Sunday, March 11, 2007

ACC Championship Game Live Blog: North Carolina vs. NC State

ESPN gets us fired up with its Gym Gems of the Year, ending with Ty Lawson flexing and screaming into the camera after burying Duke. Man...combination of excitement and jealousness. Love that stuff.

Alright, down to business: Mike Patrick gives the intro as two random 12-year-olds walk down a board walk with seagulls everywhere. I don't get it. At least we know its Patrick and Vitale, though. Shouldn't have expected anything less, but you can always hope. If he mentions Dicky V getting into the HOF, I'm going to throw something heavy at the TV.

They are showing Sidney Lowe's run through the ACC tourney in '83. That's crazy you used to have to win your conference tourney to get into the NCAA Tournament.

Again: Mike Patrick makes me thankful I don't have HDTV.

Dick says an NC St. win would be the greatest acheievement in ACC Tourney history. Quite the statement, Dick.

Talking points I don't want to hear about but I know we will: Hansbrough wears a face mask, Engin Atsur is hurt, Sidey Lowe wears an ugly coat. I'll go with Atsur's hammy winning, but the mask could be an upset.

And The Mask gets us started with a pretty fadeaway. Fells answers with a contested three. I hate him, I'm pretty sure.

Roy is rocking a Carolina Blue jacket. I don't know how I feel about this.

6-3 early after my man Ty finds B Wright for a wide open dunk. Fells hits another friggin' 3. It's official: I hate him. But Ellington answers, 8-6, good guys.

Now Costner hits a three...this is stupid. At least UNC is contesting them.

The Mask rotates over and takes a charge...seems fine. Back after the break.

Aaaaaaand we're back. Fells misses his second three. Keep shooting, Fells, keep shooting.

OH MY GOD. Doris Burke informs us that Ty Lawson "popped something" during warm ups. She fails to tell us where this pop came from, however...Ty seems fine, pushes the ball up court for an easy layup. Whew. Frickin' Costner hits another three!, 14-12, Ugly Guys.

(There was this t-shirt I always wanted that had The Good, The Bad and The Ugly written on it with accompanying pictures of UNC, Duke and NC St. Loved that shirt.)

Costner pushes the lead to 18-12. That's fine. NC St. just can't sustain this. They just can't. I'm excited for the 11-0 run the open the second half, puncuated by Reyshawn Terry taking off from the foul line. Speaking of Terry, he just buried a three: 18-15, Good Guys.

Let me say this: I love Marcus Ginyard. What a rebound he just pulled down. He'll be at the line for two when we get back

Do you think it is really that great at Buffalo Wild Wings? I've never been there, but apparently it is like Cheers on steroids. I'm thinking they are exaggerating a little bit.

Things I am unsure about, Part II: Doris Burke. I don't know if I hate her or really, really like her.

Oh, Carolina is pressing! Good call, Roy. NC St. barely gets it across the line before missing a shot...Why does Bobby Frasor try to play like Ty Lawson. Just do you, Bobby. Just do you.

here we go with the subs again. I understand subbing the hell out of NC St...but let's mix and match the starters, eh? Do we really need to play Frasor, Wes Miller and Ginyard at the same time?

NC St. is trying to spread UNC out and penetrate, but Atsur is unwatchably slow. He looks like Byron Leftwhich on Madden.

Holy shit: Gavin Grant just shot from the corner and it hit the side of the backboard. He should probably be subbed for. Third steal in a row for the Heels and Ellington finishes at the other end. 23-21, Good Guys. The Red Coats call a timeout.

Lawson beats everyone up court and finds Thompson for another lay up. Has anyone ever considered trying to stop Lawson in the back court? Ya know, putt your fastest guy in the back court, make or miss, make him change directions once or twice instead of giving him a beeline to the basket and a plethora of passing angle? I'm not saying you are gonna stop him, but you might slow him down, which is something. It's worth a try, I think.

The Red Coats are really struggling against this UNC pressure. I can't get over how slow they are. This 5 guys stand around the perimeter and try to beat people off the dribble thing is probably a bad idea.

Costner just got away with a double dribble and scored. Unreal. Vitale: "I got one eye and I saw that!" His name is Dick, he has one eye...there's a joke in there somewhere. You make it.

Brandon Wright is so long. Soooooo long. He his that little lefty hook, but Atsur responds with a 3. 28-27, Ugly Guys.

Atsur can't even go by Lawson using a double ball screen. He is redefining the word slow. We're tied at 30 after Mr Smooth, Wayne Ellington hits a three from the corner.

Nice hustle play by Thompson to keep the play alive - I can't believe he even gets time, but whatever - that ends with Brandon Wright getting eye level with the rim and just crushing the ball through the net. I took a break from typing to pump my fist.

On the court right now: Frasor, Miller, Thompson, Green and Hansbrough. That's a terrible, terrible line up Roy, and you know it. One starter, no one on the perimeter that can create their own shot...tied at 32 as we go to commercial.

Have you seen this "How do you measure wealth" commercial, where this rich CEO throws on the worst pink bunny suit ever to play with those kids? he's the head of a huge company and he can't get a better bunny suit than that? And he wears it over his suit? The pink bunny suit from A Christmas Story is better than that.

Hansbrough just got triple teamed. Because there's no reason not to with this stupid line up on the court. Green scores, though. He looks like a malnourished Julius Peppers. Wes Miller from his sweet spot - 9 feet behind the stripe on the right wing. I love Wes Miller! 37-32, Good Guys.

Miller again from the corner! I love Wes Miller! This line up is awesome. They should start.

Carolina is so good at closing out halves. They had like a 14 point swing against Florida St. the other day. Kevin Costner hits two freebies. Roy took Wes out! What the hell, Roy?!?! Starters back in for the final minute. Good idea, I guess.

UNC goes into the locker room up 8. First 5 minutes of the second half will decide this game. If UNC keeps it at 8 or pushes it, this game is over. If NC St. hangs around, they have a chance. Just a chance, though. Back after halftime.

Half time highlights: We have Rick Majerus and Steve Lavin. They are solid, no complaints. I like Brenna and Gottlieb better, though. I love Gottlieb. Karl Ravech just said "Well, its easy to finger Kevin Durant..." which made me laugh because those are the kind of things I think are funny.

Alright, here we go. No. 1 seed on the line for North Carolina. NIT bid on the line for NC State. The game clock didn't start. I'm telling you, there is something the matter with the clocks in college basketball. They are more unreliable than Ron Artest.

Lawson comes out in the second half rocking a 7:1 assist to TO ratio for the ACC Tourney and some tape around his left wrist. Wonder if that is what popped? Hansbrough makes two free throws - that mask is killing him; he's gotta scrap it and just hope nothing happens - and Ellington scores in transition. UNC is up 12. Don't sub yet, Roy. Leave the starters in, let them push this out, please. Well, Wes can play. But that's it.

Oh what a play by my man Ty Lawson. Goes baseline and finished with a hanging reverse lay-up. With the kiss! Where's Bill Raftery when you need him? Time out, Ugly Guys.

Why the hell would the Southland Tournament schedule thier game for Selection Sunday? Who is going to watch that when they can choose from the ACC and SEC title games? or the Big 12 and Big 10? That's just dumb, that's what that is. Billy Packer thinks it is a good idea though.

The Atsur slurping has been kept to a tolerable minimum and references to The Coat and to the Mask have been surprisingly limited, too. I have to say, Vitale and Patrick have been listenable to. Vitale just harps on the same damn things all the time: "Look at NC St.! They can't score quickly! They just can't! It isn't they style! Their game!" Listen, we get it, alright? Say something else, Dick.

Vitale is obsessed with body language. He can tell who is winning a tennis match just by observing body language. He's got a keen eye, that Vitale. And I meant that literally: he just has one eye. He told us so.

Vitale: "I don't know if people realize - well, if they are watching the game they would - but Wes Miller hit two huge threes." Good observation. Lawson blitzes to the tin in transition: UNC up 56-43, 13 minutes left.

Hey, did you know that no team has ever won 4 games ina row to win the ACC tourney? They hadn't mentioned it yet, Good to know.

3 hours 39 minutes and 10 seconds until the brackets are revealed. Just thought you should know.

NC St cuts it to nine after Hansbrough gets nailed for an offensive foul away from the ball. Lose the damn mask! My girlfriend just informs me that she is somehow more attracted to Hansbrough with the mask on. Yea...lose the mask.

Mike Patrick says "sen ARE ee oh" instead of "sen AIR ehh oh." I don't know why I mentioned that. Lead down to 8, by the way. NC St. in a zone, but Wright jumps over everyone and scores. He is freakin' automatic. I love him.

Costner shot a three and started back peddling down court like it was in, but it was a huge brick. good for ya, Kevin. Oh Ellington with a gorgoeus pull up three. He has 14 and the lead back up to 11. Make that 9. Little Jack Horner hits a wide open J. UNC gives up more uncontested shots than anyone in the nation.

Hansbrough hits one of those patented one-handed turn around/ fall aways, gets fouled and jacks Costner in the jaw all in one fluid motion. Good trip down the court all around.

Horner from the same spot. Like...who is guarding him? When he is just wandering around doing nothing, is he curious what his man is up to? I know I've said this before.

Roy is screaming his head off. That's what I like to see.

Costner gets a break away dunk as Vitale launches into his "Keep the dream alive!" spiel, referencing everyone from Jimmy V to Sidney Lowe. I hate him. Ginyard gets drilled and no foul is called. Atsur rims out a runner. That was huge. Costner hits Hansbrough as hard as he can and Costner is the onelaying on the ground, all dazed and confused. Hansbrough is a friggin' ox.

Oh, here we go: reruns of Gerald Henderson's cheap shot. Vitale says the refs made a good call, but Henderson didn't do it with intent. Can anyone just believe he did it on purpose? Is that too much of a leap for anybody?!?! The lead is back to eight, by the way with a little over seven minutes left. I'm just a little uncomfortable.

Down to 6. Gulp. Hansbrough draws a foul, and by "draws" I mean "the refs made a call up because he's Tyler Hansbrough." Lead back to 8. Under 7 minutes. Make that 6...nice back door pass from Atsur. I don't think Ginyard shooting a contested three is what UNC had in mind.

I'm going to have to label to one as "questionable." Grant gets a generous continuation call, and one, lead down to three, 68-65. UNC goes to Hansbrough again. He has an entire team hanging on him and he draws another foul. It's all because of that mask, I'm telling you.

Gavin Grant pulls another shot out of his ass and Hansbrough walks. 70-67, Heels. Wolfpack ball. Fells hits a ridiculous shot but then Reyshawn Terry shoots way too quickly and drills it. What a huge shot. Terry wanted that ball, too - he's got balls the size of cantaloupes. Oh and Terry again! What an athletic finish around the rim, plus the foul. Let's recheck those balls: yep, just as I suspected - watermelon size. 75-69, Good Guys, thanks to Reyshawn Terry and his fruit. 4:25 left.

There is under 4 minutes left in an uncomfortably close ACC title game and Doris Burke is rattling off names of the production crew and giving thanks. There's a better time for this, Doris. Like, never.

Reyshawn just drilled a ridiculous, contested pull up three. Unreal. Where the hell has this been the last four years? Costner comes back down, draws a foul and scores. UNC up four with Costner at the line for one when we come back.

78-75 with 3 minutes left after Costner knocks down the free throw.

Lawson and Wright take turns rimming out shots from a foot away apiece. Cripes. I can't feel my legs. Cosnter just walked but they didn't call it. NC St. throws up an airball to make up for it. UNC misses, so does NC St. UNC ball, three point lead, 1:28 left. Time out Good Guys. I am seeing three screens right now. I hope Roy says something really good right now, because if NC St. pulls this off, it is not only bad for bubble teams everywhere, it is bad for basketball as a sport. I really believe that.

Ellington called for a foul with one tick left on the shot clock. It was a, um...good call. They use the old "you got him with the body" excuse. Ellington calmly knocks down both. 80-75, one minute left. Atsur bricks a three and Lawson is fouled in the scramble for the rebound.

Knocks down one. Knocks down two. 82-75. 56.4 left. Patrick and Vitale launch into the whole "threes-or-points" usual, the announcer says they should jack threes and the basketball guy says just take points. This happens without fail at the end of every relatively close game.

Sweet Mary Mother of God. Wright fouls Costner and Costner scores. Lead to 4. NC St. puts Hansbrough at the line. Hansbrough pushed the lead to six.

Back to this whole "threes vs. points" debate: you take what the D gives you. You aren't making a comeback when you are down by six just by trading 3's for 2's, anyways. You would need to make threes on six consecutive possessions just to tie. That ain't happening. You need to get at least one, probably two turnovers or stops, and they need to miss the front end of a one-and-one. So you just take the points. It isn't about you scoring as much as it is about them not scoring.

NC St. gets a quick bucket and then fouls Lawson. Ty short arms the first one. Not good. Makes the other one. 5 point lead, 30 seconds. Carolina gets a stop and you can see beads of sweat running down Sidney Lowe's bald dome. Lead to 7.

Ty Lawson caps it with a break away dunk. That was awesome. He had to slow up and get his steps down and everything, but he got it. That was awesome.

Aaaaaaaaaaand NC St.'s season is over. Can't say I feel bad for them at all. There's something endearing about watching an opponent you loathe go down to one knee and cry.

UNC gets its first conference title and probably locked up a No. 1 seed. Good day.

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