Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Provo, Spain?

Well, after crapping the bed Friday night in their season opener against Santa Clara, the Tarheels clobbered BYU in the first round of the Maui Invitational. Of course, the fact that the BYU team consisted primarily of 25-year old married guys just returning from two-year missions may have also contributed to the loss, but that's beside the point.

One of the highlights for me during this game was getting to watch Danny Ainge use up his last year of college eligibility, although he looked noticeably older than the last time I saw him in a tank top and shorts (actually, that wasn't Danny playing for BYU, it was his son Austin Ainge, who looks to be closer to 50 than 20; but don't take my word for it, you decide for yourself).

So maybe UNC thought the season started last night instead of Friday, or maybe Ray Felton is that important to the team (he only had 6 points, but he did have 7 assists), but whatever Roy Williams did to wake them up, it worked and now they'll be playing Tennessee in the Maui Invitational semis tonight.

Still, I guess there were some good things to come out of the Tarheel loss to Santa Clara -- namely, a team that last night played much better defense, committed fewer turnovers, and the Roy Williams one-liners. And given that there are 27 more games to go, I might have to keep a list of the best ones. Here's a gem from Friday night:

"The things we worked on this preseason that I was concerned about, we did no better today than the first day of practice...So it's a crappy job by me."
Sounds about right. Luckily for me, I had to check the internet for updates because this game wasn't televised, so I was only roughly 40 minutes behind the actual game action. Which in a roundabout way reminds me of something a stereotypical old person might say (which I have been accused of being on more than one occasion -- and usually by people I don't know all that well, but somehow managed to offend). Namely, we can put a man on the moon but we can't have an internet gamecast in real time? Seriously though, is that really too much to ask? Have you ever tried to follow an NFL game on that thing -- you'd have better luck waiting outside your door for the morning paper. OK, end tirade here.

Back to the game. Freshman Marvin Williams might be the best athlete on this team outside of Rashad McCants and I wonder if J.R. Smith ever has second thoughts about jumping right to the NBA from high school instead of joining Williams in Chapel Hill (by the way, J.R., if you are having second thoughts, just look at your bank statement -- and try to forget you play for the Hornets). It's also good to see that the 4 million shots a day Jackie Manuel took during the offseason had no effect on his game because I don't think he hit one jump shot. Sean May has dropped a few lbs. and is running the court better than I've ever seen him. And having Marvin Williams and David Noel -- two guys who can play inside -- give May a breather should mean that he won't run out of gas in January. Oh yeah, it also looks like we'll be hearing every game about what a distraction McCants has been to this team. Of course having commentators talk about him being a distraction is also a distraction, but apparently not enough of one to instead talk about something that might be mistaken for interesting.

Which leads me to this: Jay Bilas is actually a pretty good commentator. And even though I hated him when he played for Duke in 1967, he's good at not being too intrusive, makes points that aren't obvious, and tempers the silliness that comes with calling a game with Bill Raftery.

And as long as I'm praising former Duke players, I might as well take this opportunity to trash a UNC guy. Brad Daugherty is one of the worst anti-homer commentators in college basketball (I'm excluding Dick Vitale and Billy Packer because they're so awful it would be unfair to lump Daugherty in with them; and also because Packer isn't an anti-homer, he's just a homer). And when I say anti-homer, I mean a guy who openly bad mouths his former team while commentating for reasons I can only assume have to do with making himself feel better (or maybe he doesn't want to seem like a homer; it's either one or the other). And when he wasn't ridiculing the Tarheels, he was just making dopey observations. The only thing worse would be to have Tim McCarver sitting next to him retelling his dream of vacationing with Derek Jeter on some deserted island. But hey, I guess one way to solve problems like this is to quit losing to teams like Santa Clara.

Which reminds me of something I read on a Maryland Terps weblog about how overrated the Tarheels are (and apparently have always been). Now to say that I'm partisan would be like saying that McCants is a little weird, but this is too much:
Stop treating the North Carolina Tarheels like they are anything but a mediocre college basketball team. The over-hyped Tarheels gagged against the Steve Nash-less Santa Clara Broncs last night.

Carolina's slip into mediocrity is one of the greatest thing to happen to any Maryland fan. It mystifies me that the media still adorns them as a top 10 team every preseason. When I saw the Tarheels ranked no.4 in the polls last week, I laughed. This team is led by Rashad McCants. This is a team that lost eight ACC games last year. It doesn't matter that they are returning so many players because so is the rest of the ACC. It's not like they exhibited improvement throughout the 2003-04 season like Maryland; they got worse.
Where's the love? Can't we all just get along? This is actually pretty funny. I usually have similar thoughts about Duke, the Yankees and the Ravens. But the only difference is that Nick Caner-Medley plays for the Terps. And if you don't know who Caner-Medley is, I'll give you some insight by way of an analogy: Nick Caner-Medley is to Rashad McCants as Kyle Boller is to Ben Roethlisberger. Thank you. I'll be here all week.