Tar Heel Bred Tar Heel Dead

Today’s poll

December 1, 2011
  • Only 7 games into the season, and Roy’s jacket has already come off.
  • Things really seemed to turn around when Dexter Strickland started checking Jordan Taylor. That dude can guard and had a really nice overall game.
  • If this was an injured Harrison Barnes, we’d like to have seen the healthy version.
  • There have been a few games this year when we’ve seriously outplayed an opponent early but have never seemed to be able to put any distance on the scoreboard. It’s getting really frustrating.
  • What a cliche that the big, white center with a crewcut for Wisconsin could shoot 3s.
  • Carolina has had a bit of a run this year with Duke alum calling games. First Jay Williams and now Jay Bilas. Is this some sort of sly joke by ESPN?
  • Judging by the 81 commercials, Cowboys and Aliens is apparently coming out on DVD.
  • That airball 3 early really seemed to destroy Kendall Marshall’s confidence. He seemed hesitant to shoot again.

And he’ll still score 15.

That’s a lie. No crutches involved, but Barnes will play. It’s unclear how much his ankle injury will slow him down, but having him in the line-up is a good sign for the Heels. Although it sounds crazy to say about a former preseason All American, if one person from the starting line-up had to be hobbled, Barnes hurts the team a lot less than losing other players (cough – cough – Kendall – Marshall – cough). Here’s hoping if Black Falcon has a subpar outing, the rest of the starters and the bench (cough – cough – P.J. Hairston is god – cough – cough) can pick up the slack.

If you’ve followed Carolina basketball for any period of time, you know that there are two main complaints that fans have grumbled about for years…if not decades. First, UNC has a tough time guarding the three. (Exhibit A: the UNLV game.) And second, Coach Williams rarely calls timeouts, especially not to stem runs by opponents, and often ends the game with two or three in his pocket. The carping about the timeout issue grew louder after UNLV, and on his radio show last night, Williams explained his timeout strategy.

I asked them in the locker room, ‘Why do you think I didn’t call a timeout?’ And Justin Watts said, ‘We need them at the end of a close game – we’ve all seen teams lose because they don’t have a timeout.’ And I said, ‘Yes, Coach Smith taught me that and I still believe it’s the best way.’ And I said, ‘Give me another reason.’ And ‘Z’ said, ‘We’ve got to be able to fight through that ourselves and be able to get what we do in practice every day so it’s learning.’ And I said, ‘Guys, I wasn’t coaching just to coach against UNLV. I was coaching this team for this year for this program.’ And then today Bobby [Frasor] brought something up. We played N.C. State here and they had it 12-0. I didn’t call a timeout and I said if they scored the first 50 I wasn’t going to call a timeout. I didn’t get us in this dadgum hole, you did. Get us out of it. And it was a way to get that team to play through it.”

Not every fan is going to agree with the strategy, but it’s hard to argue with the logic. Maybe it’s time to stop complaining about this issue. It is what it is, Williams has explained it, and it’s unlikely to change. Here’s hoping the team takes what he’s saying to heart and becomes tough enough to dig themselves out of holes.

OK, the UNLV loss was sort of a head-scratcher, and it remains to be seen if it was just an anomaly or if it revealed some actual deficiencies within the team. We’ll know a lot more come Sunday.

I’m sure when the schedule was released over the summer, everyone pegged this week as a huge one for Tar Heel basketball. And that was before we knew we’d lose to UNLV. Now, coming off that L, the games against Wisconsin and Kentucky loom even larger. The bottom line is, what happens this week could shape the rest of the season.

Best case scenario

The outcome: We beat both Wisconsin and Kentucky.

What it means: The UNLV game was absolutely meaningless and this UNC team is as good — if not better — than even the most slobbering preseason critics said. Carolina should tear through the ACC and ultimately make its way to the Final Four and possibly a national title.

How you’ll be feeling: Pure relief and lots of elation. The UNLV monkey is off our backs and those nagging doubts we had about free-throw shooting, hustle and rebounding were shown to be meaningless. Grab a beer, everyone!

Realistic scenario

The outcome: We beat Wisconsin but lose to Kentucky.

What it means: Well, not a lot. Kentucky is probably as talented a team as there is in the country and playing them at Rupp is always difficult. There’s no shame in that loss. A win against Wisconsin would actually mean more, because it shows Roy and the team can right the ship after a real downer of a loss out West.

How you’ll be feeling: Pretty much like you were before the UNLV game. OK, this team has some real talent and potential. There may be some bumps along the way, but we’ve got the talent to make some noise in the conference and the tourney. Let’s see what happens.

Doomsday scenario

The outcome: Carolina falls to both Wisconsin and Kentucky.

What it means: Granted, those are two very good opponents, but let’s not forget, UNC is supposed to be no slouch either. If the team drops both games, it could be difficult to recover, and the weaknesses revealed in the UNLV will be much harder to dismiss as fleeting.The team that was a runaway #1 preseason pick is suddenly 5-3 and looking very vulnerable.

How you’ll be feeling: Grab a cold one. And a bottle of sleeping pills.

Carolina falls to #5

November 28, 2011

God. Duke is now ahead of UNC in the latest poll – not that any of this is really meaningful in November. Still though, if UNC can knock off Wisconsin (#9) and then somehow find a way to best Kentucky (#1) at Rupp this week, who cares what we’re ranked? We’ll know this is a team to be reckoned with, no matter what UNLV and the polls say.

On this episode, we state the obvious: that UNLV loss kind of sucked. But what does it mean going forward? And we’ve got a special report from West Coast correspondent Brock Towler who took the pulse of the Tar Heel fans in Sin City. Finally, Duke sucks this week because, as our math will prove, Coach K hasn’t even passed Dean Smith on the wins list. Email us at thbthd@gmail.com

Today’s poll

November 27, 2011

Today’s poll

November 25, 2011
  • Despite being bigger than most everyone on the court, Zeller got stripped or blocked an alarming number of times. Maybe that’s why McAdoo got so much PT.
  • Thank God for Barnes. Whenever South Carolina looked poised to make a run and cut it to under 10, Barnes cooly dropped in a basket. He looked like he was capable of scoring any time he wanted.
  • The arena looked 3/4 full. Guess everyone was busy catching Manilow at the Paris.
  • Last game it was Bullock. This game it was Hairston. At the end of the season, who will have won the battle of the bench shooting guards?
  • Instead of toying with South Carolina like a cat bats with a mouse, anyone else wonder why UNC was incapable of just burying the team in the first half?
  • Henson got one of his shots rejected. You see that about as often as a David Dupont three.
  • Hairston copped a bit of a ‘tude and looked to be ready to punch someone when he got bumped and Carolina was up 20. Like the attitude. Like the restraint better.
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