URI loses in overtime in N.I.T. semis

77981.jpg

URI loses in overtime in N.I.T. semis

Associated PressNEW YORK -- North Carolina wrappedup last season by cutting down the nets during a championshipcelebration, and the goal all along has been to do it again this year.
Box score
The Tar Heels will have their chance Thursday night, under much different circumstances.Deon Thompson had 16 points and 13rebounds, helping North Carolina survive a frantic final few secondsand defeat Rhode Island 68-67 in overtime Thursday night in the NITsemifinals.Will Graves added 14 points and TylerZeller had 13 for the Tar Heels (20-16), who will try to makebittersweet history against Dayton by becoming the first school tofollow a national title with an NIT championship at Madison SquareGarden."We enjoyed playing the last Mondaynight last year, and you know, we play the last Thursday night thisyear," coach Roy Williams said. "Playing the last Monday night isbetter, there's no question about that. But I do believe that if you'replaying - if they keep playing until there's only one team standing -it's very important to be that one team."The Tar Heels have played with asense of desperation during the NIT, almost as if they have a chip ontheir shoulder, and that was borne out when they scored the final fivepoints of regulation to force overtime.In the extra session, North Carolinahad possession with about 5 seconds left and the shot clock about toexpire when Larry Drew II forced up a shot. The rebound eventuallywound up in the hands of Rhode Island's Lamonte Ulmer, who lost controlof the ball as he rushed up court moments before the buzzer sounded,never coming close to getting off a shot.Rhode Island coach Jim Baron thoughthe had been tripped and a foul should have been called, an opinion thatNorth Carolina coach Roy Williams readily supported."We got the rebound and we wereaiming to push it down the other end," Baron said. "I thought there wassome contact and he tripped."Ulmer finished with 18 points and 10rebounds for Rhode Island (26-10), which was trying to reach the NITchampionship game for the first time since the 1945-46 season. KeithCothran scored 23 points and Delroy James finished with 13."Those guys played with a tremendousamount of heart," Baron said. "That's why I told them how proud I was,they put it all out there."The final seconds of overtime mirrored a frenetic end to regulation.The game was tied 59-all when Jamesmissed two free throws with 28.6 seconds left. North Carolina trackeddown the rebound and, after a timeout, Drew allowed the shot clock torun down to 6 seconds before taking a closely guarded 3-pointer thatnever had a chance."One of the players said in the locker room, 'Sometimes it helps to win ugly,' " Williams said, "and we did win ugly today."Defense played a big part in it.The Tar Heels ended up with 27offensive rebounds and 60 total, compared to 45 for the Rams. RhodeIsland also turned the ball over 18 times, including that criticalmiscue with the seconds ticking down in overtime."We didn't execute very well and youhate to end the game like that in such an ugly way," Drew said, "butsometimes that's how it is in the game of basketball."It sure was a strange sight to seeNorth Carolina, the bluest of the bluebloods, playing on a Tuesdaynight at Madison Square Garden - especially when the most importantgames are being played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.Injuries and inexperienced combinedto send the Tar Heels' season spiraling out of control, and they didn'trecover until their chances of making the NCAA tournament - anddefending the title they earned by beating Michigan State last March -had disappeared entirely.Relegated to playing in a tournamentfor also-rans, the Tar Heels went on the road to defeat MississippiState and Alabama-Birmingham before knocking off a Rhode Island teamthat had the best RPI of any program that failed to make the NCAAtournament.The season still ended up being asuccess for Rhode Island, which could have matched the school recordfor wins in a season had it won the NIT championship.The Rams' faithful certainly turnedout in droves for the semifinals, easily outnumbering the Tar Heelsfans clad in baby blue. They kept cheering until the final turnover inovertime, imploring a veteran team for one more night in the spotlight.Instead, it will be North Carolina playing for yet another championship.Even if it's not what anybody expected."You know, I have a greatappreciation of this tournament, I have a great appreciation of thetradition, the history of the NIT," Williams said. "If you win thistournament, you have to feel good about it."

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

Young getting on floor more for Celtics, including key fourth-quarter stints

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – For most of his life, basketball has come easy to James Young.
 
So, the idea that in training camp he wasn’t just fighting to get playing time but also to stay in the NBA, was a jarring eye-opener.
 
To Young’s credit, he rose to the challenge and beat out R.J. Hunter for the Celtics' final roster spot.
 
And while Young’s playing time has been sporadic, he has done a much better job of maximizing his opportunities.
 
So, as the Celtics roll into Detroit to face the Pistons, Young finds himself playing his best basketball as a pro, good enough to make coach Brad Stevens not hesitate to put him in the game in the fourth quarter of a close matchup.
 
“It’s exciting to come back home,” Young, who grew up in nearby Rochester Hills, Mich., told CSNNE.com. “A lot of my family will be there. I’m not thinking about me. I’m just trying to do what I can to help the team.”
 
And lately, he’s getting an opportunity to do just that beyond being someone who helps in practice.
 
We saw that in the 107-97 loss at Toronto on Friday. Young came off the bench to play four minutes, 36 seconds in the fourth quarter with only two other Celtics reserves, Marcus Smart (8:39) and Jonas Jerebko (5:10) seeing more action down the stretch.
 
“It means a lot,” Young said. “He’s starting to trust me a little bit more. That’s a good thing. I’m just trying to do little things; rebound, get defensive stops and score when I get a chance.”
 
The fact that his scoring is just starting to take shape helps shed some light on why he has been buried so deep on the Celtics bench.
 
For his first couple seasons, Young seemed a hesitant shooter physically overwhelmed by opponents too strong for him to defend as well as too physical for him to limit their effectiveness.
 
But this season, he has done a better job at holding his own as a defender while making himself an available scoring option who can play off his teammates.
 
Young is averaging just 2.9 points per game this season, but he’s shooting a career-high 48.9 percent from the field and 41.7 percent on 3’s, which is also a career-high.
 
Getting on the floor more often has in many ways provided yet another boost of confidence to Young.
 
“I’m getting used to the flow of the game playing more consistently,” Young said. “I know what to do. It’s slowing up a little more and it’s getting easier.”
 

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lada Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lada Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.

Lady Gaga.

More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."

“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.

Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice. 

"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.

Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.

"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."