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Five Questions Concerning the Loss

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1. Should Roy Williams have called a timeout during the first half run?

It has never been the standard operating procedure for either Dean Smith or Roy Williams to throw away a timeout in the first half when the other team is running off points. As Roy said in the postgame press conference, games are not lost in the first half. Game are full of runs which, like storms, must be weathered. The Heels simply did not do enough to stem to the tide of that first half wave by either stepping up the aggression or making a key shot to break the run up a little. Obviously it is a lesson learned.

2. What did we learn about UNC in this game?

Not much we did not already know and that is if the perimeter game is missing and the interior game the game in the paint may struggle against a good defensive team. We already knew they were a slow starting team and they also tended to have lapses in focus. The middle 30 minutes were essentially that in a nutshell compounded by the way VT played. This is still a young team and on many levels still getting a feel for what they are doing out there on the offensive end. The defense is also a work in progress and given the level at which VT was shooting I am not entirely sure better defense would have mattered that much. This should really be nothing more than a road bump and I would expect the Feb 13 meeting in Chapel Hill to be a vastly different game.

3. What did the Heels learn in this game?

My gut feeling is that it gave the younger players a good dose of what life can be like on the road in the ACC. I would hope they came away with a stark realization that it takes a focused and intense effort for the entire 40 minutes. It should serve as a reminder to all of them that (1) every team they play, especially on the road, has one thing in mind and that is knocking North Carolina off and (2) that you must take their best shot and then strike back in kind. VT was the aggressor in this game and UNC played sloppy and timid. Yes, in a regular season game, it is not big deal. If that happens in March, you go home.

4. What is the biggest adjustment UNC can make going forward?

I am not sure there is any real adjustment as much as a simple change in the intensity level we seen from them. Obviously free throw shooting needs to be addressed, especially for Brandan Wright who needs to shoot better from the charity stripe. I am convinced that Wayne Ellington will get his shooting rhythym back and UNC will discover some kind of perimeter game. Wes Miller, Reyshawn Terry, and Danny Green will also be key in this regard. Tyler Hansbrough, whose FG percentage is down should, as probably look for his move to the basket sooner to stay ahead of the defense a bit. However, a developed perimeter game will also make his life easier since he can either kick out or see less coverage in general. I think they are still searching for a consistent offensive rhythym partly due to the various lineup combinations. Time and experience tend to work that issue out and that should be the case here.

5. How will UNC come out against Clemson?

This is where Roy Williams earns his paycheck. While some of the things that went wrong on Saturday were directly related to bad decisions and a failure to aggressively compete for huge chunks of the game, some of it was due to just having a bad game against a hot team. The job of coaching staff is to help the players see the difference between the two and instill in them the necessary mentality to address the former issues. I would be surprised to see UNC come out and play another bad game on the road, even if it is at Clemson. In fact, a bad game here would actually be their third straight because the UVa game was not one of the prettier contests they have played this season. Having experienced the hostile road environment once should make going to Clemson easier. I also hope they take a lot of encouragement from those last five minutes when it was clear they made a forthright effort to attack VT despite the deficit they faced. UNC has the talent, they are improving on the execution, and one can only hope that the coaches can get their heads on straight to make a statement at Clemson and that statement is that the VT game was an abberation not the norm.