Fourth and Long

Published 12:57 pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I have several things on my mind this week so let’s not waste any time catching up with each other and instead just jump right in shall we.

My wife is a big Tennessee women’s basketball fan. This is to say that she is a big Pat Summit fan. While I am not as big a Pat Summit enthusiast as she is (no one is) I have long respected Summit as a coach and mentor to her players.

Summit’s fiery demeanor and obvious competitive nature is something I can relate to and have enjoyed watching over the years. Maybe that is why it saddens me to watch her “coach” this season.

Summit has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type and because of this has been what appears to be little more than a spectator on the Vols bench this year.

Anyone that has ever watched Summit coach knows how “spirited” she can become. From what I have seen of her recently the spirit seems to be gone. There is no yelling, there is no jumping or finger pointing, not even when losing.

I am surprised that her closest friends and family have not urged her to step away from the bench. She deserves to be remembered as one of the greatest basketball coaches ever, not the shell of the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history.

Speaking of college basketball, it seems that my fellow Carolina fans that freaked out after the Tar Heels 33-point loss to Florida State a few weeks ago and stepped back from the ledge. Looking back two things have become very clear.

First and foremost Florida State is a very good basketball team. They do not have a roster filled with McDonalds All-Americans however they are very well coached, athletic and skilled at creating mismatches.

Secondly, it appears that the loss may have been just the kick in the butt that Carolina’s ultra-talented, but underachieving group of players needed. Since the loss UNC has played with much more energy and effort and the result has been apparent on the scoreboard.

If they can continue to play tough defense and unselfish offense then they deserve to be a favorite to make the Final Four. If they play like they did against Florida State and early in the year then they will be lucky to make it out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

As football season nears its end, I must admit that for the first time in a long time I am actually looking forward to the Super Bowl game. I always enjoy the hoopla and commercials that surround the game, but this year I think the game may actually be better than everything else.

I love to hate the Patriots and while I am far from a Giants supporter I am a huge Hakeem Nicks fan. The game features some pretty interesting matchups all over the field as both teams have offenses that are capable of scoring at any time.

I have no idea who will win but if the game even remotely nears its potential then I expect we will all be in for quite a show in between commercials this year as well.


David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publications. A Bertie High  School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at