On Tuesday I was at the Dean Dome for what I expected to be a beatdown to avenge our 94-88 loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech is an excellent team, as proved by their 7-3 record in the ACC, most notably at home against the Tar Heels and at Cameron Indoor against the Dookies in January (you know, back when everyone still thought Duke was good), but UNC may be the most talented (if perhaps not the best) team in the nation. Surely, I thought, the talent of Virginia Tech would not be underestimated this time. Surely, I thought, Roy was prepared this time for Seth Greenberg’s subterfuge. Surely, I thought, holding Va. Tech to under 40% FG shooting would be enough for our offense. Surely, I thought, All-ACC candidate Zabian Dowdell wasn’t going to get 19 free chances at points (which MUST be some sort of Dean Dome record). Give huge credit to the Hokies, but I came away disappointed in how the Heels played, especially in the final minutes. Let’s move on to the analysis.
Pace of the Game:
UNC was fairly successful in getting the ball from the defensive side of the court to the offensive side quickly, but they had difficulty passing the ball well once they got there. In particular, the Heels frontcourt were rarely able to receive the ball in favorable situations. Lawson and Ellington shot 27 field goals compared to 17 for Hansbrough and Wright, who are normally the focal point of our offense. Psycho T may have had 22 points, but only 8 of them were from field goals, and of his 10 field goal attemts, only 6 of them were in the paint. It shocked me that with the game on the line and two Hokie players with four fouls, Wright was on the bench, UNC was playing 3 guards, and Ellington and Lawson were chucking up shots instead of feeding the ball inside.
Coaching: The North Carolina Tar Heels have by far the best fronycourt in the ACC, and likely the second best frontcourt in the NCAA (as of now, Florida has the best). UNC has three offensive possessions in the final two minutes of regulation. Does Tyler Hansbrough take a shot? No. Does Brandan Wright take a shot? No. Do Rayshawn Terry, Ty Lawson or Wayne Ellington attack the rim? No, no, and hell no! Out of those three possesssions, the best the Heels could muster were three missed 3-point attempts, two by Lawson and 1 by Ellington. Of our 10 final shots in regulation, 7 were 3-pointers (all missed) and 3 were 2-pointers (all made). Obviously this is bad execution, but blame has to be put on the coach for this one. The ball should have been in the big guys’ hands without exception. Roy even said it himself after the game.”I did absolutely the worst job I’ve ever done in my entire life. It was just one awful, awful job of coaching by me – that’s the bottom line of the whole thing,” coach said after trying to make a statement by defacating on the court (picture below) but realizing he hadn’t taken his fiber that day, frustrating him further.Note the look on Steve Robinson’s face.
Coach Roy is normally a very good coach, but his big weakness is that he is unable to make substantial change to his gameplan over the course of the game. Seth Greenberg knew this, and changed the way he played significantly from their last encounter. Dowdell gave Lawson fits on the offensive side of the ball the entire game, and the Wright and Hansbrough rarely got an open look the few times they did get the ball.
Considering that Roy turned practice into living hell after the last loss to the Hokies, maybe he and his staff should be doing a few laps in practice himself this week. And Quentin Thomas should supervise. Imagine what that would be like…
Quentin: Konichiwa, b—-es! Now you guys know what the consequences are for giving bad effort in a game, now don’t ya? (blows whistle) Gimme 20 laps around the court! And don’t waste my time!
Assistant Coach Joe Holladay: Man, I feel like I’m gonna collapse!
Q: You shoulda thought about that before telling Ty to take indiscriminate shots at the basket like PETA at Burger King!
Assistant Coach Steve Robinson: Who turned off the AC in this place, man? I need to towel off, I’m sweatin’ like a pig.
Q: Why don’t you purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka?
Coach Robinson: Isn’t that a little far?
Q: I’ll have you runnin’ all the way there unless you shut up, now get your bizz-utt movin’! (He’s from Oakland.)
Roy: Now, wait a second, I’ll do this little exercise, but you have to treat your coaches better than-
Q: You ‘gon hafta treat you PLAYERS better’n that! You want me to respect you? give me 15 minutes a game! Only giving me 1 against the Hokies? ONE M—–F—— MINUTE WHILE F—— LAWSON GETS 39?!?! WHAT THE F—!!!!!
Roy: Now, Quentin, you know I can’t do that for-
Q: THEN GET YO ARTHRITIC ASS MOVIN’!!!!!!!!
Roy: But I need some water!
Q: Aww, boo-f—ing-hoo, I’m dehydrated! Maybe you should’ve given some water to Hansbrough when he was gettin’ so tired, his free throws were airballs! Maybe you should’ve done that! Now keep running!
(After 15 laps, Q decides to go completely Prince, circa “Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Story”.)
Q: This bores me…Is anyone up for a game of…basketball?
Roy: (exhausted) What the blankety blank do you mean? (Roy is a prude)
Q: How about you and your friends, versus me…and the Revolution? (points to Alex Stepheson, Rashanda McCants, Micki Free from Shalamar and some dude from the Ultimate Frisbee team)
Coaches: (All faint)
In a completely unrelated story, today Quentin Thomas was released from the basketball team for undisclosed reasons and mysteriously tore his ACL in the shower of the team locker room.
Atmosphere: You can’t blame this one on the Dean Dome crowd. I was at the game, and the fans absolutely came alive Tuesday, and were the loudest I’ve seen them all season and in a long time. There were times where I was convinced that the crowd noise made the Hokies miss a few free throws in the second half. I was so into it that a couple of students I didn’t even know came to ask for a picture because I was “the best cheerer ever.” Oh, how I wish this was a joke. I take my role as a fan very seriously, and my fellow Tar Heel faithful have previously labeled as a “wine and cheese crowd”. But last night they were admirable. There were at least 15 instances where even the wealthy alumni stood up cheered for extended periods of time, something they’re often not inclined to do. (Believe when I say this, for a 60-year old alumnus, getting up every 2 minutes to stand up, yell and clap for 20 seconds qualifies as a workout).
Conclusion: All things considered, this was probably the best UNC game to watch all season, even though we came up short. This will undoubtedly serve as motivation as the Heels take on Boston on Saturday at Chestnut Hill. That could ultimately determine who wins the ACC championship.
One more thing: The referees were absolutely crap on Tuesday. They gave preferential treatment to Dowdell, and Lawson was probably fouled on the last play of the game. But UNC is a team that is supposed to be good enough not to leave games in the hands of referees. If they had fouled immediately on the preceding Va. Tech in-bound, Ellington’s shot would have counted. If the team had adjusted to the way the refs were calling the game, they wouldn’t have allowed as many free throws and UNC would have won by 8-10 in regulation. If Hansbrough and Wright had gotten the ball consistently instead of Ellington and Lawson chucking up so many shots, this wouldn’t have been close. Refs may have made a difference in this game, but UNC didn’t play well enough to win in the end. THE HOKIES WERE WHO WE THOUGHT WE WERE! THAT’S WHY WE TOOK THE DAMN COURT! IF YOU WANNA CROWN ‘EM, THEN CROWN THEIR ASS! BUT THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE! AND WE LET ‘EM OFF THE HOOK!