Saturday, December 24, 2011

NBA Season Preview Part 2

Continued from my earlier preview:
Vince Carter: (Dallas Mavericks- Guard/Forward)  Carter signed with the Mavericks and is expected to be the starting two guard.  He is expected to split time with Jason Terry.  Carter will be 34 years old this season and his game is starting to decline.  Hopefully reuniting with former teammate Jason Kidd will help rejuvenate his career.
Ed Davis: (Toronto Raptors- Forward) Davis came off the bench in the two preseason games and is expected to start the season as a key reserve.  Davis will have an opportunity to prove he should be in the starting lineup as he is still very raw but talented.  If Davis develops, the future could be a little brighter for Toronto.
Tyler Hansbrough: (Indiana Pacers- Forward) Hansbrough averaged the second most points in the preseason with 21.5.  He did start both games in the preseason but he is expected to move to the bench with the signing of free agent David West.  Moving to the bench could be a great thing for Hansbrough as he could be a strong candidate for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Brendan Haywood: (Dallas Mavericks- Center)  Not only does Haywood start his job back due to the departure of Tyson Chandler. but he also has no competition for his job.  He will be backed up by Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright.  Haywood will be expected to be the inside shot blocker and solid defender he has been in previous seasons.
Antawn Jamison: (Cleveland Cavaliers- Forward) Jamison will be the starting Power Forward for Cleveland again this season.  He will have two roles on the team, one will be to develop the 4th overall pick this year Tristan Thompson, and to be the scorer.  Jamison was the leading scorer in Cleveland last year and should be expected to put up similar numbers.
Marvin Williams: (Atlanta Hawks- Forward)  Williams had off season back surgery, but given the delay to the start of the season their should be no effects of the surgery.  Williams will start at small forward for Atlanta again this season.
Brandan Wright: (Dallas Maverick- Forward)  Wright signed as a free agent with Dallas after being traded to New Jersey last season.  Wright will serve as a backup to former Tar Heel Brendan Haywood.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

NBA Season Preview Part 1

Wayne Ellington: (Minnesota Timberwolves- Guard) Wayne Ellington played 6 minutes in his first preseason game.  However in his second game of the preseason Ellington got the start and played 27 minutes.  Ellington will come off the bench to backup Wes Johnson during the regular season.

Raymond Felton: (Portland Trailblazers- Guard)  Felton will begin the season playing for his fourth team in three seasons.  Felton is a player that Portland targeted in free agency last season before he chose to sign with the Knicks.  He will join a starting lineup that includes former teammate Gerald Wallace and Lamarcus Aldridge.  Portland will have a huge void to fill with the retirement of Brandon Roy.  Felton could be inline for his best season as a professional.

Danny Green: (San Antonio Spurs- Guard/Forward) Green has been averaging 16.5 minutes per game in the preseason for the Spurs.  Green could provide solid minutes off the bench for an aging San Antonio Spurs team.

Ty Lawson: (Denver Nuggets- Guard)  Lawson has the starting point guard spot in Denver.  He split time last year with former Tar Heel Raymond Felton but a draft day deal sent Felton to Portland.  In the preseason Lawson and fellow point guard Andre Miller have both been in the starting lineup.  George Karl thinks they are the two best players on the team right now but it is unlikely this experiment will continue into the regular season.

Rashad McCants: (Free Agent- Guard)  McCants worked out for the Lakers in early December but is still looking for a team.

Jerry Stackhouse: (Atlanta Hawks- Guard/Forward)  Stackhouse was signed earlier this month by the Atlanta Hawks.  He should provide a veteran presence coming off the bench.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Vince Carter Close To Signing With the Mavs

A day after Vince Carter was waived by the Phoenix Suns it looks like he is about to find his new team.  Carter is close to signing with the defending NBA Champions Dallas Mavericks.  Carter will turn 35 in January and averaged 13.5 points last year while playing for Phoenix.  Carter would help Dallas replace the loss of Caron Butler and the possible losses of  DeShawn Stevenson or Peja Stojakovic, as they are both free agents.  Dallas is wanting Carter to sign a one year deal so they will have flexible free agency spending next summer during the off season.  This move would reunite Carter with Jason Kidd, who were teammates in New Jersey.  Carter could join a starting lineup with former Tar Heel Brendan Haywood, who is expected to start with the departure of Tyson Chandler.  This news comes a day after the Mavericks signed former Tar Heel Brendan Wright.  This move would put 3 former Tar Heels on Dallas' roster.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jawad Williams Makes All Star Team and Other Tar Heel News

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Eric Gay/AP
Jawad Williams has been selected to the French National Basketball League all star team.  Williams has been playing for Paris-Williams in France.

Sean May has been putting up solid numbers in Croatia while playing for the KK Zagreb of the ULEB Euroleague.  May is averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds in seven games.  He is joined by fellow Americans TJ Ford, who played at Texas, and Josh Heytvelt from Gonzaga.

Rick Fox has been honored by the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the 2012 Hall of Fame Silver Anniversary team.

Dante Calabria is director of basketball operations at UNC-Wilmington under Buzz Peterson.  Calabria replaced Brooks Lee who was promoted to assistant over the summer.

Brendan Wright signed with the defending NBA champions Dallas Mavericks.  Wright will help fill a need in the front court with Tyson Chandler leaving.

Ademola Okulaja was in attendance for Carolina/UNC-Asheville in November.  It marked the first time he had been in Chapel Hill since graduating in 1999.  Okulaja played throughout Europe before he retired in the Summer of 2010.  He is now doing television work for European basketball.  Okulaja was diagonosed with cancer in 2008 but is now cancer free and in good health.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rashad McCants Works Out For Lakers

Rashad McCants has been out of the NBA since 2009.  He had previously said he was fine never playing in the NBA and would only come back if he could play with Kobe.  He might be getting his wish as McCants worked out with the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.  Going all the back to his days in Chapel Hill, McCants has always been an enigma.  With tattoos on each arm reading "Born To Be Hated" and "Dying To Be Loved" some could say he is misunderstood.  After all McCants has never had any "Off-the-Court" issues.  He has claimed he had been "blackballed" from the league.  He has been given opportunities as of recently last off season when he failed to show up for a workout with the Cleveland Cavaliers.  McCants could be down to his last chance and who better to give you an opportunity than, former Tar Heel and current Lakers GM, Mitch Kupchak.  McCants understands he has to put the past behind him and look to the future.  It seems he realizes what he needs to do to make an NBA roster this season.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Around the NFL

(Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Julius Peppers:  Peppers had a great month of November as he recorded 4 sacks and one forced fumble.  The Bears went 3-1 in the month and have a strong hold on the 5th seed in the NFC playoff race as they hold the tiebreaker over the Falcons and Lions.  This week Peppers and the Bears defense will try to stop Tim Tebow and the ground attack in Denver.
Chicago@Denver 4:05 FOX

T.J. Yates:  Yates will get the start this week and Coach Gary Kubiak says he expects the team to "rally around" Yates.  Yates will play host this week to his hometown's team, the Atlanta Falcons.  I would expect to see a lot of the Texans running game this week with Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
Atlanta@Houston 1:00 FOX

(John Kuntz/The Plain Dealer)
Greg Little:  Little was target 13 times last week as the Browns fell to division rival Cincinnati Bengals.  He had 5 receptions but unfortunately he dropped 4 of the passes.  Little says he feels like he should catch every pass. Little stated, "It is just like free throws.  Even if you have a bad day, you know you can do it because you have done it 1,000 times".  Little is coming off a game where he recorded his first professional touchdown while he and the Browns will host the Ravens this week.
Baltimore@Cleveland 4:05 CBS

Hakeem Nicks:  Nicks is coming off a seven catch 87 yard game, in a Monday Night Football loss to the New Orleans Saints.  Nicks has not practiced this week so his status for this week is unclear.  He has been cleared of a concussion but his ribs remain an issue.  Giants will host the undefeated Green Bay Packers this week.
Green Bay@New York 4:15 FOX

Gerald Sensabaugh:  Sensabaugh was a little slow at practice this week as he is battling a sprained right foot.   He was able to play through pain Thanksgiving day against the Dolphins and recorded 4 tackles.  Sensabaugh is expected to play against Arizona this week.
(Aaron Francisco/AP)
Dallas@Arizona 4:15 FOX

Johnny White:  White only had one carry Sunday against the Jets.  He should see more time this week and the remainder of the year as he will serve as the backup to C.J. Spiller, who was thrust into the starting role when Fred Jackson was placed on IR.
Tennessee@Buffalo 1:00 CBS

Monday, November 28, 2011

T.J. Yates Looks To Make First Start


Former Tar Heel T.J. Yates entered the game for the Houston Texans with 1:41 left in the second quarter after starter Matt Leinart got hit and left the game with a shoulder injury. Initially Leinart looked good completing10 of 13 passes, 57 yards and a touchdown to Joel Dressen but did not recover from the hit. Yates completed 3 short passes that led to a Neil Rackers field goal. Yates ended with 8 of 15 and 70 yards passing with no touchdowns but more importantly no interceptions. With Matt Leinart now done for the season the Texans will look towards 3rd stringer Yates for the rest of the season.  Early indications are that T.J Yates will start Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons and enter the UNC record books by becoming the first NFL starting QB to call North Carolina his alma mater.  He will have a big responsibility as he will lead a Texans team that looks to be playoff bound.  The Texans are 8-3 and share the best record in the AFC with the Baltimore Ravens.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jackie Manuel Joins UNC Staff

Bobby Frasor is not the only former Tar Heel to recently join the UNC staff.  Jackie Manuel has been named as the assistant strength and conditioning coordinator.  Since leaving Chapel Hill, Manuel played a few seasons in the NBDL and had brief stints playing overseas in Argentina and Japan.  Manuel had planned to play one more year professionally but the NBA lockout has had an effect on overseas basketball as well.  So when he decided to call it quits his former coach Roy Williams offered him a chance to join his coaching staff.  Frasor and Manuel are the first two former players to join a Roy Williams' coaching staff since current assistant coaches Jarod Hasse and C.B. McGrath in the late 1990's.  Before joining the staff, Manuel had been working out with current players during the summer, as a lot of former player tend to do. Reggie Bullock, a current player, credits Manuel to helping him come back from his season ending injury the year before by working on his defense. Manuel, a member of the 2005 Championship team, was always known as a player who made a difference on the defensive side of the ball.  If he can help bring that intensity and determination to this years team, brighter days are ahead in Chapel Hill.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bobby Frasor Joins UNC Staff

By: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Bobby Frasor has been added to the 2011-2012 UNC basketball staff until May.  Frasor, a member of the 2009 Championship team,  has been added as an assistant video coordinator.  Frasor spent two seasons overseas.  One in Bulgaria where he enjoyed the experience.  The second season was a different story in Cyprus, he only got paid for 4 of the 7 months and did not like his team or coaches.  This experience made it a lot easier to walk away from the game.  Frasor always knew he wanted to coach in college as opposed to high school, where he would have to teach and coach.  He felt if he taught it would not be fair to his students since he would be thinking about basketball all day. Trying to become a part of the coaching staff, Frasor interviewed with Buzz Peterson (a member of the 1982 Championship team and current head coach of UNC-Wilmington). Frasor was overlooked and did not get a job. But then, Roy Williams offered him a job as an assistant video coordinator, which consists of sitting in an office and breaking down and exchanging video. Frasor knows he will have to pay his dues and this is an opportunity to begin his coaching career.  Frasor hopes to win another ring this season

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ty Lawson Takes His Talents Overseas

  The NBA lockout could not have happened at a worse time for some players.  One would be former Tar Heel point guard Ty Lawson.  He is still in his rookie contract and last year he took over the starting role in Denver.
  The stars appeared to be aligning for the "undersized" point guard.  Then the NBA lockout continued with no resolution in sight.  Lawson then decided to take his talents to Lithuania.  So far this season Lawson has played in five games, averaging 28 minutes, 11 points, 2.6 assist and 1.4 steals a game.  
  Lawson has expressed frustration with recent tweets about the lockout.  Questioning why negotiations did not start at the beginning of the lockout and stating that the ones who suffer are entry level workers at NBA arenas. I am sure Lawson would love to be preparing for a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves instead of the Unics Kazan, his opponent in Lithuania this Sunday, but he is making the most of his situation.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

UNC Pros NFL Week 10 Recap

Another great week of NFL football and some former Tar Heels came up big on the defensive side of the ball.  Here is how some former Heels played.

Gerald Sensabaugh:  Sensabaugh had a good game as the Cowboys steam rolled the Buffalo Bills.  He forced and recovered a Fred Jackson fumble.  He also chipped in with 5 tackles.  Dallas improves to 5-4 and positions themselves for a late season run at the NFC East title.
Sensabaugh forcing a Fred Jackson turnover
(By: Tony Gutierrez/AP)

Jesse Holley:  Holley caught his first pass since Week 2 of the season.  The 25 yard reception early in the game helped set up a touchdown pass to Dez Bryant from Tony Romo.

Greg Little:  Little had a big role in what offense the Browns could produce in a 13-12 loss to the St. Louis Rams.  Little had 6 catches (on 6 targets, a team high) for 84 yards and also ran the ball once for a 10 yard gain.

Hakeem Nicks:  Nicks, who was questionable for the game against the 49ers, had 2 catches (on 4 targets) for 41 yards, including a 32 yard Touchdown.  Nicks was quiet for most of the day until the touchdown reception in the 4th Quarter cutting San Francisco's lead to 7 points.  The Giants fall to 6-3, 1 game ahead of the Dallas Cowboys, who the Giants will play twice in the final 4 weeks of the seasons.

*On a non football note Hakeem Nicks is safe after a gunman opened fire in a New York City nightclub.  Nicks was in attendance with fellow teammates Victor Cruz, Aaron Ross, Antrel Rolle and Chris Canty.  NBA players Carlos Boozer, John Wall, Chris Duhon, Russel Westbrook and Kemba Walker was in attendance as well as Hollywood actor Ryan Phillippe.  Nicks appeared to not be present at the time of the shooting said his agent via Twitter.

Julius Peppers hit on Calvin Johnson (Getty Images)
Julius Peppers:  If Calvin Johnson is Megatron, Peppers should be called Optimus Prime.  Peppers hit Johnson early in the first quarter to force a turnover that would lead to a Matt Forte 6 yard touchdown.  He also helped put pressure on Matt Stafford and recorded his sixth sack of the season.  Peppers and the Bears improved to 6-3 on the year.

Brandon Tate:  Had a decent day in the returning game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Tate averaged 28 yards on kickoff and 11 yards on punt returns.  Unfortunately it was not enough as the Bengals lose to the Steelers and fall to 6-3.  Tate continues to show improvement this season in the return game.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Brandon Tate Defines His Role on Special Teams

by: Jeffrey Beall

After a rocky start to his NFL career, including a failed drug test at the NFL combine and being released by the New England Patriots, Brandon Tate has found his niche on special teams for the Cincinnati Bengals.  In most years going from the perennial powerhouse Patriots to the lowly Bengals would be seen as a curse in most seasons but not this year as the Bengals are 6-2 and tied for first in the AFC North.  A big part of the turn around has been the improved play of Brandon Tate on Punt and Kick Returns.  Until last week when he struggled against the Tennessee Titans Tate had averaged 25.3, 27.5 and 28.3 yards on kickoff returns and 14.3, 17.5 and 24.3 on punt returns in the three games prior.  With Adam "Pacman" Jones doubtful for Sundays match up with Division Rival Pittsburgh Steelers Tate should be a factor on special teams.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Week 10 UNC Pros NFL Preview

Julius Peppers
Julius Peppers:  After missing the first two days of practice, with a knee injury, Peppers returned Friday and is expected to play Sunday.  Leading the Bears with 5 sacks this year, Peppers is expected to put pressure on Matthew Stafford this week.  A crucial game in the NFC North and the Wild Card picture.  Regardless of how healthy he is the Lions are sure to double team Peppers
Lions@Bears 4:15pm on FOX

Hakeem Nicks:  Tom Coughlin says Nicks will be a game time decision after he practices again on Friday.  The addition of Nicks back to the Giants passing game would be a huge boost as it would give Eli a big target and take coverage from Victor Cruz.  I hate to call a game in early November a must win but with one of toughest schedules remaining, anything other than a win in San Francisco would be a huge blow to the Giants winning the NFC East.
Giants@49ers 4:15pm FOX

Jeff Saturday:  To say the Colts have struggled this season would be an understatement.  They go into this weeks game against Division Rival, Jacksonville Jaguars, 0-9 and is looking for some this season.  They just might have received the spark they needed in a players only meeting Monday as veteran Jeff Saturday addressed the team.  Reggie Wayne summed up the message as "Play football, nothing else.  Love Football, nothing else.  Be a man, nothing else."  Could this be the motivation the Colts need?  I think so, as I believe the Colts pick up their first win of the season.
Jaguars@Colts 1:00pm CBS

Greg Little:  An offense that is down to their number 4 running back on the depth chart and will possibly be missing a starting WR couldn't ask for a better matchup.  The Rams rank 24th in the NFL in total defense so this is a great opportunity for Greg Little and the Browns offense to break out.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Little in the endzone and the Browns in the win column.

Robert Quinn:  Even though he has struggled to find as much playing time as a first rounder would expect, Quinn has made the most of the time he has found.  He has played behind starters Chris Long and James Hall all season but has made plays on special teams.  He could be a disrupted force on special teams against the Browns on Sunday
Rams@Browns 1:00pm CBS

Julius Peppers Sits Out Practice

Julius Peppers misses practice for second straight day. If he is unable to suit up it could be good news for Matthew Stafford and the high powered Lions passing game.