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  • shwineka 12:19 am on December 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Rupp Arena, , tyler zeller   

    Preview: UNC @ Kentucky 

    If you needed us to tell you that UNC is playing Kentucky today, then this must be your first time at this blog or you stumbled across it randomly and are not, in fact, a Carolina fan. You regular readers, however, have had this game circled on your calendar since the schedule came out in the spring.

    Carolina comes in to the match-up with one blemish on its record, otherwise it would have been the rare No. 1 vs. No 2. preconference game that almost never happens. Both teams are loaded with NBA talent, and you already know about UNC’s. I’ll get into UK’s a little in the bullets below, but up here I wanted to talk about one advantage that Kentucky will have — playing at home.

    You hear about how devoted Big Blue Nation is from announcers all the time, but I have a little first hand experience. Last week, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my future in-laws. It was a great time with too much food, and it all took place deep in the heart of darkness — Lexington, Kentucky. My future brother in-law and his wife live there, so I ventured there just one week before the Tar Heels and Wildcats would meet on the court.

    Now to preface what I found out, I want to say that I’ll be the first person to defend the atmosphere at the Dean Dome. Yeah, it has the wine and cheese reputation, but try and not be intimidated by 20,000 fans during a patented Carolina comeback. Even the gray hairs stand up.

    But even with the Class of ’42 on its feet, the atmosphere at the Dean Dome will not be close to what the Heels are going to face in Rupp. I know this without stepping foot inside the arena. Here’s why:

    Before I took off for Lexington from my layover stop in Atlanta, two strangers behind me on the plane were constantly refreshing their phones and comparing their read-outs to see who had the most up-to-date score of Kentucky’s game against Radford. The game had just started right before we were scheduled to take off.  I would probably be doing the same if UNC were playing, but they seemed particularly perturbed when then had to switch off for takeoff. Too perturbed for Radford in my opinion.

    We landed in Lexington and before turning off the seat belt sign, our pilot informed us over the loudspeaker that Kentucky was up big in the second half. Wait, what? Was she checking the score or bringing us in for a landing? This was an older plane — no in-flight internet. And did I mention they were only playing Radford?

    I managed to make it through the rest of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday without any more surprising encounters with UK. I knew that my SIL was a Kentucky fan so I wasn’t surprised by her. I just did my part to plant the seeds of UNC love in her two-year-old. Saturday, though, we decided to go to the mall.

    A rough estimate of the people decked out in their game-day blue would be 50 percent. I’ve never seen anything like it. Entire families dressed in their Saturday best — Mom, Dad, 15-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. There are even two stores in the mall devoted solely to selling Kentucky memorabilia.

    The Wildcat Wearhouse was gigantic.

    Being just absolutely surrounded by these people, not close to the campus, I realized just what the Heels were walking into today — the epicenter of Big Blue Nation. I was merely witnessing aftershocks. This entire city loves its ‘Cats, if not its spelling (see above) and they’ll be out in force when Carolina comes to town.

    • Terrence Jones is leading the team in points, so in theory, he’s the one the Heels will have to pay the most attention to, but really the whole team is a threat. Jones will step outside a bit, so Henson and Zeller will have to be mobile to guard him.
    • Probably the most intriguing match-up will be John Henson vs. Anthony Davis (right). The two are as close to copies of each other as you’ll find in college basketball and with similar games. Both are long and athletic and block shots, and generally focus more on defense. Davis is a little more polished on offense than Henson was as a freshman, but most of his points come from put-backs and lobs, whereas Henson now has a baseline drive and mid-range jumper.
    • Kentucky will get up and down the floor, which is good for Carolina, especially after the arduous pace of the Wisconsin game. Hopefully UNC will be able to exploit UK on the fast break. It would be great if Zeller could get involved on the break and get him out of his recent funk.
    • Another key match-up will be PG Marquis Teague vs. X. Hopefully that X is Dexter Strickland. After his masterful job on Jordan Taylor, you’d think that Roy would automatically put him on Teague, the brother of former Tar Heel-killer Jeff Teague. But Roy has a way of trying things out at the beginning of games the way he wants them to work out, which ideally would be Marshall matched up against Teague. If Strickland marks Teague, the Heels will have a better chance of disrupting the flow of UK’s offense. Teague is a highly touted player, but he’s still a freshman, and has looked rattled at times this season, like the first half against Kansas. We’d prefer that Strickland hound him from the start so that he can never find a groove. Fingers crossed.

    Oh, and UK fans ADORE Calipari. Because he got the school with the second most national championships ALL-TIME to ONE Final Four, you can buy someone’s, eh, flattering portrait of him. (Or a photo of a one-and-done player who DIDN’T get UK to a Final Four.) Despite their devotion, I just can’t see how they attach themselves to some of their recent history so quickly, even with the wins. I guess it’s the Al Davis philosophy.

    I’m feeling a bit saucy about this game. UNC already got its wake-up call, and Kentucky has yet to receive its. I’m going to go against my gut here because, while I feel that Kentucky has the edge, I think Carolina will pull it out.

    Prediction:

    UNC 74, UK 71

     
  • shwineka 4:00 pm on December 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Wrap-Up: UNC makes free throws, beats Wisconsin 

    UNC 60, Wisconsin 57

    Box Score

    For most of the game against Wisconsin last night, Carolina seemed to be lacking any sort of direction. The Heels were hustling O.K., and they were actually rebounding alright, but especially on offense, they seemed out of sorts. They made a nice second half run to go up nine points, but then allowed a Badger run to bring the game back close. Wisconsin was luckily shooting dismally from beyond the arc, and so UNC went into the half up one point.

    The second half was more like two vastly different quarters. The Heels came out a little flat and a 12-6 Wisconsin run put the Badgers up five, which doesn’t sound like a ton of points, until you factor in UW’s dreadfully slow pace and typically efficient offense and defense. At the time, the lead seemed more like 10. Things changed, however, about halfway through the half. Dexter Strickland started playing the most lockdown D we’ve seen all season from any Tar Heel, and he was playing it on Jordan Taylor, the preseason All-American point guard for Wisconsin. Taylor couldn’t even get his hands on the ball some possessions. At the same time, while John Henson continued to pull down boards, we had our first Black Falcon sighting of the year. Harrison Barnes’ body language shifted dramatically from a frustrated, hobbled star to a dominant force. He scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half to help put UNC over the top and able to withstand a late Badgers run. Oh, and how did UNC finally take the lead for good? Free throws, the seeming Achilles Heel of the preseason No. 1 team, weren’t a problem as Carolina hit 16-18 after the break. It was certainly a close game, but a last-second, desperation 3-pointer is what made the final score a 3-point win instead of six.

    Takeaways

    • Most importantly, the fight seemed to be back after the loss to UNLV. There were stretches of very, very ugly basketball, but sometimes that’s what it takes to get the W, especially in March. Carolina’s non-conference schedule is something of a bear this year, so it’s nice to see the Heels fight through it. The experience will serve them well in ACC play and the postseason.
    • Dexter Strickland is both awe-inspiring and maddening at the same time. Watching him just BLANKET Jordan Taylor was a thing of beauty. Taylor was running all over the floor trying to get open, but after Strickland began guarding him in the second half (Marshall did for most of the first) he couldn’t get Wisconsin’s offense operating at it’s usually efficient pace. He stuck a few jumpers and created a steal leading to his signature one-man fast break. He also inexplicably touch fouled on his way to  four personals and attempted to drive for a layup against four, yes four, Wisconsin defenders — all of which had a size advantage on him. Love what Dex brings to the team, but really wish his decision making was a little more consistent.
    • Barnesbot left the building and Black Falcon entered. As was stated above, Barnes took over offensively in the second half. The mid-range game was working, and he shot 2-3 from beyond the arc. He was also crashing the boards and driving to get fouled, hitting 6-7 free throws. We all know Harrison’s penchant for slow starts, but maybe he got over that with this game. It couldn’t come at a better time with Kentucky looming Saturday. One lapse though, was that Barnes was apparently supposed to be guarding Taylor at the end of regulation, when Taylor got a wide open look for a 3-pointer. Roy understandably ripped Harrison on the other end of the floor. With Wisconsin’s last second heave going in, had Taylor’s shot fallen there would have been overtime.
    • Kendall Marshall definitely did not like the slow pace. He threw some of his patented full-court heaves into the hands of red jerseys on several occasions. The Badgers were getting back faster and in greater number than probably any opponent he’s seen in his college career. Over the course of the game though, he seemed to adjust to that and didn’t commit turnovers late.
    • John Henson had a mandate on the boards. Something tells me that Ol’ Roy had a little chat with the froncourt after UNC had been outrebounded three times this year, and in particular against UNLV. Henson took it to heart in grabbing a season-high 17 rebounds. He ended up a bucket shy of a double-double, but if he loses a little scoring to grab that many boards then the Heels are better for it.
    • Tyler Zeller has disappeared. After dominating — and there really is no other word for it — opponents in prior games, against UNLV and Wisconsin Zeller sometimes seemed out of it. He only took five field goals in the Wisconsin game and six in the UNLV game, and that needs to change. Some of it against Wisconsin was his teammates having a hard time feeding him due to the Badgers D, but for a smooth 7-footer with a nice hook shot to only take 5 shots is criminal. Marshall mentioned that in the second half Barnes “gots that look on his face” and began demanding the ball. Zeller needs to demand the ball more as well. He’s a great scorer, and he should show it.
    • P.J. Hairston injured his wrist and won’t be able to play against Kentucky. This is a blow. Hairston was starting to come on and his shooting will be missed on Saturday.
    • Roy took his jacket off. We haven’t seen this in a while. Between his BB gun comment earlier this week and now the jacket shedding, it’s clear Roy is fired up this season.

    Superlatives

    Player of the Game: Dexter Strickland (9 pts, 2 rebs) He didn’t put up much of a stat line, but his defensive effort on Taylor made all the difference in the dogfight. Without Strickland, UNC loses last night.

    Stat Stuffer: John Henson (8 pts, 17 rebs, 5 blks, 2 asts, 1 stl) The Big Smile regains his thrown. He also notched his first steal of the season, nice.

    Sweet Dime: Marshall’s lob to Zeller. Yeah, he threw a couple of these away, but he connected on a 90-foot, one-armed quarterback bomb in the first half. I taped the game so hopefully I’ll get a video of this up sometime.

     
  • bwineka 3:53 pm on November 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , pj hairston, , tyler zeller,   

    Wrap-up: Heels beat lesser Carolina squad 

    UNC 87, South Carolina 62

    Box score

    The Heels did what they were supposed to do out in the desert by handily defeating the Gamecocks. We’re also going to go ahead and toot our own horn here by pointing out our predicted score of 89-64 ,UNC. Two points high for both team, same margin of victory. Admit it, you’re impressed.

    Takeaways

    •  Harrison Barnes has continued his as-quiet-as-possible domination. Barnes shot 60 percent from the floor including 2-3 from behind the arc and 7-10 from the line for 21 points on the night. Barnes’ turnovers do continue to be a problem, however, as he had three more last night.
    • Kendall Marshall also continues to light it up. It was noted yesterday that Marshall had more assists on the season than S.C. had as a team going into the match-up, and that continues to be true. Marshall finished with 14 assists to S.C.’s 12. He also only committed one turnover bring his season statistics to 4.38 assists per turnover. He also had six steals.
    • P.J. Hairston came alive off the bench for 19 points in 15 minutes on 5-8 shooting – all from three – and added on four free throws. Hairston has proven to be that reliable shooter UNC hoped he’d be and between Hairston and Bullock, UNC is looking deeper than expected. I take that back. We were all expecting it.
    • John Henson and Tyler Zeller did their normal damage. Henson continues to pour in the points as he had 18 last night to go with eight rebounds.
    • South Carolina did nothing of note. Four players scored in double figures – just as many as the Heels – but besides R.J. Slawson’s double-double off the bench, it was all about UNC last night.
    • The Heels did get a litte sloppy last night. Or, as sloppy as a 25 point margin of victory and 10 turnover night can be. UNC could have blown the game wide open but never did.
    Superlatives
    • Player of the game: Harrison Barnes – 21 pts, 5 rebs Just because he’s the leading scorer on the team and he scored the most points.
    • Stat-stuffer: Kendall Marshall – 4 pts, 14 asts, 6 stls, 2 rebs Cause that line is siiiiiick.

     

     
  • shwineka 6:06 pm on November 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Weekend Wrap Up: Heels 2-0 after Carrier Classic, UNC-A 

    Well, we’re still having technical issues on the site, so we’re sorry if you missed a preview for Asheville and have been waiting on pins and needles for a wrap-up from both weekend games. Here’s the wrap-up, but it seems kind of silly to retroactively do a preview doesn’t it? We’ll keep these short because you probably already read all this in some form or another.

    Carrier Classic, USS Carl Vinson

    UNC 67, Michigan State 55

    Box Score

    The Heels came out a little flat, particularly on the boards, but were able to regain composure and put together a 22-6 run to take the lead for good in the first half. The wind had a little bit of an effect on jumpers, but UNC still managed to shoot 47 percent from the field. They looked the part of the No. 1 team in the country, though perhaps not the No. 1 team in the country coached by Roy Williams as they only scored 67 points. The other difference from a typical Roy team was defense, as the Heels held MSU to just 55 points and 30 percent from the field, 10 percent from beyond the arc.

    Superlatives

    Player of the Game: Harrison Barnes (17 pts, 5 rebs, 2 asts, 1 blk) He led the team in scoring, but the main reason he’s here was he showed that he’ll be driving the lane more this year and not relying so much on his jumper. He went to the line a team-high seven times, and even when he did slip back to those days he was still a respectable 2-5 from 3.

    Stat Stuffer (a.k.a. the John Henson Award and former Danny Green Award): John Henson (12 pts, 7 rebs, 9 blks, 2 asts) Appropriately it goes to its namesake in the first game of the season. Henson piled up the blocks against MSU and probably altered about nine more shots significantly.

    Mr. Efficiency: P.J. Hairston (3 pts, 3 rebs, 1-1 FG) He only played eight minutes but Hairston made them count, hitting the only shot he took (a 3-pointer) and grabbing three boards. He did have one foul as well.

    @ UNC-Asheville

    UNC 91, UNC-A 75

    Box Score

    This game wasn’t even fair, but the way it started it seemed the Heels would be in a dogfight with the Bulldogs (nudge, nudge!). UNC-A was opening a brand new arena for its first homegame of the year, making the environment worthy of a conference away game. Roy Williams was surprised to get booed in his hometown. The Bulldogs had definitely come to play……at least for the first 10 minutes. Asheville guards J.P. Pimm and Matt Dickey were hitting shots and out-working everyone on the floor. It was about 7 minutes in when UNC went on a run to take the lead, and only built it up after that. Taking advantage of the fact that the only Bulldog over 6’5″ to see significant minutes was 6’8″ Jon Nwannunu, the Heels pounded the inside with Zeller and Henson to dominate the final 30 minutes. Blue Steel got about 1:30 of playing time to round out the afternoon.

    Takeaways

    • John Henson has a mid-range game. Henson flashed an array of turnaround jumpers and looked damn good doing it. Last year, I would have preferred him to stick to lay-ups, but his shot but drawing all net from about 10 to 15 feet and it looked easy. If he can continue to show a mid-range game it will spread out the floor, allowing Zeller to occupy the paint and the guards to space out around the arc. Henson taking that little J could also draw in a defender from the outside to help and leaving either Barnes, Strickland or Marshall alone and ready to drive.
    • Zeller is a machine. I’m not saying that he won’t face some battles this year against better competition, but when he’s matched up against an inferior defender he makes them just look silly. There was a stretch in the second half where I think Marshall went to Zeller three times down the court, resulting in three Zeller layups. His footwork is great and you can’t teach his size. He’s probably the most consistent threat on the team .

    Superlatives

    Player of the Game: Tyler Zeller (27 pts, 8 rebs, 1 blk) As was mentioned above, he was absolutely unstoppable.

    Stat Stuffer (a.k.a. The John Henson Award and former Danny Green Award): John Henson (20 pts, 12 rebs, 2 blk) There’s a reason it’s named after him.

    Red Flag of the Game: Zeller (4) and Barnes (6) combined for 10 turnovers. TEN turnovers against UNC-Asheville. Clearly there is some work to be done there.

     
  • admin 12:03 pm on November 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    PPP: Tyler Zeller 

    Zeller somehow falls into the category of under-hyped 7-footer that runs the floor, employs a killer hook shot, has a stable of post moves, has led an Elite Eight team in scoring and produces in the clutch. How does this happen? You have players like Harrison Barnes on the same team that divert away the attention. The soft-spoken senior did have a very productive NCAA tourney that got more people talking, but still people seem more concerned with Zeller’s younger brother Cody, a freshman at Indiana.

    Benn: Zeller gets more credit than is made out above and it’s obvious opposing coaches pay attention to him. Thing is, not many teams have a legitimate big man to throw against him. With Kendall Marshall handling the ball and scorers on the wings, Zeller is going to be getting more looks than last year. Even with his plethora of talent I see Barnes leading the team in scoring outright this season. Believe when those shots aren’t falling though that Zeller will be the go-to. Would like to see him pull down more rebounds. Probably hard to do that with Henson in the front court with you.
    Sam: People started to notice Zeller in the tournament because of his prolific scoring, but he’s also dependable in the clutch. Barnes gets tabbed as the clutch performer, and rightfully so, but without Zeller’s last-second perfectly put-up layup, UNC loses to Miami in the ACC tournament last year. He’s ultra-dependable, and like Benn said, practically unguardable on the block with that hook-shot. Definitely the silent killer.
     
  • admin 10:47 am on November 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Preseason Player Profile: Justin Watts 

    Justin Watts is just that dude. The senior from Durham has done nothing but work since day one on campus and all he has to show for it is a 2009 national champion ring. Watts was in a peculiar position last season being thrust into the 4 due to the sudden lack of front court depth after the Wear twins departed. Honestly, Watts did damn good for only being 6’5″. With the class of freshman this year we may see Watts shift back to a more natural 3.

    Benn: I mostly wonder how much PT Watts will get this season. He’s proven to be an energy guy off the bench but with three freshman 6’7″ or taller, two more at the guard position and Harrison Barnes and a healthy Bullock at the 3, it’s difficult to see that 9.2 minute per game average growing. More likely we’ll see it drop.

    Sam: I think Watts will see the floor about the same amount of time this year. I agree that if anything, the minutes could drop, but Roy loves his seniors and a great energy guy like Watts will help pull the team out of slumps. I mean, the guy can practically leap out of the gym. Zeller isn’t known to be the most vocal player, so maybe this is the year Watts steps up to be a leader? David Noel, anyone?
     
    • Caroline Leigh 5:12 pm on November 11, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      love the david noel analogy

  • shwineka 10:38 am on November 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Preseason Player Profiles: Desmond Hubert 

    Desmond Hubert was the last edition to the class of 2011. His recruitment was going on well into April. Think of him like John Henson lite. He’s built similarly, with long arms, and has a knack for blocking shots. Actually, he might be a lot like freshman-year Henson. Interestingly enough, Hubert committed after Henson and Zeller announced they were returning for another season. While most recruits might have decided to go elsewhere, Hubert cited being able to practice against the NBA prospects as a reason for committing. We like the attitude Des. Also, it’s just great that Maryland thought they had a chance at you.

     
  • shwineka 11:01 am on October 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , KenPom, , , , tyler zeller,   

    Welcome to the “Special” Season! 

    It’s been a while. Nice to see you! We hope you haven’t given your blog loyalty to someone else! Have no fear, we’re back. We’re back and better than ever.

    Truth be told, it’s been pretty busy for us Rafters bloggers the past couple of weeks, and aside from some technical log-in difficulties, we’re finally ready to start the season — only five days after practice began. We had such plans! We meant to start back mid-September, then we rolled it back to beginning of October, then we said, “OK, we’re going to do it for Late Night with Roy. We’re SO going to do it then!”

    Turns out both Benn and I were out of town, working too much, or in my case, getting engaged (#humblebrag) the past few weeks. So, what we meant the whole time was we’re going to start right now.

    Not sure why it took so much effort to get us started this year. I mean, have you seen the preseason projections?

    When Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller all turned down staying at home during the NBA lockout, college basketball suddenly gained an elite team, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since say, 2008-’09.

    In fact, it’s eerily familiar to that other special season, when a different Tyler, and some fellows named Ty, Wayne and Danny all decided to come back for one more shot. We all know what Barnes said about his reasons for coming back. Hansbrough said the same, one-track-mind kind of thing.

    The Heels return all five starters from an Elite 8 squad that was No. 1 in the country in rebounding, 24th in points-per-game and 30th in assists-per-game. According to Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency rankings, UNC was the 6th best defensive team in the country last year. Roy Williams’ hallmark has never been defense, but with the length of UNC’s frontcourt, particularly Henson, and the speed of guards like Dexter Strickland, that sentiment appears to be changing.

    Don’t let us forget to mention the daggum passin’est, tweetin’est, sneaker headin’est Tar Heel we’ve seen in Ol’ Roy’s tenure, Kendall Marshall. And also, the crop of top recruits coming to Chapel Hill, headlined by James Michael McAdoo and the Tar Heel bred P.J. Hairston.

    We might not have gotten started blogging when we originally planned, but man, is it ever going to be easy to get excited. To get you just as excited, here are some links from around the web that are worth shrugging off work for a little while today:

    • Grantland is doing a weeklong series on college basketball. You’ll probably be most interested in this one on UNC, but just to get that hatred flowing, you should probably read this one in defense of, who else, Duke.
    • As we mentioned earlier, Midnight Madness hit last Friday with the official start of practice for teams around the country. Here’s a round-up of a bunch of different teams’ activities, and here’s the down low on Late Night with Roy.
    • This is probably the most underrated news of the offseason. Roy Williams has signed an extension through 2018.
    • So, Carolina is supposed to be pretty good this year. Probably why it has four players on the preseason Wooden Watch list. Who’s No. 1? #BlackFalconStrikesAgain
    • UNC will wear some of those sweat-back-looking uniforms this year, a la Duke’s hideous Singler-sweat-backs from last year. Maybe they won’t look so bad?

    See you this year,

    Sam

     
    • ramblinWrecker 2:05 pm on October 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Georgia Tech + new coach + Julian Royal – Iman Shumpert = trouble for the Heels

    • Caroline Leigh 9:02 pm on October 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      welcome back welcome back wel-come baaaack

  • shwineka 9:17 pm on March 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Wrap-up: Manhandling Marquette To Make The Elite 8 

    Marquette should have seen it coming. John Henson blocked their first shot of the game, foreshadowing a dominant defensive performance by the Tar Heels in the first half of yesterday’s Sweet 16 game. In fact, the Heels would hold Marquette to just 15 points on 20 percent shooting.

    That effort keyed the victory as the Heels were outscored in the second half — but Blue Steel did see the floor for a minute at the end as well. The Tar Heels have officially gotten out of their ACC Tourney funk, and look like the team that beat Duke in Chapel Hill. In other words, a dominant, balanced team.

    I’m going to keep this short because like the Heels, I’m in tournament mode. No sense in focusing on this nice win when there is a contest with Kentucky looming tomorrow. Carolina has beaten these same Wildcats once this year, albeit with a completely different team as Kendall Marshall only played 10 minutes in the entire contest. The new-look Heels should be better prepared, but the Wildcats will no doubt have revenge on the mind.

    Takeaways

    • The Heels improved play, I believe, is in direct correlation with Dexter Strickland coming back into form over the past two weeks. He has been fighting a knee injury, but it appears to not be bothering him and he’s stepped up in a big way. His stat line yesterday included an impressive zero in the turnover department, and he added three assists and four steals. UNC doesn’t need to rely on Strickland for scoring, especially with the way the big three are playing, so his contributions on defense and backing up Marshall at the point are the only responsibility with which he’s been concerned. It appears he’s embraced his role and the team is benefiting.
    • Tyler Zeller has manned up. His 82 points in the first three games of the tourney have been propelling the Heels offensively. The jump hook is back with a vengeance and Marshall knows it. He looks for Zeller every time he’s isolated on the block, and that mostly means game over for defenders. He’s also been fighting for rebounds, particularly on the offensive end. Of his 26 rebounds in the tournament, 13 have been offensive.
    • As I sort of touched on with the item about Dexter, it seems the players have finally figured out their roles. Scoring comes from Zeller, Barnes and Henson. Henson focuses on defensive rebounding and blocking shots in the lane. Marshall is in charge of distribution. Strickland gets after it on D and out on the fast break. They’re meshing at the perfect time.

    Superlatives

    Player of the Game: Tyler Zeller (27 pts, 12 rebs, 4 asts, 3 stls) Zeller is finally assuming a leadership role on this team. He’s a go-to scorer and effective rebounder and runs the floor better than almost any big man in the country.

    Stat Stuffer (a.k.a. The John Henson Award): Zeller. He popped in what is becoming a customary 20+ points scoring and also had 12 boards but what was impressive was a 7-footer dishing four dimes and swiping three steals.  For the record, Henson was a finalist with his line of 14 pts, 12 rebs, 5 blks, 1 stl.

     
  • admin 6:26 pm on February 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
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    Wrap-ups: BC and State 

    (Pic from N&O)

    UNC 48, Boston College 46 – Box Score

    UNC 75, N.C. State 63 – Box Score

    Apologies, fair readers for my laziness this week in getting you the esteemed Tar Heel analysis you crave. In the interest of efficiency I’m going to combine the BC and State wrap-ups with some generalizations that have come to me over the past two games. Both games were similar in that they were closer than most of us would have preferred, but I’m not ready to say they were necessarily failures on the part of Carolina.

    While shooting woes continue to plague the entire team for what has seemed like the entire season (except maybe against Hofstra and BC version 1.0), we seem to have forgotten that the Heels are now a Top 20 team (No. 19), and the “we’re playing Carolina so give them our best shot” factor is back in full force. BC version 2.0 was a game in which the Eagles were playing for their NCAA tourney lives, and State, well, they always try pitifully to beat the Heels in the rivalry game, but don’t tell Harrison Barnes it’s a rivalry.

    The point is, the lowest amount of points scored in the Dean Dome didn’t derail this team, and neither did a feisty nearby rival on the road. It might not be pretty, but UNC knows how to win.

    Takeaways

    • Let’s just forget that BC game.
    • State was obviously fired up for a shot at Carolina on its home floor. Even C.J. Leslie decided to take time away from his poetry to play some ball have a team-high 13 points for State. They were a tough out, but we found out – yet again – that this year’s Tar Heels are resilient as hell. Do you think they would have won that game last year?
    • Barnes is a man child. He’s also an action figure.
    • John Henson wasn’t especially active on the offensive end against State, but how can you complain about 15 boards and 6 blocks? We’ll say it for the 100th time, but his presence is key to almost everything UNC does with the ball and without the ball. A great athlete with great timing. What a weapon.

    Superlatives (sort of)

    So maybe I was a little light on the analysis this week, but at least I have some nice links for you above. Basically, I just wanted to get to this point.

    Harrison Barnes is who we thought he was before the season started.

    He might have started slow, but Barnes is visibly becoming a leader of this team. While I would not have awarded a player of the game to anyone in the BC game, Barnes gets it hands down for his momentum-killing dunks and trey in the final minutes of the second half against N.C. State. The run felt similar to the one he had in the first half against Kentucky earlier this year. Barnes is finally getting it and at the right times. He doesn’t disappear anymore and wants to be the man in crunch time. His instincts will be valuable in the tournament this year, and Carolina is going to be a tough “out” in a few short weeks when it heads to the dance again. With Henson’s defensive presence, Barnes’ knack for heroics,Marshall’s cerebral passing, Zeller’s consistent production and all the other fine pieces in place in Chapel Hill, it’s going to be a fun March.

     
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