Oh puns, aren’t they hilarious? At this point I feel as though this season of UNC basketball is even sucking the creativity from my body, judging by headlines like the one above. Even for those who didn’t watch this game, they could probably guess the trends just judging by the final score: turnovers, bad defense, stagnant offense punctuated by a long scoring drought at some point in the game, and boom - the Terps score a 92-71 blowout of the Heels, the worst loss in the Roy Williams era at Carolina.
The thing is, I’m not sure if I, like a lot of Carolina fans, am in a state of denial at this point, but this game felt so much closer than a 21-point loss, which is probably because the Heels actually rallied at several points to quiet the riotous Maryland crowd and pull within a couple of buckets. At one point in the second half Gary Williams was actually the coach calling a timeout to try and calm his team down as Carolina had pulled to within four at 54-58. Then, it became an emblematic stretch for both teams as this happened:
- Carolina’s next nine posessions: four turnovers, three missed shots, two points (on FTs), two fouls committed.
- Maryland’s next nine posessions: zero turnovers, 7-10 shooting, 14 points (including a dunk and two 3s), one foul committed.
And while Greivis Vasquez had another huge game against the Heels, his name was especially imprinted on that sequence, with three assists, a transition three (and a second one he missed), an easy lay-up, a steal and a defensive rebound.
What the Heels wouldn’t give for a guy who could step up for them like that right now. In another case of “someone playing better, someone playing worse” for UNC, Marcus Ginyard looked more confident in his shot as he notched 17 points, but as Tar Heel Fan noted, it took him 13 shots to get there. Larry Drew, however, couldn’t even get a single attempt to drop as he had his worst game in Carolina blue, going 0-6 from the field, missing both free throws he took, and committing four turnovers to go with his five assists. The kid is leaving his feet far, far too many times without knowing where he wants to go with the ball and while he seems to be able to beat one man off the dribble on a semi-regular basis now, I would wager a guess that half of his turnovers or more occur after that point as a result of his indecisiveness.
So we find ourselves in the unenviable situation of asking not what the ceiling for this team is, but where the basement lies. Having just endured another three-game losing stretch, the team now has to face it’s biggest rival on Wednesday with one of the school’s biggest icons in house to have his jersey retired. It’ll already be an emotional night in Chapel Hill either way - here’s hoping the Heels can find a way not to get kicked even harder while we’re down.