It could be a lot worse. It may not feel like that right now for most of us. Saturday night always had the potential to go the way it did. Many of us were worried that Dook might hit their first four 3-pointers, ending the game in two minutes. Of course, we also had hope. Hope is not always reasonable but when you think about how many times North Carolina basketball has rewarded our hope, it is not unreasonable either.
Perhaps unreasonable hope has caused the 09-10’ season to be far more painful than it should have been. After all, what kind of spoiled fan base are we? Are we not still the defending national champions? Did we not just enjoy six years of fast-paced brilliance?Can we only fill up the Dean Dome to see them play FSU on a Tuesday night when we are great? You see and hear these perfectly reasonable questions but the passion many of us have for this program isn’t based on reason. This season has hurt.
I’ve probably been asked what I think is wrong with this team over 100 times. You heard Dick Vitale question our effort and desire on Saturday night. Many have pointed to chemistry issues. Leadership is commonly questioned. People love to challenge our toughness. Just about every individual on the team has been slammed at some point. Even Roy Williams has taken some hits. There has to be something wrong but what if the answer is simpler than these intangibles? What if we just are not very good? I can hear State fan howling already about all of our Mc-talent. The uniform is the same (except when it isn’t…what the f*ck was that about anyways?) so they must be good, right? I like David and Travis Wear just fine. Both should be decent contributors for this program over the next three years. Elite…they are not. I’m not picking on them but if you are going to claim that this is a talented basketball team, please don’t cite the number of players on our roster that McDonalds deemed elite. They put cheese on a fish sandwich for f*cks sake. Ed Davis and John Henson will both play pro basketball one day but both of them are projects without a true position. Neither of them is likely to be an offensive force in the NBA. Tyler Zeller may play at the next level too but only if he can stay healthy for more than 15 consecutive games. After that, I don’t see any one on the roster that is likely to make money playing netball. That might be harsh on the underclassmen and I hope they prove me wrong. Isn’t three enough, Hokie fan crows? Whom exactly has more talent than that? Reasonable questions, for sure. Excuses or not, two of three missed significant time this season and the other was played out of position. Henson often played less than half a game. On the perimeter, John is intriguing but he’s definitely not a NBA level talent out there at this point.
I’m not going to rule out all the other explanations but if I have to answer the ‘what is wrong?’ question, I’ll go with: UNC is not very good at basketball. We are especially not good at the out-scoring the other team part. This is always a key to the game whether the commentators list it the pre-game or not. I think this team plays hard. I think they have heartability. I think they have desire and chemicals and sometimes even leadershipyness. It is too easy to point to those things as the answer and naturally, Roy can’t come just say “Wells shucks, you know, we just are not good.” That won’t do any good.
I don’t think Roy has done a fantastic job with this team but I’ll happily support the kind of mistakes he has made this season. To me, Roy saw an 8-8 ACC season coming from the very beginning of practice. He pushed this team to be better than that and instead things spiraled out of control. The buttons he pushed were all wrong. He kept trying to put someone else in…someone who was very good at basketball in…and that player was not on the bench. Suddenly, this was a team that could not create good shots. This is a team full of players trying to do things they had never done before. Every single player who got minutes was being asked do take a huge step up from last season and most of them were unable to make that step. We see this team at times look like they have never ever played the game of basketball before. The rotation probably should have been set by December. John Henson and Leslie McDonald should have played more than they did. They both make tons of errors but who on this team doesn’t? The Wear twins got way too many minutes. I’m sure this could go on all day but it is easy to see that Roy kept tinkering because he was trying to make this team excellent. That is all he has known and he was not about to stop trying. Unfortunately even Roy Williams, savior of North Carolina basketball, can not turn water into wine. “But he brought in the water” says Dook asshat. Fair enough, I suppose. Pardon me if I give Roy Williams a pass, considering 4 of last years starting 5 are making money playing basketball this season. He signed those guys too. Maybe I’d rather have John Wall than David Wear but maybe I wouldn’t.
I’m going to stop here but my point to all this rambling is simple. Taking a longer view of things helps me see that things could be a whole lot worse. In fact, things are pretty rad. In some ways this is just like any other season. We play a game on a Thursday in March that we must win to keep playing (competitive basketball). If we lose ‘will he stay or go’ questions will begin. Dook will flame out in the first few rounds. Jon Scheyer will cry. Some team will upset Kentucky. It will get warm. Harrison Barnes will show up.
I’m going to smile and try to enjoy whatever we have left of the defending champs. Join me?
Reading comments over at THF or on the IC boards is making my head melt. Are we really that spoiled? Look, that was a dreadful crap performance last night in a big game. I just don’t understand how the fan base can be so down on this young, struggling team. I am in full agreement with those that think Roy has done poorly and that Marcus Ginyard should be benched but I’m quite sure they are both doing everything they can. It seems ridiculous to turn on them, especially Marcus and Deon (unpaid college athletes) after what they’ve given us. These are our boys and we are one of the luckiest fan bases in sports. A few rough games and now these guys don’t deserve to wear the shirt? Roy Williams is a moron? Worst season ever? Pathetic. Why can’t we just try and get behind a team that is on the wrong side of the bubble on February 1 like most fan bases would? FFS, imagine if you supported UVA? Did beating State really convince some that we were one of the best 5 teams in basketball again? After 2004-2009 will we accept nothing else?
Virginia is a pretty solid team who managed to take Ed Davis completely out of the game. I think we should have tried harder to get him the ball. Three shots from our best player is absurd, no matter what the other team is taking away. It was one of those games where you can just look at the box score and see what happend. Landsburg was able to drive, we helped from the wing, they made threes. Perhaps we should stop helping from the wing and let the basket-drivers take their chances with Ed Davis and John Henson. On O, we have to find a way to get Davis the ball.
According to Pomeroy we are winning two more games this season. It is not over but we are down. Our beloved Tar Heels are underdogs. Can you get behind that? If not, perhaps you don’t deserve to have ‘North Carolina’ on your shirt.
So what do we know now? Certainly more than we knew before Thanksgiving, yes? I wanted to wait a few days after Monday’s frustrating defeat before blogging. Heading into league play, there are still quite a few questions about this team. Let us take a look at a few of them, Posse.
Can Larry Drew play the point?
Yes. Yes he can. Nobody is mistaking him for Tywon Lawson, Raymond Felton, or Phillip Ford. He isn’t Adam Boone either. LDII has been attacked as a TO machine and yet he still has a 2-1 A/TO ratio. That is pretty good for a sophomore who will start his 16th game on Sunday, no? This ratio is the best on the team. Larry isn’t looking for his shot much which is too bad. His eFG% is behind only Davis and Ginyard. He’s been solid from outside the arc and shown an ability to get to the rim. I recognize that this team needs to go inside first, second, and last; but we might benefit from a little more aggressiveness from Drew-2. As for the turnovers…I’m going to get to that…but Larry Drew is the best ball-handler we have this season. His top 20 ranking in assist rate proves that. While he turns it over a lot, he creates baskets even more. I think he can make better decisions but I don’t think we lack an ACC caliber PG.
Everyone has a guess about what 2009-10 holds in store for Carolina basketball, however nobody knows. There simply isn’t enough evidence for me to make reasonable predictions at this point. I’ve read the message boards and talk of how we can’t shoot. I’ve seen the #6 rankings. I’ve heard how long we are. I’m super excited about tonight but I have no idea where this team will be seeded in March. I could even envision a scenario where North Carolina missed the tournament. Of course, that too would be unreasonable to predict. I prefer to keep expectations in check at this point so allow me to make some pretty pessimistic points.
There are no significant offensive contributors left from last year’s team. Deon Thompson and Ed Davis for decent offensive role players but neither was asked to handle a large workload. Thompson had an eFG lower than all but Drew and Frasor last season. We all know how rad and efficient the offense was last year. It has been our bread and butter since Roy took over….We may not guard you better, but it won’t matter because you can’t stop us. Can the identity of a basketball team do a 180 and still be as successful? We don’t know.
Yes, we have the third highest ranked recruiting class coming in. But what exactly does that mean?
I can’t wait to watch Henson. Strickland may end up being exactly what we need. The Wear twins have gone from being unlikely to see minutes to perhaps the most ready to play based on one exhibition. This class might be just like 2002 or 2006 but it might be something entirely different. We don’t know.
This team is going to have so little in common from last year’s team that I imagine even Roy will have a hard time adjusting. If the rumors about our perimeter shooting are true and we can’t shoot from outside, we’ll see zones packed every night. If we don’t have someone who can run the secondary break effectively then we’ll not be having any biscuits. I’m sure Roy has a plan (the new offense) but will it work? We don’t know.
Having blogged all this, I’m still geeked for tonight and I’m thinking this season is going to way more fun that I’ve made it sound. The point I’m trying to make is that the possibilities are longer than our team is and we’ll know more soon enough.
North Carolina was always the most likely champion in 08-09, yet they were still unlikely to be the 08-09 champions. That may seem like non-sense, but despite all of the talent, experience, and *chemistry*…the odds were that one of the other 346 Division teams would end up on top. Leaving probability theory aside now, I must admit that I seriously questioned this team all season. It annoyed me that some said this team was soft or that they did not play hard. I felt that, instead, many over-estimated this team’s talent and sold short its effort. No matter. Few will ever question this team’s talent or effort any longer. Continue Reading Totally Worth It…
That was a bad day o sport. An expected loss from my Dolphins and an unexpected loss from my Tar Heels makes for a lousy end to the holiday. I don’t have much to say about the gridiron. Baltimore was better and even though there were some opportunities for Miami to pull out a win, the Ravens were able to move the ball at will.
I have plenty of thoughts overreactions about the basketball game.
- We are not as good as we thought. I love Basketball Prospectus and even though basketball stats are limited in what they can tell us, I generally agree with much of their content. This, on the other hand is ridiculous. There have been several better basketball teams than the 08-09 Tar Heels in the last 13 years. We have a very deep, experienced, and talented team. Still the reason we are so deep with experience is that none of our players were lottery projected last season. The 04-05 team was better. Certainly you could argue that the chemistry or whatever is better but when I say better, I mean more talented. Dook in 99 was more talented that this team too and I’m sure if I had not been drinking since 1 pm I could think of others as well. I’m not trying to blog that these guys are not good or that they are not the best team in the country this year. I admit to wondering how good this team was after watching us destroy 13 teams. This was not a wake up call. The wake up call was BC by six at the half. They beat the crap out of us. Whether you prefer the anecdotal evidence of BC getting layup after layup while many of our players struggled to finish easy baskets or whether you prefer the NBA draft projections, this team is not even the best team Roy Williams has had since he returned to Chapel Hill.
- Play Ed Davis. I have a mad crush on the kid. The baby faced lefty is Deon’a equal on offense and much better on D. He is our best rebounder. Deon is a fine player and has shown massive improvement. It is not his fault that Ed is probably our most talented player. Get him more than 16 minutes.
- Don’t send the team to Reno for New Year’s Eve three days before the ACC opener. Who knows if it had anything to do with shooting 29 percent in the second half and missing key free throws down the stretch?
- Danny Green is way more important than I realized. It does not appear that he can be replaced.
- Tyrese Rice owned Tywon. Lawson has been our best player this season, and if he had played better we might have pulled it out. Perhaps it was just one of those games but it sure was unsettling too see Tywon get outplayed for the first time since April 5, 2008.
- This was not a good loss. I’m sure Caulton and others will talk about the ‘lessons’ learned about having to do more than show up. Losing your first conference home game is a very bad sign. We did lose two at home last season but if Dook and Wake are as good as they’ve looked at times, we may end up competing with them for a #1 seed. Perhaps Roy will git after em and also play Ed Davis more and we’ll look back at this as a turning point. It will never be a good loss.
- I apologize for that picture but if we don’t play our best players instead of our most experienced or hard working players, we are headed for a year like 1994. That team was deep and experienced too. I trust Roy and this blog is clearly an attempt to deal with a tough day o sport, but tonight was a bit worrying, no?
Tags: Evil, Gerald Ford, Tom Brady
So…the ‘Lates Links’ era is over. This is mostly because my employers are asshats and have blocked everyone’s access to all wordpress and blogspot sites. If I can’t read Tar Heel Fan and EPL talk, how can I link and react? I do miss the blog though, so I’m going to try posting articles from time to time. This may be a disaster. These ‘articles’ may not have anything to do with Carolina athletics, so feel free to ignore my weblog.
The first Sunday of the gridiron season is quite a religious experience. You have faith (unless a Ram supporter). You have the body (wings) and blood (beer). You have the church (sports bar) where you may share the experience with fellow believers. You have good and evil.
Once I put reason aside to enjoy my religion, Tom Brady represents evil. I support the Dolphins and he plays for a side that is a symbol of all that is wrong in the world. So, when he went down in the first half hour of the service, I excitedly announced to the congregation: “Tom Brady is limping off the field!”
What the f*ck is wrong with me?
Not a thing, really.
In the Joy of Sports, Michael Novak writes that, “Sports flow outward into action from a deep natural impulse that is radically religious: an impulse of freedom, respect for ritual limits, a zest for symbolic meaning, and a longing for perfection. I don’t mean that participation in sports, as athlete or fan, makes one a believer in ‘God,’ under whatever concept, image, or experience one attaches the name. Rather, sports drive one in some dark and generic sense ‘godward.’”
You see, I don’t have much against Tom Brady, the person. Sure, he attended George W. Bush’s State of the Union address in 2004 and has identified Gerald Ford as a political hero. Yes, he has dumped a pregnant former model for a newer um, model. OK, he has been quoted as saying that ESPN hates the Patriots, even though their most read columnist fellates Brady and the Patriots on a monthly basis.
Still, I don’t really know whether Brady is a douche bag or not unless he enters the blacker and whiter world of sport. How else could you support grown men and women you’ve never met and have no control over? At this point, Brady transcends my liberal values. I don’t concur that you should hope he gets sacked but not injured. I take absolutely no joy in his talent, because as a believer, I see that he uses that talent in support of evil.
The moment when Brady fell might have been awkward. It might have been an opportunity for me to turn off my willing suspension of disbelief that I engage anytime I prepare to watch sport. It might even mean that I need to find another religion.
On the other hand, perhaps this is not just about faith. Social comparison studies have shown that those with lower self-esteem are more likely to take pleasure in other’s pain.
I’m a Miami Dolphin fan for f*cks sake, one who was born after they won all of those titles.
Other studies have shown that when male subjects witnessed people they perceived as evil being shocked, their scans lit up in brain areas associated with pleasure.
Apparently my joy at Tom Brady’s pain is just a part of what makes me human. So with sport being my religion, a place where I can accept no control and invest myself anyways, I need not concern myself with going too far with this.
I’m still glad that Tom Brady is out for rest of the season.
Tags: bollocks, end of an era?, websense
Not sure when or if I’ll be posting daily again. I’ll still throw out the occasional blog though.