This actually constitutes the first game of the season where I actually screamed at the TV, threw a few “doggones” around and even had a nice “Come on Tyler!” when Hansbrough missed the free throw with 13 seconds left. It also took me a good 30 minutes before I could successfully re-enter society. The other three losses I took with a grain of salt and the optimism that the season’s end would vindicate the journey we took to get there. And in the case of both Virginia Tech and NC State I rested on the notion that both had to come to Chapel Hill and a proper punishment would be exacted. So losing last night at home, especially given that UNC was leading the game by three possession in the second half and had Wes Miller hit that three with 5:54 remaining to give UNC a 10 point lead, that would have most likely been the end of the game. Instead UNC let VT off the mat who showed absolutely no fear. Zabian Dowdell was unstoppable for the most part and on top of that it is a football school for crying out loud. Where is our vindication for football season?
Needless to say this one hurts.
The problem with VT is they matchup really well with UNC in the areas that are most disruptive to the Tar Heel offense. Dowdell and Jamon Gordon can flat play defense and if you can bother Lawson and Ellington enough, you can prevent them from feeding the post and hitting perimeter jumpers. That is not to say Lawson was not getting it done, he was, but Ellington was non-existent in the second half, Reyshawn Terry could not turn around without doing something boneheaded and all game long the shots were just a tad off.
And I will say the while the refs never cost you the game, they sure as heck were of little help to UNC when it counted. In fact it was clear to me Lawson was fouled at the end and it was also clear to me that Dowdell was given a lot of leeway concerning the use of his free hand when he had the ball. Like I said it was not a game breaker but at the same time it was one of several things that went wrong such as not dominating the boards and shooting a tad better from the free throw line.
Roy Williams has taken it upon himself to assume full responsibility for the loss. I am not sure how true that it but I think it is clear what Roy is doing here. He does not want this young team destroyed over this loss which so much basketball left to be played. It would be really easy for this team go to into a tailspin facing a huge road game at Boston College which could drop them into fourth seed territory in the conference should they lose. So, Roy has decided to bear the burden of this loss and spare the pysche of his team. And he is right to do so, since the things that went wrong do not seem to be necessarily the results of a breakdown in effort/motivation. The offensive rebounds were troublesome, but the defense was not poor(VT shot 38%) and the ball handling was good(only nine turnovers) so there is really no one to point a finger at other than the coach and that is what Roy has done.
As for the mess which are the ACC standings, UNC is not in a three way tie for second with three losses and BC up a game at 9-2. Here is the scenario for UNC: Just win baby. Win the next five games to get to 13-3 and in doing so hope that Virginia Tech loses one of their next five. The game at Virginia seems like a good choice but I would not count out BC or Clemson coming to Blacksburg. That being said the game this Saturday at NC State is the purest trap game you will ever see for them. If VT drops to four losses and UNC wins out it does not matter what UVa or BC since UNC would own the tiebreaker against both of them.
One more thing. I said during the live blog that I do want to see VT in the ACC Tournament. I take that back. I absolutely want them on the opposite side of the bracket and I want to see them on the court in Tampa for the ACC Championship. I may end up eating crow when it is said and done but I think the chances of us losing three straight times to the same team is slimer than us losing at home to them. So let’s see what happens when all the marbles are at stake.