Category Archives: NCAA Tournament

The PODcast — April 30

Hey LeBron, Larry Legend would've never done that. Neither would Michael. Or Magic.″

In Part 1, the guys take a look at Southern Lee and Lee County baseball before diving into the newest rivalry in NASCAR.″

In Part II, the guys dive into the Panthers’ NFL Draft and rant about LeBron James’ hinting at his injury. Put it this way — Larry Bird would’ve never done that.

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For the Duke haters…

Nolan Smith and the Blue Devils are on their way.

Editor’s Note: Here is Sunday’s column as it was written, before Duke continued its cruise to its fourth national title. This for all of those who were rooting against the inevitable.

It’s the Final Four, so anything can happen. We all know that much. Grainy highlights of Jimmy V and Ed Pinkney remind us of that often at this time of year. But given The Herald’s early-ish deadlines on Saturday night, this sports section — as you can clearly see — does not have the result of the national semifinal between Duke and West Virginia, which did not finish until after our presstime.

Chances are, faithful reader, you already know what happened. And you’ve probably heard the game broken down in myriad ways. And you’ve likely digested all of the postgame comments.

So what you find here in this space is obviously not an analysis of what transpired between the Blue Devils and Mountaineers, no dissection of Duke’s striking ability to snare offensive rebounds that went for second-chance 3-pointers or its towering inside presence and physical, tough-as-nails defense.

There won’t be anything in here about the Devils again finding a way to make an opponent’s best player rather ineffective, in this case, Da’Sean Butler. Or their vast experience taking control in the game’s final 7 minutes, where a close game gets stretched to a 7-10-point lead as Duke does every single little thing right down the stretch to close out the victory.

None of that is in here. Honestly, you don’t need it. It was readily apparent on the TV screen you watched last night.

But what you will find here is a completely unbiased portrait of a brilliant season by the Duke Blue Devils, a season in which a team without ready-made NBA talent used three go-to scorers, outstanding rebounding, a game-changing, legendary coach and a grinding style that belies their true nature — that of wily, cagey and deft precision basketball in the most important of moments.

It’s truly amazing how Duke does it, by…um…by…hold on a minute…I’ll get it out…

It’s truly amazing how Duke does it, by…um…by…

Oh, forget it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all know how good Duke is. We all know why they’re good. You don’t need to hear it again. And I don’t need to write it again.

Got that? Got it? Yeah, I respect Duke. Respect the heck out of them. They win the right way. Play a brand of basketball not at all unlike any of the other three teams in the Final Four. That’s why they’re there. That style of basketball won this year, and the last four standing are a testament to it.

And Duke’s the best of them.

And the Devils will win it all.

Doesn’t mean someone, possibly someone like me even, has to like it.

The questions is always out there: can a person report on his school’s rival, watch it and write about it in an unbiased, completely objective manner for his or her readers?

You bet he can. Some have been doing it for over a decade. Even longer. It’s out there, people, believe me. I did it, in fact, a little higher up in this here column. You know, just to prove a point.

But I ain’t doing it now. Not anymore.

Because I know what most North Carolina or N.C. State or Wake Forest fans are thinking this morning.

And this is for them.

Take it, leave it, ball it up or line the birdcage with it, I don’t really care right now.

Because I know they don’t want Duke to win the national championship. Not now.

Not ever.

Yeah, I said it.

And meant it.

Maybe that makes them bad people.

Tough. ’Cause they don’t mind.

I went to the University of North Carolina, and I’m a Tar Heels fan. Can’t lie. That’s my school. And that means some things to some of us.

And one of those things is to root against Duke.

Every time.

Especially now.

Not every Heels’ fan or UNC grad is like this. They wish well for the state of North Carolina, or for the added prestige of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

That’s fine.

But I ain’t talking about them.

You can, though. Criticize them all you want, Dukies. Rub your national title in their faces and wax poetic about the winning ways of Coach K, Singler, Scheyer and Smith.

Go ahead and dance on the Tar Heels’ grave and say they are sore losers.

You’re right.

And so were some of you last year.

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The PODcast Returns″″

With the show broken into two parts, the guys break down the Panthers’ recent moves, chat about the top seeds for the NCAA Tournament, run through the ACC standings, hit the Bobcats and begin the search for Ryan’s new baseball team.

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The UNC Tragedy

Sadly, this could go on a lot longer.

But the Feed John Henson line is funny.

But I must say this, or I’ll lose my General Alumni Association card:

“The Tar Heels won their second national championship in five years just last season.”

That makes me feel better — at least until Duke loses in the NCAA Tournament.

I hope.

I’m also hoping the Heels’ next line of recruits won’t so much resemble the “hype not matching actual talent” likes of players like Chris Burgess and Shavlik Randolph.

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Precise and patient, Duke may have enough this time

on Scheyer and Kyle Singler

You could almost hear the Cameron Crazies.

Dribble, dribble.


Dribble, dribble.


Jon Scheyer would hold the ball, maybe not going so far as to put it on his hip and stand there, but holding it nonetheless. Maybe make a jab step, and back out of it, keeping his dribble until he needed it to forge a better passing lane.

All of this happening some 35-40 feet from the basket.

North Carolina was playing with an intensity Tar Heels’ fans have been begging to see for three weeks, keeping the eighth-ranked and bitter rival Blue Devils close in front of them, and at times, behind them.

But really, the Dukies were closer in their rear view mirror than they actually appeared.

Because, really, that’s all any UNC lead in the first meeting between the two historic programs on Wednesday night really was — a slim little edge that Duke could probably wipe out anytime it needed to.

All it needed was time, and perhaps a bit of rest.

And so Scheyer, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler would weave the ball around the backcourt between them, too distant even for them to attempt a shot. But that’s not what they were looking for. They were seeking a crease in the Heels’ defense, one they would wait on until the waning seconds of the shot clock to attack.

North Carolina fans may have felt like the game was, if not in their hands, at least attainable from about the 12-minute mark in the second half on to, say, 7 minutes to go in the game. The Heels even led 43-39 with 11:33 to go, and the Dome’s roof was perilously close to being blasted from its moldings.

But the Devils painstakingly meandered the ball up the floor and into their deliberate halfcourt set, choosing precision over panic and persistance over desperation.

And even in a game in which they did very little right, the Blue Devils were as calculated and smooth as any team in the Top 3 in the final 7 minutes of the game, outplaying North Carolina so handily that all the Heels had left was the bad taste of a nothing more than a measly moral victory.

Is Duke good enough to win the national title? The jury is still out on that, even though the Devils will likely either gather the ACC regular season championship or league tournament title — or both. They’ll be nothing less than a No. 2 seed in March and will probably have no more than six losses all season.

And yet questions will continue to follow a team that hasn’t, in recent years, enjoyed the kind of monumental success the program made look so routine two decades ago. It will be posited that the Devils will struggle through another poor shooting night in March, that at least once against a tournament team, they will have one of their Big 3 struggle, and then that will be the end of them, perhaps no further than the Sweet 16.

But watching the poise with which the Blue Devils played North Carolina, a team in desperation mode at home, trying to rekindle all the magic of the last five years in one night, and in front of the most decorated Tar Heel in history, it was clear that Duke may very well be good enough to grind its way back to the Final Four.

The Blue Devils won’t wow anybody with flash or raw athleticism. That’s obvious now.

But they just might outthink you, backing the ball up and slowing things down for a 5-minute stretch so that their best players can save their legs while staying on the floor. It’s a strategy fraught with danger, allowing a lesser team to remain close for long stretches, gambling that your execution at clutch time will far exceed that of the opponent’s.

But it worked on Wednesday night. And it worked well.

Is Duke flawed? Yes. But most teams are. Shoot 25 percent for 35 minutes against Kentucky or Kansas (and maybe even Maryland), and the Blue Devils will get slapped around.

But if it’s tied with 3 minutes to go, there may be no more frightening team in all the land.

That much we know.

Just ask the Tar Heels.


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Three-game skid? No worries, there’s still only one way to dance

Campbell's Jonathan Rodriguez may be the Atlantic Sun's best player. And if he gets hot for the right three games, who knows?

You’ve never heard of them.

Never once thought about their school, and certainly not the basketball program.

But there they will be, in about a month, getting their moment in the triumphant glare of the SportsCenter spotlight, students and fans rushing to the middle of the floor to join the players and coaches who have just won their way into a tournament they have no chance at winning.

But that’s the life in the small Division 1 college conference, where just earning a place in what is annually one of the most exclusive clubs in sports is a championship in and of itself.

Of course, there’s the other side of the jubilant pandemonium taking place there in the middle of the floor. While the championship team cuts down the nets that will forever be on display in a trophy case that probably doesn’t look all that much different from the one your high school may have had, dreams are dashed and tears fall in a depressive unity with slumping shoulders and sagging sighs. In their hearts they know they probably weren’t going to win that first-round game as a 16 seed, but that was never the point. This loss, the one in the conference tournament final, is a different kind of loss than an NCAA Tournament loss. Always will be.

And so it happens sometimes, a dominant team is stunned in its tourney final, and all of a sudden it is realized that the 26-4 regular season record means nothing. The league won’t get two bids into the Field of 64, and none of it seems fair.

But this season, and for a team just down the road from us, what’s potentially unfair may be better viewed as a second chance. It is where midseason three-game losing streaks can be forgotten with just three days of perfect basketball. Put it together for three very specific days, and it can be as though the 29 games before were nothing more than a series of scrimmages designed to give teams extended scouting reports of each other. Reports that may mean everything for one very important week.

That could be the life of the Campbell Camels over the next few weeks. Six short days ago, the Camels weren’t that far removed from the best start in the program’s history, and despite a few hiccups here and there, were still 12-6 and among the leaders in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Since a 72-57 thumping on the road at East Tennessee State, though, the Camels have tumbled down the league standings. They’ve now fallen to 12-9 overall and just 7-5 in conference play after Lipscomb’s Josh Slater hit a step-back 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds remaining to lift the Bisons to a come-from-behind 60-59 victory on the road.

After losing their 9-point lead to a team that got 54 of its 60 points from just three players, the Camels find themselves tied for fourth in the A-Sun with eight games to go — the next two coming in a span of three days some 530 miles south from their Buies Creek home.

The season, for some programs, would be on the line. For some of the big boys, faced with this predictament, the only postseason tournament destination would include the letters “N,” “I,” and “T.” (We’re looking at you, North Carolina.)

But the Camels would still have another chance to spin the wheel. (OK, OK, so do the Tar Heels). As things stand now with a month to play for the conference tournament’s seeding, Jacksonville, Lipscomb and Belmont are the only teams looking down at the Camels. But with perhaps the league’s best player in Jonathan Rodriguez, Campbell has already proven it can beat two of them (Jacksonville, at home on Dec. 19, 73-57; and Lipscomb, on the road on Jan. 23, 86-82).

The script wouldn’t be an original one. Top-seeded Jacksonville, perhaps having just beaten the Camels at home on Feb. 25 in the penultimate game of the regular season, gets Campbell again in the tournament semifinals less than two weeks later on March 5 in Macon, Ga. The Camels would take those odds.

Finishing first over four months and 30 games means practically nothing at this level. And maybe there’s something wrong with that.

But for the Camels and teams like them all over the country, it’s just right.

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Tar Heels’ fans have one saving thought

Ah yes, intensity. Interesting...

I think several things when I watch the North Carolina Tar Heels play basketball these days.

Very few of them are good.

Then again, I manage my way through the games, hopeful that I may see the sparks of the future, of what is yet to come, and what may one day be.

Thinking long-term here. March is but a memory, and has nothing to do with foresight.

But, like I said, I manage. Because I can remember one all-important thought, and it gets me through things like three-game losing streaks and uninspired ACC play.

For instance, when I watch them bring the ball up the floor, I sometimes shudder at how often the trombone player in the band has a better chance at receiving an overhead pass when the Heels are trying to break the press than any of the actual North Carolina basketball players. This happens a lot, what with the 2009-10 team averaging a killer 16.5 turnovers a game, up four ticks from last season’s national title team.

But that’s exactly what gets me through: I remember the Heels won it all last season. So I move on.

And then I see Deon Thompson waving fanatically for the ball in the low post.

Oh, wait a minute. Actually, I don’t see that. Hardly ever, anyway. I usually see Thompson 10-12 feet from the bucket, unable to back his defender down to receive any entry pass on the low block. And with the aforementioned ball-control problem, wasting one of those glorious halfcourt possessions by waiting for a soft frontcourt player like Thompson or Ed Davis or Tyler Zeller (before he was hurt) waving for the ball out of position grows tiresome. So are the fadeaway jump shots the once-perceived “best frontcourt in the nation” keeps throwing up. It should be a rule or something — big guys don’t fade.

But then I remember last year, when Tyler Hansbrough would demand the ball in a tight spot, aware he would probably get hacked, but comfortable to win the game from 15 feet away at the line if he had to. He would probably only need to take one foul shot anyway after muscling in the bucket.

And so when I see the Heels try to make the extra pass around the perimeter among a bunch of guys who don’t ever seem all that excited to shoot, even though the team’s shooting percentage is exactly the same as last year and the 3-point percentage is only 2 points less than a year ago, I hang in there.

Oh, the memory...Thank God for the memory...

Because, well, you know, North Carolina won the national title just last year.

And so when nobody seems to take on a vocal leadership role on the floor, even though Marcus Ginyard has been a starter almost since he arrived in Chapel Hill five years ago, and the same can basically be said of Thompson, I barely even notice.

After all, the Tar Heels were 34-4 and… well, you know the rest.

And when North Carolina loses to College of Charleston and a slew of ranked teams, and probably to N.C. State on Tuesday, I march right along to the beat of that persistent drumline banging around in my head:

North Carolina Tar Heels, the 2008-09 National Champions.

Call timeouts to coax a young team through a tight spot or not, I don’t care. Call a TO to calm your inexperienced team down when they are matched up against a more veteran opponent, or don’t. It doesn’t matter.

Because North Carolina won the title last year.

Even North Carolina basketball is due a rebuilding year, and this hasn’t been all bad. It’s certainly better than what’s going on in Pawley’s Pavilion these days.

And so there is a refrain that will carry myself and other UNC fans through this season, which is quickly being lost because of so many factors: youth, inexperience, injuries and NBA defections.

We can sigh, recall the good ol’ days like they were yesterday (which isn’t hard, since they happened only a year ago) and ponder what may lie ahead of the mighty program. It’s easy to take comfort in the growing pains of a talented but young team when the program is coming off its second national championship in five years.

Unless Duke wins the national title this year.

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This is great —

I love this. Love it.

And not just because they posted my blog.

But that helps.

Obama and basketball. Period.

Awesome. Thanks guys for putting me up front for a while.

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The PODcast, Aug. 26″
On Sanford’s only sports talk radio show and after a rough intro, the opening performances for Lee County and Southern Lee are broken down to go with talk of NASCAR, MLB and the continued hatred of Isiah Thomas.

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2009 NBA Draft Diary

Everybody out there OK? It’s been a tough day in pop culture, what with the death of Sky Saxon, 60’s rock artist.

OK, OK, so if you can tear yourself away from listening to “PYT” on repeat or Season 2  of “Charlie’s Angels” as you mourn the losses of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, check out my very own NBA Draft Diary. As usual, My Buddy Mike (yes, he’s achieved proper name status) will join me as we break down the draft, selection-by-selection. As always, my comments will be in plain text while My Buddy Mike, once the World’s Biggest Charlotte Hornets Fan, will have his appear in italics.

Before we start, I have a few burning questions:

1). Will it be Blake Griffin’s right or left ACL that tears within two years after he becomes a Clipper?

2). Is there a better match on earth than Tyler Hansbrough and the Utah Jazz? Seriously. Anywhere? In anything?

3). Can I get odds on Michael Jordan drafting Danny Green at No. 40?

4). Who will have the most ridiculous suit? I’m going with Johnny Flynn.

5). Speaking of suits, will Hansbrough wear the same sportcoat over the black T-shirt that he always does?

6). What new word will Jay Bilas make up, and will it be better than last year’s “spurtability”?

Hey Mike, thoughts on the Shaq trade, or the Vinsane one?

I like your pre-draft thoughts Alex.  Here are my responses to your questions:

1.  I will go left ACL

2. No there isn’t, kind of like you knew Matt Harpring would go there.
3.  I can see Danny Green there.  Easily
4.  I’m going with Brandon Jennings for my suit of the year
5. Maybe Hansbrough goes with that Sopranos get-up he wore on the bench while he was injured
6. Never underestimate Bilas, but I shoud go ahead and say it early because I’m sure I will quote him throughout the night. I already miss Hubie Brown.

The Shaq trade was about as well kept of a secret as Blake Griffin being No. 1 tonight. I think it could help Cleveland but I’m not sure if it solves all of their issues. They still need a perimeter threat that they can trust. However, Kobe getting a ring without Shaq may be enough to motivate the big guy for another run.

The Vince Cater trade to Orlando gets my attention as well. Do they realize they only get to play with one ball down there. Maybe this means they have changed course on Hedo Turkoglu and are going to let him walk. Hard to see how you could get enough shots for Rashard Lewis (a draft night legend because of his sister’s great quote that “His Game is well”), Dwight Howard, Carter, and Turkoglu.

7:34 p.m. The Clippers — and Griffin’s knees — are officially on the clock.

So it should be an easy call here that Blake Griffin is number one to the Clippers. However, it is the Clippers…

I think Griffin could be a fine player — elsewhere. The Clips have to make room for him by trading Chris Kaman, Zach Randolph or Marcus Camby. I like that he’s said all the right things leading up to the death of his career, but I think the Clips are just too moribund of a franchise for him to make a real dent. Sorry.

Quick observation: David Stern’s tie, Blake Griffin’s shirt, Stephen Curry’s tie — I feel like I should run upstairs and put on something purple.

You should have plenty of teal and purple in the attic from your Hornets-obsessed days…

If it wasn’t so hot I would go get the trusty teal sweatshirt with the sewn-in purple turtleneck with the embroidered Charlotte on the neck. God, I loved that team!

7:43 p.m. WOW, there was a guy with a Clippers T-Shirt on in the crowd. They still make those? Now the fun of this night really begins, the unknowns and undecideds. Memphis is on the clock and they need pretty much everything. They have OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay and some other guys. Do you really go to best available at No. 2? I say the Grizzlies go with the big guy from UConn, Hasheem Thabeet. Sorry Hasheem, maybe for your sake, I am wrong.

Agreed. I think it’s Thabeet here to the Grizzlies, but this is where the real draft officially begins. It’s been said that this isn’t a great talent draft, but I do think there will be good players that come out of this draft. The thing is, I think the bust factor is at an all-time high tonight. A lot of GM’s will lose their jobs because of this crapshoot of a draft.

7:48 Yup, it’s Thabeet. Anybody else think he might be the second coming of Eddy Curry? If he becomes Tyson Chandler, he’ll be doing well.

OK, so the Grizzlies aren’t ready to label Mike Conley a bust quite yet and do go with the big man Thabeet. At least there will be a lot of blocks to get excited about between him and Peter Warrick. Now for Oklahoma City — yeah really, they have a team there, they have uniforms and everything. I say they go with James Harden from Arizona State. Too bad he will never get to shoot with Kevin Durant taking 50 shots per night there.

OK, I think the Team Robbed From The Good Fans of Seattle goes with Ricky Rubio here. And I admit it — I want Rubio to be great. And I want him to try to do the crazy stuff he’s been doing in Europe. I don’t want him to just play like a traditional point guard — I want a mini Pistol Pete-type game. Please!!!!!!!!!!!

7:55 Wow, good call Mike. It’s Harden.

OK, I am 3-3 tonight. Maybe I really was an NBA Draft prodigy when we were growing up. Sure, I say that, and I won’t get any right the rest of the night. Seriously though, this Harden kid is really good.

Now for Sacramento, the victims of this year’s lottery. I’m thinking there is more to Curry’s purple tie than just an attempt at fashion. I say Curry at 4 to the Kings.

Tough call for Sac-Town now. The Kings didn’t like Rubio in workouts and were rumored to be salivating over Curry. Could Rubio fall to the T’Wolves?

James Harden — early leader in the clubhouse on the suit contest. He went bow tie. WOW.

7:59 p.m. Tyreke Evans from Memphis heads to the Kings, and this could be the best player in the entire draft. Good pick.

And the Wolves have to be falling over themselves. They’re about to draft Curry and Rubio back-to-back. That may actually sell a few seats at the Target Center.

So my streak ends at 3. Good thing for Evans is now that he is in the NBA he can legally get paid and no longer has to pretend to go to classes at Memphis.

The tradewinds could begin to pick up anytime now with the Timberwolves picking twice now. Word was they had their eye on Harden and Evans. Uh oh. I think they Wolves go with Alex’s new main man, (to quote Ahmad Rashad) Ricky Rubio.

8:04 Wolves go with Rubio, who at least now gets Minnesota back on SportsCenter.

HEY! The Timberwolves just picked Zac Efron…no, wait, that is Ricky Rubio, sorry. He’s the No. 5 pick in the draft now, so maybe he can afford a haircut. Anyway, this could get some excitement brewing in Minnesota. Pair Curry with Rubio and I would watch a game on TV. I’m kind of pulling for Curry here at 6. Make that pick and I will officially throw my name in the hat to be the next coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Should we start the “Rubio to whatever team Mike D’Antoni is coaching three years from now” rumors tonight, or wait until tomorrow?

8:13 Typical T’Wolves. Are they just going to play both Rubio and Jonny Flynn, who just went at No. 6, to see which one pans out? Is there a trade in the works?

Jonny Flynn, I smell a trade. I don’t really get this one. I am officially withdrawing my name as a candidate for the head coaching position of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Knicks will get their man now. Maybe Stern was behind this one…

Next up Golden State. Wow, who wouldn’t want to play with Run TMC — Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin. Huh? What do you mean they don’t play anymore? Sorry, I guess I was confused because that was the last time the Warriors were truly relevant to basketball. I say they add Arizona’s Jordan Hill here at No. 7.

And then Nellie will ruin him.

8:18 Take that, Knicks. Curry to the Warriors. Whoa.

Curry to Golden State and the Knicks’ plans are screwed, big time. I’ve seen this kid play in person several times and the Warriors are getting a stud. He is best when he gets the ball in shooting position and doesn’t have to handle as much. I like this pick for Golden State.

Wow, ESPN just showed clips of Dell playing when the lane at the old coliseum was printed like a hive.  I have a tear in my eye.

I worry about him as a point. I really do. But it’s a great offensive system for him, and I think that will benefit him. Curry’s with a team that will run. That’s huge, I think.

The Knicks must be in total panic mode because everybody knew they wanted Stephen Curry. I think they go to option B now and take Brandon Jennings.

8:23 Knicks go with Jordan Hill, who will be hated from day one. I’m guessing Steve Nash might be in Steve Kerr’s office right now and asking to be reunited with D’Antoni.

I feel bad for Jordan Hill now. He will always be the guy the Knicks had to take because Stephen Curry was gone. Who knows, maybe that kind of thing motivates him. He kind of reminds me of WWE Superstar Kofi Kingston in apperance. Sorry, I still watch that stuff and it came to my mind.

Next up, a sentence to play in Toronto. Sorry Gerald Henderson, I think this could be your destination.

8:29 Instead it’s Demar DeRozan. Big-time athlete, but the NBA has been full of potential busts like him.

Would anyone outside of the DeRozan family or the USC basketball family know if that wasn’t really him there at the draft? I mean, especially here on the East Coast, nobody knows much about this guy. Who knows, maybe he turns out as gold.

Milwaukee is next and i think they have to go point guard. I mean they have Luke Ridnour and Damon “Smokey” Jones on their depth chart right now. I say it’s my suit of the year nominee, Brandon Jennings.

NEWS ALERT: The Carter Trade just went through.

8:34 The Bucks take Jennings, who high-tailed it to Europe instead of playing the one-and-done role in college hoops. That may explain why Jennings didn’t show at the Garden. Stern might’ve thrown Jennings over his shoulder when he went up there.

Back on track with Jennings to the Bucks. Next up, New Jersey. They have some fans who probably aren’t too thrilled about the team trading Carter today. I don’t know how much DeJuan Blair of Pitt will help heal some wounds but I think that’s where the Nets go.

Bilas: “He’s not a very good shooter, and he needs to learn leadership.”

Good luck with that, Bucks.

Great, Brandon Jennings isn’t even at the draft. No suit to even judge and he didn’t get his free hat. Poor guy.

8:39 Terrence Williams to the Nets at 11. I think he could be really good. But it also means that the Bobcats are going with Gerald Henderson from Duke, a.k.a Raja Bell Lite.

Ah yes, our beloved Bobcats. OK, maybe not beloved, but we try. Anyway, I feel like Williams was their guy. Maybe Blair here, maybe Duke’s Gerald Henderson? Forget it, it’s the biggest smoke screen in team history — the Cats are going with Tyler Hansbrough, there I said it.

At least Hansbrough would have heart. Unlike Sean May.

From ESPN’s Chad Ford, on Williams: “He’s an eccentric dude and he doesn’t always come to play, but when he does, wow.”

Sounds a lot like Vince Carter.

8:49 That had to kill Mr. Jordan to call on a Duke guy. Gerald Henderson becomes the heir apparent to Raja Bell’s role of playing defense and making a couple of shots per night. This is a typical Larry Brown pick — not too exciting but probably very practical.

I will go with another Tar Heel up next to Indiana, Ty Lawson is my pick here for the Pacers.

The choice may have killed Jordan, but he killed me last year with the Alexis Ajinca pick.

You had to bring up Ajinca didn’t you? I had to step away, got a little sick for a minute. Thanks!

8:53 And the Pacers select Tyler Hansbrough with the 13th pick, higher than I think a lot of people expected. Indiana has got to be the whitest team in the league — Mike Dunleavy Jr., Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster and Hansbrough.

I had the wrong Tar Heel for Indiana. I am going with Earl Clark from Louisville to the Suns. More camera time for Pitino. He will enjoy that.

8:57 Whoa, there’s Jennings, who just walks out after Stern makes the Suns’ call on Earl Clark. That was weird.

“Earl’s not here, but the 10th pick of the 2009 NBA Draft, Brandon Jennings, is,” said Stern.

I will take my props for the Clark pick to the Suns.

Now for Jennings showing up late after he got picked. Something tells me next time David Stern speaks with Brandon “Buck the System” Jennings, it won’t be as pleasant. This kid is destined to be an off-the-court issue.

The Detroit Pistons are up next. I think they go with Mike Gminski and Kent Hrbek’s favorite player, Jrue Holiday. Maybe between the three of them, one of them will find a vowel.

9:03 Instead the Pistons go with Gonzaga’s Austin Daye at 15, or as I like to call him “The Biggest Bust of 2009.”

Bilas: He’s very skilled…but he’s not a very athlete.”


I like how Stu Scott referenced the Gonzaga alum John Stockton that got drafted years ago  Wonder why he didn’t reference Adam Morrison?

Chicago is up next.  This team was so impressive in the playoff series against Boston in Round 1. They may be a few pieces away form being back. I’m guessing they think James Johnson from Wake Forest is one of those pieces.

I like the Johnson call as well.

9:09 Johnson is the call. Bulls needed to get an offensive presence in the middle after getting hurt there against the Celtics.

I think the Johnson pick will help the Bulls, I like it.

Philadelphia up next. I think it will be Ty Lawson. Ty, here’s a hint — get the ball to Andre Iguodala.

Nope, it’s Jrue Holiday. Big-time high school prospect who didn’t seem to do much at UCLA. Then again, the same could have been said about Russell Westbrook last year.

OK, now it’s Minny again. Who are they drafting to package in a trade later?

And it’s over — Jrue Holiday, this year’s winner of the Vlade Divac Award (the last player at the draft to get picked) goes to Philly.

Minnesota is up again for the third time tonight. They already went guard twice so I think this time the pick moves to the front court or at least somewhat, I say it’s Pitt’s Sam Young.

This from Ford again over at ESPN, with a rumor of a potential Suns trade of Amare Stoudemire: “If they trade away Amare Stoudemire to Golden State, they’ll have a nice young core with Andris Biedrins, Brandan Wright, Clark, Robin Lopez and (if they got the 7th pick) Stephen Curry. If that happens, the Suns won’t be all that great from the get-go, but they’ll be fun.”

9:19 Hurry up and announce the trade already. There has to be a reason for drafting their third point guard of the nght — UNC’s Ty Lawson.

As it stands now, the Wolves can pass it, but have nobody to shoot it.

Lawson to the Timberwolves?  OK, here’s the game plan against Minnesota, don’t press, they have some guard presence. This has to be part of a brewing trade, no doubt about it.

OK, there it is. ESPN’s Ric Bucher says Lawson will be shipped to Denver for a future pick.

I don’t think there is any truth to the rumor that Michael Jordan is trying to acquire the 18th pick from Minnesota to draft Alexis Ajinca again.  I think someone told him he didn’t have to do that.

9:24 The Hawks take Wake Forest’s Jeff Teague. They should’ve taken another Deacs’ point guard a few years ago — Chris Paul.

Atlanta takes Wake’s Jeff Teague. I guess the woman that sat close to us at the Tim Duncan draft at the Charlotte Coliseum years ago is happy — she loved her Deacons.

I was wearing a UNC hat that night, and she asked me, “What are you doing here?” I replied: “I’m here to see the senior center who led his team to the Final Four get drafted.” I was referring to Serge Zwikker. Maybe my best line ever off the top of my head.

And I can remember her asking why you were there, and you said, “I’m here for picks 2-through-58.” Classic.

Utah is up next and has to be destroyed that Hansbrough is gone off of the board.  I gotta stick with the new Greg Ostertag, BJ Mullens.

9:31 Jazz go with Duke killer Eric Maynor from VCU. I think he’ll be pretty good.

New Orleans is up now.  This is still painful because these were my Hornets.  Plus, this is the point of the draft where my Hornets made such legendary picks as Greg Graham, Gritty Gutty Scott Burrell and George Zidek.

I say they use this pick on DeJuan Blair, I think you go the best on the board here.

9:36 Darren Collison from UCLA goes No. 21 to the Bugs. Backup for Paul, I guess. Collison would’ve been better off coming out last year.

Don’t really understand the Collison pick, but then again, there weren’t many Hornet draft picks I ever did understand. (Remember the night I did call the 2nd round pick of Makil Rose though? I was so excited…what a dork.)

Anyway, Portland up now. I say they take Sam Young. Why? Because eventuatlly somebody is going to take one of these kids from Pittsburgh.

I think Young can be a beast.

9:40 The Trail Blazers select…who?

Somebody finally took an international guy so Fran Fraschilla could talk again.  I refuse to submit another pick until one of the Pitt kids goes…

The guy’s name is Victor Claver. He’s from Spain and is red-headed. That’s all I can tell you.

9:45 The Kings make history with Omri Casspi, the first Israeli to be drafted in the NBA.

OK, I have to say it. Remember when our college kids used to be good enough to draft? Fraschilla is pumped because he gets to talk about two in a row. Good thing for Casspi though is that he and his new teammate Tyreke Evans both took the same number of exams at the University of Memphis.

Dallas is up next — maybe a Pittsburg kid? Maybe Toney Douglas from Florida State.

Hey, looking ahead to the 28th pick, do you think the Wolves will take Patty Mills to make them 4-for-4 on PGs?

9:49 Dallas takes BJ Mullens at No. 24. Good fit. Soft player for a soft team.

I guess you can’t teach size.  Oh to be 7-1.

Oklahoma City is next up. I lied about not picking again (this way, one of the Pitt kids will finally go) I will make Fraschilla happy and go with Jonas Jerebko.

9:53 The Team Robbed From The Good Fans of Seattle take some guy, from Guadeloupe, which Stern couldn’t pronounce. More Fraschilla.

OK, really? Rodrique Beaubois? And he is at the draft? Did somebody check his ID before he went up on stage? Can he really prove it is him? Who could take a look at him and say, “I’m pretty sure that really isn’t the real Rodrique Beaubois”.

And Bucher says Some Guy, who is a point guard originally from France, will be traded to Dallas for Mullens. So why not just take the guy? It’s one pick late in the first round.

Thinking the same thing about that reported trade.

Can Del Negro draft hair care products at 26?

He’d at least be the only guy connected the N.C. State involved in the first round of the NBA Draft.

ESPN’s Ford on Mullens: “Mullens reminds me a lot of a young Darko Milicic, for both good and bad — he’s skilled and athletic, but he doesn’t really know how to play.”


9:59 The Bulls take Taj Gibson of USC with the 26th pick.

And Bilas talks about Gibson’s long arms. That’s been Bilas’ focus this year — wingspan. Enough already.

Probably not a bad pick. This is a team on the way back up.

Next up is Hasheem Thabeet’s team, the Memphis Grizzlies. Just saying Grizzlies on draft night makes me think of “Big Country” Bryant Reeves. Out of curiosity, I may have to go to Ebay later tonight to see if I can find a Reeves Grizzlies jersey and how much it will be.  That may be as cool as our old Mahmoud Abdul Rauf jerseys there, Alex.

Anyway the pick for the Grizzlies — who cares, he won’t be anywhere close to Big Country Reeves.

Ah, Mahmoud. I remember when he was Chris Jackson.

10:07 DeMarre Carroll from Mizzou goes to Memphis at No. 27. Good role player. Athletic as hell.

God, love the guy in the Grizzlies jersey that seems excited about DeMarre Carroll.  Maybe he is a dork like me and has done his research on this guy.

Up next is Minnesota.  I say it’s Chase Budinger. They feel like he can be converted to point guard.

OK, Wolves, pick a point guard. C’mon. C’mon.

Even Bilas’ Best Available has both of my Pitt guys at the top now. Somebody please draft one of them, please.

10:12 Stern comes out to make the Minny pick, pauses, and says, “Hi there.” Love it.

And then the Wolves take UNC’s Wayne Ellington. I had him going to Cleveland at No. 30, but this is a need pick for the Wolves after trading Rodney Foye.

Wolves’ fans just gotta hope he’s not like another undersized 2-guard from UNC that they drafted — Rashad McCants.

Wayne Ellington to Minnesota.  Let’s see, a shooter from a national championship UNC team, well, Rashad McCants didn’t work out, let’s try Ellington. I’m a little disappointed that he didn’t last until the Cavs. I think he is what they needed.

This next pick, whoever is taking it, the Lakers or the Knicks has to be the Jack McClinton kid from Miami. I don’t recall a sold pick previously.

10:19 The Lakers are picking for the Knicks here. And they go with Toney Douglas, of Florida State, who D’Antoni, who also just traded for Darko Milicic, was hot after.

Wow, we were really on the same page with the Ellington/McCants thing and the Cleveland/Ellington fit weren’t we?  Doesn’t surprise me.

OK, there is one Bryant Reeves jersey on ebay for $9.99 and it has one bid on it. I swear to God, I did not place the bid. There are also several rookie cards starting at a buck.

OK, I went with the wrong ACC kid from Florida there. Douglas can flat-out play.  That’s a nice find this late in the draft. I would certainly take my chances on him and his proven record over these international kids that look like they need to bulk up.

To close the first round, LeBron and Shaq’s team, the Cavs — they need a shooter. However, I think they go with DaJuan Summers of Georgetown.

10:23 And the Cavs, to close out the first round and the draft diary select… Some Guy!

And he’s there, much to the chagrin of Stern, who gives him a look like, “What are you doing here, and why should I wait for you?”

Thanks Cleveland, go ahead and take my Beaubois comments earlier and sub in the name Christian Eyenga and you have my thoughts.

Christian Eyenga, of the Congo, is the latest Some Guy. His grainy highlights include a few moves filmed from the corner of a gym that has about seven people in the stands. It looked like a high school gym.

And in a few years, this guy might play with LeBron James. What a game.

I will be watching the second round but I know it’s not worth blogging on. I enjoyed it yet again. Maybe DeJuan Blair and Sam Young turn into second-round gold for somebody.

Enjoyed it as always. All 4,200 words of it.

Same time next year?

See you then.

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