As the clock winds down on a forgettable 2010 season, it bears looking back and seeing, upon reflection, what the expectations were for this season vs. the reality:
(in alphabetical order)
Expectation: The break-out star and potential lottery pick everyone expected. Voted pre-season All-ACC, Davis was expected to be a scoring and rebounding leader for the Tar Heels, with 17-20 ppg and 9-12 rpg not out of the question.
Reality: Ed reported to fall practice having not met his conditioning goals, but nevertheless started out like he might meet those lofty expectations with a number of 20-point outings and some strong rebounding totals early. In conference season, injuries and dwindling production slowed him even before being sidelined for the last eight games. Davis never developed any kind of shot outside of 8 feet and failed to become the game-changer people had expected. Then later in the season came the agent website snafu that gave some fuel to the rumors that he wasn't buying into things 100% and was only biding his time until the NBA came calling.
Larry Drew II
Expectation: In a best-case scenario, develop into a pass-first point guard who could manage the game in the mold of Derrick Phelps. In a worst-case scenario, it would be Quentin Thomas II.
Reality: On paper, Drew met expectations. He averaged 8.6 points and 5.9 assists per game. His assist-to-turnover ratio was nearly 2-to-1 and he shot 42 percent from the floor and 38 percent from three for the season. But during conference play, Drew's scoring average went up slightly but his shooting numbers dropped considerably. He was also a defensive liability for most of the season. More important, he never seemed to be a team leader, and was never someone you wanted to have the ball at the end of a game. By the end of the season, Drew's body language was horrible and transfer rumors were surfacing (though quickly denied).
Expectation: Somehow Ginyard would magically channel David Noel and provide Carolina with key senior leadership while providing 12-15 points per game. Plus, he would continue to be UNC's defensive stopper
Reality: Ginyard couldn't become Noel. After some solid outings early, the injury bug struck yet again and he was never the same. He became a lightning rod for criticism as the Heels struggled early but was one of the few guys playing better in March than in January.
Expectation: A streak-shooting role player who would quickly lose his starting spot once John Henson learned the 3 position.
Reality: A streak-shooting role player who actually stepped up to the best of his ability. Graves quickly became the team's top 3-point threat and a beast of a rebounder from the 3 position despite being a defensive liability. Very often he seemed to be the only one of the veterans playing with any sense of urgency, desire, or hustle.
Expectation: The second coming of (insert favorite comparison here). The multi-talented Henson would quickly learn the 3 spot and leave Graves on the bench.
Reality: Tar Heel Nation's favorite player in February and March, Henson was finally allowed to move down to the post and showed why he was so highly rated. Revisionists will excuse Henson's early struggles and how clueless he looked early on as playing out of position and blame Roy for not playing him sooner.
Expectation: Role player. Spot minutes at the wing.
Reality: McDonald showed flashes of the things he might could do as he develops. Became a bright spot for the Wake game and always played hard.
Expectation: Develop into a smooth combo guard who can both score and lead the team from the point.
Reality: Up and down. Never settled into the point guard role (though he didn't do badly) and was everyone's favorite Tar Heel about mid-January when he was playing well and Ginyard was struggling. But given the chance to start, Strickland did not produce and was reduced to spot time by the end of the season.
Expectation: A four-year starter with two Final Fours and a national championship who would finally emerge from Tyler Hansbrough's shadow and contribute 15 points and 8 rebounds every night, with occasional flashes of explosiveness like were witnessed last year during Hansbrough's injury and during his international play.
Reality: Thompson never became a leader on the floor and was soft in the paint. He was frequently out-rebounded by guards and often vanished in crucial spots down the stretch of games, unless he was playing against NC State.
Expectation: Role player. Spot minutes at the 3/4 spots. Decent wing shooter at 6-9.
Reality: Does anyone else see Dave Popson in David Wear? That's who I think of when I watch him play. D Wear collected 10 minutes per game (which some fans think should have been going to other players) and did exactly what was expected of him before his season-ending injury.
Expectation: Role player. Spot minutes at the 4/5 spots. Decent banger for 6-9.
Reality: T Wear was pressed into service due to the deep injuries in the post. His points and rebounding were as expected, but again as the team struggled, Travis played minutes many fans thought should have been going to others. Still he and David both did exactly what was asked of them.
Expectation: Along with Thompson and Davis, would make a trio of posts that would give UNC as much power along the front line as Progress Energy. A full-speed Zeller could bang at 7 feet as well as run the floor and show everyone why he was considered almost as big of a signing as that other guy named Tyler.
Reality: Injury struck Big Z again, and he never regained the speed, stamina, or power that was expected of him. Carolina fans are still left wondering what a healthy Zeller would be like for an entire season.
Expectation: Ol' Roy would catch lightning in a bottle again, as in 2006, and like most of his teams, this team would get better as the season went on.
Reality: Ol' Roy is just not that good. Like his team, Roy suffered with an injury and never seemed to hit his stride this season. Nothing he tried with this team worked and he was embroiled in his own little dramas this season with the Presbyterian fan and his Haiti comments.
So, as it turns out, a team that was expected to get demonstrably better as the season went along instead came apart at the seams. While this sometimes happens, it has never really happened at a place like North Carolina with the staff and talent that is here.