This being the first loss of the season means everyone is trying to figure out what went wrong for the really talented but inexperienced Tar Heels. Seth Davis at SI.com makes some valid points:
So let's add this to the list of negative things Williams learned about his team Wednesday: Hansbrough could very well be the best player in the country, but his offensive skills are limited. His greatness stems from his ability to out-muscle and out-work his opponents, but if someone takes that advantage away from him, he needs to develop a Plan B. He also needs more help from his teammates. He didn't get either Wednesday night.
In the grand scheme of things, North Carolina's loss to Gonzaga was only a minor setback, the likes of which we should expect from a team that relies on so many players with so little experience. But make no mistake: This roster is teeming with talent. It may take a while for Williams to find what he's looking for, but once he's ready to put down that remote we'll be treated to one very entertaining show.
Two major points Davis makes here which I think are right on target.
1. Tyler Hansbrough and the rest of the Tar Heels need to develop alternative offensive options if/when another team figures out how to throw the former off his game. UNC looked lost on offense mainly because Hansbrough had been rendered ineffective and outside of Wright there does not seem to be a clear order in the offense as to who is the second, third, and fourth options.
2. Roy Williams needs to settle on a rotation of nine players with perhaps a 10th and 11th getting some minutes to keep the legs fresh. There needs to be a clear cut rotation and while Williams says he is not into playing combinations I think there will be certain players who will be more effective together. The problem last night was it seemed that Williams did not adjust the lineup to handle Gonzaga's "four guard" lineup Mark Few employed following the 10-0 opening spurt by UNC. I also think that there is such a push to "use the depth" that perhaps UNC is forcing an untenable rotation of too many players.
Andrews Jones at the Wilmington Star is casting the loss as something Roy Williams can use to make the team better. He also pointed out that Bobby Frasor needs to be playing point more now and ease Lawson in as he learns.
Williams probably also liked what he saw with Bobby Frasor playing the two guard. Quite frankly, and this is unpopular among many UNC fans, but Frasor must be on the floor most of the time for UNC. As UNC’s best point guard, he manages the game far better than Tywon Lawson and has greater recognition of what’s going on. Lawson owns a special talent and has clearly improved over the last week-plus, and he could be ready to starter’s minutes by January. But Frasor is the better point guard right now.
That being said, the Lawson-Frasor combo was interesting and needs more time together. Frasor has a stroke and Williams might try releasing it by giving him more minutes at the two. This combination might have sparked something in Williams. In fact, a Lawson-Frasor starting backcourt right now makes more sense than a Frasor-Ellington one.
Another idea is to slide Frasor over to the two spot when Lawson makes his first appearance in games. Frasor’s presence not only gives UNC two players that think like point guards, but it will ease the freshman into the contest.
There are many UNC fans who think Lawson is the second coming of Raymond Felton when Felton was a junior. This is not the case and whether they like it or not Frasor needs to be running the point in crucial situations until Lawson exhibits an ability to handle it. Of course I think the defense is the biggest problem right now. UNC could have weathered that game last night had they been able to stop Gonzaga from shooting so well. There were too many situations where Gonzaga simply beat the UNC defenders and penetrated with the help being slow to respond.
This could very well be a watershed game and a taste of losing wakes up the young pups motivating them to get on the same page with Roy Williams. Of course they need to figure it out quick. Tennessee looms tomorrow afternoon and coming back from New York with a two game losing streak and facing Ohio State next Wednesday is not a good situation.