, the Mount Rushmore of NASCAR for South Carolina.

David Pearson: "The Silver Fox" won 105 races and won the championship pretty much every time he really tried. Pearson (above) and Richard Petty had the greatest rivalry in NASCAR history and one of the all-time greatest in all sports.

Cale Yarborough: Drove every lap like his car was on fire and he needed to find water. He was the first driver to win three straight titles. Nobody ever drove with more determination that Yarborough (above).

Harold Brasington: People openly mocked the idea of building a 1.3-mile paved track in 1950. Brasington (above) didn't care. He built it anyway and made Darlington a synonym for racing. His track is still one of the best tests of a driver's skill.

Buck Baker: Although Charlotte was considered his racing hometown, Baker (above) was born in Richburg, S.C. One of the sport's first great champion, his grit and determination also helped foster a great career for his son Buddy.

-- David Poole

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