Jackie Would Believe…

February 28, 2007 at 10:11 am | Posted in Basketball, Jackie Manuel | 3 Comments

…and so should you. This season started with the highest of expectations. A pretty good basketball team was going to get very good with the help of an outstanding freshman class. Reading the papers this season, you’d think this team has been a huge disappointment. Their toughness has been questioned, and they’ve even been called selfish and lazy. The easy answers are too many players, toughness, inexperience, and hustle. There could be some truth in the easy answers, and surely it won’t hurt if North Carolina’s basketball team rotates a bit less, gets tougher, gets more experience, and hustles more. Still it is important to consider that this team does primarily play 8 players (only 8 ever play more than 10 minutes), has been tough enough to win in Cameron, @ BC, and @ Arizona, has a senior who has won a national title, and plays at the fastest pace in the nation. Perhaps the easy answers are just wrong.


My easy answer could be just as wrong. Perimeter defense. North Carolina is only allowing 4 points more per game to guards than the season averages. (I used only conference games, Gonzaga, Ohio St, Kentucky, and Arizona). Still, when DJ Strawberry puts up 27 on you…there could be a problem. Ron Lewis and Zabian Dowdell are nice players, but probably shouldn’t be scoring 30+. Jon Scheyer 26 points, Courtney Fells 21. Tyrese Rice 20. Even Greg Paulus scored 15 versus the Heels. It seems that North Carolina are pretty vulnerable to good guard play, and that could spell trouble in the tournament where just about everyone will have decent or better guard play. Ty Lawson plays D with his hands, Wayne Ellington plays matador D without a cape. Wes Miller is 4’8”. Bobby Frasor is not right yet. Only Marcus Ginyard is competent defensively, but he can’t guard everyone.


But wait…this was supposed to be a positive post. According to Ken Pomeroy…who is not looking for easy answers…North Carolina has been extremely unlucky, unluckier than any other team in the top 25. When you lose a close game things like toughness are easy to point to, but what about the bounce of the ball, the terrible foul calls, the stuff that it does no good for Roy to tell his players. He has to point to toughness, inexperience, blah, blah, blah, we don’t though. North Carolina has the most Pythagorean wins in the country and generally speaking margin of victory is much more predictive of success than win-loss. When we play well, even considering our defensive liabilities, we are the best team in the country. Why couldn’t we avoid the hot shooter and/or play very well and make a run to Atlanta? Believe.



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  1. So you’re saying we need to get Wayne a cape?

    I think our youth (especially in our staring guards) is our biggest limiting factor. I think we fail to remember how long it took Felton and McCants to play up to their ability. It’s not unrealistic to think we should win the ACC tournament, but I think the NCAA tournament could look a lot like Roy’s first year here.

  2. My easy answer is judgment. All too often I see our players overextend in trying to intercept passes. And every time they fail to get the ball, theirleaps and dives leave them out of position, which begins a chain reaction of passes by the other team leading to someone with an open shot.

    I know that they’re coached to be that aggressive. Coach Williams has made it clear that denying passes is the key to strong defense. But not every pass is ripe for the picking, and we can’t afford to allow three passes around the horn to an open man with a clear three point opportunity.

    I can’t say that the answer is to be less aggressive or to stop trying to steal the pass. I suppose my answer is to use better judgment when deciding whether or not to go for the steal, to understand where you are on the court and the risks involved with overextending.

    Most of our players are very young and will develop this court vision over time. I can only hope that they stick around long enough to build these skills.

  3. I agree with Hep. Wayne is particularly guilty of diving to stop passes and leaving them with a 5 on 4 advantage. I’m all for aggressive D but I don’t feel like we’re seeing as many breakaway dunks as we have in past years. Less dunks + More out of position defenders = I not sure… we’re bad defenders? Maybe just young, inexperienced defenders who haven’t learned to hide their intentions enough to get the big steals. I’d like to see people guard the backside a bit more to keep the opposition from getting all those wide open 3s. I’d also like to see more full court pressing to take advantage of our deep bench.

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