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January 14, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments

Atlantic Coast Notebook

Seminole Shocker
WOW! That is the only word that comes to mind when describing the shockwaves that were sent across America last Sunday night when hoops fans witnessed the No. 1 team in the nation, undefeated Duke, lose on national television at Florida State. When Duke forward Mike Dunleavy missed a put-back shot at the buzzer, fans stormed the Leon County Civic Center court in celebration of the incredible 77-76 FSU win. In part due to its horrible free throw shooting (7-19), including Jason Williams’ 0-6 from the line, Duke lost for the first time since February 27, 2001, snapping a 22-game winning streak.

Monte Cummings led the Seminoles with 16 points, including the game-winning basket with 7.4 seconds left, earning him the ACC Player of the Week award. One thing that the folks at Florida State might want to work on is the security at the Civic Center. After the buzzer sounded, many of the 10,212 fans in attendance stormed the court, almost trampling Williams, who was on the ground in the lane, and other players in the process. Fortunately, disaster was averted and no one was seriously injured.

A Wheeling Reunion in Chapel Hill
Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser’s first game against North Carolina also marked a reunion with one of his former players, second-year UNC assistant coach Doug Wojcik. During Prosser’s six-year stint as head coach at Central Catholic High School in Wheeling, West Virginia, Wojcik was the only player who advanced to play at a Division I school. Wojcik was the starting point guard for the Maroon Knights when the school went 25-2 and won the state AA championship in 1982. He went on to play at the United States Naval Academy where he led the team to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

Following the Demon Deacons 84-62 win at the Smith Center last Saturday, the coaches had high praise for each other.

“He was an outstanding player for me, a terrific coach and even a better person,” Prosser said. “Again you don’t like to coach or play against friends. Fortunately it’s not me playing against Doug, I wouldn’t win too many of those match ups.”

“Coaching against Coach Prosser is a great challenge and yet an extremely proud moment for me,” said Wojcik, who in the Tar Heel media guide lists Prosser as having a great influence on his playing and coaching career. “I have always felt that he was special so to have him in the ACC is no surprise. He has always been a mentor to me and always will be.” The next battle between mentor and pupil will be February 6, when the Tar Heels travel to Winston-Salem.

An Unhappy New Year
In Charlottesville, Virginia, the famous New Year’s anthem, Auld Lang Syne, is played over and over again, no matter what Virginia team is playing or what venue the game is held at. Thus far, it has not been a very happy New Year for the Cavaliers men’s basketball team. After going 9-0 in November and December, when the calendar changed to 2002, so did the fortunes for this Top 10 team. Last Saturday, UVA was upset at home by a pesky North Carolina State team. Three days later, Pete Gillen and his squad lost by 16 points at Clemson.

The Cavaliers are now 9-2 on the season, and more importantly, 0-2 in the ACC, as of this writing. The last time that Virginia lost its first two conference games was 1998-1999, a season in which the team started its conference slate with five straight losses. Things should pick up for Virginia. In its next game, the school will play at Chapel Hill against struggling North Carolina. The Tar Heels are 4-4 at home, and coming off a 22-point loss against Wake Forest, the worst defeat in UNC’s 16 years at the Dean Dome.

Also, it was officially announced on Friday that North Carolina will be without Ronald Curry, the quarterback and point guard, and Julius Peppers, the defensive lineman and power forward, the rest of the season. There was hope in Chapel Hill that the two footballers would join the basketball team after the Peach Bowl on December 31st, but that will not happen. Both players are opting to pursue professional football careers and bypassing hoops in the process.

Counting Down Cole
One of the most historic arenas in all of college basketball is counting down the days until it is replaced by a new state-of-the-art facility. Cole Field House, Maryland’s home for the last 46 years, has seven games remaining. Following North Carolina’s 33-point loss at College Park, the arena will host the other ACC teams over the next two months, capped off March 3 when Virginia plays the Terrapins. That is a fitting end for the 14,500-seat arena, as the opening game at Cole was on December 2, 1955, when Maryland beat the Cavaliers 67-55. Next year, the Terps will play at the Comcast Center, which will not be as cozy with its capacity of 17,100. Cole, the only on-campus arena to host two Final Fours (1966 and 1970), surely will be missed by many Maryland, ACC, and college hoops fans all over the country.

Tigers Sharpening Their Claws
Following horrible non-conference home losses to Winthrop and Yale, the start of conference action was looking like the beginning of the end for Clemson’s 2001-2002 season. Then the Tigers upset two good ACC teams, Georgia Tech and Virginia, improving their conference record to 2-1 and sending a message across the Atlantic Coast. Clemson, 11-5, will play all of its remaining games against ACC teams. If the team can continue its strong conference play, then Larry Shyatt and his crew will have the media eating crow for picking the Tigers to finish last in the league prior to the season.

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