After the exhibition game against Barton College, Dexter Strickland was asked about last year's scrimmage against Vanderbilt. "Vanderbilt beat us down," he said. "That was a wake up call – I think everything that happened last year was a wake up call and a motivation for this year."
Well, UNC is dangerously close to hitting the snooze button. For the second straight game, Carolina shot poorly and gave up 30+ rebounds; they looked out of sync most of the game. The Heels missed thirteen layups – thirteen – and lost the battle of the boards definitively in the closing minutes when they were trying to take the lead. There's not much else to say; the team is young, and isn't playing up to expectations. John Henson had a particularly bad day, with six turnovers and his typical poor free throw shooting. (And really, Henson's performance at the line is horrendous. He's shooting 26.3% to the rest of the team's 67%.)
As for the rest of the team, Tyler Zeller continues to be quietly competent, but never a game changer. Harrison Barnes is still struggling to find his shot. The assists have plummeted in the last two games, as no one's finding the open man and the shots taken aren't falling. The good news is, it's November, the team is young, and Coach Williams does not seem overly concerned. And we know from last season he has no qualms about voicing his concerns, loudly and often. The losses may even do the team good, dropping them out of the rankings and away from the limelight. Give this group time to cohere away from the big games, and they may just surprise come ACC play.
That's the hope, anyway. Because I'm not sure how many more wake up calls the fans can stand.