Quick hits: Hurricanes, Duke & recruiting
Posted February 9, 2013
Updated February 11, 2013
Getting to know you
The Carolina Hurricanes could have used the benefit of a training camp and exhibition season as much as, and probably more than, anyone this year. Head Coach Kirk Muller has yet to have a full training camp as a NHL boss and the organization made two major changes to its line-up in the off-season by trading for Jordan Staal and signing free agent sniper Alexander Semin. In the first week, the chemistry between Eric Staal and his new line mate Semin seemed a click off and goalie Cam Ward was a little rusty going about eight months without real game action. The result for the first five games of the season was uneven play, and a power play that was sputtering. A few weeks later, with some tweeking to the line-up, and a fortunate three day break in the schedule to allow the coaching staff some valuable teaching time, has the Hurricanes playing a better brand of hockey.
Eric Staal has been red-hot scoring in eight consecutive games. The captain of the Canes is healthy, told me he trained a lot this off-season prepping for the year, and the fact that he was itching to get on the ice could be why he has reversed a trend of starting slow. Also, adding a player like Semin on the wing and having his brother Jordan Staal in the locker room has made a difference on and off the ice. If Staal can keep this pace up through the shortened schedule, Carolina should count on having playoff hockey to look forward to.
Mike Krzyzewski had to reinvent his team this year after Ryan Kelly was forced to the bench with a foot injury and the new look Devils have adapted nicely. Duke is still a top five team and dispatched NC State this week. Many people think that the Devils are the class of the ACC. Nine out of ten times this is the case, but the Miami Hurricanes have been the best team since conference play has started. At the ACC media days, Miami big man Reggie Johnson told me that if if his team had 'UNC' on the uniforms instead of 'the U' that people would have picked them to win the conference. With the talent level on his team Johnson had no doubt a team from the state of North Carolina would have started the year ranked in the top ten. Johnson should know a little about this, he grew up in Winston-Salem. At the time of writing this, Miami has yet to lose an ACC game and gave Duke a beating it hadn't received in over two decades. CBS basketball analyst Dan Bonner told me because it is Miami and not a usual ACC basketball power, people have been hesitant to give the Canes their due. Miami has moved into the AP top ten and if the U can keep playing at this level, they might not get the recognition of being the best in the ACC but something much better, the championship hardware that comes with winning the league.
No, not number 1.
For six consecutive weeks the number one team atop the AP poll has lost within the week after being selected the top team in the country. This week #1 Indiana, #2 Florida, #3 Michigan and #5 Kansas all were beaten. Look out Duke, you might get a third crack at the top spot.
Proper grading system
Recruiting is the lifeblood of every college sport, and football recruiting has becoming bigger than ever. It is understandable, we love football in this country, but I humbly suggest a change to the grading system. Classes cannot receive any kind of grading until year three of the class. While most of the star players will see the field, the true measure of the class is when they actually get into games and play, something most freshmen never get a chance to do.
Not so fine whine
Yes, the officials could have thrown a flag on the last offensive play the San Francisco 49ers ran in Super Bowl XLVII, but they didn't. Yet San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh keeps complaining about the non-call costing his team the title. I argue it was a combination of the Ravens building up a 28-6 lead, and yes there were a few bad calls on the 49ers last possession but those were the plays that were sent in to Colin Kaepernick. Haven't heard Jim Harbaugh's reasoning for not getting his mobile quarterback out of the pocket on those last few plays, I am sure it was not Harbaugh's fault, just ask him.
Also if Jim would take time to notice that every time he complains about how the refs did him wrong, he is taking away from the title that the opposing coach won. If you didn't hear, it is his older brother John.