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College Basketball in the Carolinas

View from the East
Thursday, December 31, 2001

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Battier's Gone? Someone Tell Duke's Foes


This is a different college basketball season but one aspect has remained constant — Duke’s position atop the nation’s elite teams. The Blue Devils lost college player of the year, Shane Battier, but overall they have regrouped nicely.

It still seems a little unusual not to see Dave Odom squatting as coach on the sideline at Wake Forest, a position he maintained for 12 years while elevating the Deacons program.

North Carolina is struggling to reach the level of success it has enjoyed for decades but has shown improvement with a three-game winning streak that included a 96-62 win over Texas A&M in Chapel Hill on Sunday. That evened UNC’s record at 5-5.

N.C. State hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since George W.’s dad was in the White House, and a 72-65 loss to Maryland in a game that degenerated into free-throw shooting contest in Raleigh on Sunday night didn’t help the Wolfpack’s aspirations for a return to the Big Dance.

East Carolina is on the verge of playing in Conference USA. The first game for the Pirates brings a very tough and talented Cincinnati team to Greenville on Saturday. The Bearcats are led by a guard named Steve Logan, which sounds a little weird.

College of Charleston continues to roll. The Cougars are 10-1, their only loss to Division II Belmont Abbey — more proof perhaps that college basketball this season is stranger than fiction. Even Duke — that seemingly constant, reliable standard of excellence — which generally microwaves non-conference competition to a crisp in Cameron Indoor Stadium, had a power outing in the second half on Saturday.

Let’s get to the State Line Hoops Rankings© for the Division I programs in the Carolinas, the Top 10 and then — the Not-So-Sweet 17.

State Line Hoops Report & Rankings© (12/31/01)


1. Duke ... The Blue Devils were left explaining their inability to put San Diego State away after the Aztecs used an 18-3 run to put a big dent in a 25-point deficit — a game Duke eventually won, 92-79 in Durham on Saturday.

Mike Dunleavy scored a career-high 25 points as Duke tallied over 90 points for the fourth straight game. The Aztecs, guided by former Michigan coach Steve Fisher, are a veteran team that regained a measure of poise amid their rowdy surroundings.

Duke improved to 11-0. The Blue Devils were without reserve forward Casey Sanders due to a stomach virus.

“We have to learn that teams are going to come out after us and we have to be able to fight,” said Duke guard Chris Duhon, who had seven assists.

2. Wake Forest ... The Deacons underwent a similar scenario in Winston-Salem against Marquette in a matchup of nationally-ranked teams. After building a 19-point lead, Wake had to stave off the Golden Eagles after the visitors had come back to tie the score at 57.

Wake’s Darius Songaila challenged his classmates and the Deacons responded with a closing 7-2 run that featured scoring contributions from seniors Songaila, Antwan Scott and Craig Dawson.

“We had talked for the last 24 hours that our seniors had to play like seniors and they did,” said Wake coach Skip Prosser.

3. College of Charleston ... The Cougars upped their record to 10-1 with a 68-61 win over Radford on Saturday night, a team which ECU beat in double overtime in Greenville.

Guard Jeff Bolton continues to lead Coach John Kresse’s club with a 17.5-point scoring average. Troy Wheless, who played on the high school level for Bunn, scored 21 points in the win. The Cougars, winners of the Tournament of Champions in Charlotte, are hitting 38.2 percent of their three-point attempts.

4. South Carolina ... Dave Odom is making Gamecocks athletic director Mike McGee look like he knew what he was doing when he lured the Goldsboro native and former ECU coach away from Wake Forest. Odom has the Gamecocks off to a 10-3 start after an 88-52 pounding of Mercer on Sunday. Chuck Eidson hit 6 of 7 field goal attempts for the Gamecocks and had 17 points. USC had never won 10 games before January. The Gamecocks have drawn 40 charges already, compared to 45 for all of last season.

5. N.C. State ... Marcus Melvin certainly exhibited a flair for the dramatic and perhaps a sense of history when his three-pointer at the buzzer nipped Houston 67-66 at Hofheinz Pavillion last Sunday. The Cougars had watched tape of NCSU’s 54-52 win over Houston’s Phi Slamma Jamma crew for the 1983 NCAA championship in which Dereck Whittenburg’s miss from roughly the same area on the court had been slammed through by Lorenzo Charles. No such magic for the Wolfpack a week later as Maryland guards Steve Blake and Juan Dixon came alive offensively down the stretch on Sunday night. The teams shot 81 free throws.

6. Charlotte ... The 49ers climbed over .500 to 6-5 on Saturday night with a 97-87 win at George Washington as senior guard Jobey Thomas led the way with 29 points. He’s averaging a team-high 17.8, hitting 90 percent of his free throws and 42.9 percent from three-point land. Senior Cam Stephens continues to lead Coach Bobby Lutz’s club on the boards. He has an 8.5 rebounding average and grabbed 15 at GW. Demon Brown dealt out nine assists in the win. The Niners start C-USA play at home against Marquette next Saturday.

7. UNC Wilmington ... The Seahawks more than doubled the score in a 76-37 win over hapless Towson at Trask Coliseum on Sunday as Brett Blizzard scored 22 points and Coach Jerry Wainwright’s club improved to 7-5 overall and 2-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Blizzard made 6 of 9 shots from behind the arc. He was hitting 46.3 percent from long range coming into the game. The outcome tied a school record for victory margin and was the largest in Wainwright’s eight years as head coach. Sophomore forward Anthony Terrell scored 17 in the win and UNCW got 22 points from its bench.

8. Clemson ... The Tigers moved to 9-4 as they won 78-48 over Hartford on Friday night. Ray Henderson led Clemson with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Chris Hobbs, who played at East Chapel Hill High but was shunned by hometown UNC in the recruiting process, leads Clemson with a 13.1 scoring average. He’s hitting 56.2 percent of his field goal attempts. Tony Scott is averaging 10.1 but is struggling on threes, hitting just 19.4 percent. The Tigers bounced back from a stunning 66-61 loss to Winthrop on Dec. 18 to trounce Charleston Southern 82-45 on Dec. 22.

9. Gardner Webb ... A new arrival in the Top 10 after an 81-65 win at Furman on Saturday night. Chas Criss had 25 points in the win and Bruce Fields snatched 17 rebounds. Gardner Webb, an independent, has a three-game winning streak that includes wins at South Alabama (71-66) and over Yale (79-69). James Colwell is the team’s top scorer with a 13.2 average and he’s knocking down 46.1 percent of his threes.

10. UNC Greensboro ... The road has been long for the Spartans with many a winding turn as well as losses at New Mexico (83-69), where former ECU coach Joe Dooley is an assistant, and Ohio State (85-54) on Sunday. UNCG is 6-4 as it begins Southern Conference play this week.


11. The Citadel
12. Davidson
13. North Carolina

14. East Carolina ... The Pirates take a 3-game winning streak into a game with Division II Lees-McRae in Greenville on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ECU started the season with wins over Rutgers and Northwestern in Raleigh and then dropped six straight. A win Wednesday would even the record at 6-6 with Cincinnati and C-USA leading scorer Steve Logan coming in on Saturday night. Coach Bill Herrion is eagerly awaiting the return of Gabriel Mikulas on Jan. 8 for a C-USA game at UAB. Sophomore Erroyl Bing leads the Pirates with a 16.3 average and is hitting 42.9 percent of his threes. Bing also leads the team in rebounding at 8.8. Kenyatta Brown is averaging 11.2 points. Herrion has been pleased with the shot-blocking ability of Moussa Badiane and the raw freshman is eager to refine other areas of his game.

15. Appalachian State
16. Furman
17. South Carolina State
18. Wofford
19. Winthrop
20. Western Carolina
21. Charleston Southern
22. Elon
23. High Point
24. Coastal Carolina
25. North Carolina A&T
26. UNC Asheville
27. Campbell

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02/23/2007 01:03:45 AM

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