- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 25, 2007

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — A day after his controversy-tinged bank shot to win Georgetown’s regional semifinal, Jeff Green wasn’t about to take a walk on the wild side.

Green’s basket with 2.5 seconds left lifted the second-seeded Hoyas (29-6) to a 66-65 victory over Vanderbilt and into today’s East Region final against No. 1 North Carolina (31-6) at Continental Airlines Arena.

But replays showed Green switched his pivot foot, although he was not whistled for traveling.

“Honestly, I don’t know whether I traveled or not,” Green said. “I didn’t really see a replay, believe it or not. I was getting my rest. The bottom line is I let the officials referee the game and he didn’t call it.”

Either way, Green delivered one of the most memorable shots in Georgetown history when he split between Vanderbilt’s Shan Foster and Ross Neltner, then tossed up an 8-foot bank shot to seal the Hoyas’ first regional final appearance since 1996.

Off and on

There is little question that North Carolina is one of the most talented teams in the nation, but the sluggishness that emerged in the first half of Friday’s defeat of Southern California has surfaced before.

Of course, it hasn’t popped up often enough to significantly derail the ACC champions.

“You know, we’ve won 31, so it’s not [so much] a concern that I’m lying awake at night,” coach Roy Williams said. “My concern is when we don’t guard people.”

The Tar Heels didn’t bother with defense for much of the first half of the 74-64 defeat of the Trojans before surrendering only two shots from the floor in the final 12:31.

Williams invoked the wisdom of former UCLA coach John Wooden, who contended a couple extended spurts would usually be enough to secure victory.

“I didn’t want to have to rely on an 18-0 spurt by being down as much as we were, but we will have some mistakes out there,” Williams said. “We can screw it up in a heartbeat. But kids, for the most part, have really played exceptionally hard.”

Candy man

Williams seemed both amused and befuddled at the constant chatter about the 1982 North Carolina-Georgetown national championship.

But as is his wont, Williams had a homespun tale to describe his experience as an assistant on Dean Smith’s first title team. Williams kept a candy bar in his pocket late in that season and bought one in the arena before each game.

But there were no candy vendors in the Superdome in New Orleans, prompting the coach to wander across the street.

“I came back to the door and the guard that was there changed and they weren’t going to let me come back in,” Williams said. “My biggest memory is how doggone scared I am. I’m helping coach a team in the national championship game and I’m not even going to get in the freaking arena.”

Fantastic in finals

While Georgetown has lost three straight regional finals, North Carolina has an extended history of success on the doorstep on the Final Four.

The Tar Heels are 16-5 all-time in regional finals, and have won seven straight Elite Eight games. UNC’s last loss on the precipice of the semifinals was in 1988, when it fell to Arizona.

North Carolina is also 6-1 in NCAA tournament games in East Rutherford, advancing to the Final Four by way of the New Jersey swampland in 1991 and 1993.

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