“How Sweet It Is?”

March 12, 2007 at 9:01 am | Posted in Basketball, Jackie Manuel | Leave a comment

Sure, it may have been slightly over the top (hilarious) when during a timeout the Hurricane huddle inspired Tim Brando to steal that sweet phrase while calling the Miami-Boston College game on Friday, but for the North Carolina basketball program the answer is very.

North Carolina didn’t put three complete performances in, but for most of the tournament the Heels made things miserable for their opponents on both ends. The over-hyped depth was a big part of the story, as 9 Tar Heels came up big at one point or another. The win over FSU was sleepy, but effective. Al Thornton was a bit unfortunate, but Reyshawn Terry and Brandan Wright made things pretty difficult for him. Wayne Ellington also played his best game of the season on Friday. I was pretty worried about Boston College, especially Tyrese Rice, but Carolina played with the same kind of intensity that they had on Senior Day in the dominant win. Ty Lawson was huge in holding Rice to 5 points and his 8 assists were pretty rad as well. It really was a complete team effort. I was happy to see the Wolfpack in the final, but it turned out be the toughest test. North Carolina broke the game open a bit late in the second half with two Wes Miller threes and seemed to take charge early in the second with some more big play from our freshman point guard. With a sixteen point lead over a supposedly worn out Pack, the Heels eased up a bit and traded baskets for a bit. Then for the first time since early in the first half Brandon Costner was left wide open for three to cut it to 11. Careless turnovers and bad shots without Wright or Hansbrough touches followed and State took advantage. During State’s run North Carolina was sloppy, the kind of sloppy that will cause a second round upset. McHick got two easy tip-ins that were clear evidence of the tired Pack outworking us. The lead was 4 and I was having Maryland flashbacks. Reyshawn Terry than took two terrible shots…..and made both of them…it was classic Reyshawn…no…no…..YES! Eight consecutive points kept UNC in front and huge free throws finished off the Cinderellas from Raleigh. Despite killing BC and FSU on the boards, State ended up even with us. Our vaunted bench only outscored them 16-9 and State had 16 second chance point to our 4…an amazing stat. We’ve been unlucky quite a lot this season, but perhaps yesterday we got a few bounces to go our way.

The tournament title was the Heels first since 1998. A huge win for a team, that up to last Sunday had not met all of our expectations. If North Carlolina plays the way they did against BC, it will take a very good team to knock us off. There a quite a few of those teams out there this year, but we’ll advance to the Sweet 16 without too many problems with that kind of work. Lapses like we had against State could see Marquette or Michigan St. send us home early.

North Carolina State was the story of the tournament, knocking off Dook, UVA, and Virginia Tech. It was a great run. Still some of the gushing over the valet driver is a bit silly. It’s not like State has never made an upset run to the finals and lost to North Carolina before. That StateFansNation followed this with an NIT post says it all for me. Under Herb, the Pack made the same kind of runs and made the NCAAs. Expectations….and don’t be too surprised if in three years neck nation is calling for Lowe’s head after a beatdown by the Heels. Congrats again to Sidney for making the NIT with Herb’s McDonalds All American, but they were a tenth place team this year without Atsur and they might be next year too.

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