Yes, ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow officially marks Midnight Madness (no longer taking place at midnight, sadly), the official start of all things basketball. After all the academic scandals, NCAA investigations, guys getting kicked off of teams and just general malaise surrounding UNC football currently, it feels so refreshing to have basketball in our lives again. Hope springs eternal. And for Duke, of course, football is back to its usual role of being largely ignored, and will now slip into being completely ignored as the defending national champs take the floor for the first time. It’s our first time to catch a glimpse of Kyrie Irving, Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock and Seth Curry.
It’s not even November, but for both fan bases it already feels like Thanksgiving - we’re grateful for this bounty we are about to receive, and then we feast. Let the madness begin!!!
Now if only Carolina could stop getting Stuart Scott involved in this thing…
Other links and bits of interest:
- Duke Hoop Blog gives a matchup preview for Countdown to Craziness
- SI’s Luke Winn ranks the country’s top frontcourts, with UNC and Duke both in the top 3. Worth noting: NC State also made the cut.
- Tar Heel Fan plays Oddsmakers with some questions surrounding UNC football right now.
- Dr. Saturday plays ACC Championship roulette again and thinks things are looking up for FSU.
- Sports Illustrated’s “Confessions of an Agent” piece was probably the most-talked-about sports story on the web yesterday. Of particular interest to UNC fans is the section on John Blake & Gary Wichard:
Gary used his contacts in the coaching community to help him get players. This has recently come into public view, as the NCAA and the state of North Carolina are investigating the Tar Heels football program and whether John Blake, a Carolina assistant coach since 2007, steered players to Gary and received money from him. It’s no secret in the agent business that some college coaches steer players to certain agents. I laughed when I heard Gary deny in the media that John ever worked with Pro Tect.
When I was with Gary, John worked hand in hand with us, and Gary called him his “partner.” John was the defensive line coach of the Dallas Cowboys when they won Super Bowls XXVIII and XXX, and the head coach at Oklahoma from ’96 through ’98. He was one of the best recruiters I’d ever seen. He was just electric, and I leveraged him to get clients whenever I could. In ’02 two of the biggest clients we got were due, in large part, to John. He went with Gary and me to meet with Fresno State defensive lineman Alan Harper, and Gary and I had John work out defensive end Kenyon Coleman from UCLA before his senior year. That was an NCAA violation, but it wasn’t like paying a kid. It was helping Kenyon become a better player.
- Who currently has the country’s largest basketball coaching tree? Turns out it’s not Roy Williams, Coach K, or even some other longtime legends like Tom Izzo or Jim Calhoun. ACC fans will recognize the name, but I was most definitely surprised…