UNC won a nail biter on Monday at Carmichael Auditorium against the UConn Huskies, 82-76. I attended the game out of my “journalistic obligations”, and in addition to losing my voice, I made some observations:
- UConn’s defense is opportunistic–perhaps a little too opportunistic.Uconn’s agressive play is the reason they were able to be competitive in this game, as they recorded 14 steals. At the same time, it was Ketia Swanier trying to get one steal too many that left Ivory Latta wide open for the game winning three-pointer. But I don’t blame Swanier for going after that ball. You live by the sword, and you die by the sword. Forcing turnovers is what’s going to carry the Huskies deep into March.
- Don’t let the game winning shot fool you, UNC won this game in spite of Ivory Latta. Prior to that big shot, Latta had 9 points on 3-12 shooting, 8 of UNC’s 26 turnovers and only one assist in 37 minutes. She didn’t seem to take control of the game in the second half, as the Heels allowed the Huskies to come back from 14 points down. Actually now that I think, she may not have made much of a difference even if she was playing her A game. And do you know why?
- This game was won and lost in the paint. Fans of the trifecta probably had to close their eyes for this game. This game was not fought in the perimeter by Latta vs. Swanier, but by Erlana Larkins vs. Tina Charles, Latoya Pringle vs. Brittany Hunter, and Camille Little vs. Kalana Greene. Hunter was UConn’s enforcer, getting her nose in every play on the inside, and ultimately getting 10 points and leading her team with 9 rebounds. Greene led all scorers with 23 points, all inside the 3-point line. Larkins and Charles both got into foul trouble, but Larkins ended up winning this battle, recording 15 points and 16 rebounds. That last stat is important because after Latta hit the three, Larkins made sure that UConn was given no second second chances. And Latoya Pringle was the driving force of the offense, scoring 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting. I would make a joke about her performance pertaining to a certain snack that sounds like her surname, but their catch phrase “Once You Pop, the Fun Don’t Stop” is long winded and wouldn’t be funny in this context. So I’m going to pretend that her middle name is “Lucky Charms” and say that her performance on Monday was magically delicious.
- UNC won because of Carmichael Auditorium. The place was insane Monday night. The crowd was very loud (louder than the Dean Dome), especially at the late stage of the game. The roar after Latta hit the game winning three was almost seismic. What may have been an even bigger factor was that the stadium was very, very hot. The kind of heat and humidity that you find in a North Carolina summer, one that really drags you down. Perhaps it played some in keeping the Huskies out of their element, their air-conditioned confines in Storrs. Apparently 1,200 seats were vacant on Monday, but you wouldn’t know that from watching the game. Still, this is one of the three most important home games of the year, we’re facing a perennial powerhouse, we’re undefeated, and it’s Ivory Latta’s last big nonconference game at home. How are there vacant seats? It simply boggles the mind.
- Random Thought: Rashanda McCants looks freakishly like her brother, Rashad. Seriously, look at the two photos! (Keep in mind that they have a 3 year age difference.) She looks as though Rashad was dressed as a girl! Alas, if she played well enough she might be accused of being Rashad in costume, a la Juwanna Mann.
UNC plays ACC opponents Georgia Tech and NC State at home before a huge game against the Terps in College Park on Sunday, January 28th. You can guarantee I’ll be covering that game. Tonight I will live blog UNC Men vs. Clemson, so stay tuned.