Second coming of George Lynch?
Okay that might be a bit much but among the issues I have seen with this Tar Heel team is the absence of that one guy who plays in a way to keep the Heels from losing and motivates his teammates to do the same. Danny Green got the first part of the equation right versus Wake Forest on Sunday night. Green played an incredible game on both ends before fouling out at the end. Based on today's session with the media Green might be ready to go the full distance in becoming the senior leader this team needs to make a run for the title.
Q: What is the mood on this team right now?
A: "Everybody is disappointed in ourselves because we know what we're capable of and we know that we're not playing our best basketball. Last game, we competed, though. But even when we compete, we know that's not good enough, because we still didn't come out with a win.
But we've just got to be hungry again — somehow, some way, find that hunger again to come out, be motivated to dominate other teams and play other teams and play better basketball and execute offensively and play better defense. That's the main thing — play better defense, boxing out and limiting other teams to one shot."
Q: Does 0-2 make you hungry?
A: I think we should always be hungry. Every game I come out, I feel like it's an opportunity, and I try to take advantage of it as much as possible. But we need everybody on the same page, and I feel like not everybody's on the same page, and not everybody's clicking. And a lot of times, you're not going to have everybody clicking. But it helps when everybody's on the same page. If shots aren't going in and not everybody's clicking offensively or defensively, if you're on the same page and the chemistry's going wrong, I think things will turn out a little bit better. I think last game, we got a little frustrated with each other a little bit, and not everybody shot well. And when you're not shooting the ball well, and the other team's shooting well, not many times you're going to come out with a win.
Q: What's the vibe around this team? Is it as tight-knit as last year's was?
A: Definitely, it's the same team. Chemistry is fine, I thing we just got too comfortable, and right now, we're going to try to pull it together a little bit. Right now, I can see guys thinking about it a lot, watching film on their own; I notice guys came to the gym last night, people were rehabbing, people were working on their game. But it just comes down to the desire to want to win, and want to play defense -- that's really all that defense is about, having the will and the desire to stop somebody. So if we just find that hunger again, we'll be fine.
This is the second time Green has spoken to the media midweek. He talked to David Glenn on 850 the Buzz last week and this week he met with the media again at practice. I am not sure how normal this is in terms of media availability for UNC players or who thought Green should do the interview but I like what he had to say. The answer to the second question is particularly telling since he basically calls out his teammates for not being on the same page. And what page would that be? The page that says every player comes out hungry and ready to play. It is apparent that has not been happening since the MSU game and Green is basically saying that is what has to happen. Green does deal with the chemistry issue and says everything is fine. Of course that is what we expect him to say but he did point out that some of the Heels spent part of their day off working on their game and hopefully trying to improve themselves.
The bottom line is what Green said in response to the first question. This team has to fine that "hunger" and he is not just talking about a hunger to win but actually talking about dominating other teams. I think this message resounds with most of the fans who are frustrated with the two losses. More importantly I hope Green has said these kinds of things to his teammates and it struck a cord with them.
Granted these two losses do not but the season in jeopardy but I honestly believe they could serve as a watershed moment. It could be the point in which they finally shed the labels and letdowns to become the team we all believe they can be. The truth is this is not an overly talented team. Neither was 1993 but they gelled as a unit and they had George Lynch as a senior leader keeping them focused while making the plays on both ends that carried them at times. I think Danny Green can be that on this team. He is vocal. He showed against Wake Forest he knows how to show up in a big game. The mantle of leadership is there for the taking.
Step up and take it Danny.