The College Hoops Gazette

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February 14, 2008 - In Praise of Q

If God isn’t a Tar Heel, then why did he give us Quentin Marguerite Thomas?! He’s recently been seen dicing d’s like a mohel on the eighth day, baby! The kid from O-town with a penchant for donning airbrushed self-portraiture has begun creating his own, fresh masterpiece over the past four games and I’m here to tell you that it’s a work of art.

In this his senior season, when we’ve needed him most, Q has come through. It’s reminiscent of past Heels who were considered works-in-progress or “never-lived-up-to-their-billing” disappointments in the eyes of (shit)Heel basketball fans, but who came through during their final seasons to stiffen the backbone and vastly improve the lot of their teams. Guys like Madden, Hunter, Phelps, Colescott, and Noel.

Who wouldn’t gush over Q’s heart and effort at this point? Or his poise and his handle? Bambi’s brother has cut down on the frantic episodes that had too often marred his play. Over the last four starts (FSU essentially a start for him) Q has an assist-to-turnover ratio that would make Chris Corchianni pissy with envy. He’s brushing against 2:1, which ain’t too shabby. But more than that, it’s his leadership that has made the biggest difference. Outside of Tyler Hansbrough, Q has been the biggest reason for these last two gutsy wins.

Hansbrough made it clear how he felt about Q’s onions after the Clemson comeback victory when he said: “I think there was a period where some people were down, but I think some guys picked some people up, especially Quentin. He came in there, and he really got after us, and I think he picked up the whole team.”

More gushing for Q from the hardest-working-Heel, “He said to us ‘We can't be playing like this,’ especially the way we did in the first half. And I think he lifted us all.”

Amen, uplifting indeed.

February 13, 2008 - Lawson Draft and Game Evaluation

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There's an interesting breakdown of Ty Lawson's game and his pro prospects by Jonathan Givony over at DraftExpress. Here are a few highlights. It's worth a read.

There’s probably no better time to evaluate Ty Lawson’s contribution to North Carolina than right now, after sitting out the last four games with a high ankle sprain and giving us a chance to see just what he means to his team. North Carolina has struggled in every game he’s missed so far, losing one to Duke, needing overtime to defeat Clemson at home, and then struggling to defeat some of the worst teams in the ACC on the road against Florida State and Virginia. It’s pretty clear by now that they miss Lawson, and any talk of him just being a product of their system has been proven to be incorrect. From what we can tell—he is actually the key to the way they play. Look no further than the fact that they score 92.1 points per game with Lawson in their lineup, and “only” 83.4 points without him.

Comparing the prospect we saw last year and the one in front of us today, we clearly see some progress made between his freshman and sophomore years. Lawson is scoring at a much better rate, but is also doing so while being significantly more efficient. He’s getting to the free throw line better, and has improved his percentages from the stripe dramatically, nearly 14%. His 3-point percentages, assists and turnovers have stayed virtually the same, and he’s currently #2 in the country in Pure Point Rating.

With that said, Lawson’s strengths and weaknesses still look to be about the same. There still isn’t anyone that can stay in front of him in transition, and his ability to push the ball up the floor and slice his way through traffic remains unparalleled at the collegiate level. His body control, ball-handling skills, and incredible speed in the open floor are what make him the terrific prospect he is, and are the main reason why North Carolina is the second highest scoring team in the country.

43% of Lawson’s offense comes in transition, according to Synergy Sports Technology’s quantified player reports. That’s an incredibly high number—for comparison, Derrick Rose stands at 23.3%, DJ Augustin at 17.8%, Eric Gordon at 21.9%, O.J. Mayo at 18.3%, Jerryd Bayless at 16.8%, and Darren Collison is at 25.3%...

Defensively, we find mostly a mixed bag. On one hand, Lawson is very physical, strong, with superb lateral quickness, capable of staying in front of almost any point guard and being very pesky contesting shots. He also does an excellent job getting in the passing lanes, and will ignite some one-man fast breaks all by himself every game by picking up a couple of steals.

February 13, 2008 - A Valentine for All: Share Your Coach K Story

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Should any reader doubt that Coach K's humanitarian record comes any shorter against Dean Smith's generosity than his record against Smith on the hardwood (that would be 14-28 lifetime), rest easy! Coach K's web site now features a page called "Share Your Coach K Story," and sweet mother of Jesus, are there stories to be told. In the past, we've taken our shots at Herr K, and so in the interest of fairness, we've decided to let him toot his own horn right here on our front page.

This unedited testimonial, entitled "Coach K has inspired and touched the lives of countless individuals and is Respected by everyone" features a "fiancee" with Substance Abuse Disease and Coach K supplying the miracle cure. Read it and weep. Please. Then perhaps send the site your own testimonial?

Prior to my Freshman year in High School, 1994, I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. I attended Duke Basketball Camp, and I was able to meet and have my picture taken with Coach K. This picture has always been proudly displayed since that day, and still today after relocating to Salt Lake City, Utah, it is one of my most treasured possessions. I have endured many challenges and trials following that memorable opportunity to meet and speak with Coach K. I became hopeless as I never achieved the success I dreamed about on the court. Needless to say, this was the part of my life that was the easiest event for me to overcome. I completed college at a small Liberal Arts College in Annville, PA, Lebanon Valley College, where I actually was blessed with the opportunity to play on a Division III Nationally Ranked Basketball team. Following graduation, I remained employed at my employer that I worked for since I was 17 years old. Then, what I thought to be an amazing career advancement opportunity was presented to me, as well as the opportunity to move to Salt Lake City to be with my girlfriend. I have experienced many medical conditions, in addition to supporting my now Fiancee' during her recovery from a Substance Abuse Disease. I have always possessed a very large heart, and no matter the consequences, I never would allow a person in need of help or assistance to be passed by or given up on. My prayers were answered as she is now in recovery from her disease, and had been clean since my employer discharged me following one year of employment. Needless to say, as I accepted the position, I was mislead about the work conditions, promise of a work/life balance, as well as proper training and assistance from my directors. So, I have been left hopeless all due to helping my Fiancee' get well, and due to my conditions I was entitled to reasonable accommodations that were never given any attention. This past Friday, however, I received a blessing of finally being diagnosed with the underlying chronic condition I have been experiencing for quit a long time, Bipolar Disorder. As frightening as I was when informed of my diagnosis, I finally have a renewed sense of hope in my life that was being destroyed each day. I quickly realized my need to come to grips with my disorder, and I can now live a life that is so called "normal" with proper treatment and counseling. Sorry for the long history of my life, and that was the short version, haha. I just wanted to let you know, Coach K, that I began reading your book, Leading with the Heart. I have forever been a Duke fanatic, and I remember the exact moment when I fell in love with the Duke Basketball Program. It was the game at the Meadowlands Arena when Christian L. hit the turn-around jumper from the foul line, following a perfect pass from Grant Hill. I remember praying during the TV commercials for God to help Duke pull off, what ended up being one if not the greatest moment in NCAA History! I also have to rank it up there with the comeback win against Maryland with 1 min. and 1 sec. to go and Duke trailed by 10 or 11 points. Then, Jason Williams scored 11 points in less than a minute I think to take the game into OT. As I reflect back upon these moments, I believe it was your leadership philosophy and the players knowing that YOU believed they could come back and win! As I have begun reading your book, it has provided me with a great help as I pursue a new career opportunity. You have proven that your leadership and approach to coaching, leadership, and business will lead to success! This current Duke team, as all Duke teams, I always have confidence because of the leadership and morals they gain from you. This will be a magical year, and you can count on my work that Duke will win the NCAA Championship! Well, I apologize for rambling, I just wanted you to know the impact you have made upon my life, as well as countless others who I do not even know. Thank you for everything, and as I approach a new career, I am following the blueprint you have established. I am doing this because I know it will never fail! I wish you, your family, and the Duke team the best of luck and may God's blessings be with you each and every day! Thank you for taking the time to allow me to thank you, and for listening even though you do not know me! Respectfully, Erik


February 12, 2008 - VIRGINIA PRE-GAME: Our Three Predictions

Desmond Watson.jpg Desmond: If Ty Lawson doesn't play, Carolina wins tonight 85-77 in a game that is much closer than the final outcome. Singletary goes off and scores 30+ against our hapless guards. Tyler Hansbrough struggles through an uncharacteriscally bad game (he is exhausted), but Skinny Deon finally gets his shooting touch and scores 16 points. Look for him to be our saving grace.
Doyle Hargraves.jpg Doyle: Desmond, you mountainfuck of ignorance! Regardless of whether Singleton goes off against our hapless guards, as you call them, the key to this game is in the paint. I'd expect Tyler to get 46 if he wasn't coming off a Herculean effort just 48 hours ago. But as it is, he'll only drop 33 or so. Even without Lawson, the Heels should win in a cakewalk. How easily we forget about Deon Thompson's stronger play of late. To paraphrase Pitino: Wally Walker ain't walking through that door. Mark Ivarone ain't walking through that door. Hell, even Tom Sheehey ain't walking through that door. Heels win in a romp, 92-68.
One-Eye'd Dick.JPG One-Eye'd Dick: There's a big game in Charlottesville tonight, and that reminds me of something: how great does Coach K have those Dukies playing, baby?! I mean, you really have to hand it to him to take this rag-tag group of kids who are still learning the ropes and get them to perform at such a high level considering their modest backgrounds! I can't say enough about them even though I never stop! Ever, baby! Now that I've got my voice back, and I thank god every day for it, I am not going to waste a minute -- I raise my voice to the sky and shout for the world to hear! I really do! Watch out for those Duke Blue Devils from Durham, North Carolina my friends!

February 12, 2008 - Why is Roy Calling Out Ty Lawson?

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Maybe we're reading too much into a few of the quotes we've read from Roy Williams since Ty Lawson's ankle injury, but he seems to be calling out his player in a way doesn't quite read simply as easy-going, aw-shucks goofing around. Asked when Lawson would return, on Monday Williams said, "I don't know that there is a timetable. I think we've just got to wait until he starts feeling better with it. The kid's not been hurt very often and kids that haven't been hurt think that sometimes things have to be perfect before they come back. That could be part of Tywon's deal. But at the same time it still hurts. We're just going to have to wait until it stops hurting."

He's clearly saying he's not sure if Ty is giving him the straight scoop, or rather, that Ty himself knows what it is. Fair enough, perhaps. But Williams does have a habit of questioning his guys, to say nothing of ripping his players in the press after poor performances. Particularly for their defensive efforts. Or foibles, as the case may be.

This is no great sin, but it sure is different than what Roy's mentor Dean ever did, and sometimes it makes us scratch our heads here at the main office. Most of us, anyhow. Doyle Hargraves paces around the office pulling his hair and and reminds us that, as he understands it, Roy has lost teams late in the year when this strategy backfires on an exhausted group. We'll see what happens. But boy do we miss Mr. Lawson.

February 11, 2008 - Duke Is At It Again

The great thing about Duke is that opponents don't have to doctor videos or photoshop pictures. Those guys just let it all hang out there for the world to see. First they grind their groins together in celebration (see below). Now this. Not that it wouldn't be fun to drop Dick Vitale's voice into the scene here, calling the play-by-play... not that there's anything wrong with it.