Tar Heel Bred Tar Heel Dead

As we roll into February, the preseason rankings are beginning to trickle out, and the one from the Sporting News has Carolina at #1.

Those college coaches preaching the “defense-wins- championships” gospel can’t be all that pleased with Roy Williams. He has won twice with teams that were brilliant on offense and just good enough on defense. This year’s Tar Heel squad looks to be cut from that cloth. Point guard Kendall Marshall has not been an elite defender and can struggle to deny penetration, but what might separate these Heels from their predecessors is the shot-blocking presence of 6-10 power forward John Henson. And, oh my, are they going to score points.

Kentucky is #2 and Duke #5.

Being #1 is nice and all, but wouldn’t it be better to start out somewhere else in the top 10 and gradually work your way up to the top spot? Being #1 comes with so many crushing expectations, and those can sometimes take their toll on a young team. Will this group of Heels be able to handle the hype like seasoned vets, or will it prove too much?

Also, that “oh, my, are they going to score points” line seems a bit overly optimistic. Just a word of caution. Last season with the same starting five, we often scored in the 60s. Hell, we beat Boston College by putting up just 48 points. Granted, everyone on the team should be improved this year, but if you look at the starting 5, only Tyler  Zeller and Harrison Barnes would be considered scoring machines. John Henson is more of a defensive stopper, Kendall Marshall only shoots when he has to and Dexter Strickland doesn’t really shoot at all. These fabled hundreds of points per game may come from a healthy Reggie Bullock hitting from downtown and the impressive freshman, but then, they may not. With Leslie McDonald looking to be sidelined for almost the entire season with an ACL tear, the offensive prospects don’t exactly improve.

Thoughts? Will this team consistently score  in the 80s and 90s and become the unstoppable offensive machine worthy of a #1 ranking as the Sporting News says?

Today’s poll

August 31, 2011

If you keep up on Twitter with Butter, you know he’s obsessed with sneakers. And that’s putting it gently. Marshall is always talking his sneakers, what pair of kicks he’s currently wearing and what pair he’s planning to wear later in the week. He gets offended when someone else is wearing the same shoes, or worst of all, when he spots someone wearing Skechers Shape Ups. The horror. A couple weekends ago, he mentioned he was headed to a Raleigh shoe convention. Slam has a nice kicks-centric interview up with the guard.

SLAM: What are your five favorite pairs of kicks that you own?

KM: Definitely my royal Foamposite Ones, the ones I haven’t worn yet. My Jordan XIII Playoffs. Maybe my Wolf Grey Vs. I don’t know, it’s hard! God, asking difficult questions [laughs]! Umm, my [Nike Air] Griffey’s Freshwater/Black. These are another pair I’m scared to wear. My Jordan Retro VII Bordeaux’s, it’s like a black and grey.

SLAM: Thoughts on the new Jordan 8.0s?

KM: I’m kinda excited about the black ones of those. They have a black pair. I’m not really a fan of the second series—2.0s and stuff—‘cause I feel like they’re ruining the Retro pairs of Jordans, but I kinda like the 8.0s.

Didn’t understand of word of that.

It’s a special extra-length preseason episode. The 2011-2012 basketball schedule is out, and Andy and Reed run it down game by game, from the gimmes (Nicholls?), to the maybes (Texas) to the oh, $&*!%’s (Kentucky).

Also, Dook sucks this time because they are so very, very rich. Filthy, stinking, horrible rich. Email us at thbthd@gmail.com

The current Tar Heels hoops squad has no problem dominating their fellow students, but when it comes to pros, the story is a little different. Word from the annual Smith Center pick-up games pitting the current squad against former Heels (many of them now playing professionally overseas or in the NBA) is that the pros haven’t lost a step in their older age. In fact, the wily vets are handily dispatching the young bucks in the majority of the contests.

Not that this is a bad thing, necessarily.

Three times a week this summer, former North Carolina greats like Sean May, Raymond Felton, Marvin Williams and Shammond Williams roughed up the current Tar Heels in spirited five-on-five pickup games at the Smith Center.

One of the few times the youngsters left with bragging rights was the day in late July that they won five of seven games. The pros endured some friendly trash talk before delivering a swift dose of humility, sweeping seven straight games the next day and then winning seven of eight the following evening.

“It keeps us humble,” sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall said. “If all we saw were the rankings that had us preseason No. 1, we might have slacked a little bit, but having the pros here keeps us working hard. When we have players like that beating up on us constantly, it makes us realize we do have things we have to get better at.”

New site design

August 26, 2011

Thanks to our friend Ken Lau, a talented NYC-based web designer and illustrator, for giving the site a little makeover. You can check out his work (or hire him for your project) here.

It appears that the team will be playing another one of its popular pick-up games on campus. If you’re in town, it’s your chance to see Harrison Barnes and co. up close and personal. Or if you’re one of the lucky few who steps on the court against them, a chance to have your ugly J thrown back in your grill by John Henson. Cherish it forever.
Here’s a taste of the last pick-up game earlier this week.

The ACC has just released schedules for the upcoming season, and at first glance, Carolina’s looks like a bruiser. We’ll record an episode of the podcast this weekend, breaking it down game by game, but until then, have a look for yourself.

Over on Twitter, Strickland’s teammates are busting on him because rapper J. Cole exhibits a similar shooting form in his new video for “Work Out” — in other words, leaning back awkwardly at a 45-degree angle. Hey, it’s ugly, but it goes in. Occasionally.
Take a look for yourself. Does this jumper remind you of Strickland?

Our Duke Sucks book

August 12, 2011

It’ll be available January 12, 2012, but you can pre-order your copy now for a measly $10.17. It covers all the reasons to hate Duke and has some surprising revelations, interviews with former Carolina players and lots of other stuff. You can check it out on Amazon here. We’re not gonna push this thing like we’re a couple of shysters selling hair tonic out of the back of a wagon, but if you’re into Carolina basketball and Duke has ever gotten on your nerves — even a little bit — you’ll probably want to read this.

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