clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Tar Heel Hangover: Winning and losing

New, comments

A busy week leaves a lot to discuss.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Wofford Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Tar Heel Hangover. This is our Monday morning opportunity to review last week’s game, second guess all of the key moments, and set the game plan for the week ahead.

The Elevator Speech: What happened last week.

Two road wins to start the basketball season was an impressive start, especially considering one of those exorcised the demons of last year’s Wofford upset. Also keep in mind that last week meant two more independently-scheduled road games than Duke has played in the last decade. For football, it was yet another close loss accompanied by a string of questionable coaching decisions.

Water Cooler Discussion: If I were the coach . . .

Post game, Larry Fedora said about the last play involving Cade Fortin, “In that instance, he’s got an extremely strong arm and we knew he could at least move around enough to get it down the field for us.”

Just so everyone is clear about the ramifications of this single play, starting in 2018 a player can play in four games and still qualify for a redshirt. Fortin, who is presumably at least in the running to be the program’s future quarterback, already played against East Carolina and Virginia Tech. This means that instead of leading the team in the last two games to prepare for next season, he only gets to play in one.

What in the world was Larry Fedora thinking? I know we have asked this question numerous times before, but we are forced to ask it again. Can the in-game management really be so bad that you waste a game of experience for the future in exchange for a desperate attempt at . . . what?

Does a win against Duke salvage the season? No. Does it save Fedora’s job? I would have hoped not. Instead, we continue to waste the future in exchange for a losing effort in the present.

At best, the decision to play Fortin on the last snap was a miscue and for that kind of boneheaded decision Fedora should be fired. At worst, it was an intentional ignorance of the situation both in game and on the season. For that, Fedora should be fired.

Either way, the student athletes that are giving it their all on a weekly basis deserve better. The fans that labor with the team on a weekly basis deserve better. Two more weeks until we start looking for better.

A Word of Wisdom from MGD . . .

Now that we are back to the sanity that is basketball, it is time to bring in help when it comes to second-guessing the key moments. My Grumpy Dad (MGD) is a notoriously pessimistic curmudgeon toward the hardcourt Heels. Two early games should be plenty of time to get the juices flowing.

“The point guard play just doesn’t look right yet. There are a lot of turnovers and they aren’t moving very fast.” Freshman can do this and Coby White is certainly capable of growing into the role. Seventh Woods has been improved over last year now that he is healthy and is showing signs of the athletic impressiveness that makes him an imposing player.

There is no question that the offense looked a little disjointed in the first couple of weeks, despite a prolific output against Elon. The real debate is whether this year’s starting five is better than last year’s.

For purposes of this debate, let’s assume that we are talking about the starting five at the end of the 2017-18 season. That means that we have Luke Maye, Cameron Johnson, and Kenny Williams in both lineups. The difference is that both are a year, or at least a summer, more advanced so advantage 2018. That leaves Garrison Brooks and Coby White versus Theo Pinson and Joel Berry II. Advantage clearly to 2017.

Now let’s think about the next five. Nassir Little is the most talented sixth man in the country. He will eventually be a top-five NBA pick and will not be outside of the Carolina starting five for long. Leaky Black has also been very impressive through the first two games. Then you have two players that could arguably be starters on the year; Seventh Woods and Sterling Manley. The tenth man is Brandon Robinson although it could be Andrew Platek. How good is that second five? Who has one better?

The freshmen are good and are getting better through the first week of game action. The upperclassmen are learning to gel. This team could be very, very good.

Looking Forward: A quick peak ahead.

On the hardcourt, the Heels finally get a couple of home games. Stanford comes to town on Monday and Tennessee Tech will take on the Carolina juggernaut offense on Friday. Those should be two more victories.

On the gridiron, the Catamounts from Western Carolina will visit Chapel Hill. Two wins will not save Larry Fedora’s job, but it will be nice to get a win.

Final Thoughts

Basketball is a bright spot. Despite all the noise from around the country, this is one of the best teams in college basketball.