Well that was painful.
First of all. Roy is pissed and rightfully so because nothing went right in this game and when I say that I mean nothing went right because the Tar Heel players largely played a crappy game. Now, understand I am not piling on this team or trying to be overtly negative towards them. I still think they are perfectly capable of meeting the expectations set for them and this game will bring them closer to that. However, they played a horrible game in a situation where they all needed to play their best game of the season to compensate for a missing player. My personal list of what went wrong goes like this.
- The defense simply did not do it’s job after the first five minutes. Roy said Duke got what they wanted and it’s true.
- Wayne Ellington and Danny Green were horrible on offense to the tune of 4-24 for 11 points. On one level I feel sorry for Ellington because he had some good looks in the second half and they just did not fall. There were also a some bad shots at times which did not help. The lack of decent perimeter shooting meant the defense could key on Hansbrough.
- Way too many turnovers. And I am not talking about the turnovers Duke induced with their defense. There were multiple stupid mistakes made and poor decisions across the board.
- Bad FT shooting which is something that has not been an issue. Hansbrough missing four FTs and UNC missing 11 out of 30 was extremely uncharacteristic.
- Lack of any fast break points. I think there was maybe 2-3 instances the UNC break looked normal. This falls squarely on Lawson not being in the game and really could not be helped.
- Lack of offensive flow in general which is also owed to Lawson not being in the game but at the same time needs to be worked out by the players on the floor. The most glaring problem was the fact Hansbrough did not touch the ball for long periods of time.
In the end it was a combination of a poorly executed game by UNC and breaks just not going their way. It is really more of the former but when it was going south, it was really going south in every way. Sometimes that happens and having Lawson in the game undoubtedly would have made a difference in various areas but as I said before the game, no excuses. It happened and it is what it is. Tyler Hansbrough had a monster game of the Sean May variety, his second straight game like that. Marcus Ginyard played well and found his offensive game to try and pick up some of the slack left by Green/Ellington. And Quentin Thomas had a decent game despite the six turnovers. Thomas scored some big baskets early in the second half and attacked the Duke defense which put UNC in a position to get back in the game but not enough solid defense on the other end quickly defused that hope.
They say whatever does not kill you, makes you stronger. In college basketball, any loss that does not end you season is an opportunity to improve. The Heels had a horrible game. It happens and contrary to the belief some people have that this decides what happens with the NCAA seeding in March, it actually may not matter at all. The fact Lawson did not play devalues what happened in the eyes of the committee. Also, because it was the first game, the committee tends to consider the later game and ACC Tournament as the more relevant games. In other words, if UNC can win at Cameron and then win the ACC Tournament without losing any other games, UNC can grab that #1 seed in the East. UNC needs to build on this loss. The shame of what happened to Lawson is he was playing so well and it appeared in the BC game UNC was starting to cook. Losing him for this game hurt and now UNC has to regroup, get him back and get ready to defend The Streak versus Clemson on Sunday.