Live from the ACC: Cans banned, Heels survive, Tech loses

Aluminum not allowed

I’ve got a great job. I get paid to go watch ballgames and I get to sit courtside sometimes — I do at the ACC tournament; I don’t at Hawks games — and I get to fall over backward in front of famous people (more about this later), and therefore I should never complain about anything. But every March it gets harder and harder to keep up with the Can Policy on press row.

Perhaps you’re unaware of this pressing (pun intended) dilemma. A quick recap: Drink companies tend to pay for tournament sponsorships, and one (Pepsi, let’s say) doesn’t like it when a media person plunks a 20-ounce bottle of Coke down on the press table because said company is worried that a TV camera is going to focus on the 20-ounce bottle instead of a millionaire coach who’s cussing the refs. (I believe it’s called product placement.)

True story: Because I’m an Atlantan and an avowed Coke guzzler, I went to the mezzanine at the Meadowlands on Final Four Saturday in 1996 to buy a 20-ounce bottle of you-know-what. (Coke wasn’t available in the press room because — you guessed it — Pepsi was the NCAA’s corporate sponsor.) Anyway, I left the bottle at my seat and went to gather pertinent jounalistic material, and when I returned the bottle was still there but the red label had been non-surgically removed.

So now I ask beforehand: Am I allowed to carry a canned drink to press row, or do I need to pour it into a non-offending generic cup? I even asked Mike Finn, who’s a big-shot assistant ACC commissioner, yesterday, and he looked around and saw other folks bearing cans and said, “No, you’re OK.”

Flash forward to today: I start to the court bearing a canned non-caloric drink, and a (very nice) lady working security says, “I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll have to pour that into a cup.” So I did. And now you’re up to date on this pressing matter.

One more Georgia Dome drink story

Second round of the SEC tournament, here in 2007: Georgia is playing (and will lose badly to) Florida. Esteemed colleague Chip Towers sits next to me with the biggest (generic) cup of water in the history of mankind. Within two minutes, a Georgia player slings the ball out of bounds and hits the massive cup dead solid perfect.

Chip gets maybe two drops on him. I get 10 ounces of liquid full in the face, and at least eight of those ounces drip down onto my keyboard. For 15 minutes I can write nothing — and this is a night game, so I need to write as it goes — because my cursor has disappeared beneath the deluge.

Miraculously it reappears, but not before Damon Evans, the Georgia AD, walks by and says, “Didn’t they teach you how to duck?” Under my breath, I say a word I’m not allowed to say at the moment because I’ve given up cursing for Lent. (Or at least I’m trying to.)

Enough liquid. What about basketball?

Nobody here at the G-Dome is talking about the ACC. Everyone is still going on about the six-overtime game between UConn and Syracuse. And here’s my little tale: I left here last night after Maryland beat N.C. State. I got home and started watching the Big East game and naturally got hooked.

I watched through one, two, three, four, five OTs. And then, being old and decrepit, I went to bed because I could no longer hold my eyes open. But I set the recorder. And then, naturally, I woke up way too early and said to myself, “I’ve got to know who won that game.” So there I was at 7 a.m., watching the sixth OT on five hours’ sleep. I am a moron

Actual basketball update

North Carolina is on the floor warming up for its game with Virginia Tech. Ty Lawson isn’t out there. If he doesn’t play in this tournament — he has a tender tootsie — Carolina might not win the thing. And Carolina is in Georgia Tech’s bracket. Not predicting. Just saying.

Enough basketball. More about me

If you were following along yesterday — and if you were, thanks for your continued patronage — you’re probably aware of two key developments: First, I’ve been asked by to snap a few pictures with an AJC-issued BlackBerry Storm. Second, I fell backward in my chair — I’m telling you, press row is dangerous! — trying to squeeze off a shot of Lewis Clinch after Tech won.

An hour later the famous Andy Katz of ESPN asked me if I was all right. (I am, thanks very much.) I said, “Just embarrassed.” He said: “No reason to be. The only people who saw you are those who know you.”

Exactly.

Lawson update (No. 2)

Carolina has taken the floor and is shooting layups. Lawson walked out late and is uniform but has a weird-looking black half-shoe on his right foot. And he’s just standing there. I assume he’s not playing.

Live blogging ahead!

Check back throughout the afternoon. I’ll be here all day, and we’ll really get going when Tech and Florida State tip off at about 2:30. Loser has to wear Ty Lawson’s shoe.

Halftime update, Heels-Hokies

Carolina has trailed almost the entire half but, being Carolina, it’s ahead at the break. The legendary Tyler Zeller — never to be confused with Tyler Hansbrough — hit a layup to make it 43-42 with five seconds left.

I’d say Virginia Tech is fully capable of winning this game, but I’ve seen Carolina win this exact game in this event almost every year I’ve covered this tournament. The other team plays out of its mind, but the Heels prevail. Which is why everybody else in the conference hates the Heels.

Another Bradley yarn

I just saw Leonard Hamilton, who coaches Florida State, in the hall. We go back almost 35 years. He was Joe B. Hall’s chief assistant when I was a cub reporter covering Kentucky, and Leonard — or “The Ham,” as he was known to insiders — had a massive distrust of the media. So I tried to avoid him.

Except this one time … October 1983. Winston Bennett of Louisville Male High was about to announce his college choice, which was between UK and Louisville. This was a matter, as you’d assume, of some local interest, and cub reporter Bradley was working like crazy to break the story. (My main competitor was Jerry Tipton, who has since been inducted into the Basketball Writers’ Hall of Fame and who remains a pal.)

So I pried Leonard’s home number from a source which I have never revealed and called him the night before Bennett’s announcement to see if I could pry anything from him.

The conversation: “Leonard, it’s Mark Bradley from the Leader …”

The Ham: “How’d you get this number?

Me: “I …”

The Ham: “I’m changing it tomorrow.”

Click.

Just for the heck of it, I called back the next day. The number had indeed been changed. Bennett signed with UK, as you might recall. And Leonard and I, amazingly enough, get along famously today.

A few words about Psycho T

I know, I know. Everybody thinks he gets every call, and he does get a few, but I love watching the guy. I’ve been following college basketball since Lew Alcindor and Elvin Hayes were going at it, and I’ve never seen a guy play any harder.

He made the three biggest plays in North Carolina’s narrow defeat of Virginia Tech, same as he did in this tournament a year ago. This time he scored underneath to give the Heels the lead, and then he tied up J.T. Thompson to give Carolina the ball — Seth Greenberg went nuts, but it looked correct to me — and then he made the foul shots with 4.6 seconds to make it a three-point game.

I don’t know what kind of pro he’ll be — I suspect he’ll be better than many believe — but that really shouldn’t matter. He’s a great college player. He’s one of the greatest college players ever.

Can update

Khalil Johnson, the general manager of the World Congress Center and an apparent reader of this blog, just sidled up to me and slipped me a can of Sierra Mist. I hope he doesn’t get in trouble for this blatant violation of ACC policy.

Jackets at halftime

Between re-creating the entire blog (which crashed and was lost due to the wireless going down here) and drinking my illicit drink, I’ve been able to catch enough of Tech-FSU to say that the Jackets are in a bit of trouble. They’re down 33-27 at the half — that man Lewis Clinch has 11 of their points — and the Ham’s guys are defending like mad.

The Jackets can still win — they’re only down six — but they must make the game go faster. And that’s hard to do when you’re playing your second game in two days and a fierce opponent is playing its first in almost a week.

Tech goes down swinging

The Jackets nearly made it to Saturday and a date against the nation’s No. 1 team, but Leonard Hamilton drew a beauty of a sideline inbounds play and Florida State won on a driving layup. The play, for fans of minutiae, is named “Slant,” and it has several options. The one FSU seized was Derwin Kitchen slicing down the sideline and then along the baseline, whereupon he shoveled home a reverse while being fouled by Alade Aminu.

You may recall that UNLV scored the winning basket against Tech in Round 1 of the NCAA tournament on an inbounds layup. (Kevin Kruger, Lon’s son, threw the pass.) So the Jackets might want to reassess that part of their defensive scheme.

It was a shame that Tech lost after playing its best two games of the season these past two days, but it was also symptomatic of their larger ailments. The Jackets couldn’t finish games. Paul Hewitt said last week that his team had been “unfortunate,” but I maintain his personnel was misdirected. I mean, how many better collegiate shooting guards have you seen this year than Lewis Clinch these last 27 hours?

And it was revealing that Clinch didn’t get the ball on Tech’s final possession of the season. He’d scored 57 points in the tournament, but Hewitt’s final stratagem called for Iman Shumpert to take the ball the length of the court and drive. (As ever, Tech was out of timeouts.) And there was logic therein: Shumpert had made a similar last-gasp shot to beat Wake Forest on Jan. 31. But still …

Consider those two shots. FSU didn’t get the ball to Toney Douglas, but it found a guy who knew he had a layup. Shumpert wound up shooting — not a terrible shot — over one of the massive FSU guys. And Clinch never touched the ball.

Have fun with that, folks.

Bathroom break

I was standing in the corridor when Dave Neal, a Maryland forward, charged off the court in the middle of the second half. I thought to myself, “He looks like a guy in a hurry to freshen up.”

Lo and behold, he was in such a hurry that he ran without exactly knowing where he was going. The famous Melinda Mazo, who was mentioned in this space yesterday and who’s working the tournament for ESPN, was in the women’s room when she saw Neal burst in. She recounted the conversation:

“I said, ‘This is the ladies’ room.’ He said, ‘I’ve got to [freshen up] really bad.’ So I stood guard for him.”

Duly refreshed, Neal returned to the game. And Maryland won.

149 comments Add your comment

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
2:53 pm

Where I’ve been: Trying to recreate the whole blog, which crashed because the wireless here went down and somehow killed the entire thing.

Tech is down 15-12 to FSU, 10 minutes left. It’s a much different game from yesterday’s — slower and more grinding.

Sam in High School

March 13th, 2009
2:59 pm

thanks keep us posted

bubbatech02

March 13th, 2009
3:02 pm

mark, this blog has been fantastic. i am not a big fan of the AJC but if you guys keep doing things like this, I may just be a convert (I still wouldnt pay a dime to hear Cynthia trash every white man).

great job!!! love the yarns.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
3:06 pm

FSU 21-17, 5 1/2 minutes to the half. Tech crept back from nine down to tie at 15, but this is going to be a 55-53 game. Which should favor the Seminoles.

Sam in High School

March 13th, 2009
3:09 pm

finally illget to watch the game as this school day comes to an end

Hairy Dawg

March 13th, 2009
3:09 pm

Bye bye, Kentucky.

Enjoy the NIT.

Hairy Dawg

March 13th, 2009
3:10 pm

Makes me feel good to know that my lowly Dawgs contributed to Big Blue’s demise.

Techalltheway

March 13th, 2009
3:11 pm

It sounds like the ‘noles are taking it to us. Does it look like we are playing with dead legs or what?

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
3:11 pm

Toney Douglas scored on consecutive layups to make it 29-20. FSU is guarding like mad.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
3:12 pm

You think Kentucky won’t get in the NCAA tournament? I hear the Cats have been extended a sponsor’s exemption.

Techalltheway

March 13th, 2009
3:14 pm

The Michelle Wie of NCAA basketball, good one MB!

The Dude

March 13th, 2009
3:17 pm

I had to laugh about the Kentucky stuff… I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t rooting for Al Queda in Tampa…

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
3:17 pm

FSU’s Kitchen just stole the ball and Lewis Clinch fouled him. Jamie Luckie called an intentional foul. I didn’t think so.

The four-point possession makes it 33-23.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
3:18 pm

I don’t think Tech’s gassed so much as FSU is just D’ing up, as we say.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
3:20 pm

Thanks, BubbaTech. But the not-so-fantastic wireless here went out as I was trying to update photos, and the whole thing got killed. I believe the previous entry, which now consists only of your comments — come to think of it, that’s probably the best kind of Bradley blog — is still viewable under this one.

IndyGT

March 13th, 2009
3:23 pm

We’re starting to play like we did during the season.. Gani going out hurt us bad. Anyone see that WSJ article today? CPH has the wost ROI of all coaches making a million plus, and four years. I’d love for him to get a win today, and prove them wrong.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
3:31 pm

Game’s still winnable, y’all. Don’t lose hope. I’ll tell you when it’s OK to give up.

bubbatech02

March 13th, 2009
3:32 pm

thanks mark. i am at work. does tech look tired or is FSU just beating them down?

The Dude

March 13th, 2009
3:34 pm

What’s the foul situation look like? I hate websense.

bubbatech02

March 13th, 2009
3:36 pm

that wireless must have been installed by grads of your favorite team, the UGAG bulldogs. sorry, i had to get one in. again, great job on the blog. as a follow-up, any thoughts or grumblings on Pauls tenure at Tech and if it will continue? i love the guy and think he is a great coach, but the last several years have been pretty uninspiring and it seems as though we are not headed in the right direction. i know we are getting a top recruit, but we have had great classes in the past and nothing came of them. would be interested in if you heard anything. personally, i hope he stays even if we dont win. i am not as big on having a championship team as i am on doing things right. paul does things right. he is a class act.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
3:36 pm

I don’t think Tech’s tired. It’s just difficult to play a team that defends this well.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
3:39 pm

Wait and see what happens today. If Tech wins, it could go a long way toward quieting the unrest.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
3:41 pm

Lawal and Zachery Peacock have two fouls each.

bubbatech02

March 13th, 2009
3:48 pm

now you’ve got me addicted to this darned blog. thanks mark.

anyway, one last question before my employer fires me, did UNC look bad? all the folks in my office are big time, and i mean BIG TIME big east fans and have been talking trash this whole year about how the ACC was weak and how the big east is so powerful. UNC was my one hope in the ACC to go far. man, if they lose early in the tourney, i will never hear the end of it.

were they that bad? anything to be worried about?

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
3:49 pm

Game’s opening up, good news for Tech. It’s FSU by five with 15:18 remaining. Shumpert just nailed a straightaway trey.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
3:54 pm

North Carolina looked fine. Virginia Tech is a tough opponent that plays everybody hard. And Ty Lawson didn’t take part, owing to his tender toe.

Carolina can win the NCAA title, if that’s your question. And I believe it is.

Acc Tournament Live

March 13th, 2009
3:57 pm

[...] Live from the ACC, Day 2: Cans banned, Carolina survives! | Mark … (blogs.ajc.com) – March 12, 2009Aluminum not allowed I’ve got a great job. I get paid to go watch ballgames and I get to sit courtside sometimes — I do at the ACC tournament; I don’t at. [...]

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:00 pm

Clinch just got called for his third foul, but Tech can’t take him out. (He came out by mistake, prompting Hewitt to call timeout and put him back.) He has 16 of the team’s 43 points. FSU leads by six, 12:03 left.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:03 pm

Clinch hit another trey, this one from the corner. Tech down 49-46, inside 11 minutes. This one is still do-able, people.

David

March 13th, 2009
4:04 pm

3 point game…do we have the legs?

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:11 pm

Yet another triple from Lewis C. Tech closes within three with 7:08 to play. Clinch has 22 of the Jackets’ 51 points.

pws

March 13th, 2009
4:12 pm

Is it too much to ask for, for this team to play two good games in a row? I should have gone down and taken my wipe off board………

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:13 pm

Oh, and if you’re asking: Where did the comments from the busted blog go? They’re here.

http://tinyurl.com/crvpd6

Robert Barron

March 13th, 2009
4:15 pm

The two teams sound very similar but boring for the casual fan and agony for the serious one.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:17 pm

Inside six minutes, still ‘Noles up three. Tech can win. Not saying it will …

Some deft fence-straddling, huh?

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:19 pm

Douglas with a second-chance three-pointer. FSU by six.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:22 pm

Great fake by Clinch, and another threeball. Tech within 59-56, 4:32 to play. Clinch has 25. He looks like Kobe.

Josh H

March 13th, 2009
4:22 pm

Mark:

I knew for sure that tinyurl link was a Rick Roll…

David

March 13th, 2009
4:23 pm

This looks like playground ball…frenetic and scattered…(but that may be our only chance!)

every time we get thisclose to the Seminoles they stretch it out again!

AAAAUGH

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:24 pm

Clinch could have put Tech ahead after a furious exchange of turnovers. Miller steal, Echefu steal, Clinch deflection in about a four-second span. But Lewis C. missed. And Echefu shoveled home a follow. FSU still by three, 2:43 to play.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:27 pm

Singleton blocks Aminu. Aminu blocks Singleton.

Great defense. Inside two minutes now.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:28 pm

Peacock free throws cut it to a point. Carolina fans are rooting for Tech.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:30 pm

Tech down one, 1:12 left, with the ball. Think Clinch might hoist it here?

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:32 pm

Clinch takes one. And misses. But Kitchen falls with the ball. Inside a minute.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:34 pm

Zachery Peacock, who loves to shoot jump shots, takes a turnaround over the skyscraper Solomon Alabi. And hits. Tech leads 62-61, 24.9 seconds to play.

whatsinaname

March 13th, 2009
4:34 pm

Of course NC is rooting for Tech they only beat them by 30 points in the first match, they want to beat that this time.

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:36 pm

Moe Miller clamps onto Toney Douglas. Florida State has to call its final timeout with 9.9 to play.

Just a Fan

March 13th, 2009
4:40 pm

SHUMPERT IS BRUTTTTALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

Mark Bradley

March 13th, 2009
4:41 pm

So close. Kitchen scored off a backdoor inbound play. (Remember the Craig Ehlo cut that put Cleveland ahead before Michael Jordan’s historic shot?) Aminu fouled him at the rim. Kitchen made a tough reverse layup and sank the free throw with 7.7 seconds left.

Tech was out of timeouts. (Some things never change.) Clinch didn’t touch the ball. Shumpert dribbled down, got into the lane and missed at the horn.

Give Leonard Hamilton credit. He drew up a beautiful inbounds play. But give Tech credit, too. The Jackets played better these two days than they had all season.

I ask again: Where was this in January and February? (Wait, wait, don’t tell me.)

Robert Barron

March 13th, 2009
4:41 pm

Easy to second guess but should GT have fouled up a point?