One Major Difference From Last Season

Winning the close ones.

This has undoubtedly been touched on at some point but last season UNC endured multiple games where the Heels were in striking distance to win only to see them fall short by basically giving it away down the stretch. That has not been the case this season as the Heels learned well the lessons of last season when it comes to how to handle the final minutes of a game.

Record in games decided by 10 points or less

2007: 5-6 regular season, 7-6 overall
2008: 6-1 through 28 games

The bottom line is UNC handles the late game situations much better. A quick perusal of UNC’s schedule from last season shows that if they did not flat blow a team out it was a real crap shoot in terms of trying to win. This season has been far more forgiving in this regard. Not only is UNC 3-0 in OT this season(versus 0-2 last season) but UNC has shown exceptional resiliency regardless of the circumstances. It really does not matter what position the Heels are in this season, they seem to find a way to win whether it means rallying from any number of points down to win the game or holding serve with a lead late. Obviously the only two exceptions show up in the record with UNC’s inability to rally versus Duke and the failure to hold of MD up four in the final two minutes. It also should be noted that this is still true despite the injuries showing some consistency in the quality of the coaching as well as what Tyler Hansbrough truly brings to table in terms of production when the Heels really need it.

Needless to say that while this has been nerveracking, it has been much nicer to come out on top in these games versus the tendency to drop games like this last season.

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16 Responses to One Major Difference From Last Season

  1. This is the thing that has struck me the most and it points to mental and physical toughness. I think we’ve also displayed it in some of our more comfortable wins, as well. For example, I thought Wake did a decent job in stretches of taking us out of our offensive sets, but we got baskets through sheer determination and will.

    Teams that have this quality tend to go far in March. Let’s hope we keep this personality after Ty returns.

  2. 52BigGameJames says:

    what’s the story on FT’s (attempts & made, last season vs this) as it relates to this THF?

  3. MDtarheelfan says:

    One thing we have not seen this year is Tyler in foul trouble and how the team responds. Credit goes to Tyler and the coaching staff perventing that stituation. We have seen Tyler have a difficult game, with the opponent tightening down on him, but the Heels have responded by stepping up and making plays.
    I am very happy with the way the team is playing and hope they can continue at this level. A tough thing to do but if they can they will be very hard to beat. This team may not be as talented as past UNC teams and I don’t think the overall national talent is as good as past years, but this is a young team that is doing very, very well. Only 2 loses. Makes me say great, but I want the final four, and the championship.

  4. Tar Heel Fan says:

    2007: Averaged 17.6-24.7 for 71%

    2008: Averaging: 20.1-26.5 for 75%

    2P FG% is down 1.5% this season

    3P FG% is up 1.5% this season

    So FTs are yielding three more points a game this season over last with the FG shooting being somewhat of a wash.

  5. Will says:

    You are dead-on THF. The VT games last year versus the Clemson games this year are the most dramatic example of our maturity.

    On another note, I haven’t seen any good articles about the Beasley vs. Hanbrough for POY. In my opinion, last night’s KSU loss was a big blow to Beasley’s chances. Do you have any thoughts?

  6. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Will,

    Re: POY.

    In the works, probably post something tomorrow on that.

  7. Josh Bowling says:

    It frustrated me to no end to see Jared Dudley get the ACC POY over Hansbrough. Really, who in the hell would you rather have on your team? I don’t see how a good argument could be made over Hansbrough not getting national poy this year. Yes Beasley is a strong candidate, and I would be happy to have him on my team, if I DIDN’T have Hansbrough.

  8. Steve says:

    Yeah, in last night’s Texas-KSU game Beasley was even a little shown up By Augustin. Hansbrough would benefit from whatever mojo it was that helped Battier win it a few years back. Shane got credit for leading a winning team, filling the stat sheet, and staying in school; despite his lack of NBA potential (not saying Tyler won’t be a good pro).

  9. Josh Bowling says:

    Right on Steve. And up to this point, I think Tyler would be credited with that as well.

  10. jackiemanuel says:

    Isn’t this luck though? All of our losses last season were by 10 points or less (except for Georgetown). We were good in every game last year and were an unlucky 1-3 in games that were within 5 points. This year you could argue we’ve been lucky in both Clemson games and against Virginia. We are 3-0 in OT and beat Georgia Tech and Virginia by 1 point in regulation. Nothing wrong with luck, but last year’s team was better than this year’s team in my opinion. Luck and lack of league strength are helping this team out quite a bit, no?

  11. […] Carolina is winning the close games this […]

  12. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I would argue that we have made better decisions and hit shots we missed a year ago which may or may not be luck.

  13. jackiemanuel says:

    Fair enough. I think this team can absolutley win a title this season, but the margin of error is much smaller. You don’t want to be in one point games with GT and UVA or have to hope Clemson totally self destructs. A couple of times this season we’ve made terrible decisions at the end of games and gotten away with it.

  14. Tar Heel alum and fan says:

    It is confidence in the ability to win. Even as terribly as UNC played against Duke they still had that confidence and still were in the game until the end. Last season if a team made a comeback against them or if they had to come back there was evident nervousness at times. Not so much this year because most of the key contributors have the experience of last year.

  15. Josh Bowling says:

    I don’t know who it is that posts as Jackie Manuel, but he was right on. The field is not as good as it was last year, imo. Nevetheless, we have still displayed toughness and guts when it was most needed this year. I don’t think the whole ncaa is as good as it was last year, so this confidence should manifest itself even after ACC play runs out and tournament play kicks in.

  16. william says:

    Free throws is probably a big factor and most of the rest is honestly, probably just good luck. There were some very strange ball bounces at the end of the Clemson game that went well for Carolina.

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