By David Glenn
March 10, 2007
TAMPA, Fla. -- A lot of fans don't like players on opposing teams who are brash or who talk a lot during games, and Boston College guard Sean Marshall definitely fits that description. Against UNC, Marshall had running commentaries going with Wayne Ellington and Marcus Ginyard at various times, and Marshall (team-high 23 points) always saved his biggest words for after his own baskets. During one exchange with the Tar Heels, though, Marshall got exactly the penalty many coaches warn their players about, and exactly the "punishment" many fans like to see. After his own basket, Marshall yapped at Ellington all the way down one side of the court, but he failed to see an uncovered UNC player breaking down the other wing for an easy shot at the basket. The layup missed, but Carolina's Brandan Wright flew in from the foul-line area for an emphatic follow-dunk directly onto the head of the late-arriving Marshall.
UNC allowed 56 points to Boston College, after permitting only 58 against Florida State in the quarterfinals. That marked the first time the Tar Heels have held opponents under 60 in consecutive games since they did it three times in a row (St. Louis, Rutgers, Dayton) in December. It also marked the first time the Heels have held consecutive opponents under 60 in the ACC Tournament since the 1985 semifinals (51 by N.C. State) and final (57 by Georgia Tech). The Yellow Jackets won that game, 57-54.
FLAT OUT AMBIVALENCE
When ABC/ESPN announcer <b>Dick Vitale</b> initially was introduced to the St. Pete Times Forum crowd at halftime of the N.C. State-Virginia Tech game, there were more boos than cheers. Later, after a brief ceremony involving Vitale, he received a loud cheer, followed by another long smattering of boos. There are complaints about officiating in every conference every year, and the flow of unhappy e-mail (mostly from fan bases of losing teams) over the last few days suggests that this year's ACC Tournament will be no exception. In any event, it's fair to say that the conference semifinals lacked some of the league's more familiar men in stripes. Well-known veteran <b>Duke Edsall</b> wasn't even here this week at all. <b>Karl Hess</b>? No sign of him on Saturday. <b>Bryan Kersey</b>? Nope. Those three officials draw mixed reviews from fans and coaches, like everyone else, but many ACC folks (including coaches) will say they're happy to see those guys on game days, at least relative to many of the possible alternatives.
Les Jones, Jamie Luckie and Mike Eades worked the UNC-BC semifinal. Mike Wood, Bernard Clinton and Roger Ayers handled the NCSU-VT matchup. Jones and Wood are the only established veterans, while Clinton is considered one of the up-and-coming officials in the league.
As on the first two days of the tournament, creative signs from those in the stands are a rarity. Really, there are hardly any signs at all. One homemade creation, held by a young boy in a Duke t-shirt, had these words scribbled across the front: "GO Anybody But Carolina!" Among the eight head coaches whose teams were eliminated on Thursday or Friday, Miami's Frank Haith was the only one who stuck around for another full day of work on Saturday. He served as an analyst on UM's radio broadcasts of both semifinal games. "I'm looking into a second career," Haith said, laughing. "You know, in case this coaching thing doesn't work out." Haith said the biggest surprise of his new venture is how quickly everything happens, and how little time he has to react to it all as an announcer. His two partners on the broadcast said Haith is a natural, but the coach wasn't so sure about that. "When you coach long enough, things slow down for you (on the sidelines), and you don't feel rushed very often," Haith said. "This is a new animal for me. Maybe if I do it more often, things will slow down for me here, too. I have a new respect for the people who can do this well."
CANES PRESENT A PRETTY PICTURE
Back by popular demand, here are this year's rankings of the cheerleaders and dance teams at the ACC Tournament. Because my illness this week made me a slightly late arrival to the event this year, several ACC Sports Journal readers in the stands offered the editorial commentary next to each team below: 1. Miami This was a very close race with FSU, but the MVC (Most Valuable Cheerleader) of the weekend pushed the Hurricanes over the top. 2. Florida State WOW. Very, very impressive. Bonus points for going through a uniform change at halftime. 3. North Carolina Support bolstered by presence of three-blonde squad. 4. Clemson Talent and depth make an excellent combination. 5. N.C. State Almost too many guys, but very strong nevertheless. 6. Boston College Degree of difficulty is high, given the relative lack of sunlight in Beantown, because everyone looks better with a tan. 7. Virginia Tech Extra credit for the shortest skirts in the league. 8. Maryland Still deserving of NCAA Tournament consideration. 9. Virginia A nice group, but not what fans have come to expect. 10. Georgia Tech The smaller schools, with higher academic standards, always seem to finish down here for some reason. 11. Duke With an asterisk, in case anyone was serving a suspension. 12. Wake Forest This may change soon, given the well-known correlation between gridiron success and top-notch cheerleaders. Remember, each school is permitted only 12 individuals at courtside. That number can be broken down in any fashion, at the schools' discretion, among mascots (usually one or none), dance-team members (anywhere from zero to 12) and cheerleaders (anywhere from zero to 12). The groups also can be any combination of males and females. They just must add up to 12.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sitting in front of Mike Krzyzewski's family at the ACC Tournament is like taking the seat on an airplane that's directly in front of a couple with a very young child. You're not sure exactly what's coming over the next couple of hours good, bad or in between but there's a very strong chance that the experience will be memorable. This year, the Krzyzewski family was seated in the first row of the stands, directly behind the Duke bench, perhaps 15 feet from the long row of players, coaches and other personnel. The only things between the family and the team were a single row of media seating (including my spot) and a narrow walkway on the floor of the St. Pete Times Forum. In the family's row this year were the coach's wife, Mickie Krzyzewski, at least two of the couple's daughters, and other family members. Duke player Gerald Henderson, sitting out the Blue Devils' quarterfinal matchup with N.C. State because of a suspension, sat at the other end of the row. Among those in between was Duke associate athletic director Mike Cragg. Just as Krzyzewski himself has softened his tone (with much less profanity and baiting of officials in recent years) on the sidelines over time, the Krzyzewski family has done so as well. The overwhelming majority of their comments at this year's tournament were made in support of Duke's players individually (e.g., "Good hustle, Greg!" or "Nice play, Josh!") or collectively (e.g., "Defense!" or "Talk!" or "Help!"), even in a losing cause. The funniest thing the Krzyzewski clan did was a direct response to repeated heckling of the Duke coach. Every single time a fan yelled "Sit down, Krzyzewski!!" at Coach K on the sidelines, the Krzyzewski family in unison, and without hesitation all would stand up in defiance. It was a classic display. Meanwhile, there were some real zingers directed at the officials (sometimes by name), including a few obvious references to archrival North Carolina and its star big man Tyler Hansbrough: To Duke player David McClure, after he drew contact under the basket but didn't get a foul call: "Check your nose, Dave. With these guys, you know you're going to have to bleed a little bit to get a call!" On a play where the officials walked over to the scorer's table and asked to look at the court-side TV monitor: "No! Don't look at the monitor! One of our guys will get thrown out somehow!" After a hard foul called on an N.C. State player: "If that was one of our guys, he'd be suspended for the rest of the season and maybe next year, too." After a play on which Wolfpack big man Ben McCauley rotated on his pivot foot several times before converting a basket in the lane, drawing screams of "Walk!" from many other Duke fans in attendance: "Who do they think he is, Tyler Hansbrough?" After a close call went against the Blue Devils: "See, it's a Duke conspiracy, everybody. Duke gets all the calls." At a time when Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe was having an extended discussion with one of the officials during a timeout: "Hey, why are they allowed to have a little tea party over there? What about us over here?!" Near the end of the State-Duke game, with the outcome obvious, a fan yelled at Coach K, "Hey, Mike, pull your starters," yet another reference to the regular-season finale between Duke and UNC. One of the males (not Cragg or Henderson) in the Krzyzewski camp turned and responded to the heckler: "Shut up, (expletive deleted)." Mickie Krzyzewski then restored order by reminding everyone not to speak directly to other fans.
A STREAK ENDS; LOWE SEEKS UNPRECEDENTED SUCCESS
Sunday's ACC championship game will be the first played without Duke coach <b>Mike Krzyzewski</b> on the sidelines since 1997, when <b>Dean Smith</b> led UNC past a <b>Herb Sendek</b>-coached N.C. State team in the final. The Wolfpack, coming out of the 8/9 play-in game, had eliminated Duke in the quarterfinals.
Entering this year's event, the Blue Devils had won seven of the last eight league championships. Their 16 ACC titles overall, five consecutive titles (1999-2003) and nine straight title-game appearances all are records.
In case you are wondering: N.C. State's <b>Sidney Lowe</b> would not be the first rookie coach to win the ACC title. Duke's <b>Vic Bubas</b> (1960), N.C. State's <b>Press Maravich</b> (1965) and UNC's <b>Bill Guthridge</b> (1998) all performed the feat. Lowe, however, would be the only first-year coach to pull it off from near the bottom of the ACC standings and the bottom part of the ACC Tournament bracket. (The Pack is a No. 10 seed.) Maravich and Guthridge had posted second-place finishes with their teams during the regular season. Playing in an eight-team conference, Bubas' 1960 Blue Devils had a 7-7 ACC record in the regular season, good enough for a No. 4 seed at the ACC Tournament.
NOTE: You can e-mail ACC Sports Journal editor David Glenn, on press row at
the ACC Tournament, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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