UNC 72 Davidson 68

Whew!

That was a little tougher than I expected to go along with the variety of issues I saw with the Heels tonight. Prior to my delving into the things that had me ready to throw objects about my living room let me just say:

Wayne Ellington
Danny Green
Finishing the freaking game when it was close.

Let me first say  I am big enough to admit when I have been a little hard on someone. Wayne Ellington was exactly what most Tar Heels fans have been expecting.  And yes, I know it is only one game but Ellington played a great game.   His shot selection was much better and we saw a lot of that trademark smooth shooting stroke folks have told us time and time again he has.  Ellington ended up with 20 points on 8-13 shooting and hit some much needed baskets down the stretch.  With UNC trailing 59-56 Ellington nails a three to tie the game then proceeded to hit three of four free throws to keep UNC ahead.  When Davidson close to within one at 1:22 left it was Ellington who hit a jumper to extend the lead back to three.  Given all the talk we have heard in the preseason about Ellington wanting to his the big shot in games, he delivered tonight and hopefully can continue to do so.

Danny Green was huge in this game and while I knew he could be a contributor, his level of play was the life jacket that kept the Heels afloat midway through the second half.  UNC had blown a seven point halftime lead and was struggling to find an offense when Green reeled off eight points and three rebounds in three minute span.  There is no underestimating how key his play was in this game since UNC was down 50-46 before Green hit a three and on the next trip down grabbed an offensive board and proceeded to complete a three point play to put UNC up two.  Green ended up with 11 points and six rebounds but the eight and three that came during that stretch made the biggest difference.

The knock against UNC last season concerned their inability to close and a failure to handle those tough end game situations.  This was a prime example of a game UNC would have lost last season because they either could not hit big shots or just plain failed to execute.  That was not the case this evening.  UNC had four possessions nursing a small lead and three times they scored by executing the offense.  One came off a Ty Lawson drive to the basket, another off an Ellington jumper and the last one,which extended the lead to five, was a smart pass from Tyler Hansbrough to Marcus Ginyard after Hansbrough dribble out to the perimeter away from a double team opening up the middle for a cutting Ginyard.    UNC went 4-6 from the line to close the game.

Other positives include the defensive effort which I thought was pretty good.  Davidson shot a paltry 38% from the floor and despite the fact Stephen Curry had 24 points it came on 8-22 shooting and he had some pretty bad looks at time with Ginyard guarding him.  I also thought that when the situation called for it, UNC is capable of laying down some intensive defensive energy and really pressure the ball handler.  Lawson, for one, gave the Davidson PG Jason Richards fits at points during the second half and UNC forced Davidson out of offensive rhythm in the halfcourt set.  The offense in this game revolved around Ellington and Hansbrough with the big points from Green in the second half.  Hansbrough had 14 points and 14 rebounds but was out for a long stretch in the second half because of foul trouble.

As for the negatives, the game was very up and down for UNC.  The Heels were extremely sloppy early on turning the ball over and being a little haphazard with the way they ran the offense until three minutes left in the half when they had a 12-3 run that took a two point deficit to a seven point halftime lead.  All things considered UNC pulled it together nicely following some bad episodes during the half.  Another knock on UNC last season was they tended to come out in the second half and struggle.  This game actually followed that blueprint to the point that Hansbrough got chippy with Davidson’s Andrew Lovedale and received a technical foul for his trouble.  From that point on UNC lost focus and did not seem to regain their footing until inside of ten minutes.  Turnovers were a huge issue mainly because some of them were careless.  Bobby Frasor and Lawson both got called for stepping on the sideline.  There were several offensive fouls giving the ball back to Davidson and UNC generally did not do a great job of taking care of business on their end of the court.  Some of that had to do with Lawson being out with foul trouble as well as the fact Roy seemed to be experimenting with a variety of combinations on the court.

The other individual performances were a mixed bag.  Deon Thompson was largely ineffective totaling four points and zero rebounds.  Thompson also received double teams every time he touched the ball and had a great deal of trouble passing out of it.  The expectation levels for Thompson are pretty high given the shoe he is filling and I think he will do better as the season progresses.  Alex Stepheson did not have a great game and Marcus Ginyard grabbed seven rebounds and chased Curry all night.  Bobby Frasor and Quentin Thomas were solid filling in for Lawson and there were several instances where Frasor played at the two alongside Thomas.  This was one of several different lineup combinations we saw.  I had wondered leading up this game if there was ever a temptation for Roy to go either big or small with lineup.  The answer tonight was he is willing to go small with Green, Ginyard, Lawson and Ellington on the court at the same time with one of the big men in the middle.

My overall impression is this was a good win mainly because of the toughness aspects and the late game execution.  The early foul trouble for Lawson and the second half technical foul on Hansbrough followed by his foul trouble were huge monkey wrenches in the works that threw enough things out of sync to give UNC trouble.  The point we get coming out of that is this team was able to figure it out and work through the mess to win the game.  That could be the key difference from last season to this one is the ability to handle adversity and make good decisions with the game on the line.  While it is only one game, I think it was a good start and the lessons picked up in this one will serve the team well going forward.

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26 Responses to UNC 72 Davidson 68

  1. DrFrankLives says:

    Amazing, and so typically UNC. An entire post about a great game and not a single good word about the opponent.

  2. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Not to be a jerk but take your eyes and move them to the header at the top of the page. It clearly says Tar Heel Fan at the top. My primary purpose in most of my post game write-ups is to analyze UNC’s performance, especially for the first game of the season when there is so much to talk about in terms of what this performance might tell us about the rest of the season. The post totaled almost 1200 words and took me two hours to work through. So you will excuse me if I did not have some words to spare for Davidson. My readers are largely UNC fans who want to read my take on how UNC did not what I might think about Davidson.

    If you want that, pick up the Charlotte Observer or head over the Davidson athletics website.

  3. Wayne says:

    Sounds like a bitter ABCer to me – – –

  4. Tar Heel Fan says:

    And let it be noted, yes I think Davidson is a great team and I cannot wait to see them go up against UCLA, NC State and Duke. If they can matchup with them as well as they did tonight it is possible they beat at least one of them, maybe two.

  5. Dan Schwind says:

    If you click the hyperlink in DrFrankLives’ username, it tracks back to a blog that’s clearly Davidson-oriented, and the guy is most definitely an ABCer. After all, he mentions that dubious name that still haunts us from the 1999 NCAA tournament.

    But to the subject at hand. I’m not worried. As you pointed out, THF, this game would have been a big, fat L last year. They showed they can keep composed and finish business. Also, Davidson now just gets chalked up in the same category as Winthrop last year, Gardner-Webb the year before, and, of course Santa Clara in 04-05. The time to worry will be if they have this much difficulty against Iona. Go Heels!

  6. DrFrankLives says:

    ABCED

    Anybody but Carolina, except Duke.

  7. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Well you are not all bad then.

  8. MDtarheelfan says:

    Nice game by Davidson, I thought they made the Heels look slow in the first half. Ellington hitting that jumper was clutch and Greene rebound and put back were key plays. I thought there were alot of touch fouls and as usual seemed to go against us. Did anyone else think Jay Bilas Duke roots were coming out.. He was very critical of the Heels. Glad we won cause I hate getting all those harassing phone calls how overrated the Heels are so early in the season.

  9. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I am usually fine with Bilas. I think he does a good job analyzing for the most part and I don’t see much Duke homerism in his work. The problem is when you have a game with a #1 playing an upstart team TV guys tend to talk up the underdog and criticize the superior team. I did notice he referred to Tyler Hansbrough having is nose broken in a “collision” with Gerald Henderson which completely shortchanges what actually happened there and made it sound incidental.

    Of all the announcing crews ESPN has I would take Sean McDonough with Bilas over most anyone else since. Bill Rafferty is good in spurts but has his annoying gimmick phrases like Vitale just not as obnoxious.

  10. […] 15, 2007 at 9:03 am | In Jackie Manuel | Carolina wins. Huge effort on defense, some clutch play from Wayne and Ty, and a few lucky breaks were keys for the Heels. I think it is fair to say we didn’t […]

  11. Misplaced Heel says:

    I agree with THF about Bilas–I think he really tones down Vitale. I give him lots of credit for doing the whole ESPN Game Day commercial, even if his boss ordered it and paid him for it. However, I can’t stand Rafetery–he makes me nuts! I would almost rather listen to Vitale; at least Vitale knows the game, even if he can’t stop slobbering over some other teams that are not in the game he is calling. My favorite ESPN broadcaster is Brad Daughtery; I really miss him in basketball, but I know that he really wanted to do the races (can’t figure that one out!). He was informed, funny, and nice to listen to with his drawl.

    Of course, regarding Bilas, you can take the boy away from dook, but you can’t take the dook out of the boy!

  12. Dan Schwind says:

    I generally like Bilas, but I think he was getting back to his roots a little. Esp. on the Tech on Tyler. He made it sound like Hansbrough tried to brutally assault the other guy. Sure, Tyler wasn’t guilt-free on that one, but it should have been a double-technical, if anything, since the other guy instigated it.

    Hey, MDTarHeelFan. Where are you in Maryland? I only ask because I’m always looking for other heel fans in twerp territory.

  13. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Here is my concern about the technical and that is other teams will try little things like that to see if they can get TH saddled with a tech which counts as a personal. TH plays with such intensity I can see someone walking by him, bumping him with a shoulder just to see if they can get a reaction.

  14. Dan Schwind says:

    I agree. And I’m surprised it didn’t happen more last year. I do think they need to implement some sort of instigator rule, because let’s face it: It’s not like Tyler just shoved some guy out of nowhere. That guy tried to walk through and continued to do so, and no one even so much as slapped him on the wrist.

  15. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I thought the refs were calling a tight game and some of that may have had to do with attempting to control the game so they made an example of someone who did the first thing, no matter how cheap it was, to send a message. I did not see anything in Roy’s quotes about it but I assume he will address it with Tyler and make sure he understands the need to be careful.

  16. Josh Bowling says:

    Did you guys hear Roy rip into the officiating in the post game radio? Hansbrough’s frustration doesn’t come from other players, it comes from the lack of free-throw attempts he clearly deserves. When he gets bumed shooting a hook shot, he expects for officials to call it. He gets called on his commited fouls. On any other team he would put opposing centers in foul trouble early on. Did anyone get to see the Ohio State game. Their center, Koufas, went to the line on several occasions that Hansbrough has to endure as everyday basketball contact. Shamefull I tell ya. He shoots that hook shot and gets bumped almost every time, and most players get a trip to the line for enduring it. Ticks me off we have to go play teams like Arizona on their court to get home-court officiating. Outside of that, I am glad to have a win against a team that looks like veterans when it comes to moving the ball around. Ellington will continue to increase his stock if he keeps driving to the lane like that. I knew he’d be key for us if he would attack the glass. Good Job heels!

  17. MDtarheelfan says:

    I didn’t think TH did anything to deserve the T. He was just standing there and the Davidson guy walk into him. Bilas said TH should have moved out of the way. Why?
    In the past, I like Bilas anayalist but I thought he was wrong on Tech and did not have the impact on the Heels like he thought except to keep TH on the bench. I can’t stand Vitale and Rafetery with their gimmick phases.
    Looking forward to a great year and more good discussions.
    Dan, I’m located just south of Annapolis, in Churchton.

  18. drfranklives says:

    Josh – as a casual observer without any real skin in the game in the ACC (unless Wake Forest is involved), let me comment on your post. Any reasonable person with some basketball knowledge would realize that Tyler’s game includes a lot of contact. He initiates much of the contact he draws. That pays off in trips to the foul line, but it could just as easily result in player control fouls against him. The guy plays with reckless abandon. You have to admit h doesn’t exactly go straight up and draw contact. The dude lives on contact.

  19. Josh Bowling says:

    I agree he dishes out contact, and it usually results in a foul, unlike the contact he receives, which for the most part goes unnoticed. Tell me at what point in the game last night do you think he should have recieved a foul, in which he didn’t?

  20. Josh Bowling says:

    I can see how someone would have reason to believe he initiates contact. He is much stronger than most of his opponents, if not all. When he goes up strong, and players bounce off of him, that doesn’t necessarily mean he is in the act of fouling them. As a matter of fact, that illustrates how defenders are in a position of defending that they shouldn’t be in. Most, if not all players, receive personal fouls for this.

  21. chuckheel says:

    THF,
    Why did Wayne Ellington change jersey numbers? Did they say? Also, I’ve been wracking my brain all day trying to figure out what number he wore last season. What was is?
    Thanks!!

  22. Tar Heel Fan says:

    He wore 2 last season and Wes Miller wore 22.

  23. Wayne says:

    Also, the Basketball Media Guide under Wayne’s “Personality Profile” says, “I chose my jersey number because: My friend who passed away wore it.”

  24. Josh Bowling says:

    THF, how about the play this year of Rashad McCants! Felton and Marvin Williams are playing nice as well. I didn’t realize the trade of Kevin Garnett would have given so much opportunity to McCants.

  25. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Three Heels of the 05 team are doing quite well. Felton was the leading scorer in Charlotte last I checked. Sports Illustrated featured Marvin Williams on their website and he is averaging 17 ppg now that Atlanta has some guards and McCants is having to fill a huge void in Minnesota and doing so nicely.

  26. DeanForever says:

    I wanted to allow a bit of time to pass before posting about this game. Now that normalcy has settled back in, I just wanted to say how pleased I was with the resiliance of the Tar Heels. Not much more needs to be said. In ’06-’07, that game is an upset. This year, at least for that game, it was not. AND they won with little to no production from the big-guy-trio of Tyler-Deon-Alex. This is definately a “body-of-work” win.

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