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UNC 75 NCSU 63

So if you take the first half at Duke and the second half of this one you get great basketball right?

UNC opened the game playing much the same caliber of offensive basketball we have seen since Durham…well sort of. The guards actually carried the scoring load in the first half while Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Justin Knox were limited by the Wolfpack’s physical play. In addition Harrison Barnes was looking like he did versus Minnesota starting the game 0-6 from the floor. UNC only shot 36% in the first half but managed to lead 31-29 on the strength of 14 point from the shooting guards? Dexter Strickland had nine points and Leslie McDonald chipped in five. Both hit three pointers and gave the Heels a charge after falling behind 19-9. The second half proved to be a much better exercise in producing points. The Heels shot 48% in the 2nd half with Harrison Barnes scoring 14 of his team high 16 points. Barnes came out and scored a quick five points to help UNC open up a working margin. Later in the half, with UNC clinging to a 60-56 lead Barnes would score the next seven Tar Heel points on two vicious putback dunks and a dagger to the heart three pointer. Barnes 2nd half line was 6-11 from the floor with two three pointers.

Overall, UNC scratched out a tough win on the road against a team that was miles better than the last time UNC played them. If there were one thing for  NCSU fans to really be frustrated about it is Sidney Lowe coached teams have this maddening tendency to figure out how to play good basketball when it is too late. The Wolfpack played a solid game all the way around and did not miss Richard Howell due to the surprise play of Jordan Vandenburg. While NCSU’s record makes this look like a less than stellar win for UNC, I am not sure that is the case. This was an intense and physical game to the point the normally lighthearted Henson was talking smack following a couple of blocks or the fact that the Daily Tar Heel sports editor reported on Twitter Henson yelling, “Gimme that ****” as he was in the air blocking Ryan Harrow’s shot. Roy probably does not care for that sort of thing but at the same time the edge behind that kind of behavior is something this team needs. A game like this also requires a team to be focused, disciplined and smart. There were times when the Heels were not, especially following Wolfpack baskets which charged the crowd. In one sequence, NCSU got an alley-oop dunk from Jordan Vandenberg. Marshall then foolishly attempted to throw an alley-oop to Henson without properly setting it up and with Henson well defended. The result was a turnover and easy basket on the other end. Early shots and an impatient offense hurt the Heels at times. As the game entered the final stages, Marshall settled the offense down a bit and Roy Williams used a couple of timeouts to set the offensive plays.

Also adding to the degree of difficulty in this game was the Heels finding themselves in the unfamiliar position of having their interior offensive options bogged down by a physical defense. UNC was able to overcome that by getting points from the perimeter players. As noted above Strickland and McDonald combined for 14 in the first half but the real difference lies with how Strickland got his points. There was one three from the sophomore and another foul line jumper. The rest came via aggressive drives to the basket. UNC’s offense is better when Strickland is looking to penetrate or trying to make thing happen by getting to the basket. The same is true with Marshall who did a much better job finishing at the rim to the tune of 14 points. Marshall’s scoring offset a pedestrian evening distributing(5 assists) and taking care of(5 TOs) the basketball. The flat-out war being waged on the blocks forced UNC into a more balanced offensive attack. The true guards scored 36 of UNC’s 75 points and depending on how you view Barnes’ position you could argue 52 of 75 points came from the perimeter players. In that sense you got the feeling that the Heels recovered a bit offensively in this one with the added bonus that Barnes found his offensive game in the 2nd half. His 0-6 first half could have easily turned in 0-12. In fact there was a point in the 2nd half where Barnes was 2-10 before going 4-7 to close the game. Being able to turn the ship around in a hostile crowd versus a team that is taking away what you do best can only bode well for the future.

Barring a meeting in the ACC Tournament this will likely close the book on UNC vs NCSU in the Sidney Lowe era. The assumption is Lowe, who once his first meeting against UNC and Roy Williams but since has lost 10 straight will not survive beyond this year. While the present era of UNC dominance over NCSU would seem to indicate the rivalry is dead, the smack talking and primal screams going from UNC players says otherwise. Either that or there could very well be some carry over from the NC Pro-Am games this summer when principal players from each team faced off. Whatever the case, this game might prove that competitiveness in a series is not necessarily required to a rivalry-type game.

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67 comments to UNC 75 NCSU 63

  • Charles

    Maybe it wasn’t mentioned above because it’s getting to be a given, but did anyone else think some of the defense played by the Heels was outstanding? Yeah, the blocks and rebounding were great, but there were a few defensive sequences that wowed me.

  • rathskellar68

    I also liked the smack talking, which State earned by the quasi-thuggish way they were playing.

    The big news from this game is that Stickland produced. This is the piece we have needed. If he performs at this level or better, we are a very tough team to beat.

  • TheUNCFan

    The Heels pulled out a tough win, and will be unstoppable if the perimeter players contribute. Bullock was MIA shooting, but drew the critical foul of the game on Wood. The contributions of Marshal, Strickland, and MacDonald were awesome. If this keeps up, the Tar Heels are going to peak at the right time. March.

    I don’t get why State would fire Lowe and start over now. This young team has the atheticism to compete in the ACC for the first time in ages and is turning the corner with steady improvement. It’s taking longer than they’d like, but then State doesn’t have NBA players and (recent) national champions coming back in the summer and teaching the freshmen how to play, either. Lowe is both building a team, and a whole culture, from scratch. Almost the entire team is coming back next year, and when the freshmen get stronger and more experienced, they’re going to be dangerous. This year has had so many injuries (and Smith and Harrow did not look 100% last night) that they’ve had to rely on freshmen to carry the load. Not a great record this year, but lots of experience for them.

    Anyhow, three more games and a good run in the tournament should do the trick and position us for the NCAA tournament.

  • Silent Sam

    State may, as you say, have “the athleticism to compete in the ACC” but they are 4-9 in the conference . . . Sidney’s 5th consecutive season below .500 in the ACC. Why are you beating Sidney’s drum? Are you actually a State fan in disguise?

  • nativeheel

    A very good win by any measure. I really liked the balanced scoring and the tough defense. Henson is a hoot! I love his play! Also liked Strickland’s game as he displayed the talent that most of us know he has. When Barnes puts two good halfs together in the same game….wow! It will happen. At 21-6 we are now a lock for the NCAA’s and assured of a first round bye in the ACC Tourney. We are now playing for a better post-season seeding and when we beat Dook we should earn a good one. My frustrations with some of the play this season are over. He-who-shall-not-be-named made his greatest contribution this season by leaving a united TEAM in his wake. Better butta! Bigger biscuits!
    Go Heels!!

  • Misplaced Tar Heel

    Any official news on paper-gate? Heard it reported on the radio this morning that Wanda ripped a NCSU student’s sign in half after being berated with it doe much of the game.

    Classy, state fans, classy. And yet, if this is true, I bet they turn this on her and Roy (try should be above that).

    Lowe should be above frustration tech fouls too. But wait, they’ll defend him, saying he was showing passion. Hah.

    Anyhow, I don’t mind if Lowe stays at all. I like 10 wins in a row over a “rival”.

  • MDTarheel

    A very nice win. I thought the Heels might fold this one. State was bringing it but Henson said no, no. Team defense was really good. Zeller was getting tackled but really man-upped this game. It was great to see Strickland have a good game. Having the 2 guard, who ever it is,produce is very key to how far this team will go. My biggest concern is Bullock. He cannot hit anything. The one shot he made, the three, he should have missed because he was fouled. IMO Bullock should ride the bench unless there is foul trouble. This would allow MacDonald more PT and I think that would help his game. Leslie looked much better tonight.
    It was great to see the Heels stop the State runs with some clutch shots like the 3′s by Barnes and Marshall. It felt like Ellington or Green was back on the floor. Go Heels, kill the Terps.

  • marcus62660

    This is our 4th straight game in which we came out of the locker room hoping that no one would be there to put up any resistance against us. This team has become progressively easier to defend, particularly at the beginning of games… they just look so pathetically lost in the first 10 or 12 minutes. We have been able to get back into all four of these games and eventually win, but only because the opponents have been very mediocre, or worse. I don’t feel like this team is progressing the way you have to progress going into March.

  • MDTarheel

    In regards to keeping Lowe at State, I would like to see him stay one more year. I think its good for a school to have an ex-player come back and coach like Gary williams at MD. The rebuilding process is always tough and takes time. He seems to have the players now. Hopefully next year he will not suffer from any injuries. However I don’t think he is a very good coach. State never knows who suppose to in bound the ball after a made basket, getting the T was stupid, and most games this year and past his teams do not show up for games. Give him one more year and .500 and below, he is out.
    I am not a State fan but I am an ACC fan. I want to see all the teams do well, except Dook, because it makes the league more fun to watch. Its great to watch the standings change thru the season. I just like it when the Heels finish on top.

  • marcus62660

    What is a “deadball rebound?”

  • OldSchool

    21-6 (11-2 ACC). Awesome by any measure. Two of the last three games are at home. I think we are going to run the table and beat dook at home to close out the season.

    Good riddance to the Wear brothers and you know who. Go Heels.

  • Heels Perspective

    Good summation THF.

    * I’m going to say Roy is doing a very good job. I might be wrong but it seems like he is really encouraging the 2 guard guys to keep plugging because he knows this team can go far with Bullock, Dex and LMAC contributing.
    * Marshall is making some FR mistakes, but dude controls the game IMHO. His steal ranks right up there with Barnes’ plays. The steal probably kept Leslie from a thunderous dunk.
    * Tyler and Henson showed toughness.
    * Black Falcon in the second half. WOW.
    * Knox quietly played a very important role.

    God help “Marcus” if the Heels lose.

  • marcus62660

    Heels Perspective…

    Nah, I’ll be ok. I’m realistic so when your expectations are low, losing isn’t that big of a deal.

    BTW, do you know what a “deadball rebound” is?

  • chapelhillfan

    I’m guessing that whoever said “deadball rebound” may be referring to a missed shot that goes out of bounds so it is not actually rebounded by a player…it is a team rebound. ?

    As for Lowe, he may be a nice guy and I generally favor schools giving more time before firing, but he is a bad coach and he has not produced even mediocre results. This is his fifth year and his team is 4-9 in the conference. State fans are delusional (and morons)…we all know this…but this kind of production is unacceptable after five years, even for State. I’d love to see Lowe stick around, of course, because Roy and Carolina have owned him (even Les Robinson and Sendek could beat Carolina every now and then).

  • marcus,

    You do understand that there are times when an opposing team comes out and does something that disrupts what you want to do on offense and it requires a little time to adjust? NCSU did a great job of disrupting UNC’s interior game with physical play. The Heels responded with big scoring games from Strickland and Marshall who took the ball to the basket aggressively. UNC got just enough three point shooting and Barnes made clutch shots when it counted. Every game is not going to be a exercise in perfection. What the other team does matters. What I saw was a UNC team that had to flip their normal offensive production from interior/perimeter to perimeter/interior in order to win the game. They adjusted to NCSU, made plays when it counted and won a tough road game that was fraught with high emotions and March Madness intensity.

    Besides all I have heard for two weeks is how UNC needs SGs who can score. They got it last night yet people still complain. Some of you just are not going to be happy unless this team is blowing opponents out like they did at BC.

  • william

    Ten wins in a row is a lot against anyone.

    I remember that State beat UNC 9 times in a row between 1972 and 1974, back when the schools regularly played three or four times a year, because of the ACC Tourney and the Big 4 Classic.

    In a sense, State’s achievement was greater, because most of those 9 wins came against pretty darn good UNC teams and most of the margins were razor-thin.

    I think it is unfair to question someone as a State plant for expressing an opinion about Lowe. The State fans might argue that keeping Lowe is what UNC wants, since we always beat them. State, and Wake Forest, have both sought to turn their schools into football schools, which was a terrible mistake in my opinion, but you pays your money and takes your chances. I see Wake and State as now being mediocre in both football and basketball.

    In terms of play, UNC is now rated number 2 in the country in defense. I never thought I would see a UNC team that struggled to score, that was this proficient on defense. I still have to think that UNC is better than 54th in the nation on offense. If we can start playing anywhere decent on offense, say, at a George Mason sort of level, in the 20′s, the sky may be the limit here.

  • marcus62660

    THF…I saw pretty much the same thing you saw last night. I just didn’t think it was as good as you did. I’m not quite sure why you addressed your comment to me specifically, but I’ll take it as a compliment.

    CM…thanks for the explanation. I’m guessing whoever came up with that beauty of a stat has absolutely no life. So, let’s see…I’m shooting two foul shots, I miss the first, but my team gets credited with some kind of weird rebound. Nice. Why not give the guy who fouled me an assist if I make the foul shot? A more useless stat I defy you to find.

  • It’s a good time to be a Tar Heel fan gang. Honestly. If you go back through the comments a few weeks ago, I was as tough on Roy as anyone else. I must now give respect where it’s due. Roy has been correct in saying this team will get better. I think many of us felt burned by that last year because, at times, that team got worse. The past is the past. Here’s some scribbles and thoughts from Ohio…

    1. This team can easily make a STRONG run in the NCAA tourney. They’ve won ugly. They’ve won big. After last nights game, they have won a game where the other team tried to get physical (tok a page from Texas).

    2. I had ZERO problem with Henson talking some smack. State initiated that with their play and their talk. That’s why the refs didn’t “T” him up. He earned the right by sending shots back where they came from. Was good to see some fire. Would love to see a little of that against dook too.

    3. Barnes is still a mystery but I think we’re starting to get a feel that this guy is NAILS when it counts. I’d like to see him play that way for 40 minutes, but like Shaq said about his free throws…”I make them when they count”. Barnes could be “that guy” when it comes tourney time and the hype will be long justified. Love his demeanor and how he got a bit chippy (within the context of the game) last night. He is, after all, a freshman.

    4. Not much has been made of the incredible job that the three (count them) bigs have done this year. I was incredibly nervous going into this season that we were playing with fire. I am amazed how they have stayed out of foul trouble. I tip my hat to Roy for his management of Zeller last night (zone defense???) as well.

    I like this team. I like their chances. Bullock is the final piece that we need to get going. He is brutal to watch right now. If he can find a stroke and we get a favorable seeding, I really believe this team can at least make the Final 4.


  • scl11

    “This would allow MacDonald more PT and I think that would help his game. Leslie looked much better tonight.”

    Yeah back to back possessions by McDonald of a turnover then getting out of position so that Brown could blow by for a layup were great improvements. /sarcasm

    Bullock may be in a shooting slump, but he does all the other things much better than McDonald, and also has better shot selection.

    36 Points from Marshall, Strickland, McDonald, and Bullock was very nice to see and continued scoring from that foursome of that nature will serve this team well down the road.

    Carolina wasn’t great from the perimeter (still one made 3 pointer short of the 6/game threshold), but they did enough in key stretches to really impact the game.

    - McDonald hit two big shots in the 1st half to cool off a State run

    - Strickland was fabulous in the first half and carried the team, and it is not a coincidence that this was a result of Dexter being aggressive and taking the ball to the basket, which we have not seen since the FSU game.

    - Marshall had some atrocious turnovers, but his aggressiveness taking the ball to basket and finishing were key in spoiling State runs, and his big steal around the 2 minute mark after another bad turnover was HUGE.

    - Bullock has been in most likely the worst shooting slump of his basketball career, but to step up and nail that foul line jumper while being fouled with the game tied was BIG TIME.

    This was a very nice win from UNC to take the best shot from an underachieving team on the road in a “rivalry” game, but still maintain their poise and execution in order to pull out the victory. Well done.

    And one final note, State’s players are a bunch of punks, especially Wood. In this physical affair, every time Carolina knocked down a State player, the Carolina player offered a hand in helping the guy back to his feet. Wood knocked Bullock to the ground and then just walked over him, not to mention the multiple elbows he shoved in Barnes chest as Harrison was legally face guarding him. What a douche…..

  • 850inExile aka UNC RAJ

    “While the present era of UNC dominance over NCSU would seem to indicate the rivalry is dead, the smack talking and primal screams going from UNC players says otherwise.”

    That was a joy to see. I love this teams attitude. These guys seem like they absolutely hate to lose… not just lose a game, but lose a single possession. It’s great to see that attitude in a Carolina team again.

  • plibt

    re: Bullock

    I don’t think I’ve felt as happy for a player personally on a made shot than when he hit that jump shot and got the foul. Dude needed that bad. He will come around, and it’s easier to give him time if dex can keep up his play

  • PRGuy

    College sports is a business and judging from State fans’ comments on the radio, they’ve given up on Sidney. I would guess the fat-walleted alumni have as well. If you can’t put butts in seats (supposedly there were still tickets for sale yesterday) then it may be a business decision to can the coach and look for new blood. And Sydney hasn’t helped himself by going 1-10 against their biggest rival and for getting a stupid technical at the end of the game.

  • william

    Bullock is going to look back on this trying season as the year he became a man. I am definitely rooting for him.

    It is hard to believe that we are achieving what we are, having lost Davis, Drew, Wear I and Wear II and Graves, and with our top two recruits underperforming expectations by a long shot.

    However, given that we were only the 46th best defensive team in the country last year, I think Barnes has to receive a lot of the credit for the defensive improvement, together with Henson getting regular minutes downlow, and I suppose, a healthy Zeller.

    Of course, we were 92nd in offense last year, so we have improved about the same amount relative to other teams, on offense.

  • Asheville Heel

    ^ Agree that you’ve got to give a talent like Bullock PT. I was glad to see that our players rose to the physical challenge that State employed last night. This is STILL a rivalry. Roy despises State and I guarantee our freshman heard things said about them and their Mothers last night that they’ve never heard before. There’s been a lot of historical water flow under this bridge that a lot of you are too young to recall. The swagger and arrogance of Everitt Case’s teams had to be seen to be believed in the days they dominated the ACC. Don’t even get me started on Norm Sloan.

    Funniest part of last night’s game was when Henson blocked the State PG’s shot and said, “you must not get cable TV at your house”! Now that’s hilarious!

  • william

    That is pretty funny. Maybe they don’t get ESPN3 either….

  • for what this team is and after last year to have our record right now is great and there is no arguing that. however, i think to marcus’s point, we still have so much room to improve that last night isn’t as satisfying as it could be. player to player on our roster vs state (and coach to coach) we should kill them. i think THF said we did a great job of adjusting to what they (ncsu) were doing. to play devil’s advocate, why? we should kill them and shouldn’t have to adjust! anyways i’m still very happy we’re showing the fight it takes to win even if we aren’t putting it all together. 40 minutes of dexter being aggressive and he’s a legit 2 guard in our league, starter or non starter, a good asset. i’m glad to see others also cheering for reggie, i really like that kid and his attitude and am dying to see him turn it around b/c i have thought from day 1 we’re a different looking team with him in the lineup, but he just hasnt earned it, so glad to see fans and roy still cheering him on. if he could get it going and dexter could sustain his spurts of great play and HB could play two halves like the second half, then we blow teams out. it’s a learning curve i realize.

    does anyone else think john henson’s nickname should be “the Mayor”? that name just kept popping into my head last night watching him play. everyone loves him and he’s charismatic, with that larger than life aura about him, but yet he’s got that edge and intensity of politicians and beats weak shots out of bounds regularly. maybe it’s just me, but the Mayor is fun to watch on the defensive end.

  • joemags52

    it’s funny to me that some of you think that the better team should just win and dominate another team because on paper they are better then the other team. that unc should have no trouble what so ever with nc state and just walk out their and the game is over, why play the games then? Now if you live in the real world you know that that is not how sports work, the better team doesn’t always win and sometimes the other team can make you do things that you don’t want to do and you make adjustments. I enjoy watching this team play and even though they have stretches that make me bang my head against the wall I have been confidant that they are going to eventually pull out the win. I think they can make a nice run in March because they will always be in a game because of their defense.

  • Heels Perspective

    Marcus got the dreaded “THF Blue Box” treatment. ;-)

  • joemags52 is on point here. Fans in general operate as though their team is playing the game in a vacuum. We think UNC should do A, B and C. When they don’t do A and really suck at C we automatically say it is because of something they are doing wrong. In some instances that is correct but in other instances the opposing defense matters. The BC game on Sat. is a perfect example. On one hand, UNC missed open shots. Yes, that is on them. On the other hand, BC also slowed the game down and made life difficult for UNC on offense to the point even had UNC shot 49% from the floor versus BC they still would only scored in the 60s. The tempo matters. The opposing team matters. In the first 10 minutes versus NCSU that was more what the Wolfpack did rather than a overt failure on UNC’s part. However I did point to times in the 2nd half where UNC did not play with discipline and intelligence which caused them to squander leads.

    It is never just one thing or rarely is it just the team not playing well or the other team doing everything right. I think as fan we oversimplify or automatically blame our own team without crediting the opposing squad for doing some things right. My overall point is UNC adjusted and got scoring from the perimeter players when the interior offense was stagnant. In my mind, that is a big deal in terms of watching this team develop.

  • TheUNCFan

    I can’t get a handle on why some State fans are ready to throw Lowe under the same bus they threw their last coach. (Not all of them!) I think they just like to have failure at State just to have something to complain about. They want to dismantle Lowe’s rebuilding job when they’re 20 miles into the marathon and spend 5 more years rebuilding.

    Where would UNC be right now if Kendall Marshall had missed a week with a virus and was playing at about 70% now? And Zeller had played a few minutes in the first game and had knee surgery, and had not come back for weeks, and then played at about 40-50% of his usual capability? What if Dexter Strickland had to be the starting point guard, and Reggie Bullock the shooting guard, for weeks? State has been killed this year by critical injuries to a thin team.

    Tough to be a freshman in the ACC, anyway - if you look at State’s losses, they’re losing to a lot of good teams. Hard to rebuild a program under those circumstances.

    I don’t know where Jordan Vandenburg came from last night, either. He was State’s answer to Damion Grant or Byron Sanders - big guy who couldn’t translate that into his playing - and he dominated the post. For State to win at all right now, their reserves have to play above their usual ability level, and you can’t sustain that over the long term.

    Lowe is about to turn a corner. If the three freshmen get stronger, especially Harrow (who has trouble driving to the rim, as many noticed last night when he got the ball swatted away), and they get more game experience, they’re going to be something. It’s funny that State fans want to give up now that there’s actually a sign of life in Raleigh for the first time in decades.

    Remember Harrow beat Marshall off the dribble several times, but our big frontline was there to stop his shot. Harrow fouled out two of Duke’s guards. The talent upgrade in Raleigh is pretty significant.

    Next year, State will lose Javi Gonzalez (addition by subtraction) and the hurt Tracy Smith (who had NBA hopes until his knee surgery and “lost” senior year) but will be returning Harrow, Brown, Leslie, Wood, and Howell (all sophomores or juniors) plus the senior CJ Williams (who played good role-player minutes last night) and both Painter and Vandenburg, plus get another big man and a shooter. (And they can still recruit other players.) These guys are playing for Lowe, not some new coach, and I imagine there would be massive transfers if Lowe was canned. Why dismantle this? I don’t get it. I’d be delighted if I was a State fan and saw the three freshmen coming back as bigger, stronger guys and saw the progress of this team.

    I want the rivalry to be competitive like last night, so the Heels get pushed, not a light scrimmage.

  • logic

    ^^ THF - I think that is the main point: this team is DEVELOPING. I’ll speak for myself, that as a happily “spoiled” Tarheel, the BC game and first half at Duke had me (unrealistically) thinking the 2009 standards were back.

    Those games showed what this team will consistently be like in the future (assuming everyone stays). For now, the expected play for this team, is probably a lot like last night: not so good O half the time (but good D) and pretty impressive O and fantastic D half the time.

    Plus, you get the sense that they lost a little something in that second half at Duke that they will get back with a special half of play in the near future (perhaps second half at home against Duke).

  • @joemags thanks! it turns out (much to my surprise) that i was actually living in a fake world and you just brought me back! way to go!

    what i was saying was simply stating some support for an earlier comment made by marcus6260 in that while i believe a win is certainly a net positive, it’s not necessarily an indicator that we’ll be successful in march. that remains to be seen and i’m optimistic of course. what i’m looking at when i make that statement is that the trend starting in the 2nd half at duke through last night is that we aren’t playing to our potential. we had a great 3 game stretch where we really clicked and that hasn’t happened since. it’s hard to see that and in the same breathe think we’re ready for the tourney, b/c if struggling (consistently and in consecutive games) and letting other teams take us out of our game is the norm, then that is a recipe for an early exit if we happen upon a hot team.

    so to you and THF’s point i agree, the ‘on paper teams’ still have to play an opponent. i am just looking for some signs post-duke that we do have a high enough ceiling to go deep into the ncaa’s. we haven’t seen it since first half duke, and that could call for some of us to want to see more from our guys and not just be happy with the W.

  • marcus62660

    “…struggling (consistently and in consecutive games) and letting other teams take us out of our game is the norm…”

    More importantly, other MEDIOCRE teams.

    Thanks Jordan for articyewlating whut I wuz knot abel too do.

  • chapelhillfan

    Good teams impose their will on other teams, especially mediocre and poor teams, like NC State and Wake. No, it certainly is not as simple as winning just because you show up and the on the paper line-up says you should. But, good teams don’t go two weeks and barely make an outside shot. Their big guys don’t act like they are scared to jam it or make a lay-up. And, one made 3 in the first half from one of the worst outside shooters on the team-Strick-does not translate to a break-out game. State didn’t do anything magical on defense or offense for that matter (like shooting lights out), other than being their typical chippy self with the elbows, trash-talking, etc. Give credit to them for playing tough, but it was much more of a case of poor Carolina offensive execution that made the game tight.

    In any event, I’m not at all disappointed in this team, and am really excited about the next few weeks. Heck, they are 21-6 and 11-2 in conference…what’s to get upset about with that kind of record and all of the adversity the team as faced? What I take away from it is that this team…after culling some dead wood (and we all know who those players are)…is made up of some kids with great character, heart, desire, and a will to win, not to mention one of the best Carolina defensive teams I have seen in decades. And, we have seen that they are capable of playing much better than they have the last two weeks. Their potential in March is great if they can right the offensive ship. So, to see them firing at about 60% on offense and still winning, and in the end by a comfortable margin, is a great credit to them and to Roy (who by the way has reversed his poor coaching job of last season and should win coach of the year).

    As for Lowe, yes a case could be made that he should get one more year. But, 4-9 in the conference in your fifth season just does not inspire a lot of confidence. Roy has dealt with more team adversity this year than Lowe.

  • 850inExile aka UNC RAJ

    “These guys are playing for Lowe, not some new coach, and I imagine there would be massive transfers if Lowe was canned”

    If that happens I want UNC to try very hard to get Lorenzo Brown. That guy would instantly solve our production problems at the shooting guard position (ok, not instantly, he’d have to sit out a year…) and he can be used as a backup PG as well.

  • ^It is almost always the case that when a player is released from his LOI there are stipulations stating that said player cannot transfer to a conference opponent, or any other school specified by the school he is leaving (e.g. Mike Rosario transferred from Rutgers and could not go to any Big East school or UNC). I have to imagine that there is ZERO chance NSCU would ever let a player transfer to UNC.

  • scl11

    Can we stop making mountains out of mole hills, Carolina is still a work in progress, yes, but they are still a pretty damn good basketball team that I’m pretty sure zero top seeds want to see in their bracket 3 Sunday’s from now.

    Are they the 2008 or 2009 Tar Heels, no, but they are also better than a whole bunch of other Tar Heel teams that made the NCAAT. Give it a rest and move on to Maryland.

  • Charleston HEEL

    I think credit should go to Dook for showing the rest of the
    ACC our weakness in a slow-tempo half court game. Now that we have learned to play (and win) those types of games, we are more prepared for that first round NCAA game. And ready for Dook next week!

  • agreed definitely a work in progress and we can’t be too upset with the ACC record thus far. on to the next…

  • ^^^I have to admit, I am starting to get very curious about what kind of seed UNC will get, and is capable of getting. As of Monday Lunardi had them as a #4, and I think that the 3-4 range is most likely, but what about high and low end?

    Low end (lose next for games):

    8 seed if competitive, 10-11 seed if less than competitive.

    High end (win the next 6):

    This is where it gets interesting. Normally, a team that goes 14-2 in the ACC, and wins both the Reg. Season and ACCT titles is a no-brainer #1 seed. Given the “weakness” of the ACC and the “strength” of the BE, and UNC’s 6 losses, I doubt that they can go higher than a 2-seed. But then again, the 2007 team got a #1 with a similar resume.

  • chapelhillfan

    I’m not going to worry about seeding b/c I’m so happy this team has returned Carolina to the tourney without worrying about being on the bubble. Anything else is gravy this year.

  • rathskellar68

    The phrase “work in progress” is a curious one. In a sense, of course, it’s true. The problem is that it’s ALWAYS true, and thus a truism. It also tends to get used to glide over mistakes that we ought no longer to be making, but still are. In addition, to the extent it told us something worth remembering about the team four weeks ago, it’s on the path to becoming an anachronism. The regular season is 90% over. Time for progress to RESULT IN A PRODUCT.

    Now to be somewhat more cheerful: I think what we saw yesterday WAS a product, and a pretty good one. Although we can’t really say this was a “breakout” game for Strickland, it was a good portent. Driving is what he does best, and he needs to do more of it. He’s not a super finisher, yet, but it gives the opposition defenses problems they have been able to finesse up to now.

    With Strickland and Marshall taking more of a hand scoring, we also got much needed offensive balance.

    There is a continuing problem, however, with the way we start games. THF has said, in effect, that we were taken by surprise by State’s rough interior play, and that we had to shift more to the perimeter in consequence.

    I think there is something to that, but it’s a mite oversold, IMO. First, how can we have been surprised at State’s physical play? Roy didn’t know that’s what they do? Second, this is far from the first time we have come out flat; the difficulties in that regard have been episodic but persistent. Third, the increased contribution from the perimeter seemed to me to have been driven less by necessity than maturation and opportunity. It’s been “necessary” in previous games but was absent anyway, causing us all a good deal of heartburn. It was there yesterday principally because Strickland for once showed, and used, his incredible native talent. As I have said before, driving to the basket works, and it works especially well for someone with Strickland’s speed.

    Don’t get me wrong. I have come to like this team a lot, and they haven’t reached anything like their potential. But time is short. All the things we’ve been yearning for — Barnes’s consistency, Zeller’s toughness, Stickland’s producing — are more and more in sight. But March is less than a week away, and “in sight” ain’t gonna get it done when the marbles are on the line.

  • NCSU physical play was a surprise for two reasons.

    1. They have not shown any inclination of playing that way either in the first game vs UNC or in general.

    2. The refs swallowed their whistles at times.

    As for being a work in progress. The team is young and development is a slow process. Still this team is 21-6 and 11-2 in the ACC. We are approaching gravy territory IMO.

  • scl11

    Rath, “work in progress” means toward our normal expectations of a Tar Heel team, ala 2008 and 2009, most likely they don’t get there this year.

    This team is pretty close to what it is going be for the tournament, a really good defensive team with dynamic post play that if they make some perimeter shots will be a tough out.

  • william

    I am not sure that I see a whole lot wrong out there except for the shooting. Given the athleticism of our players, it is just difficult for me, and I think, most UNC fans to believe how bad the shooting is. We just keep thinking, this is the game where we make 45% from the floor over all and at least 33% from three point range.

    We see them missing open jumpers that decent college players anywhere would hit at least 30 percent of the time, if not 40 percent, but so far, at least, clang, clang, clang goes the rim.

    I am puzzled about the criticism that Zeller is getting because I think he has been generally fantastic. If he doesn’t dunk that often, it may be because he knows dunking is very strenuous on the body. SI did an article a few years back about this and it was clear that many of the older guys in the NBA avoided dunking when they could.

    In my estimation, Zeller, Henson, Marshall, Strickland and Knox have all exceeded expectations. McDonald has been about what was expected. That leaves Barnes and Bullock and that is what makes me think this team could actually win it all if they make just some slight strides in shooting.

    If anything, since Drew left, the defense has gotten better and the offense, worse, which is the opposite of what some predicted but honestly, I don’t think Drew’s departure has had much of an effect, apart from morale, perhaps, out on the court at all.

    With respect to NC State, they have been a bit of a Jeckyll and Hyde sort of team. They beat George Mason and lost a close game at Syracuse, but got annihilated by Wisconsin, and lost to Arizona at home. Add in 4 games with Duke and UNC, and the injuries and suspensions, and that is a tough road to hoe.

  • TheUNCFan

    “Roy has dealt with more team adversity this year than Lowe.” By running more All-Americans out on the court. All Lowe has is role players to plug into the gaps.

    If Lowe was fired, the bidding war would be incredible for some of the talent. It would be like free-agent season in the NBA. CJ Leslie, ready or not, would likely go to the NBA, but I imagine the more marginal NBA prospects would abandon ship and go to a program with more upside. Sitting out a year would really help Harrow develop physically, but it would help most of the players become more skilled without the pressure of having to play in the ACC for on-the-job training. Lowe just can’t afford to work anyone with even marginal talent into his program right now. We had Will Graves sit out a year because he couldn’t get into the rotation.

    I wish I knew about the visa status of Vandenburg. Not sure if he can actually transfer. I don’t know how that works. He might have to stay, although 300+ teams in Div I would like his five fouls on their bench.

    I think Wood is actually going to State because of the engineering program, so he’s the one guy who probably wouldn’t transfer, and the one guy that would be on everyone’s list. Imagine him at the 2 for Carolina. He’d routinely have 30-point games.

  • rathskellar68

    THF -

    I agree that we are in sight of being a very dynamic team. Turnovers down, defense up, Marshall in charge, Barnes stepping up, Zeller growing up. That by itself makes this team a world apart from what we saw last year.

    I was not surprised, however, by State’s rough play. First, in all the State games I’ve seen over the years, which is a lot, pushing, shoving and grabbing are the norm (no pun intended). You can’t be surprised when the norm shows up. Second, what were they going to do? They were the inferior team. Inferior teams have to do something different to have a chance. If you’re K, you can innovate. If you’re Lowe, your coaching skills aren’t at that level. The “innovation” is going to consist of what it usually consists of, to wit, pushing and shoving.

    Although it may be — how should I say this? — a truism to say it, the next three games will tell a tale. If we win out, which is a realistic possibility at this point, absolutely no one will want to play us in the NCAA’s.

  • 850inExile aka UNC RAJ

    I’m pretty pleased with the team. There is really only one thing that is a work in progress, and that’s the outside shooting, which in turn means that the team isn’t a work in progress - a couple players are.

    It doesn’t matter how talented you are, a one dimensional offense is easy to defend against and until we get good outside shooting our (currently) one dimensional offense is bound to struggle, even against teams like BC or NC State who are generally regarded as not being good defensive teams.

    Hopefully the shooting problems will be gone next year with the addition of PJ Hairston and some very hard work over the summer by Reggie Bullock. Until then we have to temper our expectations accordingly.

  • scl11

    “However, given that we were only the 46th best defensive team in the country last year, I think Barnes has to receive a lot of the credit for the defensive improvement, together with Henson getting regular minutes downlow, and I suppose, a healthy Zeller.

    Of course, we were 92nd in offense last year, so we have improved about the same amount relative to other teams, on offense.”

    Very well said william, so we basically have the best defensive team in the Roy Williams era and one of the best defensive teams at UNC since 1993 (which along with the 1997 team, really reminds me of this team). And yes this team is no where near offensively Roy’s teams of 2007-2009, which not many in the history of UNC basketball were, but they still are miles better than the garbage we saw last season.

    We’re not going from the outhouse of last season to the penthouse of 2009 in one year, so how about we accept the nice Million $ home in the gated community by the lake this season and look to upgrade to the playboy mansion next season?

  • william

    I just want to see Henson and Barnes back next year. It is hard to believe that Zeller could still be a sophomore, but that cat is the lone national champion on our team now that DrewLL split.

    I do see parallels with 2007 in that this team is still learning what it can do and can’t do, but in terms of talent, the current squad probably does resemble 1993 the most in that that team also had problems at time getting off. I think we trailed by significant amounts of points in several of the 1993 NCAA tourney games, and clearly, we were way behind Cincy in the first half. The key to that team was Donald Williams. When he kept teams honest, UNC thrived. When he had a bad game, as against GIT in the ACC finals, UNC came up short.

    If you look at the Final Four in 1993, Williams was wondrous. I remember the announcer gushing that Williams’ shots never even seemed to touch the net when going through. After that, Donald returned to earth and had a mediocre junior year and a good senior year, but never played again at the sustained level that he did in the 1993 NCAA tourney. I think UNC, Michigan and Kentucky were about equal that year, with Michigan and Kentucky probably a smidge better than UNC, except that Donald chose the right time to ensure his fame.

    So luck, timing, whatever you call it, is so key in college ball, (and maybe Olympic ball) in a way that it is not in the NBA. Any potential Donald Williams on this year’s squad?

  • ^^I’m not going to compare last season to Duke’s 1995 season, or UNC’s 2002 season, because both were worse, but if you compare last year to the season that followed those to seasons, then UNC progress this season is pretty remarkable.

    Duke 1996: 18-13
    Duke 1997: 24-9
    Duke 1998: 32-4

    UNC 2003: 19-16
    UNC 2004: 19-11
    UNC 2005: 33-4 (Nat’l Champ)

    UNC 2010: 20-17
    UNC 2011: 21-6 (and counting)
    UNC 2012: ???

  • scl11

    Duke was not National runner up in 1998, they lost in the Elite 8 to Kentucky, they were runner up in 1999

  • ^Doh! I guess I’ve done a decent job of blocking out the end of the 1998 season from my memory…

  • scl11

    CM,Agree, that year was a slam dunk National Title that I will never forgive Gut for, and back to back shooting performances that kept Shammond Williams from being one of the all time great success stories in a UNC uniform.

    Shows what a hot streak at the right time will do for you, DW in 1993 resulted in a National Title, statistically off nights for SW in 1997 and 1998 resulted in two of the best Carolina teams not to win a National Title.

    One reason why I’m not interested in wasting a hot streak from this years team on a weak ACC, prefer that to show up in the next couple weeks and hopefully its only occurrence will not be the BC - FSU stretch.

  • CarMichael

    For goodness’ sake, O ye complainers, we were favored by 5 on the road, we won by 12, AND State was playing one of their best games of the season. It was a very good and encouraging outing. The only thing I saw that calls for criticism was the transition defense.

    State has been playing well for the past four games. I agree that they would be foolish to dump Lowe when he has so much good young talent coming along. They are really, really young this year in addition to having had multiple damaging injuries.

  • william

    Arizona did beat us twice in 1997 so it is hard to begrudge them their title.

    Losing to Utah did hurt, and the offense against Utah was a lot like what we have seen from this team this year. I remember just writhing in disbelief at UNC’s offense that game. Jamison and Williams were simply pathetic. We had one guy basically playing offense and we still almost pulled the game out.

    Perhaps we should have seen it coming.

    The 1998 team had a few flat performances. I think they lost to State. They should have lost to a nothing Georgia, but for a classic UNC comeback, and they threw away a game at Duke, and mailed in a performance against Maryland. They weren’t deep and Guthridge insisted on starting the 2nd least popular UNC player of all time in 5/6 of the games.

    ESPN now has basically all the box scores from UNC’s tourney runs in the past and it is fascinating to go back and see which players carried the team at which times. 1977 was incredible, for a few reasons. It was the first year since the early 60′s where basically any top ten team had a chance. Indiana, NC State and UCLA had dominated the 70′s up to this point and UNC ended up playing five of the toughest games in tourney history.

    The didn’t bother seeding really back then. UNC, was ACC champ and got Purdue in the first round, who either finished second or tied for the Big Ten title. That game was electric, then UNC played Notre Dame, who had probably had fourth best program of the 70′s to that point, on St. Paddy’s day. UNC next got Kentucky, followed by UNLV and Reggie Theus, and then Marquette, who had more star power than UNC and had had a much easier path from the Midwest.

    When you look at the box scores, somebody different from UNC stepped up each game. It really was incredible how one guy would get hurt and somebody else would step in, going back to the tourney title game where UNC somehow beat UVa with basically the blue team and John Kuester on the floor at the end.

  • partsman5521

    If I didn’t know better, based on what people have posted here about our struggles, I would have guest that this team is made up of jr’s and sr’s. Really, how consistent can a team be with 2 starting freshmen, 2 starting so’s and one jr? To me, the so’s really didn’t learn alot from last year except how to give up and lose games. We have to remember that EVERYBODY WE PLAY gets fired up when they play us. How two different teams play each other really has no effect on how they play us. When Marshall got handed the starting job and we were blowing teams out for a few games, That was really because nobody had film on Marshall. No team knew how to play him. But leave it to a HOF coach like coach K to come up with a game plan to stop Marshall mid game. And there you have game film for every team to see on how to defend not only Marshall, but the Heels in general. But we can’t complain about inconsistent play when we are talking about underclassmen. Lets rejoice because we are WINNING.

  • OldSchool

    What happens next season will depend on whether Barnes and Henson return. They both should return to get better prepared for the next level, but as we all know, many guys leave prematurely (B.Wright, M.Williams, and E. Davis come to mind).

    The PG position is settled. The SG position will be highly competitive with Strickland, Bullock, and McDonald being pushed by PJ Hairston - a fearless shooter/scorer. The SF spot is Barnes for as long as he stays, with top-10 recruit J. McAdoo coming off the bench strong. The PF spot is Henson’s for as long as he stays, with really no back-up (with Knox leaving). The C spot is Zeller’s for another year, again with no back-up.

    Do we have any game-ready big guys on the radar for next season?

  • ^McAdoo is a low post player.

  • Heel To The End

    Tar Heels cant win for losin in the trade business.
    Pacers were all set to send McBob off to Memphis for OJ Mayo, but it didnt happen.

  • Heel To The End

    wow, denial, Sidney.
    he’s still blaming officiating. getting shots blocked from the top of the ball is somehow a foul, and a 7 foot goon trying to take someone down by the neck or throwing them 15 ft out of bounds is somehow not.
    after it was 50-50, you made about 4 of 15 shots over the next 10 minutes.
    your guys were front rimming everything. even missed several FTs. they were tired.
    maybe they arent in shape.

  • OldSchool

    Thanks, C.Michael. So Zeller, Henson (hopefully), and McAdoo make up next year’s inside rotation. Nice.

  • Andy In Omaha

    Kind of OT, but I really, REALLY wish ESPN would stop honing a camera on Bob Huggins. I have about as much interest in watching him as I would a porn flick starring Jabba the Hutt…..

  • makeitWayne22

    Marvin didn’t not leave too early, he was part of a national championship team, had an amazing freshman year, and was projected a top 3 pick. He has received an extension and is a solid NBA player.

    If any one on this team is projected that high, then they have to go. Not saying anyone is, but if they are they need to leave. College will always be here.

  • william

    You have a point. Marvin didn’t leave too early, necessarily. He just has had a mediocre NBA career. He is not bad. Almost any team could use him, but considering he was a number 2 draft pick, almost no team would pick him again that high, based upon his production.

  • kompetitor

    Once again Bullock’s rushing,
    And it ain’t Pi Kappa Phi;
    Once again Bullock’s rising,
    And he has already let it fly.

    Ssssslllllloooooowwwww down,
    So the j will gooooooo down!