No ACC Title

March 2, 2007 at 9:20 am | Posted in Basketball, Jackie Manuel | 1 Comment

 

That’s the reality of this morning. This extremely talented team that plays at the fastest, most efficient pace in the country is, barring a minor miracle, not going to be the league champions. At the beginning of league play, few would have believed that, and perhaps the players didn’t think it was possible either. Perhaps even Roy Williams didn’t think that this team wouldn’t win the Atlantic Coast Conference. The frustration with this team can really be summed up by our expectations and how the 06-07 North Carolina basketball team has failed to meet them…so far.

 

Last night Roy tinkered a bit with this team. Bobby Frasor got the start over Ty Lawson. The gamble initially seemed to pay off, as UNC shut out the Jackets for two minutes and lead 10-5 at the first TV timeout. Then a rather strange lineup of Thompson, Stephenson, Miller, Thomas, and Green struggled to either stop GT or put the ball in the basket. Many are pointing at this stretch as the turning point, but you don’t lose a game in a two minute stretch of the first 10 minutes. I don’t claim to understand the substitution pattern of this team, but I reject that the main problem is how many players we use. One team used 10 players, the other 12. Georgia Tech had 9 players play over ten minutes, we had only 7 get more than ten minutes. Tech then caught fire, some shots were too easy and others too good. Roy also switched to zone, to try and stop penetration (heh). It worked a little bit, but North Carolina doesn’t play zone well or often and early in the second half they abandoned it.

 

I thought the turning point was an Antony Morrow three early in the second. Young and Crittenton had just left the floor with mysterious cramps, and basically there was one guy not to leave open. West got past Lawson, Ginyard left Morrow to help and Morrow rattled it in. Having our best defensive player making a big mistake was hugely disappointing. We traded baskets with them for most of the second half, and did manage to play pretty solid defense down the stretch, but we missed some must makes, and they finished the game off at the line.

 

The Heels were able to get the ball inside against Tech and it is hard to fault the offensive performance last night: 17 assists on 26 baskets, 49% from the floor and a remarkable 38 trips to the line. When you do that, most nights, you’ll win. Unfortunately last night Georgia Tech was 10-22 from outside and was able to get to the basket at will for most of the night.

 

Losing in Atlanta isn’t new to Carolina and last night alone really should not cause us to hang our heads too much. We played pretty well, and regardless of what the MSM tells us, the conference title was not lost in just these last two games. Maryland and Georgia Tech are extremely talented too and on their night can beat anybody. I’m just as disappointed about not winning the regular season title as anyone else, but this team still has an opportunity to meet some of those expectations. I have a good feeling that they will.

 

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  1. Good analysis. Georgia Tech hit a lot three’s against us last year in the first half, but we made a great comeback. It is difficult sometimes to tell whether a 3-point shot is great or lucky or the result of poor defense. It seemed a little of both last night.

    It would be interesting to know what percentage of shots a good college shooter could make from the top of the key if he were to shoot them like free throws unguarded. Then we could make some sort of more educated determination about whether it is more bad defense, luck or simply good offense leading to the high percentage of three pointers made.

    We did, however, lose to Georgia Tech during our last two national titles. In 1993, Donald Williams couldn’t hit anything in the ACC title game and we lost. Three weeks later, he couldn’t miss from three point range and we won it all.

    Was he that good or just that lucky in the Final Four? Hard to say, but he never played that well again.


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