Around the ACC, it was a fun day in many respects, though probably not for
UNC fans, since Kentucky
came in and laid waste to the thoughts of a great season. Well, at least for
now. This is the second game in a row UNC has lost to a tough
non-conference opponent. Lenox Rawlings, as usual,
has the most cutting comments. Well at least among the press. The most
cutting comments - always - come from the internet. Take Ben's site, for
instance, where fans are calling for Matt Doherty's head and where Gut-nostalgia
has set in, which must be both highly amusing and painful to Gut, who is, we
expect, fond of young Doherty. Adam Boone comes in for some harsh
comments, along with various others. Here
is one particularly funny thread, which veers from onanistic idolatry to
dismay and disgust. Very funny stuff!
Though Doherty famously asked the student body to lay off of Parker, maybe he
should have expanded the request: students seated in the new risers at one point
stood and chanted "overrated" - but at who?
Also, the football search continues! The guy at Western Michigan has
apparently bowed out, and so the Heels have turned to the NFL for
candidates. Among them are John Bunting, a former UNC lineman, and
possibly former Carolina Panthers coach Dom Capers.
In equally felicitous ACC news, Wake, Maryland, State, and Tech all
won. Wake won ugly but still won, but it's
amazing they were pushed by SC State. For the Pack,
it was sort of an impressive win, actually, considering that it was the kind
of game they've been losing the last few years. Plus they won without two
starters. That's not so bad.
Tech got the spectacular
win of course, all things being relative: this isn't Wooden's UCLA, or even
Harrick's. It's Lavin's. Well for a few more months, anyway.
The LA writers are
are praising Wooden and burying Lavin. In the previous link we
get an idea of how good life can be at -90: Wooden walked 18 holes to follow
Tiger Woods at Tiger's own tournament. You try that at 90. He even delved
into politics, saying that while he wasn't personally crazy about Gore or Bush,
that in his opinion one of the two presidential candidates had conducted himself
with dignity and class and one had not (he was praising Bush).
He also spoke of Henry Bibby of USC, and how proud he was of how USC was
playing, that Bibby had played "ferocious defense and spirited
offense" and he saw the same at USC. Bibby obviously learned his
lessons well and his program has a bright future.
Which brings us to Maryland. Having
beaten Michigan, the temptation is to say that all
is well in College Park after an
impressive victory. Not so fast. The Hawaii games underscored some
serious problems with the Terps, primarily that they tend to play soft and the
old, classic problem, that they can't play a halfcourt game. The more we
think about it, the more we think this team - well, program - is a near perfect
reflection of the coach. We were thinking about this earlier and trying to
come up with a way to get the point across, and trying to think of athletes and
coaches to point to as examples. We drew a blank. But how about
this: Gary Williams is like a little guy who gets in a barfight. He keeps
getting knocked down, but keeps getting back up. He has enough ferocious energy
to win the fight, but he swings wildly, and the bigger guy clocks him again.
Hey, it's the best we can come up with. It's hard to understand how a
guy can be so magnificent as an underdog and so very nearly incompetent when he
has a powerful program. Remember the Hipp-Simpkins team? The Francis
team? Those teams had as much going for them as this team does. Why
should things be any different? When Lefty said Maryland should be the
UCLA of the East, it was part hype, but there is some truth in there: Maryland
has advantages that most schools can't touch. Michigan and Michigan State
are the closest comparisons: teams which compete in a powerful conference and
which have dominance over a rich recruiting area (Georgetown? Almost. Academics
make it tough). There's no way there's more talent in Detroit than there
is in Baltimore/DC. If, or when, Maryland gets a coach who can control his
recruiting turf and who can coach in late-game situations, they'll be impossible
to deal with. They should be at least as good as Michigan State is
now. But given how Gary Williams seems to deal with the pressure of expectations (as to the pressure of low expectations), if he
actually made it to the Final Four, we'd expect him to implode by the middle of
the following season.