It's over! Run for the hills! Cancel the reservations for Detroit!
I have not decided if this game was simply a perfect storm of crapitude that put UNC on the short end or something more that should concern us. Certainly the matchup is one that will give UNC trouble. BC plays good interior defense and has a great point guard who can make life difficult for Ty Lawson on both ends of the floor. In this game BC also did a great job of hustling after the ball and controlling the boards, at least early on. In concert with this, the Eagles hit shots time and time again while not turning the ball over. This is the formula for putting yourself in a position to beat UNC. Those aspects in particular are things that could crop up again but only if the matchup is right. That in itself does not necessarily beat UNC.
I still think, even after watching this game, UNC has to help you out some and they most certainly did by only posting 78 points, shot 38% from the floor including 29% in the 2nd half. UNC was 13-29 on layups, 2-6 on dunks and 13-40 on jumpers. In other words the Heels shot like crap all game which can be owed some to BC's defense but also to the fact players miss shots, a lot of them, at bad times. UNC came in averaging 93 ppg which means they still should have been able to win the game even with BC scoring 85. Yes, due respect to BC for how well they played but UNC did not play a good game. You also have an element in college basketball where a game will snowball against you on the basis of a handful of plays. That seemed to happen tonight and UNC could not get out from under it.
The question is why were the Heels so flat? Theories abound. Everything from the undefeated/close game talk in the media to looking ahead to Wake Forest next week. Those certainly could have played a role but I am not convinced those were it. Some of you might recall that in the 2007 season UNC went to Arizona one Saturday and kicked the crap out of the Wildcats on their homecourt. It was a great game making that team look every bit the contender. A week later UNC went to the RBC Center and lost to NC State. Roy basically said no one was giving out trophies for beating Arizona. I think we are seeing the same version of that incident again this season. UNC started out a little out of sync with Hansbrough missing games but when they got him back healthy the Heels put together a three game stretch against Notre Dame, UNCA and Michigan State that was everything we thought this team would be. Then exam break came and after that the Heels have been somewhat out of kilter.
It is painfully obvious that the Heels stopped playing at a high level after the MSU game. Breaks in the schedule happen and December is tough because you toss in holiday breaks with trips home and what not. This is part of the season and something a veteran coach with an experience team should handle without an issue. In this case, I think this has less to do with Roy than this particular group of players having a predilection for losing focus. The win at Michigan State was so dominant that it would appear the Heels let off the accelerator. The problem with this particular group is they should play games by coming out and hitting a certain level of play regardless of the opponent but instead the are all over the map with their intensity and execution. Roy bears some responsibility for how the team approaches games but in the end the players have to decide whether or not they are going to bring it every time out. So far that appears to be a 50-50 proposition.
No one expects perfection in every game. You also expect some teams will play their best game of the season versus the Heels. Those two expectations along all the other strange occurrences that come from 18-22 year old college basketball players going against one another means some games will be tough. The key for a team with the experience and talent UNC has it to simply bring it. UNC needs to raise their game and keep it there. This Tar Heel team is in dire need of finding a groove and come hell or high water staying in that groove. This is not to say some games will not be a complete struggle but approaching games with a killer instinct afford a greater margin of error given the caliber of this UNC team.
At 13-1 in early January this is not the end of the world, not even close. There is still plenty of season left which hopefully this team will approach with their heads on straight.