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Mike Bell: Random Notes From Cocktail Napkins... "Another Tobacco Road Classic", "Why Sign Julio This Summer?", And "If The Hawks Ain't Broke"...

I will have to come up with a new name for the blog (more on that later)... No it wasn't as good a game as the 1995 UNC-Duke classic where everyone's shot but Wojo's final 10 footer seemed to drop, but last night's battle at Cameron Indoor did feature the Tar Heels blowing another lead, with Duke closing it it out this time for a dramatic win.

Very classy start as both teams locked arms and took a knee in honor of the late Dean Smith. There was some sloppy passes even sloppier free throw shooting and the ACC officials constant conferencing caused the rhythm of the game to skip a few beats. But that aside what a show by Duke's Freshman point guard Tyus Jones along with Quinn Cook bombing 3's as Duke closed the gap and forced OT. Jahlil Okafor overcame a rolled ankle and grabbed some crucial boards but made the Cameron Crazies sweat out the final minutes going 0-6 from the free throw line.

In the extra period in their final possession the Tar Heels had plenty of time and time outs to burn yet they looked completely discombobulated in the half court offense. Once a play starts to unravel, take a time out (you would think) but Roy Williams must feel he can roll them over into the rematch.  UNC actually got a perfect missed free throw from Nate Britt which caromed off the rim with time for game timing shot but no dice.

I know I'm in the minority on this but not having Dick Vitale on the call last night didn't diminish my viewing experience. The guy has done so much for college basketball and his legacy of bringing more casual fans to the sport can't be debated. He was even gracious when asked by reporters about being left off the telecast by ESPN. But in a game like last night's Tobacco Road Battle, Dickie V. making animal noises and gushing over Coach K was not missed. I cannot lie, I have never gotten Dick Vitale's appeal, I prefer subtle shtick like Bill Raftery over Dickie V's routine anytime.


Just this morning's Vaughn McClure wrote that the Falcons have yet to start contract negotiations with Julio Jones. Arthur Blank has said how much the team values Julio but the final word on a contract extension is up to new coach Dan Quinn. I've never understood why you have to get this kind of a deal wrapped up before the final year on a contract is up.

Julio showed you on Monday Night in Green Bay that when he is on, he's one of the top 3 wide receivers in the league. He also went 7 games without a touchdown as the Falcons lost 5 in a row.

Jones went scoreless and and totaled just 4, 5 & 4 catches against the Bears, Ravens & Lions last year. I get it, it's a team sport, if the patchwork o-line can't block, Matt Ryan can't throw it to Julio, but when you look at some of the off games and his injury history I would make Julio earn that new monster deal. If he balls out in 2015 you can always franchise tag him in 16' if you can't get a deal done.

I took the same approach to Ryan's deal a few year's ago. Why not do what Baltimore did? The Ravens thinking going into Joe Flacco's last year of his first contract back in 2012 was, go win a Super Bowl and you'll get you're new deal. The argument for paying Ryan $100 Million was that's the going rate and you will have to pony up sometime. Why? If Ryan had a sub par final contract year the team would have leverage to lower the price. The risk being hurt feelings and a hold out. So be it.


The Hawks trade deadline debate has 2 camps, one side says ya need a big (a 7 footer) to battle for rebounds and stymie the more athletic forwards in the playoffs. The other side to the argument is don't mess with the chemistry. Coach Mike Budenholzer was on with Rick & Jamie (10-2 on 92.9 The Game) to defend his big guys and make the argument to dance with the girl ya brung to the party. You can make the argument that Pero Antic's perimeter shooting is iffy at best and downright awful last year against the Pacers in the playoffs. Coach Bud is standing by Pero & Mike Muscala.

One aspect of the stand pat argument is who ya gonna get? The Jazz want way to much for Enes Kanter, the Bucks Larry Sanders seems to be a head case and KG wants to go home to Minnesota. The Nets Brook Lopez is a negligible rebounder and he's injury prone. Ray Allen's name has been out there for weeks, would ya pick him up to keep him off the Cavs or Bulls?

We had Dominique Wilkins on last month and he says don't mess with the formula. By the way Carl and I will be live at Philips Friday afternoon as the second half of the season gets under way vs Toronto.


You may have heard me talking about giving up booze for Lent...yeah I know sounds ridiculous, 40 days and nights, (actually 46, The Catholic Church doesn't count Sundays). My Dad used to do it every other Spring, the joke in our house was Dad gives up booze but drives us to drink during Lent. Nothing to worry about for our liquor sponsors, I'm not experiencing health problems or a religious conversion, just wanted to get healthier and hopefully thinner for pool season. Drinking goes along with eating for me, as in come home at 2AM and eat an entire bag of chocolate chip cookies. I'm looking to drop some lbs and thought this was a good way to start...

Which it isnt! I host the Guinness Perfect Pint contest Monday at Taco Mac at Lindbergh. St Patrick's Day is right smack in the middle of Lent (who designed The Church calendar?) And they're about to open a Fado a block from my place. This will be an excruciating test for me! You can follow my progress or Narc me out if you see me tipping one back on @IsBellDrinkin on Twitter.

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