College Basketball

NC State settles with Keatts

 

By: Trey Walker


Friday afternoon, a new era began for Wolfpack basketball. A team with a once unstable future has finally found someone to bring some stability in former UNCW head coach, Kevin Keatts. And people already love him.

Keatts

Kevin Keatts spent the last 3 seasons at UNCW (PC: wralsportsfan)

Who is this guy?

That’s a great question. Kevin Keatts has held coaching positions all over the place: Southwestern Michigan College, Hargrave, and Marshall, but his most recent pit stop was at UNCW, where he successfully turned an ailing program into a back-to-back NCAA tournament qualifier and powerhouse in the Colonial Athletic Conference. Before Wilmington, Keatts was the Associate Head Coach under Rick Pitino at Louisville, where he was apart of the 2013 national championship.

What is he going to change? What does he do well?

Recruiting. This dude kills the recruiting game. Mark Gottfried didn’t struggle to land big time recruits, and Keatts shouldn’t have a problem continuing that trend. During his time at Louisville, he compiled 2 top-10 recruiting classes.

Bottom line: This was a great hire for the Wolfpack. Keatts is young, energetic, structured, and has been successful everywhere he has coached. As far as returning talent, the future is uncertain. Omer Yurtseven has declared that he will test his possibilities, Abdul-Malik Abu’s return is again in question, and DSJ is packing his bags. I believe that after he gets his system installed, Keatts can make NC State competitive again, and put the program back on the map.

Legendary Spurs Forward Retires

By: Matt Chilson, Wake Forest Contributor


Tim Duncan has more NBA Championships to his name than 26 of the 30 franchises in the NBA. The future Hall of Famer played 19 seasons in the NBA all with the same team, the San Antonio Spurs. Duncan has helped the Spurs make the postseason every single year he has been in the league. How about what happened before Duncan’s Hall of Fame career?

Duncan grew up in the U.S. Virgin Islands and didn’t pick up basketball until his freshman year in high school. Before then, Duncan was a swimmer, a good one at that. He was the best swimmer in the whole country in the 400-meter freestyle for his age group. However, a hurricane destroyed his team’s pool and he gave up swimming and picked up basketball, which was probably the best decision of his life.

In high school, Duncan grew nine inches and ended up being heavily recruited by Wake Forest University. The Demon Deacon’s head coach at the time, David Odom, wanted another big to compliment the play of Randolph Childress and found just that in Duncan. The 17-year-old islander later committed to Wake.

During his freshman season, Duncan averaged under 10 points per game but was producing on the glass, as he collected over 10 rebounds per game. During ACC play the Deacs surprisingly beat both of their rivals: UNC and Duke. Wake was later eliminated by Kansas in the second round of the NCAA tournament, but that season was just the beginning of Tim’s amazing career.

The following season was one that Wake fans were excited about because Duncan had some experience and Childress was about to embark on his senior season. Throughout the season, Duncan became a household name and was competing with one of the best players in ACC history, Rasheed Wallace. This set up for some outstanding matchups between Wake and UNC in which the Deacs took down the Heels in a regular season meeting, 79-70 behind Duncan’s 25 points while he held Wallace to a mere 4. This result held up once again the ACC championship game where Wake beat UNC behind 20 boards from Duncan. The Deacs ended the season in the Sweet 16 where Duncan still snatched 22 rebounds.

Coming out his sophomore season Duncan was projected to go number one in the NBA draft but decided to finish all four years at Wake Forest and get his degree. This was an example of how great a person Duncan would show himself as.

The following year was daunting to many Wake fans because it seemed as if Duncan would be the whole team with Childress graduated. However, Tim showed an unusual confidence in his young teammates and kept giving them shots when they missed the majority of them. During the season, this pattern was continued except for one difference; the shots began to go in. The Deacs repeated as ACC champions against Georgia Tech in a game where Duncan scored 27 points and pulled down 22 rebounds.

During the NCAA tournament that year, Duncan ended up having the flu, but played through it all the way to the Elite 8 where Rick Pitino’s Kentucky squad eliminated the Deacs.

Once again in the off season, everyone wanted to know if Duncan would go pro or stay for his senior season. Without a doubt, he elected to stay at Wake, who were the favorites to win the big dance.

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Duncan was an ACC legend

The Deacs earned the highest ranking in school history at number two in the early part of the season. However, much to the disappointment of Wake fans the team failed to win a third straight ACC championship. In the NCAA tournament to favorites at the beginning of the season earned a three seed. The Deacs later ended the year in disappointment to the sixth seed in their region, Stanford. In his final season at Wake Timmy averaged 20.8 points per game and 14.7 rebounds per game making him the Player of the Year in college basketball. This also set him up to be the first overall pick in the NBA draft.

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5 rings

The Spurs had the third best odds to win the draft lottery but nonetheless beat the odds to have the first pick. David Robinson was already a part of the team but was hurt for the majority of the previous season. This worked out well for the franchise as the ended up drafting the best power forward to every play the game of basketball.

The rest is history.

 

 

 

 

Tar Heels Falter Late in Title Game

By: Trey Walker

Monday night was rough for Tar Heel fans across the country. Kris Jenkins single-handedly denied Carolina of suspending their 6th national title banner in the rafters of the Dean Dome.

On paper, yes Villanova won the 2016 national title, but all you Tar Heels out there: Hold your heads high.

This season has been the tale of ups and down for our Heels. Some of our lowest moments came in the 2 point defeat to the Texas Longhorns in late December (Shaka Smart caught a break with the no-call foul against Marcus Paige in the closing seconds), or in a frustrating home loss to the Blue Devils which left many people questioning Coach Williams coaching ability- Even the #FireRoy crowd resurfaced.

In the frustration and sadness of the Duke loss, a fire was lit under the Heels. A fire that led to most of this seasons positive memories. For the remainder of the season this squad looked revived, and cruised their way to an ACC Regular Season title, an ACC Championship title, and a trip to the National Championship in Houston, Texas.

For a while, this year’s NCAA tournament was comparable to the magnificent title run in 2009. Slow starts were followed by strong finishes. Until the championship, all of Carolina’s games had been won by 16 or more points. The college careers of Yogi Ferrell, Michael Gbinije, and VJ Beachem: all ended at the feet of UNC.

Win after win, it seemed surreal that once again, after a short 7 year drought, the boys in blue would be playing for the title.

Monday, April 4th, 2016 9:20 Tip-Off

After one half of play, things were looking promising. Joel “Strong Man” Berry II was a walking bucket; he entered the intermission with 15 points off of 6-7 shooting. Up five, the only thing left Carolina had to do was keep shooting well and maintain their lead.

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Courtesy of UNC Basketball

Sorry guys, teams don’t win championships for 1st half performances.

Villanova came out of the locker room on a tear. Jay Wright had conveyed to his boys that they were still in the game.

Fouls, on fouls, on fouls….

This was the story of the 2nd half. At one point, the officials had charged Carolina EIGHT straight personal fouls. It became evident (when both teams entered the bonus above the 10 minute mark) that this game would be earned from the charity stripe.

31.7 percent shooting from the Heels only helped the Cats to control the second half. A 9 point lead by Villanova had shrunk to 3 point with just 13 seconds left.

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Photo Credit: New York Times

Then this happened.

Houses and bars across the state erupted in shouts and and cheers.

Tar Heel enthusiast, and Broughton Junior Vance Brice recalls the moment inside the Dean Dome, “I have never seen a place get so loud, so quick. It was really something special.”

Paige’s miracle heave tied the game, and had given his team one last chance. Coach Williams promptly called a timeout following the shot and debriefed his team about the 4 seconds that remained. They had to keep the ball from going through the hoop just one time.

“Villanova inbounds it, Arcidiacono has it front court……. Arcidiacono to Jenkins….. For the Buzzer Beater…… GOT IT!” – Title Game announcer

And that was it. Dreams crushed. Aspirations gone. Banner gone. Rings? Not getting them.

Streamers shot from the ceiling and the celebration festivities had begun.

Despite losing, Marcus’ shot will be remembered forever. It was simply sensational. His career had shaky moments at times but he never failed to represent the University of North Carolina well, on the court or in the classroom(1st team All-American Academic Team). This group showed the world that a title can still potentially be won the “old fashioned” way by developing 4 year players instead of a roster filled with one-and-dones.

Photo Credit: News and Observer

We will miss you, 5. We will look up at the rafters and remember what a decorated career you had. You embody a true leader with good character. Thank you for a great 4 years.

 

P.S.: In your face, NCAA. You have been clouding skies in Chapel Hill for 6 years and still haven’t made a decision on the academic misconduct allegations. Recruiting has taken a huge hit, and you have made talented athletes afraid of attending UNC. It’s ok though. Clearly the program is persevering through this 6 year rough patch and winning nonetheless.

Your Guide for the National Championship

Final Four Logo

By: Trey Walker

“The Road Ends Here…….”

A phrase plastered around NRG Stadium for all to see. That is where the road to the championship ends, and dreams go to die, or become a reality. One team will bring home all the marbles tonight, the team that plays the best basketball for 40 minutes. This team will be crowned the best squad in the country.

So lets break down this matchup by team:

-Villanova Wildcats 34-5, (16-2 Big East)

Head Coach: Jay Wright

Key Players:

-(SR/PG) Ryan Arcidiacono: 4.3 Assists per game, 12.4 Points Per Game. GRADUATE ALREADY!!!! A savvy ball handler that gets the ball to the hot hand and has a great stroke himself

-(JR/G) Josh Hart: 15.5 Points Per Game, 6.7 Rebounds per game. Had arguably the best game in his career against Oklahoma in the Final Four. Led the Wildcats in scoring against the Sooners.

-(SR/C) Daniel Ochefu: 7.6 Rebounds per game, 1.5 Blocks per game. This dude is a monster in the paint. Watch for him to crash boards and rattle the rims.

Pros: Villanova is an offensive powerhouse. They don’t struggle putting the ball in the hoop. During the tournament, they are averaging 78 points per game in the tournament, and a point differential margin of +14.7. If the Wildcats score more than 65 points, it is likely they will win.

Cons: Inside presence: The Cats’ don’t have many options to power the ball inside besides Ochefu and Kris Jenkins. Coach Wright’s lack of depth may come back to haunt him; Mikal Bridges was the only bench player to receive more than 11 minutes of court time.

How to win: Contain Brice Johnson in the paint, and force the Tar Heels to take off balance three point shots, and lock down the interior. Shoot like they did against Oklahoma. Dont get the forwards in foul trouble.

-North Carolina Tar Heels 33-6, (14-4 ACC)

Head Coach: Roy Williams

Key Players:

-(SR/F) Brice Johnson: 17.0 Points per game, 10.5 Rebounds per game. The best big the Heels have had since Psycho T. All-ACC 1st Team, All-American 1st Team, Wooden Award Finalist: Johnson has achieved it all this season and will do everything in his ability to see his group come out on top. The 6’9″ forward is automatic inside and has a decent midrange shot to add.

-(SO/G) Joel Berry II: 12.6 Points per game, 1.5 Steals per game. Berry has been the saving grace for Coach Williams in tournament play. He has grown comfortable with his ability to sink the trifecta. Another thing to consider: Joel Berry is fearless. Joel Berry is strong. Joel Berry is not afraid to drive to the hoop against players twice his size.

-(SR/G) Marcus Paige: 12.3 Points per game, 3.7 Assists per game. Its been an interesting season for the Tar Heels prodigal son. Paige was plagued with a brutal midseason slump, and much of the North Carolina fanbase had abandoned the guard. However his 16 converted three pointers during the big dance have lured fans back.

Pros: Depth: Roy Williams has had no problems this season digging deep into his teams bench to relieve his first group. Players like Kenny Williams, Isaiah Hicks, and Joel James have been getting the job done while their superstars catch a break.

Cons: Shooting from 3: The Heels had a horrendous performance shooting the Tre in the semifinal versus Syracuse, only making 4 for 17 attempted. Also, when opposing teams get on scoring runs, Ole’ Roy tends to conserve those timeouts to try and win the most unused timeouts award given annually at the end of each college basketball season. As a result, UNC plays out of sync often in crunch time.

How to Win: Call timeouts when they are needed Roy, your team can’t save themselves in every situation. The Tar Heels MUST have a fortuitous night from the three pointer and play well on the interior. Make sure the front court players stay out of foul trouble, Johnson cannot afford to receive 2 fouls in the early minutes of this one. Pray Villanova doesn’t shoot 74%.

 

Villanova Cruises to Final Four Victory

By: Trey Walker

Saturday night capped off a spectacular career from Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, but it probably didn’t end the way he would have liked it. The senior from the Bahamas finished with a total of 9 points off a shaky 4-12 performance from the field and 4 turnovers. However, this was enough to crown Hield the Big 12’s all time leading scorer passing former Baylor hotshot LaceDarius Dunn. Buddy’s supporting cast picked up most of the teams slack, which unfortunately for Hield was not enough to pull out the win.

It wasn’t just the Sooners struggles that led to the final score of this game. Villanova had an incredible night offensively, so much that they set the record for the largest win margin in Final Four history after the 44 point rout. The Wildcats’ attack was led by guard Josh Hart who tallied 23 points and 4 assists. As a whole, the team shot 71.4 percent from the field, which compared to Oklahoma’s 31.7 percent explains why the score was 95-51.

During the opening minutes of the semifinal, both teams were evenly trading shots and the score was generally even but in the waning minutes of the first half, Villanova managed to get steals leading to easy buckets in transition, and get a few three pointers to fall their way. After Oklahoma entered the second half knowing they were down 14 points their body posture slumped, and it was evident that they were waving the white flag.

Head Villanova coach Jay Wright expressed how fortunate of an outing his team had from the floor after the game, “That was just one of those nights”

The Wildcats square off with the #1 seeded North Carolina Tar Heels Monday night at 7.

 

 

Chapman signs with CBA team

 

By: Trey Walker

Raleigh native and former Enloe standout point guard Emanuel “Poobie” Chapman has recently inked a new deal with the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. Chapman left Raleigh on Monday, March 28th to go to a one week team camp and to prepare for the upcoming season

This is a relief for Chapman, for he had been trying to find a home overseas to continue playing basketball. In the fall of 2014, the 6’1” baller reportedly signed with SKP Banska Bystrica of the Slovenian Basketball League, but never actually suited up for the club.

Last season, the Shanghai Sharks finished with an 18-20 record in the CBA and captured the 11th place in the overall standings. The Sharks were recently purchased by former Rockets Center and Hall of Fame member Yao Ming after the team came upon dire financial needs.

Chapman is a beloved figure in the community and in NCCU basketball history. During his stint with the Eagles, he dished out the most assists in school history(617), and netted the 2nd most career steals in Central’s history(173).