Sometimes the turning point of a season comes in the middle of a game.
Right now we have no idea whether this is actually such a turning point. That will bear itself out over the next few games. However if UNC gets rolling we can all look back at around the seven minute mark of the 1st half in the Miami game as the point where the Tar Heels got their groove back. It is important to remember that the way the final 24 minutes of this game went had a lot to do with Ty Lawson. It was Lawson's play on defense, especially on Jack McClinton to close the half that turn the ship around. Lawson turned ball over twice in the first 16 minutes and had no assists. This kind of start had been poison for Lawson. There had been a tendency on the part of the Tar Heel PG to get rattled with a bad start and if the other guard was going off like McClinton was doing, Lawson feel into the trap of making it personal. Some of that started to happen but from that seven minute mark on Lawson stepped up his play with defense first which leads to lots of assists in transition. The importance of Lawson shaking off a bad start to facilitate a better team performance on both ends cannot be underscored enough. It might be a subtle but incredibily important step forward in terms of where this team needs to go.
And then there was Wayne Ellington.
Which was hotter in the 2nd half Wayne Ellington or the surface of the sun?
Probably the sun but not by much. After Hansbrough scored 20 in the first half to carry much of the load Ellington showed up in the 2nd half and in many ways for the first time this season. During the course of one half Ellington challenged the UNC record of eight threes in one game held by multiple Heels. Ellington was simply on and I am not convinced he would have ever gotten there had he not followed his own miss with a layup. After that is one of the most ridiculous shooting displays I have ever seen, mainly because the seven threes he hit were consecutive. It was the game we all felt like Ellington could have and we all hope he does it frequently through April.
Not be outdone, Danny Green had another sensational all round game. I have discussed at length how I think he might be the team leader this group needs to get them rolling in the right direction. Once again he played like it. Two of the blocks Green had were just sensational plays. Green hit a key three when the Heels were down 32-23 which kicked off the 13-0 UNC had to finish the half. In the 2nd half Green missed a three, hustle to get his own rebound and then kicked it to Lawson for a three. Green's line:
12 points, five rebs, four assists, three block and zero turnovers.
In general Green makes these plays at key moments. Hansbrough had 24 in what has become a standard effort for him. The Ellington explosion boosted them in the 2nd half but Green was everything they needed him to be all game long and was part of a better team defensive effort. Part of that was Ed Davis having a nice game with eight rebounds and three blocks including three on the offensive end.
Any negative? Only one and I have no idea where Deon Thompson has gone. That will be a topic of discussion early next week.