Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
Just when it seemed the Heels had maybe turned a corner, UNC continued to struggle away from home against a quality opponent
Well, dear readers, as the Carolina contingent of our little corner of the blog-o-sphere was unable to execute a game write-up it fell to little old me to volunteer to do one.
Imagine my profound lack of distress as I watched the seconds tick away on yet another lackluster road performance by the Heels, knowing that I would have to compose a post-mortem on this most exquisite of corpses.
Fortunately (since it is late) there isn't a great deal to say about the manner of this game that will enlighten anyone who has watched Carolina play against adequate competition this year.
1) Carolina is a bad defensive team. Ol' Roy doesn't so much coach ‘em up on defense as merely hopes really, really hard that at least 3 out of 5 of his guys will decide to communicate and effort on that end of the floor. Last year he had Henson (the human shot eraser, an apropos metaphor given his ectomorphic frame), Strickland (a very good on ball defender) and Bullock (also good). Zeller was just average, Barnes was lazily inconsistent and Marshall couldn't have stayed in front of Betty White. That's three out of six, which, though it doesn't sound like much, is actually enough on a team with that much firepower ( Roy CAN coach offense, after all) to make a run at a Championship. On this year's team, outside of Bullock and Strickland, there is noooooobody playing competent defense. There is simply no defensive cohesion or communication. Add to that the fact that Bullock and Strickland are responsible for shouldering a greater portion of the offensive load (let's face it, when you play with 4 first round draft picks, all of whom can score 20 points in a game, it makes it a lot easier to focus on D) and the collective defense gets even worse. The number of times UVA offensive prodigies like Jontel Evans and Paul Jesperson were able to get to the rim unmolested in the second half, or household names like Evan Nolte were able to get looks at 3 with acres of space in front of them, was truly remarkable. Sixty-one may not sound like a lot of points to give up, and I suppose it isn't even if it is UVA, but the way the Cavs were allowed to score was just feeble and feckless on UNC's part.
2) Reggie Bullock was really good and James Michael McAdoo was disappointing. Frankly, you could extend that statement to cover the whole year. Bullock hustled, played good D and carried the Heels down the stretch (7 of their last 9 points I believe). JMM turned the ball over 4 times in the first half, ended with a pedestrian 10 and 7 and was nowhere to be found on the defensive end. He MUST play well ( if not dominantly) in UNC's half court offense in order for them to win games. UNC struggled at times in the half-court last year even with all of that NBA talent, and this year's team ain't filled with NBA talent. This team can run and shoot and that's about it. UVA took away the running part ( as they always do) and was able to take away the 3-point line since they didn't have to respect UNC's post game. Badda-bing badda-boom.
3) Hairston, Strickland and McDonald went a combined 5-19 with 5 rebounds and 5 assists.That is frankly, unacceptable if you are a UNC fan. There's just no other way to say it. Paige, who had a horrible line also, gets a pass as a frosh in his first away ACC game.
4) UNC is not short on talent. Compared to last year, yes, but in general, no. What they are short on is discipline. That is to be expected from a team this young, but what we have seen glimpses of (especially on the defensive side) is a little appalling nonetheless. The UNLV win came about largely because the Rebels (who are not short on talent themselves) actually proved to be an even less disciplined team than the Tar Heels. Carolina is going to continue to have trouble with well-disciplined teams going forward and their own lack of discipline will continue to be a major problem for them away from the friendly confines of the Dean Dome.