Wrap-up: ACC Tournament thoughts
Quarterfinals: UNC 61, Miami 59
Semifinals: UNC 92, Clemson 87 (OT)
Finals: Duke 75, UNC 58
The lead picture pretty much sums up the ACC Tournament weekend, no? The excitement of three compelling games overshadowed by the reality of the events. By now everybody has broken each game down and talked about where UNC now stands going into the NCAAs as a #2 in a very tough East bracket. But let’s reminisce about the cocktail party before moving on to the big dance.
- UNC found itself down, like double-digit down, in every weekend game. You can shake it off in the first game, as this team is young and may not have grasped the magnitude of the tourney after beating Duke six days before for the regular season championship. An extended hangover. Clemson hates UNC. Of course they are going to come out (and go down) swinging. But by the finals, against an arch rival, there is no excuse.
- When the bigs aren’t involved early, it shows. John Henson and Tyler Zeller finished every game with at least 10 points, but it took some time for them to get there. There’s an obvious correlation between the early deficits and lack of interior scoring.
- That being said, major credit to the big men. Besides the Miami game, Henson didn’t have his usual 5 block outings, but he did have three double-doubles. And I don’t think there are many 7-footers out there with as quick of hands as Zeller to put up that lay-up to win in the quarterfinals. Props.
- Not that he has ever been shy, but the playoff stage didn’t scare the Black Falcon himself, Harrison Barnes. The 40-point game was spectacular – have you ever felt as confident as you do when Barnes shoots a 3 during the final 5 minutes of a game? – and he led the team in scoring each game. Kyle Singler, however, did have him bothered during the Duke game, a bit of a reversal from the first two meetings.
- Kendall Marshall can/will take a cue from Barnes and should be more careful with the ball come Friday. The freshman had a combined 14 turnovers on the weekend and Duke took him out of his normal rhythm with heavy pressure D far from the basket. The entire offense was starting way to far out and never hit its stride. I say this and he still dished out 23 assists. What we come to expect from our players…
- As evident in the final, some teams have figured out how to play Dexter Strickland. Dex spent a lot of time on the bench Sunday after accumulating four fouls, three of which were charges. It may be because Duke loves to take charges and has played UNC three times, but teams are playing off of Dex, giving him space for a shot, to stop him from driving to the basket like he prefers. You have to expect teams with a couple days of preparation took note of this too.
You still have to feel pretty good going into the NCAA. UNC still has to be feeling pretty good, but got a nice reality check Sunday to go with some post-season experience for the youngin’s. According to scouting reports Long Island University (the Heels’ first round opponent, but you knew that) plays one of the faster paces in the country. UNC should be able to get out with them and play their game, which is perfect for getting that all important swagger back.