Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge

Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge
by Bryan Harvey

Truth & lies in Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur'

Truth & lies in Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur'
by Bryan Harvey

A world of child soldiers & cowboys

A world of child soldiers & cowboys
by Bryan Harvey

To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'

To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'
by Bryan Harvey

North Carolina vs. Wake Forest: Yeah, We're 0-2 in the ACC (so what)

January 11, 2009

I wanted to recap this game last night, but then I realized all I would have written would have been the dialogue from this scene in The Wire, as I tried to figure out what exact angle Jeff Teague used to put a bullet in North Carolina.  Seriously, it felt like someone died.
(NSFW)

Digger Phelps will beat this loss into the ground with a highlighter until Carolina plays Virginia on Thursday, so I'm going to try and keep these points brief (won't happen):

-What started the season as an extremely deep team may not be as deep as we first thought.  First, let's mention what no one talks about when they talk about who's not here from last year.  At first glance, we didn't lose much at all, just Quentin Thomas, a favorite of mine, but an average backup point guard.  People keep forgetting that Alex Stepheson transferred to USC, which would not matter much either, except that Tyler Zeller broke his wrist in the second game of the season and is out for the year.  A front line that once promised to include senior All-American Tyler Hansbrough, juniors Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson, and freshmen Tyler Zeller and Ed Davis is now down to Tyler Hansbrough, Deon Thompson, and Ed Davis, which wouldn't be so bad except for the next two points.

-Tyler Zeller is not the only injury affecting this team, which seems like an obvious statement because Marcus Ginyard is somewhere between bench warmer and suit model.  Ginyard is the team's best perimeter defender.  His injury means Danny Green starts, which means the spark off the bench for Carolina the last two years now has to start.  Carolina would be able to overcome this injury to Ginyard if Zeller were still healthy, but with Zeller out, the Carolina bench is minus two double-digit scorers.  There is no spark, like a relationship that just trudges on out of habit, which is what this team seems to be doing at the moment and leads into the next topic.

-Tyler Hansbrough hasn't been Psycho T this year.  His stats are there.  He's averaging 22.4 ppg and 7.5 rpg, and in the two losses, he put up 21 points against Wake Forest and 17 against Boston College while piling up 20 rebounds in the two games.  Those numbers are solid.  They'll earn a guy recognition on all-conference and all-American teams, but numbers don't tell the whole story.  The story of Tyler Hansbrough is the story of Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, and Hercules.  Whenever Carolina has been in trouble over the last few years, he's impersonated Atlas.  He hasn't done this in the first two ACC games this season.  

Is he mentally fatigued?  It's possible.  He has been the most talked about, the most hated, and the most scrutinized player in the nation for three years now.  However likely this might be, I think he's physically tired.  He missed a few games out of the gate this season and couldn't have gotten the usual amount of preseason conditioning, and it's showing.  He's not getting his normal positioning deep in the paint come the second half.  His jumper is coming up short, and a couple of times against Wake he got run off the floor.  

I hope he catches his breath, but what happens to this team if he doesn't?  Does anyone else on this team have the cajones to play Atlas?  Sean May had Ray Felton and Rashad McCants.  George Lynch had Derrick Phelps and Eric Montross.  James Worthy had Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins?  Lennie Rosenbluth had a group of guys that stared down Wilt the Stilt, but who does Hansbrough have?

-One would think that either Tywon Lawson or Wayne Ellington would help Hansbrough put this team on that list of champions, but Lawson has now been outplayed by the last three premier college point guards he's gone up against.  Last year, in the Final Four, Mario Chalmers schooled him.  Tyrese Rice lit him up for 25 points two games ago, and last night Jeff Teague dropped 34 on him.  When Lawson came back to school this year, I don't think this is the kind of education he had in mind.  I like Lawson a lot.  I love that he drives to the basket like a running back, but I can't understand why he struggles so much guarding opposing point guards.  Lawson's line last night was 9 points, 5 assists, and 4 turnovers.  It's that last statistic that really hurt.

Wayne Ellington is another story.  I can see why he doesn't play great defense.  He plays smaller than his height of 6'4" and he's not that strong.  The tale of Wayne Ellington is his shooting percentage.  He's on the floor to score, and last night he put up 17 points; but he shot 4-13 in doing so and 2-7 on three-point field goals.  He's like a Robert Frost poem--he's "Fire and Ice."  

I like both of these guys a lot and hope one of them steps up soon.  Without Ginyard, one of them has to do more than just be an offensive weapon.

-A guy who is stepping up is Danny Green.  This guy is a monster, a Swiss Army knife.  He only had 9 points against Boston College, but his three point field goals down the stretch made the game closer than it felt like (it felt like BC was blowing us out).  Last night, he poured in 22 points, shooting 6-9 from inside the arc and 3-4 from downtown.  He also posted 6 rebounds and 5 steals, but his best play of the night was a dive on the floor that showed just what kind of a player Danny is.  

He does everything it takes to win, and he wants to win badly.  Danny by far has the most NBA potential on this team, depending on how Ed Davis develops over the next three years.  He's also the guy who keeps this team loose, whether he's dancing before the game or telling guys not to get involved in one on one battles, as he did a couple times last night with Tywon Lawson.  

-As I catch by breath and put things into perspective, I realize that a 14-2 record is nothing to be ashamed of at this point in the season.  The 2005 championship team lost to Santa Clara in the season opener and they lost by 13 at Wake Forest that year and later to Duke  at Cameron.  The 1993 title team lost to Michigan in the Rainbow Classic, and later beat those same Wolverines for the title.  The '93 team also lost consecutive games to Wake Forest and Duke, both of which were away games.  The '93 team also lost what I as a third grader thought was the most heartbreaking thing I'd ever seen in the ACC championship game to Georgia Tech.  The 1982 Carolina team lost at home to Wake Forest and got blown out at Virginia.  This team may be focusing too much on its long term goals, forgetting that it takes baby steps to get there.

This 0-2 start in the ACC by a veteran team is not insurmountable.  Tyler Hansbrough is a sleeping giant.  Lawson and Ellington will take this to heart.  Danny will keep dancing, and the freshmen will continue to develop.  The BC loss can be blamed on the team shooting 55% from the foul line.  Wake simply beat them, but keep in mind the last Carolina team to start 0-2 in conference still made the Final Four.  Heck, the 2000 Carolina team made the Final Four.  The time to panic has yet to come, as long as the team disagrees with Lawson's statement that "this will work itself out."  Chances are it won't.

In the meantime, this team will have to live with the scrutiny that comes from expectations that are placed on them by outsiders.  The talk of an undefeated season was ridiculous and premature and will earn this team extra skepticism.  Also, I'm not trying to lay more criticism on the team that's wins and losses determine my mood, like a mood ring; I'm just venting, trying to erase the image of Jeff Teague taunting our guys.  It's all I've got.  I can't go out there and play.

I just want this team to do whatever it has to in order to keep Teague from saying Boston College is a bigger deal than playing Carolina, to put the cap back on Digger's highlighter, and keep the message boards from going crazy, and the answer is to bring it against UVA.  Until then, here's Eddie to help everyone in the Carolina family deal with expectations and the frustration that sometimes comes along with them.  It can feel like 5 against 1.



1 comments:

Langston said...

That scene is one of my favorites from the show, I don't think I have ever laughed that much in a long time. But it needs a NSFW for language. Just in case someone is in their cubicle without headphones and clicks play. F.. F.. F.. probably isn't what your boss wants to hear coming from your desk.

January 13, 2009 at 4:03 PM

Post a Comment

 

© 2008-2010 ·The Lawn Chair Boys by TNB