Let me first say that UNC did play this game minus two starters. Should they still have won the game? Yes, but missing your perimeter defensive stopper and a 6-6 small forward who can shoot, we shouldn't pretend that not having those two players is a minor point. In a game that saw Charleston hit 13 three pointers including some clutch shots from a player apparently no one could stop, I am willing to bet Marcus Ginyard playing would have mattered. Will Graves brings a different dynamic to the small forward slot in terms of perimeter shooting. UNC needed both at times and they were not there in the players left behind.
That being said, UNC still should have won the game. The part of this that really bugs me is the same thing we have seen against Syracuse, Texas, Kentucky and even Albany. It is the penchant of this team to go to sleep and then wake up to find themselves in an untenable situation, scramble like made hoping they can claw back into it and then fall short. UNC gave up a 12-1 run to blow an 11 point lead over the final four minutes then wet the bed in overtime. I probably could have lived with the loss a little more given the personnel issues had it stayed nip and tuck with UNC losing a close game. For the Heels to go up 11 it says they were perfectly capable of beating this team, if they choose to focus, play smart and execute. The Heels didn't and the results are exactly what they deserved.
Answers? I don't have any. I do know that fans and possibly the players wrapped themselves in this nice security blanket that UNC only had losses to top ten caliber teams. That promptly flew out the window some time after 9 PM this evening. Now UNC has seen their mortality extends beyond being outmatched by higher caliber teams. The flaws run deep and could very well be fatal to the point that UNC might not make it past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Certainly the first step is getting everyone healthy and on the same page. Beyond that I am not sure you can fix inexperience and flat out unintelligent basketball decisions made on a consistent basis.
The issue from a fan perspective is the fact this team was overrated at the start of the season. The polls corrected for the way things went in 2006 where Roy worked a young team into a 2nd place ACC finisher. By logic it was assumed he would do the same since he had returning players with more experience. This is a different team. For one, there is no Tyler Hansbrough and feel free to bask in the greatness of #50 one more time. While it seems impossible, it is conceivable that even UNC fans underrated his career, especially to what extent he carried that 2006 team. Secondary to that is something Bomani Jones and Joe Ovies discussed on Twitter and that is the leadership of David Noel. Obviously, it meant more than we could imagine because as much as I love Marcus Ginyard and Deon Thompson, I don't think they are getting it done. In 2006, Roy Williams said more than once how much the players bought into what he and his coaching staff told them. They listened to the coaches. This season it is clear that is not the case. Roy has said so himself. Based on the product we see on the court either Roy sucks coaching them or they are not heeding the instruction.
Not to be cliche but it is what it is. It will either get better or it won't. UNC has some flaws and I am not sure there are immediate solutions to those flaws. They lack a go to scorer. The inside game for all its talent lacks a physical/aggressive nature to it. And for all the talk about the defense being an asset in the preseason on the premise they would block more shots I am beginning to think the defense is a liability of sorts. It certainly was tonight given the open looks Charleston got and the Keystone Kops hijinks when UNC players tried to switch. There is plenty to be worried about but given there might not easy answer this season the best advice is to just roll with it. Maybe it will turn out okay or maybe this will be a full blown development year. Either way, excessive griping ain't going to change it only piss you off more. And life is too short for that.