Would have been nice had UNC played last night or was playing tonight. Feels we're waiting forever for the next game.
Former Heel and current THSN analyst Eric Montross spoke with the N&O's Andrew Carter about the loss at FSU and his own experience with the 26-point loss to Wake Forest in 1993.
"The thing that I remember about our team,” Montross said, “was that there was just an absolute commitment to do what we needed to do in order to win. And we got it handed to us that game and it was just a mindset that we were going to work hard enough to overcome that. And that we weren’t going to make similar mistakes again.”
Montross, now the analyst for the Tar Heels’ radio broadcasts, said he believes this UNC team has it in it to respond the same way. And one of the main reasons why Montross believes this is because of the presence of Zeller.
“This is certainly a really bad game,” Montross said. “But if you look at the silver lining, Zeller played a really good game. … And he’s a senior. If Tyler had gone lifeless midway through the first half [I’d be concerned]. … But they’ve got a guy who is absolutely committed to this as a senior.”
In the aftermath of the Debacle in Tallahassee(as it shall be known from this point forward) the same name keeps popping up: Tyler Zeller. One reason is he was the only Tar Heel who had anything close to a productive game, in fact I would argue it was one of his better outings of the season from a rebounding and shot blocking perspective. Secondly, as Montross points out, this is your senior leader who played with Tyler Hansbrough and has a national title ring. During the first half of the season, Zeller got off to a slow start and has largely been forgotten behind Harrison Barnes, John Henson and even Kendall Marshall. In fact Zeller's name was not included on the latest Wooden Award watch list even though the other three were as was his brother Cody Zeller. While that ultimately doesn't matter, for the success of this Tar Heel team I am becoming convinced that Zeller might be the key to this team getting where everyone expects it to go. In the NCAA Tournament last season, Zeller had four straight 20-point games. If he reaches that level of consistency again I think other pieces will fall into place.
Carter also asked Zeller on Tuesday if the team was "angry" Zeller responded:
“Usually we’re very [laidback] – we’re laughing, having a good time. But nobody really said anything [after the Florida State loss]. Everybody was very quiet. And I think it was something was impactful to all of us. And hopefully we use it to drive us in the right direction.”
That may be the most encouraging thing I've heard since the loss. It is a sign at least they understood the impact of the loss. Now the question is what will they do about it?