Good points all around and not much from me other than to say that I think the defensive issues are more than just an effort problem. Maybe I am looking at it the wrong way but at times it seems like the Heels just don't get how to play defense. Other than that, Giglio makes the point that there is still plenty of time left in this season and UNC can make a run, the question is whether they know that or will get it together. Full post from ACC Now after the jump.
UNC's winless in the ACC after two games and the Earth is still on its axis. Promise. Look at the sky, it's still Carolina blue.
It might seem like the end of the world, Tar Heel fans, but it's not. Yes, 0-2 is not good, but it's Jan. 13. There's a lot of hockey left.
Five reasons not to burn those plane tickets to Detroit:
1) You can't play much worse
Take a look at boxscore from the 92-89 loss to Wake: UNC shot 35 percent (26-74) from the floor, 26 percent (6-23) from 3 and Wake's Jeff Teague scored 34 points.
So, Carolina couldn't hit water from a boat, a player on the other team had a career-game and the Heels still only lost by three.
Yes, there are larger questions about Teague's ability to get said 34 points, with the benefit of only three 3-pointers, but in general, UNC stunk and still almost won on the road against a top-5 team. That's a good sign.
2) Tyler Hansbrough
When Ty Lawson was injured last season, I wrote UNC was better with Quentin Thomas at point guard. I had statistical data to support my argument.
It's not anything against Lawson, it's that Thomas is/was a true pass-first point guard. With Thomas, the hierarchy of UNC's offense was clear: Psycho T first and everyone else second.
Bottom line for UNC and its Final Four chances — the offense has to run through Hansbrough. While not an adept passer, his presence opens up the outside for everyone else. He attracts the defense, which allows Wayne Ellington and Danny Green (note I omitted Lawson he should generate his points on the dribble-drive and in transition, not on 3s) to shoot and Deon Thompson to clean up the garbage.
Hansbrough can consistently score better than anyone who has every played in the ACC. Give him the ball and go from there.
You cannot ignore him for a half, which UNC did for the better part of the final 20 minutes on Sunday, and he cannot allow his teammates to get into a 3-point shooting contest. UNC shouldn't be taking 23 3s in a game, at least not in a game it expects to win.
Hansbrough is not innocent in this 0-2 start. He took some bad shots against Wake — the second-half 3 pointer for one — and for just once in his college career, he needs to affect a game with his defense.
Still, if you follow the formula from the second-half of last season — Hansbrough first, everyone else second — the Final Four is there for the taking.
3) Defense is correctable
Defense is a function of hustle and desire. It's not a gift, it's about effort.
The bad news in losses to Wake and Boston College is neither team shot particularly well or beat UNC by trading 3s for 2s. Both Wake and BC simply out-played UNC.
That's both bad news and good news. The bad news is, the Heels aren't as good as you, me, Dick Vitale, Roy Williams or anyone else thought they were. Talented and experienced, yes, but they are flawed.
The good news is they just have to try harder, particularly on the defensive end of the floor, and they have the talent to overcome their flaws.
Help defense is about communication and teamwork. Duke put on a clinic against Davidson in help defense. (Maybe Duke will send them the tape?)
Especially with the ole perimeter defense by Lawson and Ellington, UNC needs Thompson, Green or Ed Davis to cut off dribble penetration. It's called "help" defense for a reason.
4) Wayne Ellington
There's no sense in sugar-coating this, Wayne Ellington has not been good. On defense he's a liability and on offense he's not making enough jump shots to offset the points he's allowing.
But 16 games does not a season make. Run the offense through Hansbrough (see Point 2) and Ellington will have more clean looks at the basket and not just be jacking 3s for the sake of jacking 3s.
Defensively, he was so bad against Wake, Williams had to go to a zone in the second half because he had no other options at shooting guard.
This is where Marcus Ginyard will help. Note, I don't think Ginyard's Lazarus (or even Jackie Manuel) but his minutes can only help Ellington.
Again, the good news is Ellington has a talent (shooting) you can't teach and with the right effort can at least be serviceable on defense.
5) Reduced expectations
Williams loves to say he loves high expectations because that means he has a good team. The truth is all coaches hate high expectations because it's an element they can't control and coaches by nature hate anything they can't control.
Just before he left for China this summer, Mike Krzyzewski held a press conference and he was asked about UNC and all the players that had decided to return for this season.
He kinda smirked and responded: "I like my team."
See, K was in this boat with J.J. Redick in 2006. Duke went off as the No. 1 team in the country and spent the better part of the season there but got knocked out in the Sweet 16 because among other reasons, the team wasn't as good as everyone told them they were.
UNC wasn't just No. 1 but a unanimous No. 1 and started the season by not just beating some good/brand-name teams — Notre Dame, Michigan State and Kentucky — but annihilating them.
With losses to BC and Wake, the Heels can taste their own mortality. They're not perfect but that doesn't mean the season is over.
UNC can still find its way. The question is where will they go from here?