Morning News Report; April 26, 2012

Sorry I’ve been away, bloggees — real life is a bitch. Anyhoo — a pretty special MNR:

COPLES SET TO MAKE HISTORY

Former Kinston High School/UNC football star Quinton Coples will likely be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft tonight. He’ll be first player in Lenoir County to earn the honor.

My take: I couldn’t be more proud of a young man who has worked hard to get to this point in his life. I’ve watched him and covered him since he was in the eighth grade and playing recreation basketball for Larry Powell with Bo Ingram and the rest of the “Six Shooters.”

He’s been a stand-up young man who did what was best for his family and himself when he left Kinston as a senior — a decision that has helped him to where he is today: on the threshold of becoming a multi-millionaire NFL player.

A behind-the-scenes look at what we’re doing tonight at TFP: we’re hoping he is selected earlier rather than later because we’ve switched press times with one of our sister papers, giving us a little bit later deadline than our typical ridiculously early deadline. Award-winning page designer Richard Clark has a freaking fantastic front page ready, so … Carolina Panthers — TAKE QUINTON COPLES!

MONTAGUE SET TO MAKE HISTORY

When legendary North Lenoir baseball coach Jim Montague’s Hawks take the field against Kinston today, they’ll be going for the coach’s 350th career victory.

My take: One thing I’ve always liked about Coach Montague — he never takes credit for his team’s success but always takes the brunt of their losses.

Some of the best times of my journalism career was covering those championship teams in 2005-2007, with Sthil Sowers, Brandon Sutton, Andrew Manning, John Alphin and the others. In 20 years of covering prep sports, I’ve never seen a pitching combo like Sowers and Sutton, who were as confident and successful as any pair of high school pitchers EVER. Montague coached his tail off, too, and if a certain western N.C. school hadn’t put together an all-star team to take down North Lenoir, the Hawks would’ve had three straight state titles.

Congrats, Coach! Stay around for 400!

BOBCATS GO FOR HISTORY TONIGHT … OR NOT

When the Charlotte Bobcats take the court against the New York Knicks tonight — on national TV, no less — they’ll be trying to avoid their 23rd straight loss and the infamy of being the worst team in NBA history (by percentage).

My take: Yikes. I’ll be pulling for the Bobcats … but if I were a betting man, I sure as heck wouldn’t bet on them.

And check out this scatching Chicago Sun-Times column on Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan. Yikes again.

GOP GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES CHALLENGE MCCRORY TO DEBATE

Contrary to popular belief, there is actually a primary for the Republican nomination for governor. While the Democrats have had several debates and forums, the GOP has had none, since everyone naturally assumes Pat McCrory (who has been campaigning for the last four years anyway) will get the nod.

One Republican, though, is challenging McCrory to a debate.

My take: If I were him, though, I wouldn’t hold my breath. McCrory has nothing to gain by debating a Republican challenger … nothing. All he’d do is lend credence to that opponent.

The iPod shuffle

Against The Wind — Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

Summer of ’69 — Bryan Adams

Evverybody’s Talkin’ — Harry Nilsson

Drop It Like It’s Hot — Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell

Hand On The Glock — Cypress Hill

Morning News Report; March 30, 2012

ADIOS TO BARNES, HENSON … AND MARSHALL

It was a sad day in Chapel Hill yesterday (but a pretty happy one in Durham, Raleigh and Charlottesville) when the trio of Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Kendall Marshall declared its intent to head to the NBA.

My take: That group — including graduating senior Tyler Zeller — will go down as one of the most underachieving groups in ACC history. To have THAT much talent and not even make a Final Four is pretty embarrassing.

While I wasn’t that surprised by Barnes or even Henson leaving, gotta admit I was shocked by Marshall’s defection. He’s going to make someone a pretty damned good NBA point guard — and I hope he ends up playing for my Boston Celtics or Charlotte Bobcats.

And before ABCers start dancing in the streets, remember there’s a heck of a lot of talent still on the Hill — including our own Reggie Bullock, who (IMO) becomes the focal point of the Carolina offense next season. Would anyone be surprised if he averages 15-17 points and 4-6 rebounds a game in 2012-13?

I’ll say this, though — it’s setting up nicely for N.C. State, who’s bringing in three McDonald’s All-Americans. If C.J. Leslie stays (or even if he doesn’t), the Wuffies might be the ACC favorites next year.

WELCOME HOME, JEFF STEPHENS AND ASHTON BRINSON!

Jeff Stephens and Ashton Brinson were among five Lenoir Countians and 100 area servicemen to return from an eight-month tour of duty in Afghanistan yesterday.

My take: Gotta admit — this was one of those stories that’s just fun to write. If you see Jeff, Ashton, Jason Slavin, James Simmons or Jerry Harris, give them your sincere thanks for helping keep us free. THOSE guys are heroes.

BEST BUY CLOSING 50 STORES, RETHINKING STRATEGY

Remember when Best Buy was THE store to go to for CDs, electronics and cool stuff. Eh … not so much anymore. The company announced yesterday it is closing 50 stores and laying off 800 employees in an attempt to keep from going under.

My take: Just like Circuit City before it, Best Buy is having a really hard time in this economy — and changing consumer habits.

Customer service is a big reason for its failure, too — and that’s being overlooked here. Remember when BB was the king of customer service? That’s gone by the wayside, too.

The iPod shuffle

Magic Bus — The Who

Polly — Nirvana

The Great Gig In The Sky — Pink Floyd

I Can See For Miles — The Who

Whoomp! (There It Is) — Tag Team

Morning News Report; March 29, 2012

RESTAURANT OWNER: MY GUN WILL WORK NEXT TIME I’M ROBBED

Put this down as one of the coolest stories of the past few weeks — the owner of the Chinese restaurant that was robbed Tuesday night on Vernon Ave. attempted to shoot the man who robbed him. However, his gun wouldn’t fire.

The restaurant owner — Min Feng Chen — said it won’t happen next time, ’cause his gun WILL work.

My take: Reminds me of the story about Calvin Tso at the old China King getting robbed — and Mr. Calvin popped a cap in the robber and killed him (tried to find the link on Kinston.com and came up dry).

Listen, I have ABSOLUTELY NO problem with someone defending their property, business or family with a gun. That’s the beauty of our country — mess with a man’s property, business or family and like Mr. Calvin did — you might be carried off by the coroner’s office.

Do your thing, Mr. Min Feng Chen.

1 IN 88 CHILDREN ARE AUTISTIC

The CDC reports one in every 88 children has autism — a number that is almost double what it was just 10 years ago. In boys, autism is more pronounced, as one in 54 have it.

My take: That news staggers me. I have a few friends, including FOB Randy Capps, who have children with autism — and I admire those parents greatly who do such a great job with their kids with autism.

Why is autism in children increasing? We hear the numbers and read the stories about the children, but why — in 2012 — can’t we solve this?

Again, my hat is off to Randy and his lovely wife Shanna, who are simply awesome parents to Ethan — and to all those parents who are helping their children with autism.

APPLE SUED OVER SIRI FALSE ADVERTISING

Apple faces a class-action lawsuit about its’ Siri function — a false advertising suit claiming the voice-activated feature doesn’t do what it’s advertised to do.

My take: I’ve still got my year-old iPhone 4 without the Siri function — but even when I played around with some friends’ 4S, I realized it wasn’t what was advertised. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this case.

The iPod shuffle

Say Say Say — Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney

Beautiful Day — U2

While You See A Chance — Steve Winwood

Here Comes The Sun — The Beatles

All The Above — On The Rocks

P.S.: Really looking forward to taping this week’s Free Press Radio Program with Jon “Music Elitist” Dawson and Justin “The Kid” Hill this afternoon — we’re going to each share our top 10 pop music acts in history. Dawson’s criteria for the lists includes most original, scope of influence and staying power. Of course, Dawson’s list is going to include seven acts you’ve NEVER heard of … but that’s how he’s earned his “music elitist” title!

Hint: you might see U2 in my list. I’ll post mine here later this afternoon, along with the link to the podcast so you can hear what Dawson and Hill think.

P.P.S.S.: I had a great morning at Seymour Johnson AFB welcoming home Jeff Stephens and Ashton Brinson, who are home after spending eight months in Afghanistan. I’m writing a story for tomorrow’s FP and I’ve got some extra pictures I’m going to share here on the blog.

I’m sure I’ll say this later, but let me say this here: Jeff and Ashton are HEROES — true heroes who put their lives on the line to make sure we still have our freedoms. If you know either of them, please welcome them home!

Bo Ingram, Nootsie Hines in postseason play tonight

Two names very familiar to Lenoir County basketball fans begin their collegiate postseasons tonight.

Bo Ingram, a senior at Texas-Arlington, leads his Mavericks to the NIT first-round against Washington — the Pac-12 champ — at 10 p.m. today. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Bo was the MVP of the 2008 3A state champion Kinston squad; he also went on to win pretty much every MVP of every all-star game and pro-am league in which he participated. He’s averaging 12.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while shooting 35.4 percent from the 3-point line.

Curtis “Nootsie” Hines, a sophomore at Shaw University, has helped lead the Bears to a high national ranking. His Bears will play in a regional final — today at 7 p.m. — at West Liberty in the NCAA Division II tournament.

Nootsie has taken a different route to his success after graduating from Kinston in 2007 and leading the Vikings to the 3A state championship game against Concord. You can watch his game tonight by clicking here.

Good luck to both tonight!

Morning News Report; March 8, 2012

ACC TOURNEY BEGINS TODAY

The nation’s best college basketball conference tournament begins today at noon with No. 8-seed Maryland (16-14) facing No. 9-seed Wake Forest (13-17). Other games today include fifth-seeded N.C. State (20-11) taking on 12th-seeded Boston College (9-21) at 2:30 p.m.; No. 7-seed Clemson (16-14) vs. No. 10-seed Virginia Tech (15-16) at 7 p.m. and sixth-seeded Miami (18-11) and 11th-seeded Georgia Tech (11-19) closing the day at around 9:30 p.m.

The Maryland-Wake Forest winner faces top-seeded UNC (27-4) at noon on Friday, while the N.C. State-BC winner takes on No. 4-seed Virginia (22-8) at 2:30. Tomorrow’s night games feature the Clemson-Virginia Tech victor facing No. 2-seed Duke (26-5) at 7 p.m., followed by the Miami-Georgia Tech winner taking on the No. 3-seed Florida State (21-9) at 9:30 p.m.

For a really awesome — and compact — preview of the tourney, visit ACCSports.com’s preview located here.

My take picks: Today, I’m going chalk — I have Maryland, State, Clemson and Miami winning; tomorrow, I see UNC, State, Duke and Florida State emerging victorious.

In Saturday’s semifinals, I’m picking UNC and Florida State … with the Seminoles winning their first ACC championship on Sunday over the Heels.

For a really good ACC Tournament preview, stay tuned — we have Jim Young, the editor of ACCSports.com joining Jon Dawson and I on the podcast, which we’ll post in a little bit.

MAZINGO TO HAVE INTERIM TAKEN OFF SUPERINTENDENT TITLE

Steve Mazingo, the interim Lenoir County Schools Superintendent, is in negotiations to take over the role on a permanent basis, according to our Justin Hill.

My take: Not exactly a surprise here as the “selection process” was aimed towards keeping Mazingo all along, according to many. But everything I’ve heard about Mazingo is that he’s a straight-up fellow and a pretty good choice for this job.

And kudos to Justin for this report — he’s the only reporter who has been on top of this story from the jump.

KINSTON’S RESITA COX NAMED STATE’S TOP PREP JOURNALIST

Kinston senior Resita Cox has been named North Carolina’s best high school journalist for 2012.

My take: Congrats to Resita, who has interned in our newsroom. She is also one of the smartest, most upwardly mobile young people I’ve ever met — and she has nothing but a bright future.

The iPod shuffle

Don’t Need A Gun — Billy Idol

Cradle of Love — Billy Idol

Best Of Both Worlds — Van Halen

Is There Something I Should Know — Duran Duran

Fortunate Son — U2

On Coach Hines, Coach Eason, Joshua Lovick and polls

Some nuggets for your perusal tonight:

  • Really enjoyed putting together this story on Shonda Hines, the head girls’ basketball coach at Rochelle Middle School. Not only is she a successful coach at RMS, she also helps Hubert Quinerly with the varsity team at Kinston HS and is the mother of three great young men in Curtis “Nootsie” Hines, Dory Hines and Reggie “Tigger” Clark Jr. It was truly an honor to write that story — she’s a great mother who deserves a lot of praise.
  • One of the good guys in our area — and arguably, one of the most humble — was honored last week when South Lenoir thanked its retiring baseball coach, Troy Eason, for his 28 years of service to the program. I could do an entire post on Coach Eason (and probably should), but the ol’ ball coach wouldn’t want that. I’ll say this about the coach — I’m not sure I’ve ever been around a coach who truly didn’t want any acclaim than Coach Eason. He truly wanted to have all attention on his kids, not on him. Good luck in retirement, Coach!
  • David Hall did a fantastic job catching us up on the progress of ECU/former Kinston star Joshua Lovick in a Sunday article. Josh might be one of the smartest and — like Coach Eason — one of the most humble young men I’ve ever covered. Hope he gets a chance to show his stuff this year, but even if he doesn’t, it’s coming for him. Heck of a kid, heck of a family.
  • With their loss at North Pitt last week, Kinston’s boys fell in this week’s NCPreps.com 2A poll. The Vikings were No. 1 the previous two weeks, but fell to fourth behind East Rutherford, Waxhaw Cuthbertson and undefeated Croatan. The Kinston girls remained eighth in their poll, while the Jones Senior girls stayed at No. 7 in the 1A poll.

Morning News Report; Nov. 23, 2011

THE 4.74 DEGREES OF SEPARATION (ON FACEBOOK)

In an interesting study by the University of Milan and Facebook, it’s been found the degree of separation between one random person and another is only 4.74 — and only 4.37 in America.

My take: If you thought the world was getting smaller … you were correct. Very, very interesting read — check it out!

REGGIE GOES FOR 23 IN UNC WIN

Former Kinston High School star Reggie Bullock popped for a career-high of 23 points — including a career-best six 3-pointers in seven attempts — in last night’s rout of Tennessee State.

Check out WRAL’s post-game interview with Reggie:


 

(Also — here’s an excellent video and blog post from former N&Oer and current ESPN reporter Robbi Pickeral in a 1-on-1 interview with Reggie)

My take: It’s good to see that smile on Reggie’s face again — and it’s good to see that shooting stroke back again.

READY FOR A HISTORIC FRIDAY NIGHT?

Ryan Herman and The Free Press are ready as Kinston, Ayden-Grifton and Jones Senior all play for their respective first chances for a state championship berth in the 2AA, 1AA and 1A football games.

My take: And who said this area is a basketball area? Should be a heck of a night Friday — if you want to follow updates from the games, follow my Twitter feed at BCHanks; I’ll be at Kinston, while Herman is at the A-G game (and we’re trying to find someone for the Jones Senior game).

And to answer Herman’s initial question in that link above — me, me, me. I picked 19 of the 32 regional finalists in Nick Stevens’ highschoolOT.com pre-playoffs video — including Kinston, A-G and JS in the regional finals. Yes kids, that’s known as “shameless self-promotion!”

The iPod shuffle

Run To You — Bryan Adams

Girl — Tori Amos

Whenever, Wherever — Shakira

Say You Will — Foreigner

Panama (Live) — Van Halen

Morning Sports Report; Oct. 14, 2011 — Hometown Hero Edition

SOUTH LENOIR’S HOOKER WILL PLAY IN SHRINE BOWL

South Lenoir defensive standout K’Hadree Hooker was picked to play in the 75th annual Shrine Bowl yesterday. He is the first player in South Lenoir history to make the prestigious game.

Here’s a complete list of the Shrine Bowl participants from ncpreps.com.

My take: Congratulations to a great young man. It’s been a very disappointing season for the Blue Devils, but this is a nice bit of news for the good folks in Deep Run.

BULLOCK READY TO RETURN FOR HEELS

Following a season-ending injury a season ago, Kinston’s Reggie Bullock is healthy and ready to step up for UNC this season. (To see a video, click here; for some reason, can’t embed from WCTI)

Also, here’s an Associated Press report featured on WRAL.com; it also has a video.

My take: Great report from our good friend at WCTI, Derek Bayne.

And it’s good to see Reggie back and healthy — this is going to be a huge year for the Tar Heels and I know he’s going to be a huge contributor to their success.

NORTH LENOIR SET TO FACE UNDEFEATED PRIVATE TEAM

You have probably never heard of this week’s North Lenoir opponent — Davidson Day School — but that doesn’t mean the Patriots are a bad team. In fact, DDS is 7-0 and has one of the top private school football teams in North Carolina.

The game between the Hawks and Patriots kicks off today at 6:30 p.m.

My take: I am curious to see how being a top private school is going to translate on the field tonight. Regardless, I think the hometown Hawks are going to have their hands full tonight — predictions coming up later.

The iPod shuffle

Forever Man — Eric Clapton

Un-Break My Heart — Toni Braxton

I’m On A Boat — The Lonely Island featuring T-Pain

Mystic Eyes — Them

Father Figure — George Michael

P.S.: Don’t forget — if you want to get into a survivor pool, click here. Should be a lot of fun — and I’d love to see another 20 play this time around!

Morning News Report; Sept. 21, 2011

CHRIS HATCHER: ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS

Here’s a nice national story involving Kinston’s Chris Hatcher, who is doing a great job as a reliever for the Florida Marlins — Hatch received an American flag on Monday from a serviceman who is serving in Kuwait.

(Here’s a report from the Miami Herald and another from the Palm Beach Post)

Hatch gave a baseball to the son of the serviceman in Chicago and chatted with the man before he was shipped back overseas. In return, the serviceman sent a flag that had been carried on patrols back to Chris.

My take: Another great example of why Chris Hatcher is one of the good guys. Thanks for representing Kinston the way you do, Hatch!

WOODMEN REVEAL PLANS FOR CENTER, WATER PARK

In an impressive press conference yesterday, the Woodmen of the World unveiled plans for its new community center complex — which will include the largest water park east of Greensboro.

My take: Initially, I didn’t like the idea of tax dollars — to the tune of $1 million from the city and county — helping fund this endeavor.

However, when you consider the all the payback from this (tourist dollars, a place for children to go, a top-notch athletic/swimming facility), it’s WELL worth the public money that going to help offset the $12 million project.

I simply can’t wait for it to open; it’s time Kinston had a YMCA-type facility here. This is going to be a nice addition to Kinston, especially since we’re losing the K-Tribe.

COMING FRIDAY: A FALLING SATELLITE

A dead NASA satellite is scheduled to hit the earth, oh, sometime Friday. Scientists aren’t exactly sure where it’s going to land although they know the 6 1/2-ton satellite is going to break up into about 26 little parts first.

If you find a piece of it, don’t touch it — call the authorities.

My take: As if I’m not paranoid enough as it is … I’m going to be walking the sideline at South Lenoir Friday night and get beaned by a satellite. AWESOME.

The iPod shuffle

Don’t You (Forget About Me) — Billy Idol

In The End — Green Day

Hollyann — Boston

Flat On The Floor — Nickelback

Green River — Alabama

Morning Sports Report; Aug. 20, 2011

HATCHER STILL PERFECT FOR MARLINS

Kinston’s Chris Hatcher made his second appearance as a Florida Marlins pitcher in last night’s game at San Diego — and he’s still perfect. He pitched the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Padres, giving up his first MLB hit and walk, but no runs were scored against him.

My take: He pitched in a blowout victory in his MLB debut and in a close one in his second game. I’m interested to see how the Marlins are going to use him — but wouldn’t it be something if he were handed the closer’s role? Florida has suffered a plethora of injuries this season and he’s shown some good stuff this year between Double-A and the majors.

KINSTON’S JONES FEATURED IN NATIONAL REPORT

Kinston wide receiver Jevonte’ Jones was featured in a nice piece on national football recruiting guru Tom Lemmings’ JuniorRank.com website. In the article written by Dan Hilbert, Jones talks about the injury that knocked him out last season and his desire to play at the D-1 level.

Jones’ top three schools are N.C. State, Georgia Tech and Georgia.

My take: I covered the Kinston game last night and was duly impressed with his size (he seems much taller than his listed 6-foot height, but he’s a physical specimen. It would be pretty cool to have Jones join South Lenoir’s K’Hadree Hooker and North Lenoir’s Maurice Morgan at N.C. State next year, wouldn’t it? Talk about a Lenoir County connection in Raleigh!

FRIDAY NIGHT RECAP

In last night’s area games, Kinston sloughed past scrappy Jones Senior, Greene Central scored two late fumble recovery TDs to win at North Lenoir, South Lenoir whipped Spring Creek and Ayden-Grifton spanked Riverside-Martin in Williamston. For the yardsticks for last night’s four local games, click here.

My take(s): As mentioned above, I covered the KHS-JS game — and it wasn’t nearly as close as the 28-13 score indicated. Too many Kinston mistakes (six lost fumbles!) and plenty of Trojans heart kept that game infinitely closer than it should’ve been.

GC might be a bit improved, but I’ll be surprised if the Rams are better than 3-8 this season.

Sounds like North Lenoir caught some of the fumbleitis that Kinston had last night.

Not surprised by the South Lenoir result. If the Blue Devils can be just moderately good on offense this year, Hooker and that stout South Lenoir defense could get that program its first playoff victory this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Blue Devils go 7-4 or 8-3 this  season.

Ayden-Grifton has one of the best coaches in ENC in Paul Cornwell — the Chargers will be solid again with only Goldsboro challenging them in the Carolina 1A.

The iPod shuffle

Free Fallin’ — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Suspicious Minds — Elvis Presley

Mama Said Knock You Out — LL Cool J

Found Out About You — Gin Blossoms

Look What The Cat Dragged In — Poison