2007 ACC Tournament: UNC vs. Florida State Live Blog

I’m still recovering from yesterday’s slate of four games. I was watching the double overtime game between Wake and Georgia Tech until about 1 am. Frankly I’m trying to enter a fully alert state, and now I have to get pumped to cover the first tournament game featuring my alma mater, in game five of my attempt to post a live blog of every game of the ACC Tournament. Actually, this is only my fourth live blog, as the Extrapolater so kindly lent his blogging services for the late game. He will be doing so again today, as the University of Virginia is his allegiance.

For a preview of each team, see the ACC Tournament Preview, and to see how FSU did yesterday, see the FSU-Clemson Live Blog.

Florida State is here not so much because they beat Clemson yesterday so much as Clemson gave the game away. While that bodes well on paper for the Seminoles’ tournament chances, the committee may not be as impressed. I think they should be in by virtue of Al Thornton alone, but they will need to play a great game, even if in a losing effort, in order to feel confident about a spot in the field.

With UCLA’s unexpected loss on Thursday, UNC could very well get a #1 seed with a deep run in the ACC tournament. Their trek to the finals can either be relatively easy or hell on earth. Both Florida State and Boston College are talented teams, but they don’t match up well against the Tar Heels, BC because their bench isn’t as deep and they thus like a slower game pace, and Florida State because…well, I really don’t know what to expect from Florida State at this point. Brandan Wright and Rayshawn Terry will likely be assigned to Thornton, both of which are somewhat of a mismatch against Thornton’s size, range and quickness. If they’re able to contain him, dominate the post, find a way to play Quentin Thomas for 10 minutes, and most of all have their collective head in the games, the Tar Heels should have too much difficulty today.

I am anxiously awaiting how Tyler Hansbrough will play with a mask on. I think he’ll go ballistic and get 30 points and 20 rebounds today.

12:07 pm: This is the ACC Tournament, right? So why are you showing the Yankees Spring Training complex?

12:08 pm: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespassers, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Billy Packer; Amen.

12:10 pm: 3-0, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOO!!! (riff)

12:11 pm: 5-2, UNC. Hansbrough gets his first basket of the game, He doesn’t seem to be fazed much by the mask. And what a horrendous mask it is. I was expecting something more like what Rip Hamilton wore in the NBA Finals.

12:12 pm: 7-2, UNC. If the Seminoles were smart, they would foul Brendan Wright and force him to get his points on the free throw line.

12:13 pm: 9-4, UNC. The Tar Heels are playing aggressively. They definitely seem to have the right mindset so far.

The Phantom of the Opera goes to the bench.

12:15 pm: 11-4, UNC. Every time Florida State forces a turnover, UNC has stolen it right back. I’ve been shocked at how well Ellington and Lawson have played so far. This is the first time I’ve seen Wayne play such great defense. Where was this all season?

12:21 pm: 11-6, UNC. Wow. Al Thornton just made Rayshawn Terry look really, really bad.

12:24 pm: 13-6, UNC. Terry hits a nice midrange jumpshot, but it looks like the offense is shying away from Hansbrough right now.

12:26 pm: 13-10, UNC. The Tar Heels are still playing sloppier than I’d like, especially with Frasor on the floor. Is there some sort of disciplinary measure against Quentin Thomas I don’t know about? Because he’s better than Frasor right now, but Bobby is playing a lot more minutes.

12:27 pm: 13-13. Jerel Allen ties the game with a three. I am starting to get concerned.

12:28 pm: 18-13, UNC. Just as I’m about to type that Lawson should come back into the game, Frasor hits a three and makes a great assist to Brandan Wright to give UNC a 5 point lead. The inconsistency is frustrating.

12:32 pm: UNC is winning the rebound battle, but losing the turnover battle.

TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS!

12:33 pm: 21-13, UNC. Lawson hits a three, and FSU’s drought continues.

It was really frustrating that Lawson either will go shot crazy or won’t shoot at all. Against Virginia Tech he threw up 20 shots, only making 6. Against Duke he had a wide open shot for two seconds, and he stood still for an eternity, open, before deciding to pass it to the top of the key. AAAAAGHHH!!!

12:36 pm: 21-17, UNC. A good defensive series by FSU leads to a tough basket by Thornton, but it looks like either UNC’s offense is shying away from the paint or the Seminoles have deiced to lock the paint from any activity whatsoever. Either way, the Tar Heels still must attack the inside. That’s their modus operandi.

12:41 pm: 23-17, UNC. Wright gets a nice basket inside. Florida State is one of the teams we can beat in spite of our bad mindset, mainly because the Seminoles have a bad mindset.

YES! YES! Roy finally listened to me! Quentin Thomas is finally in the game!

12:44 pm: 24-17, UNC. Dis FSU just get the ball off of an official? Is that legal!

12:45 pm: BRANDAN WRIGHT IS SHOOTING FREE THROWS!!! MY EYYEEESSS!!! THEY BURRRRNNN!!!

12:46 pm: 27-17, UNC. Ellington hits another shot, this time a mid-range jumper. Hansbrough isn’t nearly as involved in the game as he should be.

Q picks up his 2nd foul. I thought his defense wasn’t too bad, but they’re going to bench him.

12:48 pm: 30-22, UNC. Danny Green hits a three, but Thornton immediately responds. Florida State needs mor out of him, but he has two fouls. Hansbrough still isn’t has active as I thought he’d be. Is it that UNC is skiddish about giving it to him, or is he still wary of injury?

12:52 pm: 30-24, UNC. After watching him after the second rebound miss, it’s clear to me that Hansbrough’s mask affects the way he plays. He’s certainly not as aggressive, and that’s what makes him effective.

12:55 pm: 30-26, UNC. Florida State has scored the last 7 points, and UNC hasn’t gotten any good looks inside. More importantly, the Heels aren’t making their free throws. Terry, Wright, and Hansbrough are 2-10 from the line.

12:57 pm: This is not good. now the Heels are just taking jumpshots out of desperation. Brandan Wright hasn’t taken over the paint in Psycho T’s absence.

1:00 pm: OOHHHHH!!!! OHHHH!!! What a final 30 seconds. First Thompson draws the offensive foul, then Ellington hits another 20-foot jumper, then Ty Lawson steal the inbound pass, shoots the ball up, and Thompson scores on the putback at the buzzer. UNC leads 36-26 at halftime. What’s even better is that Seminole coach Leonard Hamilton absolutely lost it, and got called for a technical foul. This means that we’ll get two free throws and the ball to start the Second half. Technically, this means that we will have scored between 6 and 9 points between the offensive foul and the next time Florida State gets the ball.

UNC seems to be in control of the game, but they could still do a better job of getting the frontcourt more involved in the offense, as well as cutting down on turnovers, and they have to make their free throws. With the Florida State backcourt in deep trouble (Rich and Swann each have 3 fouls), nothing short of the Al Thornton Show can give FSU a victory at this point.

1:16 pm: Nothing scares the s— out of me more than the thought of Billy Packer in High Definition.

1:18 pm: 40-26, UNC. Just as I said, the Heels make their free throws, the Heels finally attack the inside and give Hansbrough an easy basket, and they’ve scored 8 points before Florida State has a chance to have the ball.

1:19 pm: 44-26, UNC. North Carolina gets two more quick baskets inside, and in 135 seconds of game time Florida State goes from down 4 and with momentum to down 18 about to fall apart.

Now this is what we’ve come to expect from the Tar Heels: the ability to change the momentum so quickly, the opponent has no idea what just happened.

1:23 pm: How can the referees allow that? Echefu was clearly down, the play remained in the paint, and yet the refs did nothing to stop the play until Thornton tripped over his teammate. That is unacceptable. I may be rooting for UNC, but Echefu could have gotten trampled.

1:25 pm: 44-28, UNC. Florida State finally breaks the drought.

Ellington is playing much better defense in this game than he has all season.

1:26 pm: 48-28, UNC. Lawson is having no trouble driving inside and getting layups right now. Florida State is really beginning to let the seas part, especially now that all three of their backcourt players have 3 fouls. (Swann, Rich, Douglas)

1:33 pm: 48-31, UNC. Someone should tell the Tar Heels that taking free throw shooting lessons from Brandan Wright is a bad idea.

1:34 pm: 50-35, UNC. Hansbrough seems to be a lot more comfortable with the mask in the second half.

Jerel Allen hits another three. I think he’s their only player in double figures.

1:36 pm: 52-40, UNC. Just as it looks like the Seminoles were creeping back into this game, Thornton goes out with foul trouble, Allen misses a layup, UNC goes on the fast break, and Terry makes a huge dunk that just took the air out of the FSU fans.

1:42 pm: 54-40, UNC. I had to step away from the computer for a few minutes. What did I miss?

Hmmmm…not much, apparently.

1:43 pm: 57-40, UNC. Who are you, and what have you done with the real Rayshawn Terry?

No sooner does Thornton come back in the game than he commits his fourth foul.

Q is back in the game WHOOO!!!

1:46 pm: 59-40, UNC. Q did it again! He did it again, another alley-oop to Brandan Wright. They make it look easy. But notice that he only does that with Wright and his long arms. With any other player, the ball sails out of bounds and Thomas doesn’t see the court for the rest of the tournament.

1:51 pm: 59-43, UNC. Only 22 of Florida State’s 59 points are in the paint. At this stage the Heels should usually have 35-40.

1:52 pm: Al Thornton just fouled out with 12 points. Show some respect.

I can think of few things less respectful to Al Thornton than making him watch Brandan Wright shoot free throws. I wouldn’t wish that even on a Duke fan.

1:55 pm: 63-48, UNC. I really didn’t expect Hansbrough to be affected so much by the mask. He has not made good decisions in this game at all.

You have to give credit of Florida State. They haven’t quit after Thornton fouled out.

1:56 pm: 66-49, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOO!!! (riff) He’s our best player today. Although if one of our shooting guards is our best player, usually that means our frontcourt isn’t playing well.

1:57 pm: 66-52, UNC. Uche Echefu is a lot like Thornton. He’s not as fast, but his range is just as good.

1:57 pm: 68-54, UNC. Ironically, it’s our guards, Lawson, Ellington and Ginyard, who are finally putting this game away.

I feel bad for Florida State. I hope this game doesn’t cost them an invitation to the NCAA tournament, because with Thornton and the right mindset, they can do some damage.

2:08 pm: 70-56, UNC, 2:00 left. Hasnbrough fouls out. He’s had a really disappointing game. It’s possible that this may be due to conditioning, if Hansbrough missed practice time because of his injury. He certainly didn’t look like himself today.

2:11 pm: 72-56, UNC. Dewey Burke is in the game. This game is over.

Seriously, Billy? Special meal? Do your research! We get BISCUITS after UNC scores 100 points.

2:13 pm: The game is over. UNC wins, 73-58. I can’t say that I’m especially pleased with the result today. There were a lot of things that we did right. We played great defense, Ellington is becoming a complete player, and it appears that we can survive with a more balanced attack. Still, I am shocked at how ineffective Tyler Hansbrough was in this game. Either the injury or the mask has really affected his on-court attitude. But more importantly, we seemed to let a team hang around when we were perfectly capable of putting the game away quickly and easily. A better team will take advantage of that and take that kind of game away from us. Still, even with a bad mindset, we can still win the ACC tournament depending on our draw. But to make it to the final four, the Heels will need to show the killer instinct, the ability to press their foot on the throat of their opponent and not let up.

Now to see who our semifinal opponent will be. I’ll be at Digital Headbutt to live blog ACC Tournament Game #6, BC vs. Miami.

UNC vs. Duke Live Blog II: UNC Wins, 86-72

Today, UNC plays their final game of the season in the Dean Dome against the University of New Jersey at Durham. This is an extremely important game not only because of our opponent, or because it’s the last home game for Rayshawn Terry, Wes Miller, and Dewey Burke. The Heels are still vying for ACC and NCAA tournament position.

That was a sentence I would not have believed I would be typing at the beginning of the year. The ACC is a tough conference, but considering how well the Heels played last year and how good the incoming freshman are, everyone was fully expecting the Heels to run away with the conference title and a #1 seed in the Big Dance by this point. One of the problems is unrealistic expectations (last year was a freak of nature that we may never see again), but the main problem has been our gameplan, or specifically our deviation from it. Our bench players have seen significantly less time. We haven’t been aggressive on defense. Our inexperienced guards are not shooting well, but more importantly they’re shooting too much. Our strength is in the low post. But Hansbrough and Wright have not been reliable defenders either. The bench is their biggest asset, and they need to take more advantage of that. For example, Quentin Thomas is their best passer. He should play at least 10 minutes in this game, probably 15. That will leave 20-25 for Lawson, and 5 for Frasor. Perhaps the most important matchup will be Jon Scheyer versus Wayne Ellington and Marcus Ginyard. If the main objective is improving our defense, Ginyard should start and shut down Scheyer in the game. Ellington shoots too much, anyway.

But I am confident that UNC will win this game and clinch a share of the ACC championship. Don’t take it from me, take it from a corrupt, boring senator:

4:05 pm: Wow. The start of the game almost got pre-empted by the Missouri Vally Conference Championship. That’s how far the Mid-Majors have come.

4:07 pm: Burke and Miller start in the backcourt. WHOOOO!!!

Virginia Tech did its job by losing, now we need to do our job.

4:08 pm: 2-2. McRoberts and Wright each get an easy shot inside to begin the game.

4:09 pm: Duke has already attempted 6 shots. UNC is doing a bad job of defensive rebounding so far.

4:10 pm: 4-2, UNC. Wright goes inside and again scores easily. Dewey Burke comes out of the game.

4:11 pm: 8-2, UNC. Lawson makes a great dish to Terry for the basket, and then Hansbrough tips in a miss to give them 8 straight points. UNC is doing exactly what they should do, attacking the inside on every possession.

4:13 pm: 10-2, UNC. McRoberts tries to cheat by pushing a basket out from inside the net. UNC has all the momentum right now.

Ellington is in for Miller.

4:14 pm: 12-2, UNC. Green and Thompson are already in the game, and Green gives the Heels another easy basket.

4:15 pm: 14-8, UNC. What the Hell? Gerald Henderson was a non-factor all season, and suddenly he hits three straight shots? I of all people should know that UNC-Dook exists in separate bizarro universe, but even I cannot comprehend this. Thankfully, Hansbrough gets another basket and brings back a semblance of sanity. Speaking of insanity…

4:18 pm: Presenting the most bizarre advertisement ever made. For crying out loud, you’re a chemical company!

4:20 pm: 16-10, UNC. Wright scores again, but what the hell is up with Gerald Henderson? Since when did he stop stinking and do stuff like this?

4:21 pm: 18-10, UNC. Wright scores again, this time off a steal and pass by Ellington. There isn’t anyone on this Duke team with the skill set to defend him. Unless Lance Thomas can leap like a combination of a kangaroo and Tyrone Biggums.

4:26 pm: 23-14, UNC. Terry hits a huge three to put the Heels up nine. He’s playing unusually well; normally I would not have heard from him at all at this stage in the game.

4:28 pm: 25-17, UNC. Ginyard makes one off a drive in the lane, but Paulus hits Duke’s first three of the game.

Bobby Frasor is in the game. I’m still awaiting the arrival of Quentin Thomas.

4:29 pm: 27-19, UNC. Hansbrough gets another tip-in, but he gets into early foul trouble. He’s probably the one guy the Heels can ill afford to have on the bench for a long time.

4:31 pm: 27-22, UNC. How does UNC leave Paulus that open? How does Deon Thompson miss a layup? Most importantly, how has CBS managed to resist a Coach K closeup? They haven’t become, like, sane, have they? Nah, probably just an oversight.

4:34 pm: UNC has to do better at rebounding. Their shooting percentage is nearly double that of Duke, but they keep getting second chances.

4:35 pm: 29-22, UNC. Now that’s what I call defense! Thomas gets position inside, but Terry rejects him, and the Heels are able to get a basket in transition by Thompson.

4:36 pm: 32-22, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOOOOO!!! (riff) Ellington gets three the hard way to bring the lead back to double digits.

Hansbrough’s back in the game. Odd as it may sound, I’m not sure I like this decision. UNC was doing fine in his absence, why risk a third foul? We need him in the second half.

4:39 pm: Finally, A Coach K closeup after he takes a timeout. I knew CBS would return from their senses eventually.

4:41 pm: TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR!…

4:42 pm: 32-24, UNC. Paulus breaks the drought with an easy layup off a backdoor cut.

Still awaiting the arrival of Quentin Thomas.

4:43 pm: Hansbrough, a great steal, but what the hell kind of a shot was that?

4:47 pm: 34-24, UNC. OOOOHHHHHHH!!!! OOHHHHHH!!! What a pass by Lawson, and Hansbrough is in the paint, all alone. I don’t think I need to tell you what happened next.

4:48 pm: 34-25, UNC. I love you Wes, but what are you doing?!?!?

4:49 pm: How is that a foul on Brandan Wright? It was McClure who was reaching for his nutsack!

4:50 pm: 38-25, UNC. Great defense by the Tar Heels, and it leads to easy transition baskets, the latest by Lawson.

4:51 pm: 38-28, UNC. Just as I type that, Scheyer hits a three to reduce the lead to 10.

4:53 pm: The first half ends, with UNC leading 38-29. UNC played well in the first half, playing good defense and attacking the inside. Three things still concern me about the game so far.

  1. Duke won the rebounding battle in the first half; UNC cannot let Duke keep getting second chances.
  2. Dewey Burke has played more in the game than Quentin Thomas. This is inexcusable; Q passes better than anyone on our team, even if he can’t shoot a lick.
  3. UNC has only attempted 3 free throws so far. Hansbrough and Wright need to be more physical when they get the ball. More importantly, the guards need to get the ball to them when they are in better position to attack. Which brings us back to number two; that’s still one of Lawson’s weaknesses.

Back in the second half.

5:09 pm: 42-29, UNC. Hansbrough gets two straight baskets to start the second half, the first one of which was too easy.

5:10 pm: Correction: when I said Scheyer hit a three, he didn’t/ I turns out he’s has been held scoreless so far.

4:11 pm: 44-35, UNC. Who are you, and what have you done with the real Gerald Henderson?

Wright hits a basket again. He hasn’t missed yet.

Scheyer finally hits a three to bring the lead back to single digits.

5:16 pm: 46-37, UNC. It takes a minute and a half for Duke to score. It takes 6 seconds for Ty Lawson to drive in for a layup.

5:17 pm: 46-40, UNC. What the hell is happening? Suddenly UNC decided to make really bad decisions, and they’re letting the Dookies back in the game. That’s their problem; when they’re mentally focused, they can blow any team out of the sky. But if they’re not mentally focused, well…they lose to 5 players and Sidney Lowe’s red suit.

5:22 pm: 46-42, UNC. Hansbrough finally gets fouled, but he should have made that first shot.

5:23 pm: 50-44, UNC. Hansbrough makes a tough fadeaway jumper to extend the lead.

I am still awaiting the arrival of Quentin Thomas. Does he have an injury I don’t know about?

5:25 pm: 50-48, UNC. Once again, UNC is in danger of losing their lead, and it will be because they didn’t play as hard as the opponent. I am really starting to get sick of this.

5:26 pm: 53-48, UNC. Hansbrough gets the basket AND the foul on McRoberts. He now has 19 points and 12 rebounds.

5:27 pm: 53-50, UNC. Robot Henderson scores again. I’m mad at UNC’s sudden bad decision making, but I guess it wouldn’t be UNC-Duke if it wasn’t a nail biter, would it?

5:31 pm: 56-50, UNC. Ginyard hots a huge three at the top of the key, and Lawson almost steals the inbound pass.

McRoberts flops like an Italian soccer player.

5:32 pm: 58-50, UNC. Hansbrough scores again! This time it’s a hook shot. He now has 21 points.

5:34 pm: 58-50, UNC. If Dook loses, McRoberts should be held single-handedly responsible for their demise.

5:36 pm: 60-50, UNC. Ginyard makes some great moves for a layup to bring the lead back to double digits. It looks like the Dookies may be running out of gas.

5:39 pm: 62-50, UNC. Paulus is on the bench with 4 fouls.

5:41 pm: If Lawson is going to be our point guard, now is a good time to rest him for two to three minutes. Guess who gets my vote?

5:42 pm: 66-52, UNC. Scratch that. Lawson is responsible for two straight buckets, one an assist to Hansbrough. Robot Henderson’s basket is canceled out by a Wright rejection of McClure.

5:45 pm: 68-54, UNC. This Tar Heel team has to realize that they have to play with this kind of intensity for six games in a row if they want to win the national championship. They have yet to show me that they can maintain that mindset long enough to pull it off.

5:48 pm: 68-57, UNC. Carolina, don’t you dare let up now! Don’t leave their guards that open, no matter what the situation is.

5:50 pm: 70-59, UNC, 3:40 left. If all the Heels do is play defense and hit their free throws from this point on, they should hold on to win this game.

5:53 pm: 73-59, UNC, 3:10 left. Wright rebounds a Paulus miss, and Terry hits a jumper off the glass on the other end.

5:54 pm: 75-59, UNC, 2:31 left. It looks like UNC has pretty much sealed this game.

Seriously, could the Rams Club pay for Tyler Hansbrough’s laser eye surgery or something? This whole contact lens thing is getting really old, really fast.

5:56 pm: 75-64, UNC, 1:57, left. Oh no, don’t tell me Scheyer is suddenly going to get hot and mount a Dook comeback.

5:59 pm: Dook is running the full court trap against the Heels. This is how they erased a 10 point deficit in less than 60 seconds against Maryland in 2001. This is textbook Coach K. It almost got Hansbrough to turn the ball over in front of his own basket.

6:01 pm: 79-64, UNC, 1:21 left. Fittingly, Senior Rayshawn Terry puts this game away at the free throw line.

6:06 pm: 83-68, UNC, :46 left. Miller and Ginyard put the exclamation point on this game. WHOOOOO!!!

Terry and Miller are given their curtain call. I’m going to miss them, but Terry should have stepped up to be the team leader this year.

6:10 pm: 84-72, UNC, :17 left. Bye bye, Paulus! Bye bye, McRoberts!

6:12 pm: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! That was just a cheap shot by Robot Henderson! He simply took his frustrations out on Tyler Hansbrough’s face! He should be ejected. Tar Heel fans everywhere have a new favorite player to hate.

6:16 pm: YYYEEEEEEAAAAHHHH!!! Henderson is ejected. I looked at the replay, and now I realize that while too aggressive, and probably meant to make solid contact Hansbrough, he probably wasn’t going for the face. Still, the Dean Dome crowd lets him hear it.

6:18 pm: The gems officially ends: UNC wins, 86-72. Normally I would be very ecstatic about winning our final home game, beating Duke by double digits, and winning the ACC regular season crown, but that Henderson elbow (intentional or not) really put a damper on things. I don’t think I’ve seen Hansbrough so pissed off. Seriously, he was about to cry; a blow to the nose hurts like hell. (I should mention that Hansbrough had 26 points and 17 rebounds, one of his best games ever.) Still, congratulations to UNC for finally winning the ACC championship, and to Rayshawn Terry, Dewey Burke and Wes Miller in their final home game. And congratulations to Tar Heel fans across the world We now officially have a new excuse to despise our neighbors.

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