Thursday, January 14, 2010

Of Clemson, and ugly orange doings

Taking stock of the sports day while wondering if the party has stopped in Clemson:

1. It wasn't a shock

OK, maybe the margin of Clemson's victory over North Carolina Wednesday night was surprising and the way the Tar Heels had that deer in the headlights look about them at time was surprising but the Tigers' victory was no fluke.

Despite that 12-point first half at Duke a while back, Clemson is expected to be among the ACC's better teams. Given there's a clear void behind Duke, the league's clear No. 1, it could be a spot the Tigers fill.

North Carolina, meanwhile, looked like a mess in Tigertown. What's more concerning to Tar Heel fans is it may not be a quick fix.

2. That's our Tony Bennett

You remember the former Charlotte Hornets' back-up guard, who spent a lot of time watching Muggsy Bogues play. Now he's in his first season as head coach at Virginia and he has the Cavaliers in an unlikely spot -- 2-0 and leading the ACC after wins over N.C. State and Georgia Tech.

Bennett, taking a page from his father's successful coaching career, has taken the Cavaliers back to their old style of tough, grinding defense and working the clock on offense. Next up for the Cavs: A home game Saturday against Miami.

3. Fashion Alert

John Daly -- generously called a "golf icon" in recent Golf Channel promos -- makes his PGA Tour debut today in the Sony Open at Hawaii, the first full-field event of the year. That means even in the land of colorful aloha shirts, Daly (right, in Wednesday's practice round) will be wearing something that will make your eyes water.

Charlotte's Johnson Wagner and Brendon de Jonge also start their 2010 tour seasons today in Hawaii. (Read a Q&A with them here.)

4. Looking forward

Charlotte's 86-74 loss at Xavier Wednesday night left the Niners 11-5 overall, 1-1 in the Atlantic 10 and square in the middle of the conference pack. Most teams lose at Xavier. The key will be beating Saint Louis Sunday at home.

5. "I know the orange is ugly but

Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton is scrambling to find a permanent replacement for Lane Kiffin, whose name may be considered offensive in the land of Rocky Top. With national signing day approaching, the race is on to get a coach in a hurry.

Two local names have been mentioned -- Duke's David Cutcliffe (right) and East Carolina's Skip Holtz, who's been rumored for every job opening but the CEO position at Bank of America. Both seem like long shots but funny things happen in the coaching business.
-- Ron Green Jr.

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