In the wake of UNC's dominant NCAA tournament performance this year, there's been plenty of conversation here in the triangle about where this team stacks up with the 2005 squad that earned the university it's first title of this decade. It's an interesting comparison - the teams are very similar in some ways yet different in some of the not so minor details. So, without further ado, let's get at it.
The tale of the tape :
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency - 126.6 (1st in the nation)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency - 86.7 (5th)
Tempo - 73.9 Possessions/game (7th)
UNC '08-09 (as of first posting, Ken Pomery has not updated these to reflect the NCAA Championship Game, so they are subject to change slightly)
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency - 123.7 (1st)
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency - 90.0 (16th)
Tempo - 73.8 Posessions/game (8th)
At first blush, these teams are near replicas of each other in terms of offense and pace. Defensively, the 05 squad appears to be a clear champion here, but again the last game against MSU hasn't been factored into the equation yet. It's possible this year's team will jump slightly in defensive efficiency once they are updated for the final time.
Starting Lineup, 05
C - Sean May (118.6 ORating, 16.6 OReb%, 26.1 DReb %)
F - Jawad Williams (122.9 ORating, 7.0 OReb%, 10.7 DReb%)
F/G - Jackie Manuel (105.1 ORating, 3.4 Steal%)
G - Rashad McCants (119.1 ORating, 2.9 Steal%)
G - Ray Felton (110.7 ORating, 34.6 Assist Rate, 3.6 Steal%)
F - Marvin Williams (119.4 ORating, 9.4 OReb%, 21.7 DReb%, 2.8 Steal%)
F - David Noel (112.3 ORating, 3.1 Steal%)
G - Melvin Scott (110.9 ORating, 2.5 Steal %)
The 05 team's 8 man rotation was absolutely stacked - 4 first round NBA draft picks (including one off the bench!) supplemented by excellent roleplayers like Noel and Scott. Sean May was easily the best rebounder in college basketball in his final season with the Heels. Jawad Williams is probably the most overlooked contributor of the bunch - his ability to finish around the basket and step out to hit the three point shot made it all the more difficult to focus on the team's trio of stars.
On to the present...
Starting Lineup 09
F - Tyler Hansbrough (125.8 ORating, 11.3 OReb%, 16.6 DReb%, 7.8 Fouls Drawn per 40 minutes)
F - Deon Thompson (107.8 ORating, 8.4 OReb%, 15.6 DReb%)
F - Danny Green (121.6 ORating, 3.5 Steal%, 4.5 Block%)
G - Wayne Ellington (122.4 Orating)
G - Ty Lawson (135.8 ORating, 35.7 Assist Rate, 3.5 Steal%)
F - Ed Davis (108.2 ORating, 12.9 OReb%, 23.2 DReb%, 8.7 Block%)
G - Bobby Frasor (98.0 ORating)
The first thing about this team that jumps out is the insane efficiency of the top four players - Hansbrough, Lawson, Ellington, and Green - all of whom were in the top 50 nationally in that category. Speaking of Green, his across the board contributions as a defender and a sharpshooting 4th option were, like Jawad Williams' in 05, a key that could be overlooked when looking back on this team.
The second thing is that were we to base it on performance and ignore the effect it could have had on his confidence, Thompson had no business in that lineup with Davis on the bench. Ed Davis is, dare I say, the best post defender UNC has seen in over a decade, combining incredible length and athleticism with excellent instincts. He's not too shabby as a scorer either, though he does need some refinement.
Finally, this team isn't nearly as deep as the 05 group largely due to injury suffered by Ginyard and Zeller that kept them out of the rotation. Frasor, despite seeing solid minutes, was little more than a placeholder to let Lawson rest a bit. It's hard to imagine how much better this team could have been with Ginyard and Zeller playing alongside this group.
Realistically, you'd be picking hairs to decide which of these units was better. The team that just won the title was better defensively than the numbers would suggest considering their propensity to take a game off on that end every now and then. Both dominated offensively with an enviable balance of interior bangers and perimeter shooters. Both won titles. Both produced/will produce at least five NBA players. The coaching staff is a wash (they've stuck around!), and I'm tempted to call the whole thing one as well.
On a final note, it's amazing how lucky we are as UNC fans to even be having this discussion. Only UF has had two championships in this decade, and unlike them we look to continue as a year in/year out contender for the final four. It's a great time to be a Heels fan...