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Aug
05

Where to Watch the Olympics on TV

olympics_logoToday marks the beginning of the 2016 Summer Olympic games. Of course many events will be available streaming from the internet, however if you want to watch the Olympics on TV, here is a guide for Raleigh viewers with TWC Channels in Red, UVerse Channels in Blue, DirecTV in Purple

  • NBC – Swimming, Volleyball, Gymnastics 3, 1005, 5
  • Bravo – Tennis72, 167, 1181, 237
  • USA Network – Fencing, Equestrian, Field Hockey25, 101, 1124, 240
  • NBC Universo – Soccer, Basketball, Beach Volleyball898, 3009, 410
  • MSNBC – Volleyball, Basketball, Archery45, 203, 1215, 356
  • CNBC – Rugby, Wrestling, Field Hockey37, 205, 1216, 355
  • NBC Sports Network – Soccer, Basketball, Judo314, 1640, 220
  • Golf Channel – Soccer, Basketball, Judo51, 405, 1641, 218
  • Telemundo – Soccer, Basketball, Swimming803, 3007, 406
  • Olympic Soccer – Soccer426, 1638, 205-1
  • Olympic Basketball – Basketball425, 1639, 205-2

UVerse customers can create an Olympics-only channel guide by hitting the “Menu” button on the remote control, then navigating to Options tab | Channel Options | Edit/Add Favorite Channels | “Add a new Favorites List…”. Type in a blue numbers from above and hit OK to add it to the list. Once you are done, you can rename the favorites list by hitting the “Enter” button (next to “0”).

Once the channels are set up, Hit the “A” button from Live TV or from the Guide to show your setup of Olympic channels.

Thanks for the DirecTV info, @DougInNC!

Jun
07

Hurricanes Tracking To Another City?

caniacsOutside of the Stanley Cup Finals, the big topic in the world of Hockey in the last 24 hours is the future of the Carolina Hurricanes. Recent reports show some very strange business activity with owner Peter Karmanos coinciding with the league’s potential expansion to Las Vegas and Quebec City, Canada.

What we know is that the Carolina Hurricanes are a troubled franchise. The Canes are only worth $225 million, third-lowest in the NHL and less than half of the league-average $505 million. Forbes reports that the team is losing $12 million per year. We also know that Karmanos has been trying to find a buyer for the team for a few years. He would take $400 million for the team, and feels the team is worth $420 million.

We also know that Karmanos fired one of his three sons, Jason, from his job as Assistant General Manager just before the 2013-2014 season. “This is a family matter”, was the company line. At the end of that season General Manager Jim Rutherford was fired, and headed to take the same job with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Soon after he hired Jason Karmanos as Pittsburgh’s V.P. of Hockey Operations. The Pittsburgh Penguins are currently one game away from winning the 2016 Stanley Cup.

The team has missed the playoffs for seven straight seasons. As a result, average attendance this season was a league-worst 12,203; the worst by over 1,000 per game. I conveyed my concern for the talent level on this team on Twitter during the season, but was assured by die-hards that a great foundation is in place. The Hurricanes have 4 draft picks in the first two rounds of the June 24 draft. While the team may get some great seed talent, it is still likely a few seasons away from being a solid playoff team that can rebuild attendance.

It was certainly concerning, with the franchise in poor health, to see last week that Karmanos is being sued by his three sons for failing to meet repayment terms on a loan from their trust accounts. Apparently the elder Karmanos created the fund in 1996 and borrowed $353 million “to support the Hurricanes”. He now owes the sons’ trust accounts $105.7 million.

To further complicate matters, The Sporting News’ Gary Lawless claimed yesterday that Karmanos borrowed $300 million from the NHL’s emergency fund, and it will result in the sale of the team and relocation because “the NHL wants its money back”.

What we also know is that the team is in an extremely tight long term agreement with the Centennial Authority. According to one of the guests on the Hockeybuzz podcast today, the purchase of the Carolina Hurricanes would have to come at a price of about twice its market value to release the team from the building contract. So, the local powers-that-be did their homework when they committed to building the PNC Arena in the 1990s.

Finally, the big matter at the NHL’s table is league expansion. Currently there are 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 14 teams in the Western Conference. Prevailing thought is that the league will expand by 2 for balance. The top two markets with financing and ownership organizations in place are Las Vegas and Quebec City.

Following the report of the $300 million emergency loan rumors swirled that the Canes would move to Las Vegas and end expansion talks. However late last night one reporter posted on Twitter that his source said this may not happen; it may be more appropriate to move the Hurricanes to Quebec City and offer Las Vegas, the stronger financial package and owner, the expansion team.

Update 6/7: Hockeybuzz’s Ecklund reports that sources say the team will not move for now. Says “a very solid local person who owns a prominent local business who would buy the team and keep them in Raleigh.”

* * *

What’s going on here? Where there is smoke, there is fire…and there is a lot of smoke. I don’t trust what anyone close to the organization is saying on this matter because they don’t want to lose fans should the deal fall through, and/or they simply have no idea what Peter Karmanos’ actual plans are. The best way to destroy the sale price of a business is have employees jumping ship.

(note: unlike Star Jones, I am not a lawyer). While the law suit by the Karmanos brothers could be based on family-centered acrimony, there is too much going on here to believe it is just a simple squabble. Assuming everything I posted in the first section is, indeed, true, I can imagine a couple of scenarios:

  • The Karmanos lawsuit was created to entangle the NHL’s proceedings in forcing an ownership change. The NHL will meet in 3 weeks to decide about expansion, and such complications might destroy the NHL’s timing and the red tape could push the league to find a new plan for including the two previously mentioned cities, or
  • The Karmanos lawsuit was created to place a lien on the the team sale so that distribution of the proceeds would repay the Karmanos trust funds before satisfying the terms of the Centennial Authority’s lease or paying any debt to the NHL’s fund.

One twist that the Hurricanes’ building lease introduces is the enormously high cost to buy the team and move it. I don’t know the details of the contracts involved, but one scenario being pushed around is for the NHL to buy the team and dissolve it or for the team to declare bankruptcy in order to get out of the Centennial Authority’s lease. To break the lease it appears the team would have to be totally dissolved, and this could end up being cheaper than paying 2X for the team. It also may be the more attractive route for buyers because a team contrived through lottery is likely to not be worse than what the Canes have put on the ice the last 5 years. The role of the Karmanos lawsuit in this scenario isn’t so clear, unless it would put the trust accounts ahead of the NHL in a liquidation setting.

* * *

If any of these scenarios that remove the team from Raleigh occur, the important thing to understand is that it is just business and doesn’t reflect on the quality of life for families and normal businesses in Raleigh and North Carolina. We were warned in the ‘90s that Felix Sabates and Peter Karmanos were fairly ruthless businessmen. We went with Karmanos and while I’m sure he would like to be regarded highly in this market, he is likely not emotionally connected.

The move of the team to the Triangle has absolutely been a fun addition to the area, and I hope to see them stay. However it is important to remember that the success of major sports franchises has much more to do with the expense accounts of corporations than it has to do with the regular community. Raleigh residents be fine in the long run either way.

Mar
17

Let The Madness Begin!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; tourney time. Time to fill out those brackets, because after all, this is one of the necessary forms for living in Raleigh. The best brackets are CBS’, because they show the times of the games. (pdf).

Another format for the games is chronological. While it is too early to post relevant lines, it is time to post the times and networks of the games. The region is denoted with the letter “E”, “W”, etc.

Thursday
12:15 – Notre Dame(3) / Northeastern(14) (Pittsburgh, M, CBS)
12:40 – Iowa St.(3) / UAB(14) (Louisville, S, TruTV)
1:40 – Baylor(3) / Georgia St.(14) (Jacksonville, W, TBS)
2:10 – Arizona(2) / Texas Southern(15) (Portland, W, TNT)
2:45 – Butler(6) / Texas(11) (Pittsburgh, M, CBS)
3:10 – SMU(6) / UCLA(11) (Louisville, S, TruTV)
4:10 – Xavier(6) / BYU/Ole Miss(11) (Jacksonville, W, TBS)
4:40 – VCU(7) / Ohio St. (10) (Portland, W, TNT)
6:50 – Villanova(1) / Lafayette(16) (Pittsburgh,E, TBS)
7:10 – Cincinnati() / Purdue() (Louisville, M, CBS)
7:20 – UNC(4) / Harvard(13) (Jacksonville, W, TNT)
7:27 – Utah(5) / Stephen F. Austin(12) (Portland, S, TruTV)
9:20 – NCSU(8) / LSU(9) (Pittsburgh, E, TBS)
9:40 – Kentucky(1) / Hampton/Manhattan(16) (Louisville, M, CBS)
9:50 – Arkansas(5) / Wofford(12) (Jacksonville, W, TNT)
9:57 – Georgetown(4) / Eastern Washington(13) (Portland, S, TruTV)

Friday
12:15 – Kansas(2) / New Mexico St.(15) (Omaha, M, CBS)
12:40 – Michigan St.(7) / Georgia(10) (Charlotte, E, TruTV)
1:40 – Northern Iowa(5) / Wyoming(12) (Seattle, E, TBS)
2:10 – West Virginia(5) / Buffalo(12) (Columbus, M, TNT)
2:45 – Wichita St.(7) / Indiana(10) (Omaha, M, CBS)
3:10 – Virginia(2) / Belmont(15) (Charlotte, E, TruTV)
4:10 – Louisville(4) / UC Irvine(13) (Seattle, E, TBS)
4:40 – Maryland(4) / Valparaiso(13) (Columbus, M, TNT)
6:50 – Oregon(8) / Oklahoma St.(9) (Omaha, W, TBS)
7:10 – Duke(1) / N. Florida/Robert Morris(16) (Charlotte, S, CBS)
7:20 – Iowa(7) / Davidson(10) (Seattle, S, TNT)

7:27 – Oklahoma(3) / Albany(14) (Columbus, E, TruTV)
9:20 – Wisconsin(1) / Coastal Carolina(16) (Omaha, W, TBS)
9:40 – San Diego St.(8) / St. John’s(9) (Charlotte, S, CBS)
9:50 – Gonzaga(2) / North Dakota St.(15) (Seattle, S, TNT)
9:57 – Providence(6) / Boise St./Dayton winner(11) (Columbus, E, TruTV)

Of local note: Former NCSU guard Archie Miller coaches Dayton. Former NCSU assistant coaches Arizona. Former Duke guard and assistant Tommy Amaker coaches Harvard. Former Duke guard Bobby Hurley coaches Buffalo. Former Duke Assistant Mike Brey coaches Notre Dame. Former UNC assistant Jarod Haase coaches UAB. Raleigh native Dez Wells stars for Maryland.

Former Clemson coach Cliff Ellis coaches Coastal Carolina. Former Clemson coach Larry Shyatt coaches Wyoming.

Feb
09

North Carolina Loses The Great Teacher

2015-02-08 12.59.14On the evening of Saturday, February 7, UNC lost perhaps its most important family member of the school’s storied history. Coach Dean Smith had suffered from dementia for many years, and his life ended quietly. The irony that such a sharp mind that steered so many storied comebacks would not be able to mount one in his own life is a bitter pill to swallow. That we are not in control of our fates is just one of the lessons Smith taught us.

There are hundreds of great stories being passed around these days about great Smith moments. Mine came after reading his book Multiple Offense and Defense. It is a fantastic, concise X’s and O’s manual for running several of the offensive and defensive sets Smith used in the first half of his coaching career. There are also great lessons about team play, running structured practices, acknowledgment of the groundbreakers that came before us, and the beauty of math in the game we love. That final point led me to corral my own stats for the team, which eventually blossomed into my Tar Heel HOOPla website 20 years ago.

In the book Coach Smith explained his system for evaluating offensive and defensive efficiency, and stated that his team’s goals are to exceed 0.85 points per possession and to keep the opponent below 0.75 points per possession. The book was written before the advent of the 3-point shot, leaving me to wonder about how much that rule changed the stated goals. Woody Durham hosted a weekly call-in show with the coach and I was able to ask him my question on the air. He first stated,”Very good! You’ve done your homework,” then stated his updated goals of 0.95 and 0.85, respectively.

Apparently I’m not alone in being fascinated by the statistics basketball brings us, as evidenced by the popularity of Ken Pomeroy’s work. Pomeroy’s stats differ from Smith’s because Smith considered a possession to end when a field goal is attempted while Pomeroy considers it ending when the other team gets possession of the ball. Pomeroy reaches this figure by subtracting offensive rebounds from field goal attempts, making Total Possessions an irrelevant statistic. Smith’s method, on the other hand, leaves a Total Possessions differential which reflects the true rebounding, making his method much more useful.

When I was in Chapel Hill for college and dental school, I only had a couple of brushes with Dean Smith. One morning my dental class sat in a hallway waiting to take an exam. A hush fell on the group as Dean Smith walked down the hall by us after completing an appointment with one of our professors. It was as if we all wanted to be put into the game. We all got a chuckle at how we responded, but also were impressed that someone like Dean Smith thought that highly of our teacher.

I was lucky enough to get to sit behind the bench in ‘93 to watch the eventual National Champions play Duke on Senior Day. Committed recruits Jerry Stackhouse and Jeff McInnis sat in front of me while uncommitted Rasheed Wallace sat two seats toward midcourt. Wallace, of course, chose UNC over his hometown Temple, and Smith would later proclaim Wallace to be the best player Smith coached. The photo above is from the book Return to the Top, and shows me right behind Stackhouse and McInnis. Jim Valvano sat across the court doing his final full broadcast. Phil Ford, one of the greatest college basketball players of all-time, and Bill Guthridge, one of the best big-man coaches in the history of the game, were 10 feet in front of me. It was an incredible experience to be a spectator around these great masters of their craft. Of course from that angle one gets an appreciation of the vertical elements of basketball, but I was also able to appreciate the level of focus players from each team carried.

We essentially lost Coach Smith several years ago with the onset of dementia. Unlike other coaches, Smith retired and made few public appearances. In one of the many pieces of irony surrounding Smith, he was always proud of his ability to teach, yet could have taught us all so much about the game and life after retiring from coaching. Smith could be ruthless in team practices, slicing giants to pieces with his words. However those were  players (and families) into which he had emotionally invested. He would never have felt comfortable criticizing the play of players he didn’t know, so he never pursued the chance to teach us more.

Smith learned basketball from Phog Allen who learned basketball from the game’s inventor, James Naismith. While Smith may be gone and the building bearing his name may not stand for the remainder of our lives, Smith leaves an indelible mark on both the game and the culture of the State of North Carolina through not only his bountiful coaching tree, but also through the many of us whose lives were enriched by his work.

Jan
14

History Making Heels and Wolfpack Prepare for Battle

With both NCSU and UNC coming off of thrilling home wins over Top 10 opponents, tonight’s showdown looks to be another great chapter in the rivalry’s rich history. Last year’s epic overtime battle was a modern era classic, and while many of the players return for tonight’s game, the primary factors are completely different.

The NCSU team has only recently found its identity. We knew they had a talented backcourt, but the the inconsistent play in the first dozen games really hampered the team. They keys to NCSU tonight are two-fold:

  • While point guard Cat Barber continues to bring outstanding athleticism but sputtering smarts to the game, transfer Trevor Lacey has become an all-conference level performer. Nobody is talking about how Lacey can do everything that T.J. Warren could do, but the truth is, he isn’t far from consistently being that level of player.
  • BJ Anya is a great shotblocker who is foul-prone. If he can stay on the court, NCSU’s frontcourt can match up to UNC’s.

State’s play is straightforward, but UNC’s is not. The first part of this 2015 season has been a trying one for UNC fans. The team, sporting with 6 McDonald’s All-Americans, has struggled to show any kind of cohesiveness and consistency. However dissecting the Heels reveals some things about this team that the babbling, mantra-driven local sports radio media fails to see.

  • Against the 5th most-difficult schedule in the country thus far, UNC has held opponents to only 0.78 points per possession. That’s the best defensive of any UNC team in the 19 years I’ve tracked this statistic. That’s a period where the school has won 2 National Championships, been to 5 Final Fours, and put dozens of players into the NBA. The goal is to keep teams below 0.85, and this team is surpassing the stated goal by an impressive amount.
  • UNC is averaging 4.5 more possession than opponents, the largest
    margin in the tracking period, too. This means that this team is the best rebounding UNC team in the last two decades.
  • UNC is the #4 team in the nation in defending the 3-pointer (and that’s including the stats from the Notre Dame game).
  • UNC is averaging 0.90 points per possession on offense. That ranks
    #15 in the 19-year period. (goal is to be >0.95)
  • UNC is turning the ball over on 14.4% of its possessions. That’s a fairly average performance compared to other years.
  • UNC is shooting 31% from 3, good for a #271 national ranking (345 ranked). They are #302 in 3 pointers made in each game.

With UNC’s weakness being outside shooting, one would think UNC would play to its strengths, however they are attempting 24% of their shots from beyond the arc. Usually Roy’s teams can shoot the 3 well, and only take about 22% of their shots from behind the arc.

The keys for UNC moving forward are establishing Joel Berry as the primary PG, moving Marcus Paige to the SG, narrowing the rotation, and running the offense through Kennedy Meeks.

Much attention is on Marcus Paige, however the statistics show that UNC falls apart offensively when Kennedy Meeks leaves the game. For UNC to win tonight, they need an excellent game out of Meeks, and to shut down the Pack offensively.

In the last 20 years NC State is 1-14 after beating Duke or UNC. I expect NCSU to struggle shooting the ball tonight, and for UNC to win this chapter.  Revenge for tonight’s loser comes in 5 weeks, though, where NCSU may play their best Dean Dome game in quite some time. We’ll see…

Jun
26

NCSU Unveils New Basketball Court Design

ncsu_courtThe NCSU Men’s Basketball Program this week unveiled a new paint job for their basketball courts in the PNC Arena as well as the Dail practice facility. The court features a two-toned stain, a large Wolfie head, and various small logos.

The design’s use of the school’s bright red color around the court boundary and a second stain tone inside the 3-point arc do an excellent job of marking the court’s important functional zones for the viewer.

Unfortunately, though, the second stain tone is not used in the free throw semicircle, and is inconsistent with the function of that zone. The zone’s function is actually consistent with the darker stained area, and thus, should be colored the same way. The current appearance may lead an official or viewer to incorrectly thinking a player is inside the 3-second zone when they are not.

Here is how the corrected court would look:

ncsu_court corrected

read more…

Mar
21

Anatomy of a Meltdown (or…why my stomach is in knots today)

Last night we saw NC State display one of the biggest collapses in NCAA Tournament history. With a second-half lead of 16 points with 8:13 remaining, the Pack was in the driver’s seat. Over the next 3 minutes, though, St. Louis didn’t go away, instead trimming the lead to 10 by 5:00 remaining. From that point on, St. Louis applied the Jimmy V strategy of fouling and full court pressure, and the Pack didn’t respond well, making only 9 of 21 free throws from that point forward.

Everyone was to blame for the collapse. The players who made the best plays made some of the dumbest plays, too. However there were three main factors that explain this collapse:

  • Fatigue – The Wolfpack played 3 games in the ACC Tournament over 3 days, learned of their seed the following day, left at 5am to Dayton, had a walk-through, played a game the next day, traveled the next day, then played the next day. That’s 5 games in 8 days, and the team was both physically and mentally exhausted when they attained that 16-point lead.
  • Free Throws – The only shot you can practice? NCSU made 9 of 21 for that stretch (up to that point they were an acceptable 11-16). While free throws are where fatigue rears its ugly head, the players are still to blame for this one
  • Coaching – After the debacle where they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at #1 Syracuse, I though this team would have worked on attacking full court pressure. It should have been deeply engrained in these players at a young age, for heaven’s sake. It was evident, though, the team had not, which leads me to the point of this article.

fullcourtpressAttacking a good full-court press involves good spacing and decisive action. The main idea is that you want to advance the ball up the center of the court with passes, if possible. Once the ball is inbounded, you send your slow big man long for a long pass. This pulls a defender away and reduces the attack to 4-on-4. The other three players form an umbrella for the ball handler. The center of the umbrella is the preferred pass, however if he is covered, there are two other options.

As the diagram shows once the ball gets to the center of that umbrella, the weakside umbrella man sprints down the middle for the pass. The other two adjust to create a new umbrella for the new ballhandler. Once the ball beats the pressure, you advance hard down the court. In order to do this, the receiver catches the ball, he quickly pivots and looks to attack. When executed correctly, there is never a back-pass option for the receiver.

read more…

Nov
06

Download ACC Basketball Calendars to Your Phone

basketball[1] The ACC Basketball season gets underway Friday night, so it’s time to get organized by putting your favorite team’s schedule into your calendar. It’s never been easier with gogoraleigh’s set of ACC Basketball calendars. For iPhone and iPad users, half a dozen taps gets your favorite team’s basketball games into your iOS Calendar. For Android users, it’s even easier.

The gogoraleigh basketball calendars are the only calendars on the internet that include clean team name data, the game’s tip-off time, and TV coverage information. Android users get a bonus; a convenient map link for the game’s venue.

android_cal_ssipad_cal_ss

Gogoraleigh is also the only site that has a downloadable calendar that compiles all games of the ACC’s 15 teams. The Big Kahuna features all 341 ACC games and is perfect for those who want to keep up with big upcoming games across the league.Additional exclusives are home-only schedules for both UNC and NCSU.

Each calendar has a version that can be downloaded, however those who subscribe to a calendar feed will receive constant, free, background calendar updates as the season progresses.

New for this year: simplified instructions and a chance to send a donation in return for this easy offering! Simply click the schedule you want below, and follow the instructions.

ACC Basketball Calendars

Note: Maryland is defecting, so their calendar is not included in this collection. However, their games against other ACC opponents are included.

Oct
22

NFL Calling?

NFL Back at the end of August grantland.com had an interesting article about the effects of international NFL expansion. Given the immense popularity of Premier League, the NFL looks longingly at the international broadcast rights and market penetration of the the soccer league. The article explains that London is the most logical choice as the first expansion market, and ponders the logistics of such a team. Considerations for scheduling, marketing, the players’ base city, and a training camp all have to be considered. However this is where things get interesting.

The team would need a U.S. training camp facility that has no current NFL team, a decent way of life, and an international airport. That’s where Raleigh finds its way into the discussion.

Read the article, and you’ll find yourself pondering for days the effects of an NFL franchise in London.

Jul
20

Download/Subscribe to the Hurricanes ’14 Calendar

image Canes hockey fans who like electronic calendars rejoice! I’ve uploaded the 2013-2014 Carolina Hurricanes schedule in .CSV, .ICS, and Google Calendar formats. This way you can easily port the schedule over to your Android phone, iPhone, Blackberry, Google Calendar, Outlook, and more!

Without a doubt, the gogoraleigh Hurricanes Calendar is the best on the web. Not only is the complete calendar available, but also a home-only version is available. For each event, the teams playing in the event are listed in 3-digit codes (ie “CAR/BUF”), so the entire event is easy to see on devices that can’t display wide paragraphs. Additionally, the game locations are listed, so on excellent phones one can tap the location field and see a map to the arena. This is perfect if you are going to the game in an away city!

Finally, with the synced versions of the calendar, game time changes and television information are automatically updated as the information becomes available. Those who are subscribed to last year’s Hurricanes schedule, your schedule has already been updated with the upcoming season’s dates.

All you do is point your device to the Calendar tab at the top of this page, scroll down to the Hurricanes calendar, and follow the link/instructions there. Go Canes!

Note:

Calendars are apt to change, so check back occasionally for updates. To determine the version of your schedule, open the note associated with any event, and look for the version number. If your calendar is older than those listed above, simply delete the events in Outlook in your old one and import the events of the newer file. Google Calendar is dynamically up-to-date. Use at your own risk. I do not accept responsibility for any consequences resulting from errors in the schedule.

Apr
09

Download/Subscribe to the Durham Bulls Calendar

bulls1[1]Now that basketball season is over, it’s time for some Durham Bulls baseball! The Bulls’ home opener begins at 7pm tonight against Gwinnett. Now you can follow their home schedule as a Google Calendar or download it to your device. All you do is point your device to the Calendar tab at the top of this page, scroll down to the Durham Bulls calendar, and follow the link/instructions there. Go Bulls!

Apr
04

Help From Down Lo’: Remembering The Cardiac Pack

Whittenburg…Oh! It’s a long way….

LorenzoCharlesMemorialThe shot…or was it a pass…that stopped the hearts of millions of Americans on April 4, 1983…needed help. It seemed improbable that Dereck Whittenburg, having almost had the ball stolen, against one of the greatest college basketball teams ever to play the game, on his own, could complete a miracle with a wild desperation shot. He needed help…

The ‘83 season had been a long, complicated one. In the previous year State saw their archrivals win the National Championship, but Jim Valvano’s second squad gained momentum. With a 21-8 regular season mark and a first round NCAA Tournament exit, the Wolfpack felt like they could continue building on solid foundation in ‘83. They had some pretty darned good players returning; one of the nation’s best backcourts (Lowe/Whittenburg/Gannon) and  a strong frontcourt trio (Bailey/Charles/McQueen).

The Pack went into that first game in ‘82 against Virginia with a 7-2 record. That was the game in Reynolds where UVA’s Othell Wilson came down on Dereck Whittenburg’s 5th metatarsal, and seemingly doomed the Pack’s hopeful season. While a determined Whittenburg pushed himself through rehab, the Pack needed help, and got it as freshman Ernie Myers rose to the occasion. While the team’s overall results were mediocre in that stretch, they played well enough to keep a glimmer of hope for a successful season alive.

* * *

1983 was the first year that the ACC Tournament was played in Atlanta. Ever fans of visiting Atlanta, my family got tickets for the tournament. We were en route while Lorenzo Charles’ free throws disposed of Wake Forest just a week after blowing out those same Deacs 130-89. It was also the first time that perennial cellar-dwellers Georgia Tech were able to win an ACC Tournament game. Behind a little rookie named Mark Price, seemingly the entire Omni crowd got behind the Jackets and showed the evil Lefthander and Maryland a first-round exit.

We only had two tickets for Saturday’s session, so we hit the plaza with two fingers held high to the scalpers; we had to get two more tickets. The team needed our help! We found a pair and Saturday provided one of the tournament’s great historic games, as NCSU overcame a late 6-point deficit to win in OT over the Tar Heels. Once Jordan fouled out, I knew the Pack had it. My family made sure that on Sunday (assuming we could find two more tickets) with the Pack facing Ralph Sampson and the mighty Virginia Cavaliers, we would sit in the same pairs, with our programs in our laps, eating more Omni nachos, and drinking out of the Omni-labeled Coca-Cola paraffin cups.

When UVA went down and the Pack cut down the nets, we vowed to take our paraffin cups home and keep using them. We also whimsically paraded through the concourse holding 4-digits high pleading,”FOUR FOR ALBUQUERQUE!” (I made darned sure that Matt Doherty and his family standing by the exit doors heard me). We needed those tickets because in the tournament, they needed help!

***

The Cardiac Pack was born in that tournament. The Pack, seemingly always down by 6, was able to scoot by coaches named Harrick, Tarkanian, and Holland. For each game, we sat in our den holding those Omni programs and Omni cups, and pulled that team through. They needed help, right? The team didn’t even come back to Raleigh after the second game because their West Regional assignment led them from Corvallis, Oregon to Ogden, Utah. No problem for us, though; because as limp as they were getting, we had those cups!

The team won the West Region and returned to Raleigh and staged an open practice. Of course my family attended. The team needed help! It was a great week in Raleigh. While it was the school’s first trip to the Final Four since the Thompson era, everyone just enjoyed the ride. The Cardiac Pack was the favorite against Georgia in the semis, but a vast underdog to the other side of the ticket. To win a championship, they were going to need a LOT of help.

April 4th, Championship Day, rolled around and I was in knots. It was Spring Break, luckily, because there was no way I could have concentrated in my 8th grade classes. We didn’t get tickets to Albuquerque, but we still had our seat assignments, our programs, and our poor Omni cups. The cups were so limp, we put them inside larger stadium cups fearing a blowout (of the cup, that is).

At halftime State was BEATING Houston by 8! EIGHT! That’s four possessions, my friend. This was unbelievable. Little did I know…

Houston came out of the gates on all cylinders and the Pack found itself late in the game down by, you guessed it, SIX. They needed help…big time. However the Pack tied the game and found themselves in a position to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the history of sports. Whittenberg was a master of the catch-and-shoot, especially from the ACC’s ridiculous 17’9” 3-point line that year. However this desperation heave from 40’ with :04 remaining in the National Championship? He needed help.

* * *

Lorenzo Charles came to Raleigh from Brooklyn as one of Valvano’s first recruits. Valvano, hailing from Queens, always felt like he could give inner city guys a chance, and Lorenzo would be one of his first projects at State. Charles got in trouble his Freshman year, ‘81-‘82, for robbing a Domino’s Pizza man. It was a bad way to start his tenure in Raleigh, taking things from people. That isn’t help. Charles hit the weight room and matured quite a bit in the ensuing 12 months. The Cameron Crazies were still waving pizza boxes at him that Sophomore year, but Lorenzo was past that, and his game was starting to connect. In his Senior season, Charles earned First Team All-ACC honors, and that was against some of the league’s all-time greats like Kenny Smith, Brad Daugherty, Len Bias, Adrian Branch, John Salley, Bruce Dalrymple, Mark Price, and Johnny Dawkins. These are players who went on to have good, solid NBA careers.

The NBA game was probably too fast for Charles, but he had a nice pro basketball career in Europe for several years before returning to the Triangle. For years Charles did what he loved; driving people. He mostly drove limos, but also drove buses, including several jaunts for the Duke basketball team. Everywhere he went he was an instantly recognizable celebrity. However Lorenzo Charles was just doing what he learned under Valvano, helping people.

He only scored 4 points in that championship game, however those final two were timeless. It was a miracle in the making, and Whittenberg’s short shot, that seemed to hang in the air for an eternity, along with that miraculous run could never have become legend without a little help…from Lorenzo.

The ‘83 team’s legacy still lives strong in Raleigh. The lessons learned about perseverance, focus, fundamentals, second-chances, teamwork, and, oh, yeah, help live deep within Raleighites. The 1983 story isn’t one about basketball. It’s one about life; how to live it, how to love it, and how tragically it can suddenly end.

***

Lorenzo Charles was driving an empty bus on westbound I-40 in moderately heavy traffic on June 27, 2011 when his bus inexplicably ran off the road and into an embankment. Charles’ life ended instantly, adding more complexity to the Cardiac Pack story. I erected a small monument to #43 today at that site (map it). It stands as a symbol that Lorenzo’s legacy survives. He may have completed a miracle in far away Albuquerque, but that spirit we all had in 30 years ago today still survives right here in Raleigh, especially when we need a little help.

…The Cinderella Team has done it…The glass slipper fit…The Wolfpack has won the National Championship!

Feb
26

Download Your Favorite ACC Football Schedule

footballYesterday the ACC released the complete schedule for the upcoming football season. In typical fashion, gogoraleigh has compiled the schedules into formats that are easy to import into almost all calendar applications. Included are not only downloadable files for the UNC, NCSU, and Duke schedules, but also files for the entire ACC conference schedule.

Google Calendar users will find that the existing feed for each of these schedules has been updated, so there is no need change anything if you are already subscribed.

Note: TV has not had a chance to affect the schedule, so the dates are not final and times are not set.ACCFootballSched

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