First half was good. 2nd half? Not so much.
Some losses will come, especially at this stage. The biggest problem UNC has is they have a top ten schedule and were handed a top ten ranking because the pollsters decided to overcompensate for what happened in 2006. By virtue of the fact UNC beat Ohio St we have a feel for about where they are and it is more in the 10-15 range. This game was a de facto road game for UNC and for 25 minutes UNC played some good basketball. The killer was the ten minutes of the 2nd half. It was bad. It was Kansas Game bad. I think the degree of meltdown was so freaking shocking. We knew this team would struggle but I am not sure we thought it would be like that. There were missed layups, airballs, getting outrebounded and Syracuse hitting their shots. It was just an ugly combination of various circumstances than ultimately led to a twenty point deficit from which UNC could not recover.
Are there positives? Sure. Ed Davis was good but had issues with the Orangemen's much more physical front line. Marcus Ginyard stepped up his game, especially when it fell apart. His play and leadership did get the Heels back within ten before Syracuse extended again. The Wear Twins were very good, seeing serious minutes after things got out of hand but playing well all the same. Tyler Zeller hit some shots here and there. Outside of that no one else really played well. Will Graves started out hot but ultimately forced too many shots and ended up 2-12. Deon Thompson continues to have problems scoring in traffic and holding onto the basketball. Defensively UNC just had too many matchup issues, especially with the more physical interior players and the Orangemen hit the shots OSU missed 24 hours prior.
Ultimately, UNC just played badly. Seriously. We can sit around and question many factors but at the end of the day UNC played a crappy game. Shot the ball poorly. Played defense poorly. At the same time, Syracuse did the complete opposite. The result was pretty much what you imagine it would be if one team plays badly and the other plays well.
The question now is whether there is anything to be done outside of letting this team continue to develop? I want to say yes but I don't see practice and I hate to use five games as a sample to determine anything. I do think there are serious issues with various players not understanding their role in the offense or what to do at certain times on the court. Practice and experience are going to solve part of that. The other part of the answer is the rotation taking some kind of defined form. Roy plays fast and loose with the substitutions sometimes, especially at this stage of the season when he is trying to get a grasp on who can do what. At some point that rotation will settle down. When that happens hopefully the offense will take a nicer form than it is right now. I do know holding onto the basketball needs to be a major priority for pretty much everyone on the team. Unfortunately there is no magic salve for that and developing good hands could take awhile.
Roy's postgame comments indicated that much of what happened in this game can be worked out with more practice and experienced. Yes there are holes, ones they will have to really work on to hide. I do know the right coach is handling the situation and all we, as fans, can do is exhibit some patience. The problem is the schedule which fitthe team last season instead of this one. One of the factors in the 2006 season that really helped that team develop was a light schedule. UNC did not play any preseason tourneys, faced only a few quality teams prior to ACC play and was able to win most of them. It was basically an incubator for confidence and Roy grew it through the first three months of the season so when February rolled around we had a nice crop of players who then went to Duke and rolled JJ Redick on his senior night. UNC will not be afforded the incubator experience so you have to hope that no matter what, the young Heels can continue to develop despite some rough games ahead.