UNC 68 WSU 47

defense.jpg

Halfway there.

So we heard all week about how great the WSU defense was and for the most part it was one of the better defenses UNC faced all season.  The Heels offense was definitely frustrated early and generally bothered all game to the point the shots did not fall as consistently as they had been four days ago.  WSU did a pretty good job on Tyler Hansbrough during the first half holding him to only two points.  The huge problem any team has with playing UNC is the number of weapons that must be handled on any given possession.  In this game with Hansbrough handcuffed a bit in the first half it was Danny Green doing what he does so well in situations where the Heels need someone to step up and drill a three.  Green scored 12 of the 35 first half points and was a huge difference.  Wayne Ellington, while only scoring 13 on 4-13 shooting, put all sorts of pressure on the WSU defense.  Ty Lawson looks 100% to me, Alex Stepheson played productive minutes and Deon Thompson had eight more rebounds than Wanda taking to heart Roy’s chiding after the Arkansas game.  Quentin Thomas is steady, steady, steady running the point as the backup.

The real irony of this game considering all of the focus on the WSU defense is the much maligned UNC offense got the job done.  With the score 15-14 UNC forced five Courgar turnovers en route to reeling off a 20-6 run to assume a 14 point lead at halftime which was pretty close to being the ballgame considering the pace WSU uses on offense.  Among the star performers on defense Stepheson had two blocked shots on consecutive plays, Ellington and Lawson did a good job on the WSU guards as did Marcus Ginyard.  It was a complete team effort on defense in holding WSU to 31% from the floor and 47 points total.  Roy always seems to point out that WSU missed shots they normally hit but he rightfully pointed out in his postgame remarks that UNC did too.  Ultimately missing some shots is part of the game but many of the misses from WSU resulted from UNC turning up the defensive pressure .

Looking at these three games UNC’s margin of victory is around 30 ppg.  I do not recall a point in UNC’s NCAA Tournament history in which they dominated the compeition this much.  I have seen them play well the first weekend and get into tussles during the 2nd weekend,  but nothing where they won three straight tournament games by 20+ points.  Of course I would be foolish to suggest this will continue at this level when Tennessee or Louisville is the opponent.  However I do think this team has locked into their best stretch of basketball all season.  The question is whether there are three more games at this level in the offing.  I would like to think so because I like where the players’ heads seem to be added to the sheer talent and cohesiveness of this team.

There is plenty to be excited about right now and even more so if UNC continues to win games in this manner.

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43 Responses to UNC 68 WSU 47

  1. william says:

    Well, I think that we had a pretty tough 8-9 game and then according to Pomeroy, we had a 1-4 game against a team almost as good as us. I know it was one game, but this team is lucky to beat Carolina a third of the time. This was a huge black eye for the Pac Ten (UCLA’s game is just as embarrassing in some ways, ugly, ugly, ugly) and Pomeroy and Gasaway.

    This is a team game and North Carolina had the best team, even with Tyler scoring essentially zero in the first half. I think that I have seen some real defects in this Pac Ten style of play, which probably is making John Wooden turn over in his grave, as Wooden always pushed the tempo with outlet passes and presses and refused to ever slow the game down, even when he had a definite victory over NC State in 1974, had he stalled.

  2. william says:

    Letter to Ken Pomeroy:

    Wow, you sure had this game pegged right. WSU totally controlled the tempo and UNC was unable to do anything to increase the pace of play. Even when WSU went down by 26 in the second half, they retained their well-taught discipline and refused to rush any shots. UNC definitely had no chance whatsoever to score 100 points against a squad that disciplined. I am sure that Dick Bennett was one proud papa.

  3. Santiago says:

    william,

    He may not like the current PAC-10 style of play, but if John Wooden is turning over in his grave, it’s probably because somebody buried him alive. 😉

  4. william says:

    Was that a bad joke on my part, Santiago? I love John Wooden, 97 years young and I loved the way his Bruins played basketball. They were they best semi-pro team in history!

  5. mugley says:

    he’s still alive William, but I wonder what ole skippy and jalen will have to say now?

  6. Tar Heel Fan says:

    ^That we left our starters in too long.

    BTW, I am watching perhaps the most disjointed game I have ever watched. UL and UT are doing Lord knows what out there and I am not sure either one of them would touch UNC with the way they are playing this game.

  7. william says:

    New York Times article gives the Cougs what they wanted, the national embarrassment of being called “plodding.”

    “Washington State hoped for a slow, plodding, defensive game against North Carolina in their N.C.A.A. tournament East Region semifinal. The Cougars got what they wanted.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/sports/ncaabasketball/28unc.html?ref=sports

  8. william says:

    Best defensive effort in the tourney by Heels since 1946?

    http://www.tampabay.com/sports/basketball/college/article434414.ece

  9. william says:

    Cougars drop heartbreaker to Tar Heels:

    http://www.kxly.com/Global/story.asp?S=8081268&nav=menu683_4

    What part of the game was it where we broke their hearts? Maybe the entire game when they realized that taking the air out of the ball wasn’t going to work?

  10. william says:

    Good point by Kenny Smith in SI:

    • It’s easy to forget how messed-up North Carolina basketball was when Roy Williams took over in 2003. It wasn’t just that the team was struggling, but that the entire “Carolina family” was on the rocks. As Kenny Smith put it, “If you go to Thanksgiving dinner with your mom and dad every year and one year the turkey doesn’t taste right, that’s one thing, but we almost stopped having dinners.” Now when you go to Chapel Hill in the summer you can still see the Carolina alums playing pick-up together. Williams has been the orchestrator of that revival.

  11. william says:

    I thought maybe I was being harsh, but:

    WASHINGTON STATE could have beaten North Carolina on Thursday if only it had run its stuff a little better, shot the basketball a little better and defended the Tar Heels with just a little more workmanlike effort and precision for 40 minutes.

    NOTE TO READER: The preceding paragraph of course is patently ridiculous. It is nothing but a transparent ploy meant to gain your attention following yet another Tar Heel rout in their rampage – three very much down, three to go – through the NCAA tournament.

    I’m so ashamed.

    The truth is Washington State, a pedestrian team from Pullman, could not have defeated coach Roy Williams’ Tiffany collection of thoroughbreds in this East Regional semifinal had the Tar Heels been riding unicycles while eating peanut M&Ms.

    And that’s even with the Cougars (26-9) successfully – although that’s a very relative term following a 68-47 pounding – dialing down the pace of play to their taste.

    http://hamptonroads.com/2008/03/hohum-another-game-another-rout-ohso-talented-heels

  12. 52BigGameJames says:

    not only are we having Thanksgiving dinner again, but Dad got that deep-fryer and that Turkey is more tender & flavorful than ever!

    good insight from one who would know!

  13. william says:

    On the relevance of the differential between a team’s home and away ranking, Wheatley-Schaller explains it like this:

    “If you could choose between the No. 1 home team but No. 20 on the road, or the No. 1 away team and No. 20 at home, you take the away team every time,” he says.

    To arrive at this assumption, Wheatley-Schaller calculated the average amount of wins that each tourney team seeded between 1 and 6 had from over the past seven years.

    Of the 17 teams he sampled that had much worse away rankings than home rankings, he found that 15 of these teams — 88 percent — won less games than was expected.

    On the other end of the spectrum, only 47 percent of good road teams lost fewer games than expected.

  14. william says:

    Louisville is pretty good. They have a guy that Roy loves at center. UCLA is having a tough game as expected by me.

  15. william says:

    I think Louisville and Kansas are the two teams able to beat us. Collison just fouled out for UCLA, leading by 6 with 6 minutes to go.

  16. 52BigGameJames says:

    agreed

  17. william says:

    Ben Howland couldn’t coach talent if his life depended on it. UCLA is stalling against Western Kentucky, with all of its thoroughbreds on that team. It makes no sense. These guys come from small programs and refuse to adapt their coaching styles when they actually have talent. UCLA will have to luck into a title with this coaching style.

  18. 52BigGameJames says:

    like that?

  19. william says:

    LIFELESS
    That’s the best way to describe Washington State’s performance Thursday. The Cougars appeared completely overwhelmed by Carolina’s talent and depth and were sans emotion on the court and on the sidelines all night.

    Said guard Taylor Rochestie: “That’s what makes North Carolina so dynamic. They sub like a hockey team. They’re always bringing in new guys and there’s absolutely no drop off.”

    http://www.fayobserver.com/article?id=289863

  20. william says:

    I am going to write something up but what Pomeroy is missing is third grade math. His system says that winning a game 40-35 is the same as winning a game 80-70, as long as the possessions are halved.

    It is not. In the second, example the team has a lead of over 3 possessions. In the first, the team has a lead of under two possessions,even though the points per possessions are equal. Would you rather lead, 80-70 with 2 minutes to go, James, THF, or would you rather lead 40-35?

  21. william says:

    Tennesse Fans Not Sure Whether They Want to Face UNC or Washington State

    Thursday, March 27, 8:25 p.m.
    North Carolina has been very impressive in taking a 35-21 lead over Washington State in the first game here in Charlotte. They’ve done it with virtually no help from Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough.

    There was some discussion among Tennessee fans that they’d rather play Carolina than Washington State because of the Cougars defense and slower pace of play. I think this is one of those “be careful what you wish for” things. I’m not sure if Washington State is just off…or if Carolina is that good, but the Tar Heels look pretty impressive.

    http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=56050&provider=top

  22. C. Michael says:

    Maybe UT fans should have been worrying about playing the U of L!! 😉

  23. keithunc says:

    to 52BGJ

    I cant believe the comment “agreed” to the comment that Kansas AND Louisville can beat us. 😉

    I am worried about Kansas as well. all I know about them is the Rush kid and it looks like they have 7 scores on their team. Anyone have the scoop on them.

    Don’t get me wrong I LOVE our team. But I love our team every year. Its like Christmas morning every day I wake up and the Heels are playing.

  24. keithunc says:

    Oh, yeah. Old news but just found this site recently. Did you see that on tournament perdiction show on Espn that Hubert Davis didn’t pick us to win. Dumbfounded I was. (My best Yoda)

  25. keithunc says:

    On Kansas, gee wiz info this year they beat BC 85-60 and GT 71-66. We beat BC 90-80/91-69 and beat GT 82-83. Oh well guess I’m looking ahead to much.

  26. C. Michael says:

    I think Hubert and Bilas sometimes try TOO hard to to avoid appearing biased by their respective alumni status, though it is obvious that Hubert still bleeds UNC blue… and I’m starting to think Bilas might actually, too… 😉

  27. 52BigGameJames says:

    Kansas better not be looking ahead-Nova is sneaky-good…for that matter, nobody should at this point. My upsets picks for today–MSU over Memphis, Stanford over Texas.

  28. Tar Heel Fan says:

    I will probably end up being proven wrong on this but for some reason I had a sneaking feeling that Xavier is going to upend UCLA. I have not seen enough of Xavier to know what the matchups will be like but UCLA seems like they are playing with fire(reminds me of Arizona in 1998) and Xavier for some reason strikes me as a team that like Marquette in 2003 is going to get to the Final Four. Remember they hung with Duke down to the wire in 2004 but had no answer for Deng.

  29. 52BigGameJames says:

    how did I leave that one out? totally agree THF–if Duncan can stay out of foul trouble, I like Xavier’s chances. It will be great to see Love get tested by a stud like Duncan. I never liked Miller as a player, but I think he’s an outstanding coach.

  30. Displaced Heel says:

    I live in Wichita and am married to a Jayhawk, and I can tell you that I am scared of Kansas. They have nearly as many weapons as we do; Sacha Kaun is scary with how big he is and how unscared he is (and he doesn’t start); Rush is really good when he is on, but you never know when he is going to be on; Sherrod Collins and Ty Lawson are nearly identical point guards; and Russell Robinson is like Jawad Williams–doing anything that needs to be done, and mostly doing it very, very well; Darrell Arthur plays like no one we have on the TarHeel team. With the exception of Kaun, we have a slight advantage in the quality of our bench, if not the depth. However, the Kansas bench is very good, too. Besides all the matchups, they tend to play the same style of ball that Roy coached when he was here. This is a team to be really scared of.

    Our biggest advantage is the guy sitting on the sidelines. Thank God in Heaven we got him back. Not that Bill Self isn’t a good coach; he is. But he didn’t learn from the Master.

    If we win this game, I stand to lose a few friends, and it will be a very chilly house for a couple weeks for me. Still and all, GO HEELS!

    Misplaced Heel

  31. Josh Bowling says:

    Right on. KU & Louisville are the best teams left, and hopefully we are fortunate enough to beat both of them. I definately am convinced that we are good enough to do so. If we win this damn thing, it will be a victory not only over the teams, but the sports media as well. They think we’re Loyola Marymount, and all we need to see is a team that can change pace or play our pace, play defense, and we lose. No matter what, it is always a brick wall that Carolina will have to face. I would like to hear for once why it will be nearly impossible to beat US! I do want to say that I thought UNC and Louisville got the benefit of the officiating crews in their respective games. Both teams were allowed to play physical defense, and some fouls were ignored. I would have rather not had that, and the game be closer. This game didn’t give us a chance to accurately gauge where we’re at. Although, it didn’t for our next opponent either. So I guess it could be considered a wash. I seem to think we will win this game coming up, and you all know that is coming from one of UNC’s most critical fans. JB

  32. Dr. Seuss says:

    Displaced Heel,

    Perhaps you have been displaced a little too long. I appreciate your respect for the Jayhawks, I too feel they are one of the best three teams in the tourney. However, I would not go so far as to say they “scare” me. I think (and have for a while) that Louisville posses the biggest threat to this Carolina team. I think it will be our toughest matchup, with Kansas a close second. But what the Heels have done thus far has been VERY impressive. It seems funny to me that prior to all of our games our opponents are touted for their accomplishments (Ark. beating Tenn and Vandi in the SE tournament, etc.) and then after we completely dismantle them, it is said that they must not have been a very good team to begin with, or that they must have had an off game, or some other disclaimer that mitigates our team’s play. Let’s get something straight, this Carolina team is VERY VERY GOOD! Yes they can be beat, but the teams that CAN beat them will have to be on and the Heels will have to be off (something that has yet to happen as of late).

    As balanced as Kansas is, tell me where the Heels are not. Oh, and let me just go on record for saying that Sherrod Collins is a very good point guard, but in NO WAY is he even close to the talent of Ty Lawson. Ty Lawson is an enigma; I honestly feel that his particular skill set makes him THE most difficult point guard to contain that I have ever seen. (Maybe with the exception of P.F., but I was only six when I watched him play and got his autograph and therefore can’t fairly compare the two). But anyway, so with Lawson at point, NOP Hansbrough, D.Thompson, and A.Steveson in the post, and Ellington, Green, and Graves on the wing, (not to mention T.L and Q.T’s abiltiy to hit an open 3) and a very underrated defense led by Marcus Ginyard, all under the guidance of Coach Roy, who should we be afraid of? If U of L plays like they did against that overrated TENN team, UNC will hang 45 on ’em before the half.

    If they beat Arkansas, WSU, and LOU. (who is Kansas playing again, oh yeah an number 12 seed) then they will have weathered a much tougher road to the San Antonio than has Kansas. If they were playing LOU and Kansas in the same weekend that might pose a problem. But these Heels will have been very well tested, and so far have passed with flying colors (namely Carolina Blue). And I feel that the sting of the loss to G’Town last year is sufficient to keep this team focused (which the lack there of is really the only thing that I could possibly see stopping them) and man do they look focused and like they are truly a team on a mission. But ad in all the garbage that the Kansas fans talk about Roy, and there is no way under God’s Carolina Blue sky, that I can see NOP Tyler Hansbrough letting Coach Roy and the Heels take a loss to Kansas if that situation were to arise.

    Respectful of these other teams yes. But afraid, hell no!

    GO HEELS!

  33. Josh Bowling says:

    Nice Monolouge, Dr. Seuss. Bottle up that optimism and you can make a living in Chapel Hill.

  34. Dr. Seuss says:

    In case the point (pun intended) got lost within the rest of my previous post, I just want to reiterate that (again with the possible exception of Phil Ford):

    TY Laswon’s skill set makes him THE MOST DIFFICULT POINT GUARD TO CONTAIN THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN. in my 30 years of watching college basketball.

  35. Dr. Seuss says:

    Optimism or realism? Tell me where my reasoning or analysis is flawed? Do you think that if LOU turns the ball over 24 times in the first half against Carolina like they did against TEN then we just might be on our way to 3rd 100 pt. game in this years tourney? Don’t get me wrong, I’m very critical of the Heels when I think they are deserving, I wasn’t even willing to T.H. his due, until after a handful of games into this season. I just think right now, this whole team looks very balanced, poised, talented and focused. What may I ask is missing?

  36. william says:

    Kansas really does not play the same type of ball that Carolina does. They used to, until 2004, but they do not anymore. Bill Self brough in a different system, often utilizing the hi-lo set, and they play much slower than Carolina does. Kansas is ranked 110 in adjusted tempo and Carolina is ranked 8th.

    Back when Roy coached Kansas, they did play almost identically to UNC and in the couple of match-ups the Heels had under Dean Smith, a player remarked that playing Kansas was almost like an intra-squad scrimmage, except that Kansas maybe runs our stuff even better than we do! When I read that quote and I don’t remember where, so maybe it is apochryphal–I knew that Roy Williams had something really special about him.

  37. Josh Bowling says:

    Dr. Seuss, I totally agree with you. I have been a big critic of UNC, as well as a big fan. I have no reason to believe that we will not jump on them if they are going to be turnover prone. We may do it anyway. I realize they are a good team, and in recent history, have been good in the second half of the season. But so have we. I don’t think we are going to suffer any collapse just yet. Both teams will bring good ball to the table. I am just convinced that we are too talented and too physically gifted for anyone but a Kansas to be able to stop us, and for us not to be able to stop them. Listen UP MEDIA!!! Just in case you haven’t noticed yet, WE ARE NOT LOYOLA MARYMOUNT!! We have played all types of games against various teams with different/contrasting styles and win each type of game.

  38. C. Michael says:

    Dr. Seuss,

    I agree completely with your statement regarding Ty. In my mind the only comparable is Allen Iverson. Iverson is longer, which made him a better off-ball defender, but Lawson combination of speed and strength is completely unique.

  39. Tar Heel Fan says:

    Did you see the play he made on the WSU one-on-one last night? WSU player comes down with Lawson between him and the basket and Lawson waits then swipes at the ball causing a slight loss of control and more importantly tossing the guy out of sync as he heads to the hoop to the point he flings it up harmlessly off the backboard.

  40. Displaced Heel says:

    Dr. Suess, etc.,

    Please don’t misunderstand me: I believe that Carolina can beat Kansas. Someone in an earlier post commented that they had not seen much of Kansas, and asked for some input. I just called it as I saw it.

    I also agree that Ty Lawson was a better player than Collins before his injury, and again in the last couple games, he has been. However, I have watched every KU game this year, and every Carolina game that has been televised here in Wichita, and I think they will match up very, very well.

    I also agree that we are more prepared than KU, and that losing to Georgetown last year will help us immensely. I am simply saying that KU is a very good team–better than any other team in the ACC except us. Better than any team I have watched us play. I don’t know a whole lot about Louisville–I haven’t seen a lot of them this year. I know we can win against KU, and Louisville too, for that matter, but we have to bring our A game, and unless something happens (like an injury), KU will keep us on our toes.

    And you’re right, I have been displaced for way too many years.

    Displaced Heel

  41. Dr. Seuss says:

    No worries DH. I’m sure if there is a Kansas alum living somewhere along Tobacco Road they are getting saturated with the partisan locals talking up how great and talented this Carolina team is. I was just making sure that the daily barrage of Jayhawk hype that you are bound to be getting everyday (or probably every hour at this point) has not skewed your perspective so much that aren’t fully aware of how talented our squad is this year.

    I sincerely think that Kansas is the second best team in the tourney, with of U of L third (at least the way they are playing right now). But I just think that Pitino’s multiple defensive looks, with all their zones and presses, etc., is apt to give us more trouble than anything Kansas will show defensively. With Kansas, our guys aren’t necessarily going to have to solve any intricate defensive schemes in order to get the W. With Kansas it’s going to be more about whether our talent can out play their talent on that particular night. With all the size they can bring off the bench they could certainly make things difficult for NPOY TH, and if Rush keeps hitting like he has from the perimeter, they will definitely be a tuff out. They looked good early tonight against #12 seed Villanova, but I still haven’t seen a team that I feel has been more impressive than the Heels.

    If a matchup with KU does actually materialize, I think the success of our offense is going to be highly dependent on our perimeter game and the production from the 4 spot. If we can produce consistently from those two areas, I think the Jayhawks would have a very difficult time keeping pace. But all this is mute of course if we don’t get by Louisville tomorrow. I’m not excessively concerned given that we are probably more talented at just about every position (which I think will eventually determine the outcome of that one) but I know better than to underestimate RP’s ability to put together one helluva a game plan. It will not at all surprise me if U of L holds the lead for a good portion of the first half, until we can get a feel for what they are doing defensively; although I am hoping we‘ve gotten it back by the half. Should be a good one. I guess we will all find out tomorrow night ehh?

    And to all a good night…

  42. Dr. Seuss says:

    Uh, make that a moot point

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