I'm not worried.
I did not see the game since I could not find it on the cable system at the in-laws house in Maryland. I did read some varying opinions from message board and the media. On the fan side, some folks are worried about the level of play. I am not but I will watch the game on tape some time tomorrow and may have more to add. Until then here is why I will downplay this one:
1. First games under Roy Williams have always been notoriously bad. There was the loss to Santa Clara in 2005, almost losing to Gardner-Webb in 2006, poor play against Sacred Heart in 2007 and a near miss versus Davidson last year though as it turns out Davidson was almost a Final Four team. This is the same deal with the added burden of key injuries.
2. Key injuries. We cannot make any kind of evaluation of this team as a whole until at least Tyler Hansbrough comes back and concerning the defense without a healthy Marcus Ginyard. That does not mean there are not criticisms to be made but there are elements of the offense and defense that are obviously missing.
3.Roy is not worried, just read these quotes.
One of the biggest hangups for fans in this one is focused on the guard play. Wayne Ellington had a bad day only going 5-15 and 2-7 from three. As Roy pointed out, this will not happen every game. In fact you can probably count on one hand the number of games Ellington will have like this one and while you are doing that pray one of them is not in a potential Final Four game. I was surprised that Ty Lawson only had five assists and equally surprised that Ellington had five and Green had four. Still Lawson and Green had 12 points apiece and will hopefully get into a groove for the Kentucky game, especially Lawson. Roy said he thought the team was tight and indicated this may have been part and parcel to the Heels missing several good shots. Overall he was happy with the offensive execution and knows the shots will fall more times than not.
The focus of this game will be the play of the frontline, particularly the two freshmen. Tyler Zeller did an admirable job filling in for Tyler Hansbrough leading the team with 18 points which included Hansbrough-like shooting from the FT line. Ed Davis was a beast with 10 points and an eye popping 14 boards. Methinks UNC's frontline just got immensely better than it was a year ago, assuming Hansbrough comes back at 100%. Deon Thompson also had a stellar day and depending on how often he does what he did today, there is chance he is ready to start filling his potential. Thompson shot the ball well(7-11) and posted 17 points to go along with seven boards.
The defense is always a question mark. Statistically they held Penn to 40% shooting but the Quakers also got off 33 three pointers, hitting 11 of them. I imagine that is something we would like to see less of since sooner or later a team is going to hit more. Then again, as a matter of odds, if you are going to give up shots you would rather they be lower percentage ones. UNC also allowed Penn's Tyler Bernadini to go off for 26 points which may not have happened had Marcus Ginyard been playing. Overall I don't think the defense played in a way that gives me the same trepidation as last season. Like the offense, we need to see everyone back before making a real assessment of what their capable of.
It was a win. Heels focus on UK next and don't let the loss to VMI fool you, the Wildcats will come to play.