Ugh, I am disgusted. What did I get in the mail today? Sports Illustrated’s NCAA Championship issue with Tyler Hansbrough on the front. I could not have been more upset. Sports Illustrated should’ve known better. I don’t want this! You know what I did? Yep, you got it. Ripped that cover right off (the rest of the magazine was good, come on now). I should get a one magazine refund for even having to look at that right out of the mailbox. Even worse, the Tar Heel I hate the most, Tyler Hansbrough, highlighted the front cover with a ridiculous, goofy looking face while taking a shot against one of State’s defenders in the NCAA title game last Monday night. Gross…SI, take it back. I would’ve rather had a “Duke Gets Knocked Out” issue to be perfectly honest. At least I wouldn’t have had to look at Hansbrough and the rest of his lady friend Tar Heels. Come on SI, you know better…
Archive for North Carolina Tar Heels
Who will be a better NBA player, Blake Griffin the OU Sooner or Tyler Hansbrough the Baby Blue Tar Heel? My answer is Griffin. And let me preface this post: my position is not a result of my hatred for Hansbrough and the Tar Heels. The Duke-Carolina rivalry aside, Griffin is much more athletic and an overall bigger powerhouse. Hansbrough is a real “creative” post player and finds ways, ugly or not, to get the ball in the hoop. As much as I hate to say it, Psycho T does it quite frequently, thus taking over the ACC All-Time Scoring Record previously held by my boy J.J. Redick. But honestly, can you see Hansbrough throwing up that trash in the NBA? The likes of Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O’ Neal, and others will stuff it and probably throw it 12 rows deep and turn it into a souvenir.Griffin, however, can actually go coast-to-coast, with speed, and smash the ball through the hole overtop of multiple defenders. Both are great college players, but how does that translate into the NBA? Let’s compare the two by NBA potential in the skilled categories:
Strength – Advantage Griffin…Griffin is an absolute monster underneath the basket and has a great presence that keeps opponents out of the lane when they drive and is able to do whatever he wants on the Offensive end. If you watch him play, the whole game revolves around him. Why? Because no one else can physically stop him. Hansbrough is also a tough guy but does not seem as dominant in the post. He’s a scorer but doesn’t tend to throw people around in the paint.
Speed – Advantage Griffin…Hansbrough, though great in the post, struggles to outrun anyone down the court. He has great court presence and vision, but fails to physically beat defenders out on the break. Griffin, as we’ve seen at multiple times throughout the year, has stolen the ball underneath his own basket and left everyone in the dust on the way back down the court only to throw down a ridiculous dunk while defenders sit back and watch.
Dunking – Advantage Griffin…See above…Griffin is a man-child all by himself. In overall dunking ability, able to jump higher, Griffin is a great lob-catcher and more talented in the alley-oop department than Psycho T. Hansbrough is not nearly as explosive or fun to watch. Put the two in a dunk contest and Griffin wins hands down.
Post Play – Advantage Hansbrough…I definitely give the nod to Tyler here. Somehow, someway, Hansbrough finds ways to score against multiple defenders in the paint. Trust me, I know. I’m a Duke fan…he’s done it four years in a row, in Durham gosh dang it. It’s ugly, but it works. Griffin tends to be a better one-on-one player and because he’s a more skilled ball handler, tends not to go down and sit in the paint. However, because Hansbrough finds home underneath the basket, I’d take him over Griffin if you need a great post scorer. Yes, Tar Heel fans, I am applauding Hansbrough’s ability…though it sure isn’t pretty.
Ball Handling/Dribbling – Advantage Griffin…This definitely goes to Griffin. Without a doubt, Griffin would dribble around Hansbrough. Not to take anything away from Psycho T, but Griffin goes between the legs and around the back much better and on a more frequent basis to school defenders soon before posterizing them.
Defense – Advantage HansbroughIn the defensive block, Hansbrough has better court sense and the ability to take a charge. As dominant as Griffin is on the boards, he is all risk or all reward in trying to block shots. When’s the last time you saw him take a charge? When an opponent drives the lane, Hansbrough steps up and usually takes one for the team, risking his body to get a turnover and the ball back.
Rebounding – Advantage Griffin…Has anyone seen Griffin’s stats this year? I can’t even count the number of double-doubles that Griffin has had this year. Simply put, when you average over 20 points and close to 15 rebounds over the course of a season, you deserve Player of the Year honors. When the ball is up for grabs, count on Griffin to use his brute force to get the ball wrapped up securely in his arms for whatever NBA team is lucky enough to draft him.
One on One Ability – This is a wash, but are great in finding ways to score, no matter who’s guarding them.
Overall, Griffin has more talent and will likely find it easier to get playing time and make an immediate impact in the NBA. Hansbrough will likely be a 7th or 8th man and be a role player until he finds his way onto a team that needs a talented Small Forward. Both will be taken high in the NBA Draft, but look for Griffin, assuming he stays healthy, to be a better talent in the professional arena.
Want a look at Blake Griffin’s athleticism? Check out the video….see for yourself…
Courtesy of YouTube
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After last night’s chalk results, the NCAA Tournament is on to the Elite 8. Tonight, we’ll see Villanova-Pitt and Missouri-UConn. Below is my analysis on each game and my prediction as to who will make it to Detroit and represent in the Final Four….
Villanova vs. Pittsburgh
In the late night matchup, Pitt faces off against another Run ‘n Gun type squad and will have their hands full with Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats. If they think they’re going to cakewalk to the Final Four as everyone once thought they would, think again. Pitt hasn’t impressed me yet so tonight they better show me something, especially Lavance Fields. Show the nation that you can lead your team and not rely on DeJuan Blair and Sam Young each time down the floor. Pitt’s tournament journey has been far from easy so far as each one of their games has been relatively close and down to the wire. Shoot, Pitt even struggled to knock out East Tennessee State. Tonight should be no different though. I think they’ll do just enough, once again, to take down the ‘Cats and move on to Detroit.
Though Villanova is hot right now, I think their “gas” finally runs out later this evening.After watching them dismantle my Dukies the other night, I have been more than impressed by what Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham have done on both ends of the floor. Nova’s hawk style defense has been shutting opponents down from 3-point land and has made it tough for anyone to establish a balanced offense. However, they haven’t seen size like Pittsburgh and I think that because Nova has a smaller team, they will get largely out-rebounded and be hurt by second chance points. Look for the ‘Cats to shut down Lavance Fields but not be able to contain DeJuan Blair and/or Sam Young. One of them is bound to go off tonight. It won’t be of any surprise to see Blair or Young put up a monster double-double. Though I do give the guard play advantage to Villanova, I just don’t think it will be enough. I see the ‘Cats racking up fouls inside the paint and giving Pitt the opportunity to cash in at the free throw line. It will be competitively close on the scoreboard the entire game, but Pitt pulls it out in the end. Congrats Jamie Dixon….see you in the Motor City.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 78, Villanova 73
Missouri vs. Connecticut
UConn-Missouri…intriguing. No one knows a lot about the Missouri Tigers but they have been the dark horse in this stage in the tournament, without a doubt. Where did they come from? Who cares, they’re lights out. UConn, however, has done its job and taken care of business each round with Thabeet leading the charge and A.J. Price following close behind…like everyone thought they would. Tonight, UConn will match up against Mizzou’s pressure defense and fast-break offense and will hope to slow the game down enough to take over and move on. I think this game stays close for a while but UConn pulls away in the second half when the Tigers finally struggle to shoot it….
Look for Thabeet, assuming he stays out of foul trouble, to have a big night against the Tigers’ less-than-big-men down in the paint. Thabeet should take full advantage of size differential and he’ll likely get four or five dunks/layups being so close to the basket.On the other end, Mizzou will have to rely on the three point shot…look for them to be hesitant to drive to the hoop because of UConn’s monster in the middle. I give Missouri a chance here, but just a little one. They might surprise everyone by leading at half time but look for UConn to continue to go inside and if Mizzou doubles down, UConn will take advantage of open looks from behind the arc. If I had to guess, Thabeet will likely go for 22 points and 11 rebounds, doing it all for the Huskies. Huskies roll late and Jim Calhoun gets another ticket to the Final Four…
Prediction: Connecticut 82, Missouri 71
With only North Carolina left in the 2009 NCAA Tournament to represent the ACC as a conference, is it time to root for them? Is it appropriate to cheer for the Heels as a Duke fan? If the Jacksonville Jaguars get knocked out of the playoffs next year and Manning’s Colts qualify, do I support Manning just to show love to the AFC South? What about if the Mets knock the Braves out of the playoffs this year? Do you hop on the bandwagon? The answer is absolutely not. And this goes for your most hated, despised rival in any sport. As a true sports fan, you 100% CANNOT root for your team’s rival, NO MATTER WHAT. Rooting for the conference, league, or division all gets thrown out the window when the team you hate the most is left standing. Stay true to YOUR team at all costs.
A lot of my friends are Redskins fans and I know, for a fact, that if the Skins are out and America’s Team the Dallas Cowboys are still alive in the playoffs, they will IN NO WAY root for Dallas. Same goes for ‘Sox fans when the ‘Yanks are still playing in October and the boys from Beantown are at home on the couch. For me, this holds true for UNC. As much as I love and defend the ACC, there is a line between rooting for the conference and cheering for Duke’s Tobacco Road nemesis the Tar Heels. I’ll be honest, ANYBODY else like Clemson, Wake Forest, or yes even Virginia Tech would get my vote if they were the last surviving ACC entity in this year’s tourney. However, that’s not the case. Nobody will ever, under any circumstances, catch me supporting Tyler Hansbrough and the boys in baby blue. Say what you want Tar Heel fans, but I bleed Durham Blue. Sorry to burst your bubble. Instead, I’ll stand up and cheer for anybody not named North Carolina in hopes that any of those teams eventually send UNC packing.
This whole philosophy goes for all sports, not just college basketball. It just so happens to be that time of year…March Madness. When October rolls around, you can forget about it if you think I’ll be tipping my hat towards the Yankees (MLB) or the Colts (NFL). You couldn’t pay me enough……..well, let’s be honest, everyone has a price………..
Subdued, expected, and blowouts…all three of these words described Day 1 of the NCAA Tournament. High seeds took care of business, for the most part, and of the upsets that did happen, most people already picked them in their brackets. The #1 seeds proved why they are seeded so high. And yes, that includes North Carolina, even without Ty Lawson. They got off to a quick 10-0 start against the “boys” from Radford and never looked back. It was domination from the get-go, much to my chagrin. Up and down the floor, Radford was caught day-dreaming and Roy William’s squad made them regret it. The only other #1 seed that played yesterday was UConn and they absolutely throttled Chattanooga. I mean, it was like David vs. Goliath…without much David. Thabeet and company led scoring fleuries all throughout both halves and made it look easy. Poor Chattanooga. Louisville and Pitt will learn their fate this afternoon, but I foresee no trouble in their near future. Both should win big and not really get tested until the Sweet 16 or Elite 8.
The biggest seed upset of the day was #12 Western Kentucky over the #5 seed Illinois in the South Regional bracket. The Hilltoppers took charge out of the gate and proved to America that they are a solid basketball program and should not be overlooked. Just ask Gonzaga…they get them on Saturday night. Western Kentucky won on a buzzer beater last year and really made a name for themselves. For this reason, lots of people, including myself, picked them to be the victor in this ballgame. The 5-12 matchup is always a dangerous place for the #5 seed and last night was just another example. Go Toppers. Look for them to put up a good fight against the ‘Zags over the weekend.
Across the rest of the Regions, the only other major excitement came from the following three games:
American vs. Villanova
American, a HUGE underdog, against a highly praised ‘Nova squad took at 14 point lead early into the second half. For those of you who picked Villanova to get to the Elite 8 or further (and you should’nt have because apparently you forgot Duke is in their bracket), you must’ve been sweatin’ it our and glued to the TV set. Unfortunately for the scrappy American group, they went absolutely ice-cold down the stretch and ‘Nova took full advantage, going on a major run to the end the game to win by double digits.
Clemson vs. Michigan
Clemson lost this game in two ways: Oglesby getting ejected for throwing ‘bows like an absolute thug and poor coaching on their last possession with no time left on the clock. After Michigan blew a 12 point lead, Clemson clawed their way back, only to scramble with a few seconds left and put up a horrendous shot to tie the game. Better luck next time Tigers. How does it feel to be the only ACC team not to do their part yesterday?
VCU vs. UCLA
I’m not going to lie, I’m glad UCLA won this game. They probably shouldn’t have, but they made shots and hit free throws when they counted. As a Duke fan who literally was heartbroken when VCU upset them in the first round two years ago, I got a little revenge back last night when Eric Maynor (who single handedly beat Duke two years ago) missed a game-winner at the buzzer. The Rams made a big run at the end of the game, only to fall short by a single point. Good try, but no soup for you Mr. Maynor.
Hopefully today will bring a little bit more Madness….LET’S GO EAST TENNESSEE STATE!!!
I first want to say that any of you who know me knew this blog post was coming. UNC just beat Duke for the 2nd time this season 79-71 in Chapel Hill. I want to make a few things clear here. I hate North Carolina, can’t stand Tyler Hansbrough, and for all of you who complain about Coach K and Duke getting calls, you must’ve been in a stupor and forgot all about North Carolina. For those same people, did any of you watch the game today? UNC GOT EVERY SINGLE CALL!!! Normally, I’m not one to make excuses or blame the referees, but today was just mind-blowing. EVERY…SINGLE….TIME “Psycho Baby” Tyler Hansbrough touched the ball, Kyle Singler or Gerald Henderson, of course both of Duke’s most dynamic scorers, got charged with a ticky-tack foul. Ever since Mr. Overrated Tyler Hansbrough became a national phenomenon, he’s been catered to like he was the President. Whether he’s 20 feet or 2 feet away from the basket, any nudge, touch, or scrape is called a foul and he gets to shoot two. Of course he’s a great free throw shooter, he gets more opportunities than anyone!!! It’s so frustrating to have Duke claw back to within 2 or 3 points multiple times throughout the game, then a bogus, ghostly foul call sends Hansbrough to the line for free points. Everyone complains about Coach K getting calls, stop being ridiculous. Today was a perfect example of referees deciding the game. A 7 point margin of victory is the difference of 4 shooting fouls. Yes, I’m bitter about the defeat, but I’m also a realist. If Duke doesn’t play well, I admit it and chalk it up to the opponents’ defense. But today was not the case. Down the stretch, the story was simple: Carolina got the calls at the most critical times and duke was handicapped by poor officiating…enough said.
Hopefully third time’s a charm and Duke plays UNC next Sunday in the ACC championship, the Blue Devils walk away with the ACC crown, stick it to Hansbrough, and potentially earn a shot at a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. It’s tough enough playing one of the best teams in the country, but it sure doesn’t help when you have 2 or 3 extra players, and by players I mean zebras (officials), giving your opponent a break at every opportunity….
To really decide who’s the best between North Carolina and Duke, let’s televise a no-holds barred , 8 man tag-team match at mid-court in Madison Square Garden for all the world to see:
At one corner…for Duke: Coach K, Gerald Henderson, Kyle Singler, and Lance Thomas
At the other corner…for Carolina: Roy Williams, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, and Tyler Zeller
Advantage Duke….lights out North Carolina
Many people say that towards the end of every college basketball season, teams who already know that they are going to the Big Dance get great pre-NCAA tourney warm-ups by fighting amongst themselves for their respective conference tournament titles. Teams play each other once again, get banged up, run themselves ragged, then allegedly waltz into the tournament, get bumped to the NIT (the JV to the Varsity’s NCAA Tournament), or get their plane tickets home to watch the rest of the season from the couch……wait a second…..waltz into the NCAA tournament? You must be joking. Has anyone ever heard of the Big East and the ACC? Do people know they exist? These are arguably…wait, they ARE the toughest, let alone most competitive two conferences in all of college basketball. Each conference goes at least six or seven teams deep in the number of teams who could possibly get an at-large big to the Big Dance. I mean, just take 2008-2009 for example. In the ACC, Florida State, Maryland, UVA, and NC State have all won games against Duke, North Carolina, or Wake Forest. Yet, their records indicate that they should lose by 40 points. At home or on the road, any team can honestly beat any team at one time. Look at the Big East. Louisville loses to UConn, then beats Georgetown by 30 points. Same situation for all of those teams. Each conference has teams like Providence, Clemson, Florida State, Syracuse, and Notre Dame that all are talented teams but play in an absolutely grueling conference against the nation’s elite. If they played in any other conference, including the Pac-10 which is a non-competitive joke, they would win the regular season outright. Now, you might say that if they were elite, then they would win these games against other dominant college programs. This may be true, but what about when it comes to their conference tournaments? A team like UConn, North Carolina, Duke, or Pittsburgh who is already going dancin’ must now win 3,4, or 5 more games to claim a tournament championship…..before the ONLY MEANINGFUL tournament starts! They get taken to the wire by teams with false hope of dancin, players get hurt, teams are exhausted, and for what? To say that you’re an elite team? WHO CARES, YOU’VE ALREADY PROVEN IT! That’s what the NCAA tournament is there for: to take those elite teams and determine which one is the best. What do you get in the meantime if you don’t win your conference tournament? A few brutal, hard-nosed games against teams playing for nothing or for little hope, teams with nothing to lose, and an even tougher journey going into the NCAA tournament with trying to have a team 100% healthy, composed, and ready to run at full strength. To me, the NCAA has missed out on this subject. Based on how the regular season goes, give the regular season champs an automatic bid, then go through the same process to pick the remaining tournament teams based on record. Why does it make sense for a mid-major with a losing regular season record to win their conference tournament, get a big in the Big Dance, then lose in the opening round by 30 or 40 points? It does no good for the game, and those teams usually just get embarrassed. And for all those mid-majors out there, a team like Georgia in 2008, going 4-12 in conference play, conference tourneys can steal a bid for your conference. Why even have a conference tourney? To give false hope and to skew the NCAA tourney performance of the nation’s elite? It just doesn’t benefit anyone….except for a lonely mid-major or bogus major conference squad that gets less than a Cinderella’s chance of actually making a name for themselves in the NCAA tournament. Keep dreamin NCAA….what a waste of time