SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Beware the Tough Turtles!

I suppose it doesn't matter on Tobacco Road whether your hoops team is the men's or women's team, because right now it's tough to get significant exposure if your school is not named Duke or North Carolina. Within the past week, those school's men's and women's team played. The Carolina women beat Duke in Cameron, while the Duke men beat Carolina in Chapel Hill. Both were outstanding games; both are formidable teams.

But what a difference a week makes. An interloper has breached the treacherous perimeter that Duke and Carolina have built to protect their turf over hoops excellence in the ACC. . .

I joke with some colleagues at work that it's tough to take a victory lap because it seems as though every time one is attempted there's something waiting in a blind spot down the home turn that will elbow you in the solar plexus and send you sprawling. Which, perhaps, is what happened to Carolina when a very tough, up-and-coming Maryland women's hoops team (with no one with a name as mellifluous as that of Nik Caner-Medley, a star on the men's team) beat Carolina in College Park and sent a message that not only is the ACC loaded with great teams, but that the Terps are a great team on the national scene.

Read this link to a post on the Double-A Zone by Laura Harper, the center on the Maryland team. It's just a terrific post that demonstrates a) great insight into how teams come together, b) what a thoughtful young woman Harper is, c) what a good writer Harper is, and c) what a bright future Harper should have after she graduates from Maryland a few years down the road. The Double-A Zone has attracted some very good posts from NCAA student-athletes since its inception, and I try to get to it regularly. As to this particular post, it demonstrates very good insight about how players need to connect with one another and, implicitly, how coaches need to frame situations in such a way to let the kids develop the cohesiveness they need to win the big game.

They might not be Ninjas, but these are a tough group of turtles.

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