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"This North Carolina team panicked"

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According to Marcus Ginyard who can always be trusted to give you the unvarnished truth.

Ginyard in the post game:

That is the first time this North Carolina team panicked. It got to the point where they were just up big. We did a great job all year long of stepping up to the challenge. Tonight Kansas threw the biggest challenge at us that we have seen and it took too long for us to respond.

As quoted by Adam Lucas:

I knew something was wrong when we would foul them and then we'd huddle up and nobody would say anything. It would take four or five seconds before anyone spoke. Everyone just looked at each other like, `What the heck is going on?' It was weird. We were just looking around like, `Whoa.'

"We'd take the ball out of bounds and no one would know the call until two or three seconds before they handed us the ball. We were just kind of out there.

This is why I love Marcus Ginyard because he tells you what the real deal is and in unafraid to express the truth.  Earlier this week I explored two lines of thought as it pertained to UNC playing in the Final Four.  The first was horrible shooting in the national semifinal game that fell in the 30% range not to mention far worse from outside the arc.  UNC seemingly "found" that shooting touch again last night.  The other thought was more focused on officiating(which did not strike me as a negative) but generally speaking I was concerned about UNC playing an unusual game where nothing went right or we saw issues crop up that had not been seen during the regular season.  That also seems to be the case in this game with the complete lack of poise on the part of the Heels being that odd aspect not seen all season.

Besides being dominated in the post, the lack of composure is the perhaps the biggest surprise from this team who was defined all season by handling all kinds of tough game situations.  I have commented at points that the way this team handled game deficits almost had me to a point that I was hard pressed to believe they could lose.  Then again, the fact this UNC team was defined this way speaks an awful lot to a tendency to first half debacles that were erased by second half superiority.  I guess in this way, the game versus Kansas was really no different except playing as badly as UNC did versus a team playing perhaps their best half of the season has the effect of placing you in a deep hole that might be too tough to climb from in the time allotted.

Now, the fact Kansas just smashed the Heels from 15 minutes without much life from UNC has many discussing whether or not Roy should have called a timeout at some point to abate the Kansas onslaught.  On one level this is a moot discussion since Roy does what Dean always did and that was to save the timeouts for the latter portions of the 2nd half when either a rally or rest required them.  Still, part of the hand wringing process, especially for the talkng heads, is to latch on some kind of simple explanation that can be pinned on the coach.  In this case the lack of a timeout between the 12 and 8 minute marks of the first half seems to be a popular cause at this point.  Since I have been a UNC fan so long I am so used to the no timeout coaching that I really find it fruitless to discuss.  No one seems to remember that nothing Roy did or said in the timeouts he did get via the media changed the direction of the game or that UNC managed to come back to within four without the benefit of a timeout.

As much as people want to pin this on the coaching I tend to think it is more about players making plays on both ends of the floor.  Yes, the coach is important when it comes to preparing his team for a game and maybe something in the way Roy approached this game set his team up for failure.  Perhaps the adjustments to the Kansas offense and defense came a little late to stop the bleeding.  Then again maybe Roy did much of what he needed to do and the players simply did not get their heads in the game properly or make the plays they physically needed to make.   And then you also get into things like the Danny Green three rimming out which would have put UNC within two and maybe changed the game dynamics for good. With so many unknowns and the gaggle of logical explanations as to what happened in San Antonio make it clear to me that one uncalled timeout probably was not going to change the game given the way Kansas was playing.

For me the conclusion is simple:  UNC played a horrible game, one not seen from them in an incredibly long time.  Whatever the causes for the complete suckitude of the Tar Heels' play on the court, I do know it was the worst timing in the world to have it happen now.