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Day 2: A Diary of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament

We’re still covering the sights, sounds, and most importantly, the hoops, down in Greensboro.

10:00 It’s Day Two. Four games on slate today. At the door, I meet a nice usher who suggests that I root for Wake Forest, given that I no longer have any natural interest. Hard to root for the team that just knocked us out, but the Deacs are playing Florida State. Yeah, I can root for Wake.

10:45 I get a call from my wife. Somehow she has forgotten that I am in Greensboro for the week… Ok, so she’s in San Francisco for her own thing, but still.

10:50 This place is loud. As opposed to yesterday, which was more funeral, actually. The way to make it loud? Pack in lots of kids in school groups and give a bunch of 8 year-olds pom-poms.

10:56 Awesome rendition of the Star Bangled Banner by the Alamance Elementary School Choir.

10:58 Up first, Wake Forest, and they have a great promotional vid. I love videos that show the natural habitat as it were, and Winston-Salem features prominently, and judging by the vid, it looks much larger than it really is. Well done. The hype line? Meh. There is fire though, for the introductions, which is new.

11:00 Florida State’s intro vid is pretty average, though it does feature a lot of fire itself, almost as if they knew there would be pyrotechnics on display. Their hype line is equally lame. I’ll give this to Wake.

11:03 Took me a couple of minutes to realize that FSU’s Ta’Niya Latson was not introduced. Latson is ACC Freshman of the Year, First Team All-ACC. This is huge. She’s apparently day-day, but the days come quickly in the ACC tournament.

11:05 Tip-off is five minutes late. If the idea was to just let kids scream for five minutes to build the excitement, well, then it was a success. The joint is jumping.

11:10 12-2 FSU. 2-2 from deep and the ‘Noles are spinning the Demon Deacons in the paint. Just 2:46 in and it looks like validation of Bill Simmons’ Ewing Theory: sometimes when your best player departs, everyone else picks up their game and the team is actually better.

11:20 Wake’s Jewel Spear just airballed a three. She’s started 0-5 and is just as MIA as Latson, to be frank.

11:23 The first quarter is over already. 18 minutes total. Helps when no one has shot any free throws.

11:24 I thought the Coliseum was loud before? The Coliseum has a giant, drone-powered dirigible… in the shape of a shoe? With ACC school logos on the sole. It flies around dropping wrist bands. Free stuff is like catnip to the 8 year-old crowd.

11:28 Airball count: Spear has now airballed two threes.

11:29 Why is Wake’s Elise Williams bringing the ball up every time? I check and find out that Wake’s primary point guard, Kaia Harrison is also out.

11:35 O’Mariah Gordon, standing all of 5’4” and filling in for Latson is ruling the floor for FSU. She’s the leading scorer at the moment (eight points, all in the paint). She’s killing it

11:36 Wake is down 27-14, out of sync and forcing shots. They’re pointing fingers at each other and giving each other side eye after each empty trip down court.

11:39 5’4” Gordon blocks 6’0” Alyssa Andrews’ shot.

11:44 The game is in Jewel Spear’s head. She just ran a gorgeous curl, got the ball at the top of the key, was open… and passed it off to center Niyah Becker (shooting 11% from deep) who bricked her three-pointer.

11:50 Wake is toast. They scored two points in the second.

11:58 The frisbee dogs at halftime put on a show. For the record, neither of them relieve themselves on the court. In case you missed it, the frisbee dog during halftime of the Louisville vs Virginia Tech men’s game, relieved himself. On air. At the KFC Yum! Center. There cannot possibly be a more perfect metaphor for Louisville’s season.

12:14 Wake is playing better and Spear has hit a couple of shots. But the refs are doing Wake no favors, and FSU’s Mikayla Timpkins (currently the game’s high scorer) can apparently build a house in the paint. The 50-50 calls have awoken the adults in the room, most of whom are NC State fans (‘cause their game is next) and the crowd is swinging towards Wake Forest.

12:16 I thought Wake was done. They are on an 11-0 run. Spear has made a three, but mostly she’s just distributing. FSU’s Gordon is no where to be seen.

12:22 Spear makes both free throws. This crowd is solidly on Wake’s side. The Wake bench starts the Defense cheer and it gets the kids all cheering. It’s deafening.

12:23 The FSU band tries to respond by leading their end with the Seminole chant, but you know what? It’s hard for neutrals. Especially 10 year-old neutrals.

12:26 The third quarter is over with Wake holding a 45-42 lead. After a two-point second quarter, Wake has outscored Florida State 27-8 on the back of a 16-0 run. That may be the best quarter I’ve seen all season.

12;31 Spear converts two straight treys. 51-42. She’s toying with the ‘Noles now.

12:41 Chemistry is all about winning, innit? Now it is FSU players who are pointing fingers and bestowing side eye.

12:50 Wake’s Olivia Sommiel, who had as bad a first half as the rest of the Deacons, drains a three. 1:30 left. 62 - 49. It is done.

12:52 It’s official. Wake 65-54. One of the most incredible turnarounds I’ve seen.

1:55 Syracuse cheerleaders sign the Star Bangled Banner. Awesomeness!

1:58 Syracuse is on-deck to play NC State. The Orange vid is decent, but the fire is out of the pyrotechnics when they’re introduced. It’s just a fog machine now.

1:59 NC State has an equally underwhelming vid, except that they have multiple shots of their three ACC tournament trophies. It’s an in-your-face kind of moment. Big win for State in the Meaningless Category Metric.

2:13 NC State is up 12-10 and River Baldwin has six points. She’s a load down low. I don’t know why she doesn’t have more days like this.

2:14 Diamond Johnson is here, but she’s not playing. She’s on the Wolfpack bench and she’s in sweats, but I realize that she wasn’t involved in shoot-around. I thought she was just being cool. I’m about to feel sorry for NC State, but then I remember us not having Mir McLean. Or Sam Brunelle. Or Yonta Vaughn. But a lot of freaking talent has not been available this week.

2:20 17-12 NC State end of the first quarter. Syracuse’ Dyaisha Fair has just two points. Of course, Wake’s Jewel Spear had a goose egg after the first half, and she went on to score 19. There’s hope for Fair yet.

2:38 NC State’s Jada Boyd takes so long tying her shoe midcourt, she gets an ovation when she’s done.

2:40 At the half, NC State is ahead 32-26. It doesn’t feel that close, to be frank. The Orange have gotten most of their points off the steals from fast breaks, which never seems sustainable to me.

3:15 Every entry pass into the post for NC State is paying dividends. Baldwin and Camille Hobby are throwing their weight around and State is pulling away. The Wolfpack has converted four straight bunnies coming from four different players. Syracuse went 1-4.

3:25 62-46 NC State. This is, in effect, a home game, and the NC State fans are in full voice. And there’s thousands of them. By contrast, it looks like just 100 folks came down from New York.

3:25 Speaking of crowds, this one is very old. There are no students here. Other than the bands and the cheerleaders. I’m 59. I’m pretty sure I’m under the median age.

3:47 Prettiest, most meaningless points of the tournament thus far. Down 51-72 with 3:10 left in the game, Teisha Hyman is the recipient of a three-person screen and nails the in-bound play. At the 1:53 mark below:

3:50 This one is in the books as the Wolfpack advances, 83-58. NC State put up 53 points in the second half, or almost as much as Syracuse scored over the course of 40 minutes. Playing at home helped.

5:58 Not really sure where the two hours went. I got the previous section written, but the break was enough so that I’m ready for part two of the day. Still don’t like the Clemson promotional vid. Too much graphic highlighting for my taste.

6: 00 UNC has the better promotional vid in that it features head coach Courtney Banhart doing the Ted Lasso Shuffle. So far my Meaningless Metric is 100% on the day, so I’m comfortable thinking that North Carolina is taking this one.

6:02 Deja Kelly’s just throws up her first shot. It goes in. A good omen for UNC.

6:08 Kelly’s second shot is much smoother. UNC up 10-7.

6:10 Clemson’s Amari Robinson scored the first nine of Clemson’s 11 points, but they are down 12-11 because UNC is 3-3 from deep.

6:11 Make that 4-4. Eva Hodgson has three.

6:16 During a timeout, the UNC bench is called for a technical. I didn’t see anything, but I approve of all techs charged to UNC.


6:29 UNC is 6-10 from deep, which goes a long way toward explaining a 27-19 lead.

6:33 30-point watch. Clemson’s Amari Robinson has 17 points three minutes into the second quarter.

6:35 Maybe not. Robinson just picked up her third foul.

6:40 Too funny. Carolina fans cannot sing “Sweet Caroline” beyond the words Sweet Caroline.

7:19 4:30 left in the third, UNC has 10 offensive boards to Clemson’s two. Hard to close the gap when you can’t get any second chance points.

7:21 Carolina Refs. It’s a thing. Refs call ball out of UNC. UNC players surround the ref, the call is changed, and Carolina sinks a three after the in-bound. The game is too easy when you’re a North Carolina school playing at home in Greensboro.

7:45 Clemson was never able to close the gap. For three quarters they stayed within shouting distance — and Robinson finished with 27 points — but Carolina was too balanced. Both Kelly and Alyssa Ustby finished with four fouls, but Clemson couldn’t make them pay.

8:28 Boston College, even after a second viewing, still has the best promo video. In addition to showcasing Boston, the women are actually smiling. As opposed to the pointing of fingers that seems very popular. You know, trying to look tough and all.

8:31 Re: Miami’s vid. Yeah, yeah, we know, you got the Cavinder twins. Advantage BC.

8:32 Back to a tie. The Miami cheerleaders are wearing orange cammo pants.

8:34 Boston College loses Ally Vantimmeren. Looks like she blows out her knee and she hits the deck very hard. She doesn’t move for almost four minutes. It’s a big loss. She’s a stretch four and she provides great spacing for BC.

8:39 I would not want to meet Miami’s Destiny Harden in a dark alley. Retreating on a Boston College fast break, she’s running like a linebacker who’s ready to take a crack at a ball carrier. BC misses the layup.

8:44 Miami’s Lola Pendande is winning the first battle for Miami. She’s very active in the block and has already drawn a pair of fouls from BC’s Maria Gakdeng.

8:46 6:02 left in the first quarter and it’s BC 10, Miami 3. I find myself rooting for BC. I don’t like Miami. It’s not visceral, like hating Duke or Virginia Tech. I just don’t like Miami.

8:50 Miami’s Kayla Oldacre is picking up where left off after pulverizing Virginia down low: beating up on a Gakdeng-less Boston College. Miami is climbing back into the game.

9:01 First three possessions of the second quarter for BC: three turnovers. (The Eagles lead the ACC in TOs.)

First three possesions for Miami yields seven points.

9:02 Another BC turnover.

9:08 The Cavinder twins are rock stars to the quartet of pre-teens sitting behind me. A gorgeous Hannah to Haley assist has the girls squealing so loud I’m thinking about moving.

9:23 Halftime. Miami is up 39-38. It’s pretty even; both teams went out on a high. Miami took as much time as they could in the penultimate possession and connected on a three as the shot clock was sounding. Not to be outdone, BC canned a three as the game clock was sounding.

10:40 BC hung close til the halfway mark of the fourth quarter, but ultimately, the theme of the day is offensive rebounds. Miami got five in the last five minutes of the fourth and converted on four of them. It was a more secure win than it felt like for most of the game.

The slate is set for Friday:

11:00 Wake Forest vs Louisville

2:00 NC State vs Notre Dame

6:00 North Carolina vs Duke

8:00 Miami vs Virginia Tech

You can read the first day’s diary here.