Weekend Wrap: September 3
The weekend in Tar Heel athletics:
Football: Giovani Bernard propelled Carolina to a 62-0 shellacking of Elon. The game was our Project 28 stop for football. Adam posted his three quick takes after the game, including thoughts on the new pregame, the Tar Heel defense, and some startling stats on tempo. Turner had some good quotes from offensive coordinator Blake Anderson and discovered there is still much more (!) in the Carolina playbook.
Women’s soccer: Big weekend for Anson Dorrance’s team. On Friday, they beat Connecticut 2-0. Then, on Sunday, they beat homestanding Notre Dame, 1-0, on a goal by Maria Lubrano. You’ll read much more about her—she’s in her sixth year and has had quite an odyssey—in this month’s THM. The Tar Heels are ranked 19th but are likely to be on the way up this week.
Men’s soccer: The top-ranked Tar Heels also picked up a pair of wins, beating West Virginia 1-0 on Friday and topping Boston University 2-1 on Sunday.
Field hockey: Bit of a surprise here. Second-ranked Carolina suffered its first defeat of the season, falling 1-0 in overtime at Syracuse. They rebounded with a 6-1 whipping of Cornell on Sunday.
Cross country: The men and the women each placed third at the opening meet of the season, the Covered Bridge Open in Boone.
Volleyball: An impressive weekend, as Joe Sagula’s club traveled to California and went 3-0 against Santa Clara, Utah and UC Davis.
So, were you in Kenan on Saturday? The attendance of 50,500 was the lowest for a nonconference Labor Day opener since 50,000 watched Carolina host Rutgers in 2006. I’ll be honest: I was surprised it was that low, and it speaks to how much rebuilding has to be done with football. As Bubba Cunningham said when he was hired, the fans need to trust the program again. This video, played approximately 10 minutes before the game, was part of that process. Michael Buble before a football game? In that moment, it worked:
The pregame also included a new entrance for the band, which you can see (in addition to the pregame show) here:
That last video will no doubt spark some comments about the lack of fans in the stands at kickoff. Keep in mind it was blazing hot on a holiday weekend and it was a 12:30 kickoff. Let's cross our fingers for a better time for the ECU game and see how the stands look then.
Some good news in the major leagues over the weekend: Tim Federowicz (Dodgers), Daniel Bard (Red Sox) and Adam Warren (Yankees) were all called up to the big leagues. All three have been there before, and they give the Diamond Heels 11 alums in MLB. Could there be a 12th on the horizon? Tim Fedroff (Indians) is hitting .322 in 68 games at AAA.
The news was not as good in pro football. Jesse Holley (Patriots), Johnny White (Bills), Richard Quinn (Redskins), Zack Pianalto (Bucs), Jordan Nix (Bucs), Quan Sturdivant (Cardinals) and Kendric Burney (Rams) were among their respective teams’ final cuts as the NFL season approaches.
If you snuck out of the office early on Friday, you might have missed Carolina's announcement that no additional NCAA infractions have been found. No one likes to read bad things in the paper about their school, and the job of a local paper is to report on those things, which can of course sometimes lead a fan base to decide a paper is out to get them. That being said, you can almost hear the teardrops hitting the page in this morning's N&O, in a story that includes wild speculation about basketball and two quotes from bloggers as "sources."
Best story I read this weekend: I have a tendency to let my copies of Sports Illustrated pile up and then read two or three at once. That means I’m just now getting to this terrific story on Zach Cone and Johnathan Taylor, two Georgia baseball players who saw their lives changed forever by one moment on the field.
Three Tar Heel topics to watch this week:
1. It’s one thing to beat Elon 62-0. It’s quite another to do it at Wake Forest. The Deacs held on to beat Liberty, 20-17, in their season opener. Expect them to play much better on Saturday.
2. Could this be the week for a complete men’s basketball schedule? Considering that it’s roughly a month until the first practice (Late Night is October 12), that would certainly be nice. By the way, the basketball program lost a dear friend this weekend with the death of Wilson's Tassie Dempsey. If you're a longtime media guide reader, you know her as "Ma D" of the famous "Ma D's fried chicken" listed by the players as their favorite food. She played a major role in making the Carolina family what it is.
3. Shameless self-promotion: the official launch for Woody Durham’s new book is Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill. If you can’t make it out to the event, we hope you’ll order a signed copy (or two or three) of what makes a nice compendium of 40 years of Carolina sports history.
Game to watch this week:
The defending national champions and current top-ranked team in the land, Carolina opens ACC play on Saturday against Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. at Fetzer Field.