Welcome to the Tar Heel Hangover. This is our Monday morning opportunity to review last week’s games, second guess all of the key moments, and set the game plan for the week ahead.
The Elevator Speech: What happened last week.
The Heels had a very, very, very, very good week. There is a lot of frustration that was relieved between Thursday and Friday night.
Water Cooler Discussion: If I were the coach . . .
Larry Fedora - I would thank each and every player on the team for a gutsy effort and a big win. From the opening kickoff (thank you Anthony Ratliff-Williams), the team looked energized, focused and ready to play. The play calling was much more dynamic including some trickery (thank you again Anthony Ratliff-Williams).
There was a level of desperation that started to creep in midway through the first half. Pitt’s solid running game began to wear down the Carolina defense and a Pitt touchdown just over 5 minutes into the second quarter marked 14 straight points and the first lead for the Panthers. One could not help but think, “here we go again” as an early lead appeared squandered. The following drive provided hope although scoring on trick plays is always a two-edged sword; it can be a tacit admission that the offense can not work on its own. Then, here comes Pitt with another long drive.
But games are often turned on one play. This weekly article is about those plays. Finally, one of them went the Carolina way. A goal line fumble and a big return preserved a half time lead. Incredible second half defense and a very timely fourth quarter drive ultimately lead to victory.
Roy Williams - With the projected two leading scorers on the bench due to injuries, Carolina came out misfiring on threes. The early unsung hero, despite a couple of turnovers, was Garrison Brooks. His six points and multiple rebounds in the first 5 minutes settled the team and set the stage. This may ultimately be a perimeter first team, but 49 points came from Brooks, Luke Maye, and Sterling Manley on Friday night.
Jalek Felton and Seventh Woods both looked generally comfortable with the ball, but the team’s most impressive point guard was Theo Pinson. Pinson is great in space and brings a controlled speed to the transition offense off live-ball rebounds. That is a trend that Carolina fans should hope will continue.
Lying In Bed, I Wish I Could Change . . .
For the football Heels, I wish this performance would have come earlier in the season. After giving up the lead to close the third quarter, the Tar Heel defense tightened up and yielded only 14 yards in the fourth quarter. It is hard to know what the season would have looked like with a few fourth quarter defensive stands against California or Louisville.
For the hardcourt Heels, the key has to be keeping every player away from whatever the football team did to incur so many injuries. Both Joel Berry II and Cameron Johnson sat out due to what appear to be short term injuries, but they will both be needed for this team to be successful.
Looking Forward: Bucknell and Western Carolina
The Heels need to keep the momentum on the field and the court. This week offers the opportunity for another feel good November weekend.
There will be plenty of time after the next two weeks to debate Larry Fedora’s future at North Carolina. This has been a bad year. This week, however, was a great showing on national television in prime time. These are the types of games that are important to upper classmen, meaningful to under classmen, and visible to recruits.
On top of the football team finally breaking through, this week also brought the successful return of basketball. What a fantastic two days!