Stan Van Gundy on D1 basketball

Orlando head coach Stan Van Gundy told the Orlando Sentinel that if he were to fall out of the NBA coaching ranks, he’d rather coach at a small college than at the major D1 level:

“As far as what it’s all about at the Division 1 level and what it’s all about here, it’s all the same thing. It’s all about winning and losing, putting people in the seats and money,” the Magic coach told the Sentinel after Wednesday’s shootaround.

“I mean, those people throw out that they are really into academics and all that … There may be four or five schools that’s true of.

“I don’t know of coaches getting fired winning 20-25 games a year and kids aren’t graduating. I don’t know people who are keeping their jobs that aren’t winning and are graduating. It’s about the same stuff.

“Here, [in the NBA], it’s just more honest. We all know what it’s all about. You don’t have to pay lip service to things. This is the best basketball in the world.”

He makes a good point, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants to do something about it.

Duncan suggests that schools that cannot graduate at least 40 percent of their student-athletes be banned from postseason play. If the rule was applied to this year’s tournament, 12 of the 65 teams would be locked out of the tournament. Three of them are No. 6 seeds or better—the University of Tennessee, the University of Maryland, and the University of Kentucky. “If you can’t manage to graduate two out of five players, how serious are the institutions and the colleges about the players’ academic success?” Duncan asks. “How are they preparing student-athletes for life?”

The data is from 1999-2003, and it seems a little unfair to focus on players that played seven to 11 years ago. Also, programs that send a lot of players to the NBA shouldn’t be penalized because their players are good enough to make millions playing professional ball. If this rule were implemented, it should focus only on players that stayed in college for four years.

For years, The Bootleg has studied graduation rates for football, basketball and baseball. The data is more recent, from 2004-2007. I’m not at all surprised to see my former coach, Bo Ryan, and the Wisconsin program near the top of the Big Ten (78%). He tends to recruit smart players who will likely stay in school for four years. Duke is second in the ACC at 92%, while North Carolina is at 75%. Maryland brings up the rear at a measly 8%. That’s just pathetic.


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Lack of continuity is killing the Tar Heels

North Carolina put up a fight, but lost at home to #7 Duke, 64-54. The score was tied, 45-45 with eight minutes to play, but a pair of Jon Scheyer bombs — one with 5:35 to play to give Duke a four-point lead and another with 2:35 to play to push the lead to nine — effectively broke Carolina’s back.

The Tar Heels are a mess, especially offensively. It’s no surprise that they’re suffering from a lack of leadership, considering that just two of the team’s top seven players (in terms of minutes), Deon Thompson and Ed Davis, returned from last year’s championship team. And it’s tough for big men to be leaders because they don’t handle the ball as much as guards do and aren’t able to set a standard for taking care of the ball and making that extra pass for an open shot. Upperclassmen are so important in terms of leading the youngsters by example, and Roy Williams simply isn’t getting that kind of leadership from seniors Thompson and Marcus Ginyard, or junior Will Graves.

The Tar Heels also got killed on the defensive glass. Duke had 19 offensive rebounds, which allowed the Blue Devils to shoot 11 more shots than UNC.

North Carolina is now 2-7 and isn’t likely to get a bid to the NCAA tournament. Meanwhile, Duke is 8-2 and in sole possession of first place in the ACC.


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#18 Georgia Tech nips #13 North Carolina

The Yellow Jackets blew a 20-point lead, but withstood a furious North Carolina comeback to beat the Tar Heels, 73-71, in Chapel Hill. Iman Shumpfert posted 30-4-6 or Georgia Tech, while Gani Lawal added 12-12. I can see why scouts like Derrick Favors (he’s long and athletic), but he hasn’t done much in the two games I’ve seen him play (versus Duke and North Carolina).

Will Graves brought the Tar Heels back with 22 points in the second half, including five three-pointers. He led North Carolina with 24 points.

Another big Saturday in sports

We’re in that sweet spot in the sports calendar when the NFL playoffs are going on and there are some good in-conference matchups in college hoops. Here’s a quick look at what’s on tap for Saturday. (All times Eastern.)

12 PM: #5 Syracuse @ #9 West Virginia (ESPN)
2 PM: #18 Georgia Tech @ #13 North Carolina (ESPN)
4:30 PM: Cardinals @ Saints (Fox)
8:15 PM: Ravens @ Colts (CBS)

That’s not a bad lineup at all.

NC State upsets No. 24 North Carolina

For the third year in a row, NC State got the best of its in-state rival.

The Wolf Pack beat No. 24 North Carolina 28-27 on Saturday after rallying from down 24-14 at halftime. Sophomore quarterback Russell Wilson was outstanding while racking up 258 passing yards and four touchdowns on 20 of 27 passing. NC State’s defense also forced two turnovers and held North Carolina to just three points in the second half.

In the first half, Tar Heels quarterback T.J. Yates was incredible. He completed just 6 of 8 passes, but it went for 201 yards and two touchdowns on 25.1 yards per pass. But in the second half, he finished just 7-for-11 for 74 yards and an interception.

After ratting off four straight wins including impressive outings against Virginia Tech and Miami, this was a disappointing end for North Carolina – especially considering how good the Teels looked in the first half.


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