Digger Phelps Thinks UNC is 2007 Florida; Jay Bilas Thinks He’s Nuts

Good times on College GameDay from Southern Illinois.

Via ACC Nation:

The more interesting debate was between Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas.

Phelps compared Carolina to last year’s Florida team. If you remember, the Gators dropped three of four games to end February – falling by double digits to Vanderbilt, LSU and Tennessee – before beating Kentucky to end the regular season then sweeping the SEC and NCAA tournaments to win a second-straight national title. During that February losing stretch, many wondered if Florida could put it together in time for a March run.

Said Phelps, “They’re (North Carolina) wanting to get to San Antonio, but like what we saw (from) Florida last year, they lost some midseason games, but when Joakim Noah and company came around, they go 6-0 in March.”

Phelps seems to think Carolina can do the same thing this season. Maybe, but Jay Bilas wasn’t sold on the Florida-Carolina comparison. Or even the comparison that many, including Phelps, have made between this year’s Tar Heel team and the Carolina team that won a national title in 2005 when many thought the defense in the regular season wasn’t good enough to win a championship.

“I don’t think this team is like Florida,” Bilas said. “And I don’t think you can compare them to the 2005 team because the ‘05 Carolina team had Jackie Manuel and they had Raymond Felton, who were really vocal leaders. This year, if you say they’ve got a problem, it’s a relative problem because they’re a top team … the thing that would worry me is do they have an on-off switch on the defensive end? When they get into a halfcourt game can they take you out of what you do enough to win a game defensively? Because they’re not a great shooting team. They can really score, but if you can lock them down into a halfcourt game, is that what’s going to be the demise for them?”

After Davis asked if he had changed his mind – Bilas called Carolina the best team in the country just a few weeks ago – Bilas said he still felt the Tar Heels were the third- or fourth-best team in the country, but it was obvious Bilas now had some doubts about the Tar Heels’ chances of winning the NCAA Tournament.

Phelps, for his part, wasn’t ready to concede anything to Bilas.

“I disagree,” Phelps said. “I think they’re going to make it. Yeah, Maryland beat them at home, but look what Gary Williams has done – he beats Duke twice last year, Carolina (this year), he’ll be ready for taking on Duke this weekend. I buy Carolina to get it done.”

Yeah, I don’t know what Phelps is after here.  The biggest difference between this UNC team and the Florida team last season is that group of players had already won a national title.  Much of what we saw from them in dropping a few games really had to do with them being just plain bored with the regular season and once they got into tournament play they were able to raise the level.  It was very much like what you see in the NBA where the best team out there may not even win their division.  This team does not have that winning experience backing them up per se so when they have a letdown game like they versus Maryland it is a cause for concern.

As for comparison to the 05 team I am not even going to delve into that except the makeup of the team this season is different from that one going beyond vocal nature of leadership.  The 05 team was more experienced and also had Marvin Williams.  No one on the present team really fits.

Bilas is correct.  The shine has come off this team a bit but they are still where they need to be.  If they keep winning and can improve some of the flaws then when March rolls around their odds will be as decent as half a dozen other teams.


9 Responses to Digger Phelps Thinks UNC is 2007 Florida; Jay Bilas Thinks He’s Nuts

  1. rlb says:

    these so called experts change like the wind. they jump bandwagon to bandwagon each week when a team loses or struggles. college basketball has changed in the last 10-15 years with players leaving for the pros. there are not many seniors and these are 18-20 year old kids who are differnt everytime they are on the court. dont worry ol roy will have unc ready in march.

  2. Howard says:

    Someone said it in an earlier entry – expectation. That seems to be most of what everyone has to say about the Heels. I’m tired of it. If the team itself, and I don’t know that they spend any time on the topic, would just forget about what others say about them, would just forget about the future, and would just pay attention to the game at hand, I think things would be a lot more interesting, a lot more fun, and a lot better in terms of play.
    As I said, I don’t know if the team is caught up in all this “expectation” crap, but they play like they are, like they think they are “in” even without any effort.
    And, of course, the fans are certainly caught up in this. Like this debate between Bilas and Phelps. Who the heck cares what these guys think about where the Heels will end up in March? Worrying about that doesn’t do one bit of good for the game the Heels face right now. When they face Boston College, they’ll win or lose on the basis of how they play that particular day, regardless of what Phelps or Bilas, or me or you, think about March.
    I imagine it’s true what RLB says – that “roy will have unc ready in march.” My concern is will he have them ready for Boston College.

  3. 52BigGameJames says:

    Howard-if you don’t like the program, switch the channel or don’t pick up the remote. THF has provided a forum on his blog for fan feedback. It’s what makes it fun for most of us, sharing and caring about how the team is developing. With a couple of exceptions, this is a very tame and reasonable group, especially if you compare to other fan sites. Most of the criticism’s I see on here are couched in terms of wanting to see the players and team meet what we perceive to be their full potential, not because they’re working out some unfulfilled fantasy, or mis-placed anger. Most of us on here feel fortunate to have Roy, and Roy is ALL about development, so it’s fun for me to discuss how that process is going, and interesting to guess which buttons need to be and will be pushed next. I AM enjoying the season, but in my own way thank you!

    on topic–THF’s last paragraph sums it up for me.

  4. I don’t know how anyone could compare the current Heels to the 2005 team. As I recall, everyone believed that that team was the most talented collection of basketball players in the country, but the knock on them was that they weren’t a “team.” (I think they proved everyone wrong). Our current team is not overwhelmingly talented, but we’re very good at several spots, made the elite eight last year, and come into this season with expectations for improvement.

    That’s the crux of the issue. It’s not that a national championship is expected, per se, for most folks. It’s that improvement is expected from an elite eight team. That would mean a final four berth, and if they can get there, then they have as good a shot as the other three teams to win it all.

    I think the frustration is that we’re not seeing as much improvement as a team (individual improvement of Ellington and Green notwithstanding) as we had hoped. But if anyone can have them ready by March, it’ll be Ol’ Roy.

  5. Chris says:

    I never put too much stock in what Digger has to say. Next to Bobby Cremins, he’s gotten more undeserved credit for his coaching career than anyone I can think of. What we’re going through now is what makes the college game great and fun to watch. The Duke/Carolina games this year should be pure classics.

  6. Andy In Omaha says:

    This is why I never take anything Bilas and Phelps say seriously. I appreciate Digger giving us props and believing we can pull it off, but he’s often on his own little island. Bilas will always seem to favor anyone over UNC.
    Still A LOT of basketball to be played. Of course UNC’s defense is a problem, but Memphis, Kansas, Duke, and the rest of the “top-tier” teams all have their own fatal flaws as well. As hard as I am on UNC, I think it’s important to note I’m not sold on Memphis and Kansas being the best two teams in the country. We can only hope that the three get a chance to mix it up in March to find out.

  7. TxTarheel says:

    I think road games UNC faces in ACC play will be far tougher that what Memphis will face in Conf USA. Kansas will get tested but there are some freebies they should pick up. Off-subject, came across this article on another UNC forward, Joe Wolf. Running the DQ and coaching in the D-league


  8. Josh Bowling says:

    Regarding those comments from Phelps/Bilas, I remember Bilas was sold on UNC at the beginning last year, and then after we won the ACC championship, he was sold on Georgetown & Florida. It is hard to say what Bilas saw in us after winning the ACC championship because I was sold on UNC winning it all after that. Turns out Bilas was right, well, sort of. We beat ourselves in that Georgetown game. Yes, UNC got beat by the TarHeels. Our lack of clock execution was our demise. So, in a way Bilas had the right analysis, but very indirectly. I will take any positive comment out of Phelps any day. It is not often we receive that. But I believe that Bilas’ comments were more accurate, and directly accurate this time. There is always an element of unknown with UNC, and we can definately beat what odds may exist with this group. BTW, Duke is playing well over their level of talent this year, props to them. Nice to see them win a game with adverse officiating. That Maryland game is what they will see in the ncaa tournament, and they pulled it off. I am not ready to call sweep like most Duke fans have lately, but maybe, just maybe, we can squeeze one out. Go Heels

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