ACC Player of the Year is Clear – TJ Warren

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in ACC, Basketball, NCSU

I’ve no doubt watched as much #ACC Basketball as most of the voters for player of the year. Keep in mind that while they were covering a game at a time, I was watching the next two. I was Little Deac of the Week before some of the voters were born. I’ve been to Seven World’s Fairs, six sheep shearings, and a handful of Hillsborough hikes that included Sadlack’s. I’ve pulled for Duke in the Dean Dome after camping for tickets there in the cold. I’ve pulled for the Tarheels every time they’ve played Russia. I’ve been on Franklin Street after a National Championship. I am most certainly biased. If you’ve watched this much college basketball and you aren’t passionate enough to have strong opinions about the schools, the colors, the uniforms, the cheerleaders, the fans, the arenas, the coaches and your league – well, you are probably a terrible lover and a horrible person. You also shouldn’t be voting for player of the year in the ACC. But if you are…
TJ Warren
If you have watched all these years, then you know that the ACC Player of the Year has been awarded to the likes of Ralph Sampson, Mark Price, Kenny Anderson, Tyler Hansbrough, Rodney Rogers, Tim Duncan, Len Bias, David Thompson, Elton Brand, JJ Redick, and Michael Jordan. It’s also been awarded to less household names over the years too. But…
You may not realize that it has NEVER, in the history of the league been awarded to a freshman. Chris Paul is arguably the best point guard in the NBA during a time where NBA point guards are absolutely elite. He did not win the award as a freshman. (and therefore ever actually) The best player to ever play the game – a skinny kid named Michael Jordan was a Junior when he won the award.
Hopefully you are saying to yourself right now – that was then, it has nothing to do with this year! I agree.
So now that we’ve cleared the context up. TJ Warren is the #ACC Player of the Year. I’ve watched all year, waiting for him to waiver. He hasn’t. He’s thrown a team on his back that has overachieved because of his leadership, his hustle, his insane ability to put himself in the right position time after time, and a mind boggling lost art mid-range shot that we’ve almost written off in college basketball. He’s done it quietly, unforced, within the flow of the game. He’s done it with every brilliant ACC Coach devising new ways to stop him, and largely him alone. Coaches prepared for him with no other pre-season All-ACC selections and potential ACC POY candidates sharing the pre-game concerns. No McAdoo. No Hood. No Fair.
I love (the game of) Jabari Parker. He is nearly unstoppable too and he is going to be an NBA star. Marcus Paige is insanely gifted and has become consistently dominant night after night. Ennis has been sensational and clutch for a team that was tops in the nation for much of the year. Virginia doesn’t win the regular season without Harris. Others could be mentioned too, really the list goes on from there. But none of them have been TJ Warren.
I am a numbers guy, no doubt. I wouldn’t leave home without them. Please take a look at them: They speak for themselves this year. But regardless of the numbers – I love the game and I watch the game first. I watch both ends of the court. I watch facial expressions. I watch on the ball and off the ball. I watch body language. I watch players interact with teammates. No statistics yet invented (although we are getting damn close in the NBA) tell the full story of the contributions of players like TJ Warren.
What I’ve seen for 2014 POY is clear.
TJ Warren is the ACC Player of the Year.

Raleigh vs Durham vs Triangle

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in NCSU, North Carolina, Raleigh, Tech

This @jproco thread got me thinking 
As sexy as a subset of Durham is, it seems fair to say that IF you look at these as two distinct systems, Durham as a whole is not as appealing as Raleigh. Polarizing statement, perhaps, but settle down blue friends.  Clearly Durham is doing something very right though - else this would be an easy discussion. Raleigh is the North Carolina State Capitol, and it’s simply not going to crumble overnight.  Raleigh will be just fine for some period of time.  But that is not a solution nor a strategy for the future, and being just fine doesn’t cut it. So you settle down for a second too, red friends.  It is that subtle complacency that is a potentially big problem for Raleigh.  Embracing uncertainty and change, and being courageous enough to evolve and thrive vs. settle, is much easier when there is necessity.  According to most, necessity is also the mother of invention.  Durham has risen in part because of necessity and is spawning invention thanks to a growing number of bulls.  You are simply more likely to get people to change when there is a burning platform.  And the price is right then too. Raleigh doesn’t seem to sense a burning platform.  I’m just fearful of a slow roast if we don’t smell the smoke.  I believe that Raleigh is going to have to incent fast microfailures vs. marinating for a long slow macroast.  That is hard to say on paper, and even harder to make reality. But Raleigh has access to roughly the same critical three T’s as Durham – Technology, Talent, & Tin Cup (capital), so there aren't going to be any excuses when we look back and try to figure out how Durham blew up. I'm good with growing an obtuse Triangle, its all commutable. But from a Raleigh lens - there are simply no excuses for letting it be anything less than equilateral. 
Meanwhile Durham is escaping what might have been perceived to be (that is me cushioning the message to avoid further polarization) a burning platform.  That burn appears to be helping Durham see the potential reward of small business bets and allowing them to have much less fear of the risks.  They are building critical mass, and please don’t let us underestimate critical mass for startups.   Startups are more likely to thrive together and much more likely to flail in isolation.  I’ve read blog posts and replies from James Avery for literally years now that should be the most compelling burning platform smoke detector for Raleigh.  To me he his cry for help from Raleigh should be listened to like a screaming toddler on the 4th floor of a burning building.  Fortunately there are a lot of brilliant folks pushing like crazy in Raleigh, but the sense of urgency from the masses has to happen sooner rather than later.  First to market would have been nice, but Raleigh may have missed that boat.  Perhaps we have survived thus far due to a massive talent pool.  But critical mass in other areas of the country will create a growing gravitational pull if we don’t offset it.  Not only will that be bad for the future of the region, but bad for the Universities themselves.  You see how this ecosystem works?
If you are paying close enough attention you will also have seen the ad-hoc alliances that have formed in Durham across the startups.  You could argue that it’s because they have such magical products right out of the gate that they can’t help but choose to use their cross town startup’s product.  Or you could step back and realize that they are using each other’s products in part because of a simple yet powerful sense of team.  Can there be any other region in the WORLD that grasps TEAM & what the color of your jersey can do for the psyche?  This region should be able to relate to that if nothing else.  It is a magical thing my hatred of *cough* Rhode Island blue.  These startups are eating each other’s dog food, being each others best customer's, and in turn helping make sure that they will all ultimately be delivering wine.  That collaboration simply doesn’t happen between two companies that don’t share some common sense of purpose, perhaps some common enemies. And it happens much more often when they can share a beer tab, or make a food truck visit for lunch with each other.  We need to make sure that we have a shared sense of common enemies as we stand together in the Triangle.
In an ideal world - we would do a flyover and see that this is really a single ecosystem, not two distinct, independent entities with a winner takes all outcome at stake. With the rate of change accelerating today, with enough backing from the big veteran companies of the region, and with enough smart people pushing the envelope – a Triangle All Star mentality is not completely idealistic. Somebody hug me.
Recommendation 1:
Build a diagram that shows alliances in the Triangle.  Connections indicate customers / partner relationships.  Direction of the arrows are open for discussion, but hopefully several will be synchronous.  This will help others to literally see the symbiotic results of creating a supportive, collaborative infrastructure in the region.   Build a single diagram for the Triangle and it will paint an informative picture. Concept:
  Recommendation 2:
Go watch basketball this summer at the NCPROAM in Durham if you’d like an indication of just how exciting the blending of the blues & reds can be.  It’s even open source.

North Carolina Startups to Watch

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in NCSU, North Carolina, Raleigh, Tech

This is a work in progress… last update 5/28 I track several of these and their leaders via the Startup Watchlist – so you can follow along there too!

Company to Watch



Year Founded


3tailer Charlotte NC
6Fusion  Raleigh NC 2008
ACF Technologies, Inc.  Asheville NC 2003
Advanced Liquid Logic, Inc.  Morrisville NC 2004
Affinergy Inc. Durham NC
Amidon Contracting Solutions, Inc.  Youngsville NC 2006
Argand Energy Solutions  Charlotte NC 2007
Argyle Social  Durham NC 2009
Automated Insights, Inc.  Durham NC 2007
Bennett Aerospace, Inc. Cary NC
BioAgilytix Labs RTP NC
BioResource International. Inc. Morrisville NC
BlueStripe Software, Inc. RTP NC
Bronto Software Durham NC
Brushy Mountain Bee Farm, Inc.  Moravian Falls NC 1977
Chimerix, Inc. Durham NC
Clinipace Worldwide NC
Combat Medical Systems  Fayetteville NC 2008
Consolidated Asset Recovery Systems, Inc. NC
DataChambers, LLC NC
Digitalsmiths NC
Dorsett Technologies, Inc. Yadkinville NC
Dry Corp, LLC Wilmington NC
d-Wise Technologies  Raleigh NC 2003
Emergency Technologies, Inc. Raleigh NC
Entex Technologies Inc. NC
EvoApp  Durham NC 2009
Expression Analysis Durham NC
Figure Eight Technologies Greenville NC
FLS Energy Asheville NC
Geomagic NC NC
Hickory Nut Gap Farm NC
Ignite Social Media NC
Infina Connect Healthcare Systems, Inc.  Cary NC 2010
Inlet Technologies NC
Intelligent Access Systems  Garner NC 2004
Jackrabbit Technologies NC
K3 Enterprises, Inc. NC
Kyma Technologies, Inc. RTP NC
Liquidia Technologies, Inc. RTP NC
LoneRider Brewing Company NC
Mariner Container, LLC  Granite Falls NC 2002
MercuryGate International NC
Moog Music, Inc. NC
Mother Earth Brewing  Kinston NC 2008
Netsertive, Inc.  Research Triangle Park NC 2009
PharPoint Research, Inc.  Durham NC 2005
Piedmont Pharmaceuticals, LLC Greensboro NC
PocketGear, Inc. NC
Prometheus Group  Raleigh NC 1998
Relevance, Inc.  Durham NC 2003
Replay Photos, LLC NC
Riley Life Logistics NC
SciMetrika, LLC RTP NC
Semprius, Inc. NC
ShareFile NC
ShopBot Tools, Inc. NC
Skookum Digital Works Charlotte NC
Smarter Systems  Charlotte NC 2008
Southern Energy Management Morrisville NC
Southern Fasteners and Supply, Inc.  Winston-Salem NC 1982
Spoonflower Durham NC
The Mother Earth Group, Inc. Charlotte NC 1989
The Select Group NC
Themis Group, Inc. NC
TheraSim, Inc. NC
TransEnterix, Inc. NC
TransLoc, Inc. Raleigh NC
Tranzyme Pharma NC
Valencell, Inc.  Raleigh NC 2006
Varrow, Inc. Greensboro NC
XS, Inc.  Morrisville NC 1998
Zift Solutions, Inc.  Durham NC 2006
Romotive Las Vegas NV 2010

NBA Referees Fixing Games – Tim Donaghy Book

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in ACC, NBA, NCSU

Tim Donaghy’s book is going to be the ESPN topic of topics for a while now – buckle up.  From the excerpts that I have read… About 80% of this crap is ‘fact based’ – heavy emphasis on based.  But even that part is so clearly overhyped, spun up, twisted, and blown out of proportion that any logical person will discredit 75% of the fact based portion.  So that leaves me with 20% that may be factual.  And as an additional penalty since he didn’t have the common courtesy to edit out the subjective b.s. clutter for me, and because he muddied fact with opinion, he inserted hype and useless commentary, and is in prison where ‘whistle blowers’ are a commodity… I will disregard 50% of that 20% too.

So the NBA is only 10% sucky.  Wow, that’s actually an upgrade. I will watch more NBA games now.

I had the other reactions throughout reading it: • No kidding.  Of course that’s how it works because that is how everything in life and in business works. • This guy may die while in prison because of blowing the wrong person’s whistle. • Somebody wrote some parts for him because the writing style is suddenly more intelligent in spots. • Perhaps he should follow up with a book about how to win friends and influence people. • The NBA will survive, it is the NBA. But the individuals are the real victims here. Not saints. But definitely victims. The whole read was annoying to me, yet it is a masterpiece and will clearly be a best seller that may never be sold.  But it sucks.   Completely sucks. It is a masterpiece because it hits EVERY conspiracy theory known to fans – and ignites fires of imagination that will now be referenced as fact at the watercooler. And because of the emotional reaction and controversy – this moron will now be on the best sellers list of books that get snuffed out by litigation.

Maybe he will make enough on the book to pay big bubba off and won’t have to be a whistle blower anymore.

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