Today UNC plays their first ACC outside of the friendly confines of the Dean Dome. They open the ACC road schedule against the Virginia Tech Hokies (12-4, 2-0 ACC). They have been an enigmatic team. While having beaten Duke at perhaps the toughest place to play in the nation, they also have a few bad road losses (Western Michigan, Marshall). The Hokies are led by a very experienced lineup, including three seniors and a junior in the starting five. Like the Tar Heels, the Hokies are deep, as nine players have played at least 12.7 minutes per game. The team is also deceptively tall. Even though four guards are listed in the starting lineup, not a single is shorter than 6’3″, and three 6’9″ forwards get regular PT. Their experienced guardplay and depth means that VT will not be intimidated by UNC.
Attention UNC: Watch out for this guy.
3:45 pm: UNC starts emphatically as Terry takes the tipoff and slams it in. Lawson almost gets another basket off the steal but a travel is called.
3:46 pm: It looks like UNC is simultaneously playing man and zone; I’m guessing a loose man defense. I don’t think I like it.
3:47 pm: Hansbrough gets two quick buckets (including a three point play) and helps give UNC an 9-6 lead.
3:48 pm: UNC is allowing the Hokies to drive the lane to easily; this can’t happen too long if UNC expects to win comfortably.
Terry is playing well today so far.
3:49 pm: 14-9, UNC. The two teams excange threes, and Deon Thompson takes advantage of some early playing time.
3:51 pm: 17-9, UNC. Lawson hits a three in transition to extend the lead force a timeout. Terry is playing really well so far on both sides of the ball.
3:55 pm: CLEMSON WATCH: Clemson is down 84-75 against Maryland with three and a half minutes to go.
3:56 pm: 17-11 UNC. Frasor, Ginyard, and Stepheson are in the game. So far the fist team has played much better. UNC needs to seal up the defensive lane.
3:58 pm: 19-13. Stephenson gets his first basket in transition.
UNC is playing extremely well on the offensive boards.
3:59 pm: Virginia Tech’s stadium is surprisingly loud. Not Cameron loud, but not Wade Stadium quiet either.
4:01 pm: 21-20, UNC. Suddenly the Heels are cold on the paint and playing bad defense.
4:02 pm: 23-21, VT. The Hokies hit a three to take the lead. Terry forces a bad shot. What the f— happened to the UNC team in the first five minutes of the game? We need Lawson or Q at point; Frasor is not working right now.
4:05 pm: ABC is advertising its new series “In Case of Emergency” starring Jane Seymour and David Arquette. Say it with me: network TV sucks. I haven’t watched a network TV series in 3 years.
4:07 pm: 25-21, VT. Another bad start for the Tar Heels. I don’t want to panic; this team has recovered from deficits before. But you have got to stop playing with my emotions, Roy! Besides, this one’s on the road, there’s no home crowd to lean on.
4:09 pm: 26-21, VT. Brendan Wright has got to fix his free throw shooting. Seriously, his Field Goal percentage is better than his Free Throw percentage by about 10 points.
4:11 pm: 30-25, VT. Q’s in the game, but we’re still allowing penetration. Hansbrough and Wright end the scoring drought.
CLEMSON WATCH: The Tigers lose to Maryland, meaning there are no more unbeatens.
4:16 pm: 34-27, VT. UNC is really struggling defensively. This game has thus far been played in the paint.
4:17 pm: 40-32, VT. Just as I say that, Wes hits a three and the Hokies hit two threes. They are determined to render my analysis idiotic.
4:18 pm: 40-34, VT. Free throw shooting aside, Hansbrough and Wright are the only reason we’re still in this game. We can’t allow Virginia Tech to run their offense at will. What’s worse is that they seems to beating us our own game, running the transition.
4:22 pm: 40-36, VT. Brendan Wright is having a much better game than he did against Virginia; I’ve even been surprised by his defensive presence. It’s just too bad our guards are sucking so badly right now.
I have been quite shocked by the lack of bizarre ads so far.
4:24 pm: 43-36 VT. Steve Lavin just called Bobby Frasor Brendan Fraser. THat’s OK, we probably need someone to save us from undead mummies. Namely, our backcourt.
4:27 pm: 47-36, VT. Hansbrough has been surprisingly quiet in the last 10 minutes or so. VT’s backcourt is having a great day.
4:30 pm: The game hits halftime: VT 47, UNC 37. Roy walked off the court with his head down. I haven’t seen him this pissed in a while.
I am officially convinced that we are losing because 1) I didn’t write a preview and 2) every time Coach K loses he prays for UNC to lose as well. Nothing against the Hokies: i think they are a great team. I’m just saying that there are other forces at play.
I’m seriously sick of eBay’s It commercials. Meg Whitman seriously needs a new ad agency.
4:38 pm: Today’s basketball broadcast on ABC is presented by KFC. Don’t you find that funny in an ironic and very politically incorrect way?
4:47 pm: The second half is about to start. Our guards have been outscored 35-7 in the first half; this half to be changed if we want to make a comeback.
4:49 pm: 49-37, VT. Frasor and Terry are now injured. This is bad because our bench has been insanely cold, with the exception of Thompson.
4:50 pm: 49-40, VT. Wayne Ellington finally gets a three-the old fashioned way.
Believe it or not, I’m not very mad about this game. ON the one hand, I always hate to see the Heels struggling. On the other hand, this team really needed a wake up game to remind them that no game is a cakewalk.
4:53 pm: 51-40, VT. Dowdell injures his ankle on the offensive end. This might help the Heels get back in it.
Q is back in the game. We’re too dependent on the inside right now.
4:56 pm: 53-40 VT. The defense continues to let the Hokies run right through it.
5:04 pm: 57-40, VT. This game is like that scene in “A Clockwork Orange”. I really, REALLY don’t want to watch, but my journalistic obligations force me to. Such obligations at as a steel head brace, keeping me watching even thought it’s gotten really ugly.
5:07 pm: The NCAA wants to distance itself from gambling as much as possible. So why is there an ad on the side of the court for the Virginia Lottery?
By the way, VT now leads 66-44. We have been outscored 19-7 in the second half, and 57-27 since we hit our highest lead.
5:11 pm: NFL PLAYOFF WATCH: Indy 6, Baltimore 0, divisional round.
5:12 pm: I was expecting this game to be a tough game, but Holy S—! What the f— happened to the UNC team I’ve come to know and love? Oh, that’s right, they only play like that in Chapel Hill.
5:17 pm: Hansbrough scores his first points of the game. It’s now 72-51, VT. Again, UNC is being beaten at its own transition game
5:21 pm: You know things are getting really bad when the announcers are discussing a completely different that has nothing to do with the game.
5:30 pm: 77-58, VT. I just took a look at Roy’s face. He’s aged 2 years in 2 hours. Just now in the second half he’s been developing jowls.
5:35 pm: 80-61, VT. I have to give credit where credit is due: Virgins Tech’s defense has not allowed North Carolina a single easy shot all day.
Danny Green throws up our third air ball tonight. Uhhhhhhg-leee.
5:38 pm: Finally! A bizarre ad: Bouncy floors.
The grossest sounding word that has nothing to do with grossness: Prognostication.
5:40 pm: 83-64, VT. Nothing against the guy, but you know UNC is in trouble when their best performing bench player is Wes Miller.
5:49 pm: 85-77, VT. UNC is mounting a comeback. It might be too little, too late, but you never know.
The reason they’re coming back is because they have completely let go of inner tension and just played.
5:53 pm: 87-80, VT. UNC is making Hokie fans sweat with 1 minute left as Hansbrough dunks to put it within 7, but Ginyard fouls out.
5:54 pm: 89-83, VT. After Vasallo hits two free throws, Ellington finally hits a three to cut the lead to six. This is unbelievable. Where was this team for 30 minutes?
5:55 pm: 89-85, VT. UNC steals the ball, and Ty Lawson gets a layup. Where has HE been for 30 minutes?
5:57 pm: 91-88, VT. OH THANK YOU JESUS! Psycho T gets the rebound, Lawson get the layup AND the foul! the lead is now 3. Keep in mind the lead was 20 only four and a half minutes ago.
5:58 pm: 92-88, VT. Well, I should have seen this coming a mile away. When the Heels need a three the most they pass the ball to Danny Green, a defensive specialist, he clanks it, the Hokies get the rebounds with five seconds left. It’s pretty much over at this point. But right now, I have to give the Heels a standing ovation for such a valiant comeback. ON the other hand, I have to ask them, why weren’t they playing like this before? My opinion is a some point everyone decided, “screw the gameplan, let’s just play.” I think it loosened them up, not adhering to a system, and VT was not prepared for it. Still, I wish that they had decided on it a little sooner, when the game was more within reach. Still it would have been awesome if UNC had completed the comeback, even if they ended up losing. It would have been an instant classic.
6:00 pm: FINAL SCORE: Virginia Tech 94, North Carolina 88.