First of all, I missed most of the first half because I was at Best Buy buying a new microwave since the old microwave, a countertop one, is bouncing sparks around inside of it which cannot possibly be a good thing. What part of the first half I did see came on that sweet 74 inch HDTV in Best Buy which had the game on and if I were someone of significant financial resources I would have dropped the cash right then and there so I could watch all my basketball like that. But alas I do not have $6000 I can just toss around in that manner. Secondly, it should be noted had Penn made that last layup, I would have been right about the score. Not to be overlooked in that is the fact Dewey Burke came off the bench and hit two three pointers. Let’s just say it was another interesting aspect of a very intriguing game.
The game unfolded with Penn coming out hot and befuddling the UNC defense with some of that Ivy League brand motion offense which creates all of those backdoor cuts to the hoop and often results in easy layups. As one might imagine Roy was
not happy downright livid to the point he went “Blue-White” on the starters. Now for those who may not know Dean Smith used to call the starting five the “White Team” and the second five the “Blue Team” It was not unusual for him to pull all five starters and insert five reserves in which often included a player or two who did not see much time. Roy is not above doing the same thing to make a point as he did when UNC fell behind Duke by 18 in the game at Chapel Hill last year. So tonight with UNC trailing 15-8 to Penn, Roy did it again, and you knew it was “Blue-White” because on of the five he brought in was Mike Copeland who really has business being out there unless (1) the game is assured or (2) Roy is in the process of publically and verbally shredding the starting five on the bench. Roy also brought Bobby Frasor back and after Penn hit a three to fall behind 18-8 Frasor nailed a three and a two to pull UNC within five. It really became academic from that point on as UNC pulled ahead by nine by halftime and in the second half maintained a 15-20 point lead which ballooned to over 30 when Penn ran out of gas.
Aside from the usual suspects of Hansbrough, Wright, Ellington, UNC got a huge night from Reyshawn Terry who showed up to play. Terry had 19 points and nine boards in one of his best efforts of the season and hopefully a harbinger of good things to come. It was the kind of game you know Terry is capable of having and if UNC can continue to get consistent offensive production from the usual sources and have a different role player step up with a double figure peformance it will undoubtedly drive opposing defenses nuts trying to figure out who to guard.
Another thing I thought was not great but statistically turns out to have been pretty good is the defense. It is very easy to get hung up on the way Penn started the game and the fact when they did score, most of the time it was a layup or open shot of some sort. This tends to be how their offense works and defending it can be somewhat harrowing at times. When you look at the box score, Penn only shot 42% from the floor, missed 75% of their three pointers, and commited 20 turnovers. It also seems like in this game and the past two that UNC best defense has been their depth. UNC appears to have a much easier time imposing their will and playing effective defense in the second half when they have the fresher legs. By the time this game reached the final minutes of the second half, the Penn players had nothing left in their legs and seem incapable of hitting even close jumpers. Another part of that is UNC players executed half court traps exceptionally well mainly because Penn guards were actually stupid enough to cross midcourt and the pick up the dribble near the sideline which permitted UNC defenders to create a triple team between two Heels and the mid court line.
So, by and large it was good tune-up game. The start was a little disconcerting and I still would like to see UNC come out and give someone 40 minutes of crushing offense and smothering defense. Then again it was also good to see them respond to the gaunlet Roy threw down when he pulled the starters out and opted for the Blue Team. It was also good to see Frasor out there and although he only played seven minutes he had a huge impact on the game which may ultimately be his role as someone who can give minutes and hit a big shot here and there. A point guard rotation of Lawson playing in the 22-26 minute range with Frasor picking up 10-12 minutes should be very effective.
And that concludes the cupcake portion of our schedule. Next up games that really have meaning.