First, a little hat tip to our former President who made that headline possible:
And that’s about how I felt watching the Baby Heels take on Virginia Tech last night. Even though the Heels really played tough in the first half, got some unexpected contributions off the bench and even took a lead into the locker room, I had let my guard down with this team too many times thinking they had turned a corner, and I remained a little concerned. Not to say I wasn’t rooting for this team to win, but judging by a lot of people’s reactions on twitter last night, a lot of UNC fans feel similarly burned and unable to trust this team to gut out a win, which they couldn’t quite do, falling to the Hokies 74-70.
In the end, a lot of the same things that UNC has struggled with all year doomed the Heels: turnovers, an offense that is capable of stagnating for large stretches of time, the lack of a consistent three-point threat, and a mysterious inability to finish around the rim. If you’re searching for upside, clearly the 14 and 12 the Heels got from Henson and David Wear, respectively, were nice, as was Ed Davis with 15 pts and 7 boards, shooting a hey-not-bad 7-11 from the line. Now if they could just get everyone to show up at the same time we’d be golden - regulars who underwhelemed included Marcus Ginyard, whose nice start was negated by some UGLY looking bricks in the second half, and Will Graves, who shot just 1-7 and unfortunately had the shot to bring the Heels within 1 late rim out, but while he made a decent shot out of it, was that really the best look we could have gotten coming out of a timeout with less than 30 seconds left in a game? Larry Drew II also remains a bit of an enigma, having a fantastic-looking first half that consisted of pump-faking a three, getting VT’s over-eager defenders to bite, then driving the lane and getting either one or two help defenders to overcommit and handing the ball off for a dunk. Once VT Calmed down just a bit in the second half and stopped overpursuing, Drew looked like he didn’t know what to do with the ball once he penetrated, and seemed resigned not to shoot the ball. If he wants to be really effective Drew has got to start developing that mid-range Cota floater or some kind of offensive option that leaves defenders actually wondering whether or not he will shoot or pass.
The most frustrating part of the loss for me was Carolina’s inability to take advantage of the serious foul trouble that the Hokies found themselves in, as five different VT players finished with 4 fouls but not a single one fouled out. That could possibly be owed to the fact that UNC didn’t have anyone on the floor who was good enough to go one-on-one and draw a foul, as Dexter Strickland sat most of the second half after catching an elbow to the head and apparently being hazy on the bench.
In the end it’s another disappointing loss and another case of UNC being exposed by a team that was a little tougher and a little more clutch. I’m honestly not sure about the mathmatical realities of it but at this point it may be that our only chance of making the NCAAs is through the ACC tournament, in which case I wish Roy would give the freshmen a little more burn down the stretch, but it’s hard to imagine that happening. This loss was a little disheartening but not nearly as much as the beatdowns by UVa and Wake, as the Heels did show some grit in falling behind early but fighting back. At this point it feels like grasping at straws but at least there were some positives to take away from the game. Hard to believe that’s what it has come to.