And yes that can be taken both ways.
It should be noted that I am only annoyed with the loss. It happens. This is the ACC and parity being what it is nowadays you are pretty much assured to have a game like this. VT is probably the hottest team in the ACC at the moment. They beat Duke, they wiped out UNC Greensboro in a non-conference tilt on Wednesday, and they seized upon this game at home on national television as a chance to make their mark. The Hokies play great defense and have great athleticism. They created a lot of problems for UNC today by slapping at the ball and generally playing with more energy than the Heels. UNC had that “deer in the headlights” look and VT just ran away with. To the Hokies credit they showed their experience and play great for 30 minutes. They did try to give it away in the end but hit enough free throws to keep UNC at bay.
As for the Heels, they seemed to be in a little funk right now offensively. The shooting has been questionable since conference play started. It was 47% against FSU, 37% against UVa, and 43% against VT. Inherent in that bad shooting is the total absence of a perimeter game. UNC was 8-26 from three which is way too many outside shots for this team, but the by product of bad shooting and attempting to rally from a huge defecit. Wayne Ellington is in a huge slump, Wes Miller has been slumping all season, and Lawson is spotty in his ability to hit three despite being 2-3 today from beyond the arc. The interior game is inconsistent with Hansbrough shooting 5-13 today and for the most part shooting worse this season than last. Brandan Wright can hit his shots als ong as you do not put him 15 feet from the basket unguarded where he was 1-8 today. It was just bad shooting compounded by 17 turnovers.
And you know what. This is not the first time I have seen this. In fact my late father usually quoted the words of the Jimmy Ruffin song, “I’ve Passed This Way Before” to describe the feeling we had after watching UNC lose like this. It was just a bad game. If I panicked every time I saw UNC play and lose this way I would have jumped out of my bedroom window by now. The stretch of three games in 1993 comes to mind where UNC had the huge rally against Florida State followed by an 20 point loss at Wake Forest and a 13 point loss at Duke. That was the last time UNC lost a game until the ACC title game against Georgia Tech and after that they won the six most important games of the season. In 2005, UNC lost to Wake in similar fashion, later lost to Duke in Durham and did not lose until the ACC Tournament. After that they also won the six most important games of the season. So, I am bothered by the loss, disconcerted somewhat by the way it unfolded, but I know Roy Williams did not get where he is at without knowing how to turn lemons into lemonade. Whatever does not end your season can only make you a better team.
The only question that matters at this point, is how do the Tar Heels respond? Wednesday night at Clemson will tell us.