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UNC 62 UVa 56

I was asked on Twitter shortly after the game ended whether we should be encouraged or discouraged by this result. My answer? Yes.

It is really both though I am less discouraged than others. This was a tough win on the road versus a team which plays a style that is somewhat difficult to deal with. Yes, UVa was missing their best player but I don't think I need to explain to the savvy readers at THF how funky college basketball can be in regards to stuff like that. Honestly, you cannot take anything for granted and that is even more of the case with a team that it still developing in many ways. I know some might regard this win as a bad sign considering the quality of the opponent but that kind of assertion denies the very nature of college basketball not to mention history in general. Plus, its not like this was Wake Forest. If UNC ends up in a game like this versus the Deacons, you can feel free to destroy the furniture.Needless to say it was still as bad a game as you are going to see. I imagine C.Michael will need to don a protection suit to properly handle the stats from this one.

As for the discouraging aspects of the game, I really am hung up on just one, that being the extended offensive drought. Raise your hand if you thought you saw the Wear Twins and Marcus Ginyard missing perimeter shots. Yeah, that was disconcerting to say the least, especially after playing well on the offensive end to open the game. UNC was basically cruising along with Dexter Strickland putting UNC up 28-21 with 6:48 left in the game. From that point until Tyler Zeller's layup at the 15:03 mark of the 2nd half UNC shot 1-15 from the floor and turned the ball over five times(UNC only had eight TOs in the whole game.) That almost 12 minutes stretch was just putrid. The question that will occupy Roy Williams well into Sunday morning I am sure is why? Was it UVa's adjustment to UNC's offense which shut off the interior offensive options and caused the Heels to panic a bit? Was it the hostile environment that rattled the Heels and sent them into a tailspin? No need to beat this horse, but the PG play from Drew, especially at the end of the half was not helping. It was a little of everything and the offensive letdown was accompanied by a defensive letdown/UVa shooting the ball out of their freaking minds. The result was a seven point lead swinging to a ten point deficit which provided the Heels with a mountain to tackle in the 2nd half. On this particular issue, I understand the flashbacks to 2010 and also the concern that doing so against the likes of Duke will result in a 25 point deficit versus a 10 point one. Some inconsistency with a young and growing team is understandable but it cannot be 10-12 minutes. When faced with desperate times on offense it would be nice if the Heels could lean on one or two players to right the ship. The issue today is Zeller tends to be the best option but UVa was effective in taking Zeller away as an option. You would think Harrison Barnes could be that kind of player but after starting 3-3, Barnes became invisible again. At some point something has to give with Barnes, I just have no idea when that will be.

On the encouraging was a win? I am going to spare you a deluge of sports cliches about a win being a win and such as that. However, 1-0 in the ACC is plenty to be happy. The alternative is 0-1 and the possibility a young team goes into a complete nosedive having had the confidence snuffed out by one bad game on the road. The win was ugly and the Heels play at times the stuff of nightmares. Yet it was a win they badly needed. I am less hung up on the quality of the opponent here because UVa has some chops and this was a game in a hostile arena. Plenty of good teams lost games they had no business losing today. Plenty of Tar Heel teams have played poorly in years past and been on either side of the win/loss column. The fact UNC played poorly, was on the ropes, found themselves long enough to grind out a tough win is quite honestly more than the team last season did most of the year. You cannot underestimate the toughness factor with this team not to mention closing the deal when they could have easily folded. Again, they aren't a Final Four team. I would say they are moving slowly in the right direction even if it is maddening to watch.

The bottom line for me on this team is the fact there are good things happening. The defense stepped up in the 2nd half to hold UVa to 19 points in the second half and poor shooting. UNC did find enough offense to squeeze out a win. Despite poor free throw shooting this season, this marks another game(UK being the first) where they Heels bucked down and made FTs to seal the deal. In this game a 10-12 effort down the stretch was pivotal in securing the win. It is undeniable we are operating with lower standards right now. That is the nature of the situation with this core group at the present state of development. There will continue to be hair pulling moments but I am of the opinion they will be fewer as we move forward. One bad offensive stretch does not a season make. Yes, it is a major deal but it could be worse, they could be prone to sucking in more areas than that which was easily the case a year ago.