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Duke, North Carolina give new meaning to 'hardwood'

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It's one day before Selection Sunday or, as Dick Vitale calls it, Christmas.

There are days when my RPI leans closer to RIP.

North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough clobbered Duke all day. With the game lost, Gerald Henderson of Duke delivered a "get even" blow, a not-uncommon event in basketball.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski hinted the incident may not have happened if Hansbrough had been pulled from the game.

Hold on, Coach K: You still were calling timeouts and playing full throttle.

Can't figure out if Billy Packer is a Duke apologist or a coaches-in-general apologist.

Probable answer: Both.

I hope the Kings' Ron Artest receives the help he needs, but returning to the lineup Sunday sends too many bad messages.

Stanford (18-12) will spend a most uncomfortable weekend on the NCAA Tournament bubble. We think the Cardinal gets a bid.

A good first-round matchup in the NIT: Santa Clara vs. Fresno State.

The first Iditarod musher to reach the Yukon River was cooked a dinner of seared ostrich. Flamingo apparently was out of season.

The Raiders signed ex-Colt Dominic Rhodes, who will arrive in Oakland with a Super Bowl ring and a recent DUI arrest.

Mark Kotsay's back surgery, coupled with Bobby Crosby's chronic injury problems, gives the A's pause even in March.

This week's OAA dinner broke new ground. All athlete-of-the-year award winners were from Modesto.

Stanford's new football coach Jim Harbaugh loves to talk about attacking each day "with enthusiasm unknown to mankind" because he heard those words each morning from his father Jack.

OAA finalist Julie Locke, the artistic roller skating national champion raised in Modesto, has retired. She's exchanging her skates for wedding vows in April.

Harbaugh on Stanford's sophomore defensive end Levirt Griffin (Modesto High): "We expect him to play. He's a gamer, but his knees are bothering him."

Louis Bland (Central Catholic) barely missed a third consecutive state wrestling title. He promises, regardless of his collegiate football future, he'll wrestle as a senior.

Harbaugh coached Rich Gannon in 2002, the Raiders' Super Bowl season, so his opinion has clout: "I think the Raiders will draft the quarterback from LSU (JaMarcus Russell)."

Byron Storer (Central Catholic, Cal) has not given up hope on a future in the NFL. If fellow fullback Josh Parry (Sonora) can make it, so can Storer.

An update on Modesto's Olympic swimming hopeful Karlee Bispo: She's almost 100 percent recovered from her dislocated kneecap last summer.

NASCAR was televised in Spanish last week, but I couldn't figure out the translation for "That's racin.'"

Santa Clara hopes its bouncing a winning coach (Dick Davey) works better than it did for the 49ers (Steve Mariucci).

The amazing coincidence the Kings knew years ago and everyone else finally has discovered — how opponents' faces keep colliding with Kobe Bryant's elbows and hands.

The legacy of Ayinde Ubaka: The greatest player in Cal history ... in overtime.

Whether it's a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, the UCLA Bruins still are Sacramento-bound Thursday.

Nevada (28-4) also hoped for a quick trip to Arco until it lost twice to Utah State during the last week. Let's hope for a Nick Fazekas sighting in Sac.

Adrian Oliver (Modesto Christian) has staked his ground with the Washington Huskies, with three promising years left.

Sunday commences arguably the best three weeks in sports ... until you've heard some talking head gush for the 10th time, "That was a great timeout!"

To comment, click on the link with this story at Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be reached at 578-2300 or