As I drifted off to sleep one night recently, I must have had the ACC on my mind. I had a dream where I was in a room with all nine ACC school mascots. Actually, it was a therapy session. At the risk of violating confidentiality laws, here is the transcript for your enjoyment.
CourtMaster: Thank you all for coming today. I'd like to begin by going around the room and asking each of you to introduce yourselves.
Tiger: I'm the Clemson Tiger. Growl!
CM: You have lovely orange fur, tiger, but aren't your school colors orange and purple?
Tiger: Hey pal, have you ever seen a purple tiger?
CM: No, can't say that I have. Good point. You with the pitchfork, please introduce yourself.
Blue Devil: I'm the Duke Blue Devil! I represent the greatest school and the best basketball team in the land!
CM: You're pretty sure of yourself. I bet you do well with the ladies on campus.
Blue Devil: Actually, not so good. If you're wearing blue tights without a big red S on your chest, girls don't find it so attractive. They do enjoy the pitchfork, however.
CM: Please, no details. You with the horse, please identify yourself.
Seminole: Chief Osceola and horse Renegade. Me represent Florida State.
CM: That's great, but you've got to extinguish the flaming spear, this is a non-smoking building. While you're at it, lose the horse. Didn't your mother ever tell you not to play with horses indoors?
Seminole: White man keep me down!
CM: Whatever. What's that buzzing noise I keep hearing? Oh, of course. And you are?
Yellow Jacket: I'm Buzz, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket. Feel my sting!
CM: Actually, I'm allergic. Hey, buddy; put away the fly swatter. Who are you?
Terrapin: I'm Testudo, the Maryland Terrapin.
CM: What exactly is a Terrapin?
Terrapin: Does the turtle suit give you a clue?
CM: I know it's a turtle, but what's the difference between a generic turtle and a terrapin?
Terrapin: We're unique to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and we have brown shells.
CM: That's exciting. How do you do with the ladies?
Terrapin: I'm a freakin' turtle, How do YOU think that works out?
CM: I'm thinking not so good. Next mascot. Who are you?
Ram: I'm the North Carolina Ram.
CM: Aren't the Carolina teams called the Tar Heels?
Ram: Gee, I haven't heard that question before. Back in 1922, the school was searching for a symbol. They had a fullback on the football team named Jack Merritt who was nicknamed "the battering ram." They bought a ram for $25 and the rest is history.
CM: They didn't spare any expense, did they? Hey Devil; quit sticking the Ram with your pitchfork! I guess we shouldn't have put them next to each other. Who's next?
Wolf: I'm the Wolf representing the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Growl!
CM: Please don't blow my house down! Seriously, I bet you do well with the ladies?
Wolf: Let's just say they don't call me Wolf for nothin' baby!
CM: I'm happy for you. What is that smell?
Seminole: Horse do heap-big poop!
CM: Well clean it up pronto, Tonto! Who's our next mascot?
Cavalier: I'm the Virginia Cavalier.
CM: Nice outfit. Hey, what's the racket in the back of the room?
Yellow Jacket: It looks like the Wolf jumped the Tiger on his way to the litter box.
CM: Great. Can you go over there and poke them with your sword and break them up, Cavalier?
Cavalier: Those brutes? I might soil my cape!
Devil: I'll do it. Coach K showed me the pressure points to stick someone with my pitchfork and temporarily paralyze them.
CM: Good. Testudo, please take your head out of your shell. Now, who is our last mascot?
Demon Deacon: I'm the Wake Forest Demon Deacon.
CM: I see the Deacon part with your oversized head and the nice hat, but where does the Demon come in?
Demon Deacon: Growl?
CM: I don't think so. The reason I asked you all here is to find out why you dress up in these strange outfits and work so hard during games when no one ever gets to see your face.
Ram: Because we love our school! There isn't anything we wouldn't do to help our school win!
CM: Ram, your voice sounds awfully familiar. Take off your head and let me see who you are.
Ram: No, you can't see it! I'm hideous!
Demon: I've got him! See I can be a real bad ass! Go on and take his head off.
CM: Oh no! It can't be you! Matt Doherty!? Matt, give it up! It's over!
Then I woke up. Just in time, I imagine. I still wonder, though, how that Ram's head wound up in bet next to me. Too bad I'm not an investigative reporter.
No actual mascots were harmed in the writing of this column.
Question for the Jury
I'd like to hear from you regarding ACC mascots. Besides your favorite school, which one is your favorite? Also, which one would you most like to see shot out of a cannon? Let me know by e-mail at email@example.com
Since I anointed Wake Forest the best team in the ACC last week, they've had a rough time. The Deacons were soundly beaten in road losses to Texas and Duke. After watching the Blue Devils take apart Wake, I would shift that mantle to Duke as they return to the #1 ranking in the nation. We'll see if the Devils can survive a road trip to Maryland on Wednesday, where they have lost the last two seasons as the nation's top ranked team.
North Carolina's win over #1 Connecticut was the tenth time in school history that the Heels have defeated the top ranked team, tying them with UCLA for the most in college basketball history. Maryland will have an opportunity to match that with a win over #1 Duke Wednesday. Maryland Coach Gary Williams leads all active coaches with six wins over a top ranked team.
North Carolina's Rashad McCants made up for a lackluster performance at Maryland by coming up big with 27 points and knocking down the game winning shot vs. UConn. His teammate Sean May has fallen into a nasty slump, however. May has made only 10 of 31 shots in his last two games and has been abused on the defensive end by Emeka Okafor.
Just when I'm actually trying to like NC State's Julius Hodge, he does or says something stupid. After the Wolfpack lost at Duke and Hodge had contributed seven points and seven turnovers, he was asked if the Cameron Crazies had bothered him. He told the Durham Herald-Sun, "There's no way I could let a guy with a 4.5 GPA (with) acne and bad breath decide the way I'm going to play on the court." That's very classy, Julius.
Clemson sent a reminder this week that teams will need to bring their A game to LittleJohn Coliseum if they expect to leave with a victory. They took advantage of 37% shooting by Florida State to post their first ACC win of the season last Tuesday night.
Virginia also recorded their first conference win vs. Florida State on Sunday, a very bad trend for the Seminoles. Leonard Hamilton seems to have reverted to the John Chaney (Temple's long time coach) strategy of playing tough defense and launching three-pointers on offense. Both teams attempted 31 threes on Sunday in a game that's not likely to be shown at any coaching clinics. A season which appeared to be so promising for the ‘Noles before New Year's has taken a very nasty turn with a four-game losing streak. With North Carolina, Wake Forest, and Duke on tap in their next three games, things could only get worse for Florida State.
NC State currently stands second in the ACC standings and has already posted a road win at Florida State, but they have yet to defeat a ranked opponent. Upcoming games vs. Georgia Tech and at North Carolina will show if they are a contended or pretender.
With Virginia's win, every team in the ACC has already won at least one conference game, and only Duke at 4-0 remains undefeated. Along with the Duke-Maryland game, Georgia Tech's visits to Wake Forest on Tuesday and NC State on Saturday should be the games to watch this week.
That's what I think. Let me know what you think on the message board or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Until next week, court is adjourned.