Adam Gold

Even in a loss, there is a win

Posted February 3, 2013

Even from down here in New Orleans, where the Ravens and 49ers will soon settle the 2012 football season, you could feel the elation, the pain and the suffering of Triangle ACC fans. On a back-to-back-to-back, chilly first Saturday in February, the Tar Heels, Blue Devils and Wolfpack all showed out, and while all three didn't win, I'll make the case that in the end all three were winners for differing reasons.

North Carolina got us started with a trip-to-the-dentist sort of affair, beating Virginia Tech in overtime, 72-60. The Heels spotted the Hokies a 12-0 lead, then clawed their way back in it thanks in large part to 17 offensive rebounds -- and they needed every single one of them. Two of Carolina's final three made baskets in regulation came as a result of an offensive rebound and the first bucket of overtime was a Desmond Hubert follow tip of a missed Marcus Paige jump shot. The Tar Heels only scored eight points in the last 9:01 of the second half, and only survived into overtime thanks to the strong defensive effort of Reggie Bullock. And that brings us to….

Anyone with a basic understanding of basketball could tell you that North Carolina isn't a very good offensive basketball team this year. They don't have a point guard who can consistently run their offense and get the ball to the right players, in the right positions on the floor, to score efficiently. They also don't have a strong post presence and their perimeter game falls a bit short of consistency. Therefore, it's been left up to Carolina's defense to bail them out and that's exactly what happened against Virginia Tech. With P.J. Hairston sidelined with a concussion, Leslie McDonald returned to the line up and contributed to a three-player defensive effort in guarding the Hokies' Erick Green, the leading scorer in college basketball.

Green came into the game scoring an average of 27.4 points in conference play, and a staggering 30 points over his last three contests. But, thanks to Bullock, McDonald and Dexter Strickland, Green was held to only the second sub-20 point scoring output of the year and hounded him into a 7-for-21 day shooting the basketball. Good thing they defended, too, because that trio didn't give a lot on the offensive end. They combined for a 6-of-27 shooting performance that was indicative of UNC's scoring woes. Luckily, Marcus Paige was in the building. The freshman led the team in shots, hitting four from long range and scored 19 points, eight of which came in a two-minute span of overtime as the Heels opened up a 69-60 lead.

However, on a day when Carolina could muster only a 37 percent shooting performance of their own, their defense on Green and their ability to hit the offensive glass are the reasons why the Tar Heels are 5-3 in conference play.

Next up, the Duke Blue Devils visited Florida State and, in retrospect, gave you a perfect opportunity to make your Super Bowl Sunday beer and chips run. This game was over before the second media time out as Duke opened up an 18-2 can-of-ugly on the Seminoles in the first 5:48 en route to a 79-60 win that was far more lopsided than even that score indicates.

The Blue Devils made eight of their first 10 shots, two of them from beyond the 3-point line, and forced FSU into three turnovers and that was all you'd need to see. This was, without question, the best Duke has looked since Ryan Kelly's injury, and they didn't even need a great contribution from senior center Mason Plumlee (8 points, 5 rebounds in just 29 minutes). Not that Plumlee wasn't an integral part of what they did, it just wasn't a big scoring day for the Devils' player of the year candidate.

The trio of Quin Cook, Seth Curry and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 53 points on 20-of-34 shooting from the field and a scorching 11-of-17 from long range. In an afternoon in which the Blue Devils shot nearly 61 percent from the floor, they actually were slightly better from beyond the arc and that will always spell trouble for the opposite uniforms. Better than his 14 points however, was Sulaimon's defense on Florida State's all-league guard Michael Snaer. The senior was held to just seven points -- half of his average -- on 3-of-13 shooting from the floor and didn't score his first points until a 3-pointer finally went down nearly five minutes into the second half.

Duke is now 6-2 in conference play heading into their Thursday night, must-win, revenge match against NC State because….

The Wolfpack were stunned near the buzzer by Miami, 79-78 at PNC Arena in the finale of the Triangle Triple-header. Let's channel the words and thoughts of Sidney Lowe for a second and recognize that there are days when basketball truly is a game of runs. The Hurricanes led 17-8 after a little more than six minutes were gone. State then countered with a 24-9 surge over the next 9:33 to lead 32-26.  Then, with 14 minutes left, freshman guard Tyler Lewis completed a 3-point play giving the Wolfpack a 54-44 lead and PNC Arena was vibrating. But, the Canes hit six of their next seven shots and responded with a 24-8 run over a seven-minute span that had Miami ahead, 68-62 with 7:09 left in the game.

Stay with me, people.  The roller coaster ride isn't over. 

State, behind Rodney Purvis and Calvin Leslie, outscored the Hurricanes 14-3 over the next five minutes and led by five with just over two minutes to play. Unfortunately, the last burst belonged to The U, and when Reggie Johnson tipped home Shane Larkin's miss with 0.8 seconds on the clock, NC State was left wanting with their second last-second loss in conference play. In fact, the Wolfpack's four losses in the ACC have come by a combined seven points. Still, at 5-4, NC State isn't close to where this team needed to be heading to Cameron Indoor Stadium where Duke will be seeking revenge from their loss in Raleigh, but more-importantly trying to maintain contact with 8-0 Miami in the standings. Miami tops NC State in final seconds, 79-78 Slideshow: Miami tops NC State in final seconds, 79-78

At the start, I mentioned that in a way, even though all three locals didn't win, I could argue that all three were winners. Here's why…

Thanks to Lorenzo Brown's ankle injury -- and the Wolfpack's slow start with Rodney Purvis trying handle point guard duties -- Mark Gottfried was forced to use Tyler Lewis for 36 minutes. Quickly though, the term "forced" became inaccurate, because it was obvious that with Lewis on the floor NC State looked once again like a formidable offensive team. Lewis just knows how to play the point, and while he still got himself in trouble with over aggressive play at times, he made a lot more positive plays than negative ones. In the end, his line looked impressive with 16 points, five assists and just one turnover, but the most important gain was the amount of confidence in him that his head coach realized over the 36-minute performance that nearly produced a win in a great college basketball environment.

Lewis' afternoon, even in a loss, and even with the knowledge that he's got a lot of work to do on the defensive end of the court, should expand State's bench rotation to seven serious contributors. Lewis' emergence should also allow Gottfried to play him alongside Brown and allow Brown to play off the ball some to take advantage of his offensive creativity from the wing. Even in the loss, and the loss hurts, Lewis' play should give Wolfpack fans a little silver lining to take forward.

It won't completely mask the fact that they're potentially staring at a .500 conference record with eight games left to play -- a situation that they have only themselves and their focus-free play on too many nights to blame -- but, when you project ahead, it just might be the difference between ending the season in March or April. Every once in a while the one step back allows you to take two steps forward.


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  • jtparrot Feb 4, 2013

    jrt0856, Sure he has a bit of an ego, but unlike gold, he does NOT try to force his opinions down our collective throat. I hate that. I like the fact that DG DOES provide sound analysis. That's why I listen to him. He is very informative and NOT a cheerleader for NCSU. Point taken about scoops.

  • VT1994Hokie Feb 4, 2013

    I just went back and checked the FT shooting and getting to the line. UNC was twice above VT in this cat. This is one reason I wrote last night. UNC fouled Green several times, and it wasn't called. That's not right.

  • jrt0856 Feb 4, 2013

    jt parrot I have to disagree with you about Glenn, that guy has an ego as big as his head. He thinks he knows everything and when thinks he has a scoop on something, man he will let everyone know it. He has a tendency over analyze. Other than that and he too is a yankee carpetbagger, he is a nice guy.

  • PanthersFan45 Feb 4, 2013

    I disagree with teh comment about UNC not being a good offensive team this year. The Tar Heels can score and run a break, the ycan hit 3's ..... I think their problem is that they are too soft on defense.

  • jtparrot Feb 4, 2013

    Remember folks, Gold (and Joe Ovaries) are employees of CAPITOL(affiliated w/NC STATE) broadcasting, which owns WRAL-TV, FOX-TV, WRAL 101.5, and 99.9 THE PACK, et al. He has always been State's most outspoken apologist from his days with 850 THE BUZZ, before he signed with the PACK NETWORK, but now he is not just gettin paid to kiss up to NCSU athletics, he writes stuff like this to annoy other fan bases! I don't listen that show anymore, but not because of their NCSU alliance. They are very condescending...UNLIKABLE people! Don't buy what they are selling....IT WILL MAKE YOU SICK! OTOH, DAVID GLENN 12-3 rocks!

  • VT1994Hokie Feb 3, 2013

    Roy did a nice coaching job in this one. He called a few TO's, and his players rose to the fore. The Hokies didn't have the energy to hang in OT.

  • Hammerhead Feb 3, 2013

    I think somebody needs a nap.

  • Constitutional-Defender Feb 3, 2013


  • Constitutional-Defender Feb 3, 2013

    Typical Maryland persona. BAG!

  • Constitutional-Defender Feb 3, 2013

    Good ole Adam Mold! Making the term carpet bagger have more substance every time he opens his mouth. Please dude, shut up already! Asd soon as hear that annoying voice with the "hang up on a caller that doesn't agree" Yankee attitude, I change the channel. After I get over the gag reflex.




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