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UNC vs. UVA: A Day Later, Still Shell-Shocked

Photo by Kevin Seifert/InsideCarolina.comAlright, so I put it off until the following morning to write a post about the 75-60 drubbing that Carolina faced at the hands of the (do I have to write it?) Virginia Cavaliers last night because in all honestly, it doesn’t feel that there’s much left to be said about this team at this point. (Though, for the record, I will continue finding things to say throughout the season and beyond.) Whether it’s a lack of effort, lapses in concentration, nagging injuries, or whatever other excuses and explanations are getting floated out there, this team has now transformed itself from “frustrating to watch” into “kicking its fans in the crotch on a regular basis.”

Rather than a return to form, the NC State game now feels like an aberration (and probably an upset, in all honesty). While most fans hoped the Heels were looking like a top-25 squad once again, the team we’re more familiar with watching showed up against UVa, and it looks like a team that’s regressing on both ends of the court. The statistics hit you like body punches: no single one is enough to say “Oh, that’s where the game was lost!” Rather, they each just do enough damange to make you double over in pain.

UVa shot 52% from the field, to UNC’s 35.7%. (Ow.) UNC had 17 turnovers to just 11 assists. (Oof!) UNC’s vaunted secondary break offense produced just 4 fast break points. (It hurts!). The Cavs outscored the Heels’ vaunted font line with a points-in-the-paint advantage of 30-16. (PLEASE MAKE IT STOP!)

In the end, all the talk in the postgame press conference and locker room was about effort, and that makes it difficult to single anybody out, but I will take the leap of death for a UNC supporter and suggest that Roy Williams needs to step up his game. He admitted as much in his post-game comments, saying that he’s got to figure out a way to motivate his kids and get them to step their focus up. His supporters will be quick to blame the players instead, that surely it can’t be the fault of a coach to get a team mentally ready for a game, that these kids should be bursting with the energy of a rabid Tyler Hansbrough every game, but this is a wounded bunch of 19-year-old kids right now playing with no swagger or confidence.

Moreso than the general mental malaise surrounding this team (which will always be unmeasurable and can be blamed equally on the coach and players), I am specifically calling on Williams to fix the offense. The biggest difference I can see between the Heels and just about every other team this year is that UNC has no discernable OBJECTIVE on offense. There seems to be no plan. You can harp all you want on players not hitting shots, but when there is no flow to the offense it’s hard for those step-back threes to start falling. If this team isn’t sharp enough to run the secondary break effectively, they need to be given some bullet points at the very least with things like:

  • Big guys, post up on the block, working side to side. Guards, try a bounce entry pass, not a lob.
  • If one of our guys in the post gets doubled, cut to the basket.
  • If someone guarding you on the perimeter is overpursuing looking for steals, trying cutting backdoor on him.

These are basketball fundamentals that UNC is seriously lacking game after game and I am positive they know what it looks like to execute these pieces well because teams have been cutting and backdooring (is that even a verb?) this Heels squad to death all year.

In the end, everything I just wrote is probably just meaningless drivel (What, I read to the end for that conclusion??). I’m flailing at specifics, throwing out generalizations and hoping that something will magically turn around a season that is pretty much resigned to an NIT appearance at this point. It’s been a painful year - let’s keep trudging through it searching for answers together. Maybe someone will find one eventually.