Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sweet 16 (finally) Begins

I'm done prepping for the Sweet 16. This is when the tournament slows down to a crawl, and drags out for me. The opening weekend is great with all the games, but now it's night games (or in the case of UNC and Duke, nearly early morning). I'll watch, don't get me wrong, but man, you wait forever for the Sweet 16 to start. Let's get on with it!

OK, Panthers Head Coach John Fox spoke to reporters in California on Wednesday, offering up his thoughts on Julius Peppers, and Jake Delhomme. According to quotes I've read, Fox wants Peppers back, which is the company line, but knows that is beyond his control. He was quoted as saying "let the system play out." To me, that sounds like a guy that knows something is afoot (sign and trade, whatever), but can not say anything publicly. That's fine, as ya gotta play the game.

On the subject of Jake Delhomme, Fox says the team and QB are talking about a restructuring of his contract for a couple reasons: 1-salary cap relief, and 2-keeping him around longer. Sorry Jake Haters, the team is committed to #17 for at least a few more years--provided a deal can be reached. I won't go into it again (about his performance against Arizona in the playoffs), but his complete body of work outweighs one horrible night. THAT'S why the team wants him. They will certainly be on the lookout for his eventual successor, but the 2009 team is Jake's team.

Carolina Hurricanes have won 5 straight, and 9 in a row on their home ice, and currently sit in the 5th overall spot in the Eastern Conference. Getting hot at the right time is something that many Stanley Cup champions have done in the past--not saying the Hurricanes are Cup contenders, but you just never know once the playoffs begin.

Speaking of playoffs (cue the Jim Mora meltdown), the Charlotte Bobcats are doing what they can to end their season on time. Blowing a 20 point lead on the road against the Washington Wizards (a team that is simply dreadful), is not the stuff playoff pushes are made of. The defeat dropped the Bobcats to 2.5 games behind the Chicago Bulls for the 8th and final playoff spot. What was especially painful about the loss was how well the Bobcats played in the first half, then how they seemed to disappear in the 2nd. I would hope Head Coach Larry Brown owns stock in an aspirin company--no doubt he's needed to hit that remedy more than once this season.

Make sure you check out News 14 Carolina for live post-game coverage of Duke's press conference after the game tonight (tomorrow morning), and we'll have our preview of Carolina-Gonzaga on Sports Night at 10.

Mike Solarte

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