ACC notebook: UNC hands out Coastal champs rings

North Carolina finished tied for first in the Coastal Division and would have won the tiebreakers to earn the right to play in the ACC Championship game.

Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, they were not allowed to do that because of NCAA sanctions. The ACC announced last fall that it would not recognize a Coastal Division title, should UNC win it. And yet, North Carolina made rings that said “Coastal Division Champions”. That’s basically the end of that story and its importance, despite the fuss that was made over it last week.

Of course, UNC head coach Larry Fedora was mentored by Mack Brown, who did something similar last week. Brown handed out rings in honor of Texas winning the Alamo Bowl.

Yep.

So, yes, North Carolina didn’t technically win the Coastal Division. And no, handing out rings might not make much sense to outsiders. But the rings aren’t for outsiders. Now, if the players themselves didn’t like the rings? Problem. Otherwise, it’s meant to be a reward for them. Just like the alternate uniforms that are getting increasingly crazy. We might think they’re a slap in the face to tradition, or just downright silly. But most of us making those observations aren’t 18-22-year-old college athletes.

It’s worth keeping in mind.

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Midnight Madness in…September? Maybe.

On Friday, the NCAA announced that teams had six weeks to hold their 30 preseason practices. The college basketball season typically gets underway with late-night festivities in early November. Well, now that’s moving to September 27 this year. College basketball starting up (so to speak) in late September, barely a third of the way into the college football season, will be very strange to say the least.

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Miami took a hit when point guard Shane Larkin announced he would enter the NBA Draft last week. But the Hurricanes signed Angel Rodriguez, a point guard transfer from Kansas State, late last week. It remains to be seen if Rodriguez will have to sit out a year or not. Either way, the future is at least a bit brighter for Miami at that position.

Rodriguez will have two more years of eligibility and averaged 11.4 points and 5.2 assists last year at Kansas State.

N.C. State also signed another member of next year’s freshman class: Lennard Freeman, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound power forward. He played at Oak Hill Academy last year and is a three-star prospect, according to Scout.com. He’s likely not going to contribute much right away, but any warm body the Wolfpack can add at this point certainly can’t hurt.

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Maryland’s Alex Len had surgery last week to fix a partial stress fracture in his left ankle. His agency made the announcement on Friday, and the timing of the surgery was certainly curious, considering the NBA Draft is June 27 and he will miss all of the pre-draft workouts (and possibly even the upcoming preseason).

The injury supposedly wasn’t diagnosed until after Len declared for the draft.

The surgery is said to be a “preventative measure.” It likely won’t affect his draft stock much, as teams have likely made up their minds on Len and his upside.

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ACC commissioner John Swofford is still basking in the glory of securing the ACC’s grant of media rights deal, and the News and Observer’s Andrew Carter wrote an in-depth piece about that process. The story begins with Swofford learning of his nickname, which is growing in popularity around the Internet, “Ninja Swoff.”

Speaking of Swofford, he announced intentions for the ACC to play both football and basketball games overseas, specifically in Europe. Swofford is correct when he says that the pro leagues have made some inroads internationally from staging games overseas.

I don’t know what the ACC could expect to gain from doing that. But schools are becoming more and more international, and it’s not as if it hasn’t been done before (Notre Dame played Navy in Dublin, Ireland last year).

So who knows?