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.
This one was actually closer than the final score would appear. Two late turnovers put the nail in the coffin of not just this game, but the season. Whatever slim glimmers of hope that remained were finally snuffed out.
Water Cooler Discussion: If I were the coach . . .
What is there left to say about this season? On a weekly basis, this article has not pulled any punches. A mere handful of weeks into the season and it had become clear that this was a sinking ship.
At this point, I would just like to salute the players. With limited reserves and a poor game plan, you have given it your all every week. The defense was once again pretty good and put the team in a position to win. A couple of late interceptions stalled what was a momentum building second half. The effort is definitely there. It is frustrating as a fan to see how close this team comes to wins on a weekly basis. I can not imagine how hard it must be for the players. Thank you for persevering. I hope for those that are still here next year that there is better leadership and a better chance to win.
Lying In Bed, I Wish I Could Change . . .
This is the section of the article where a key moment from the previous week is broken down and replayed. Not this week.
This week we are looking forward.
Lying in bed, I wish I could change . . . the start of basketball to one week (or two or three weeks) earlier. Nevertheless, the long wait is finally over. The final exhibition was Friday and the first game is tomorrow. So what should we be looking for?
The first question will be Roy Williams’ lineup philosophy. Typically, early in the season, Coach Williams defaults to a “traditional” college lineup that puts two or three guards and two or three big men on the court. A traditional lineup will mean that Nassir Little will start the season coming off the bench. How long will Sterling Manley get the starting nod at the 5 over Little at the 3 with Cameron Johnson and Luke Maye both shifting a spot?
I think the answer to that question depends more on Luke Maye than it does either Little or Manley. Playing more minutes against bigger opponents last year clearly wore Maye down toward the end of the season. The fatigue of those minutes against bigger post players was obvious through the close of the season and the tournaments. In order for the team to be successful this year, Luke Maye has to be fresh and active. That may mean some difficult decisions about playing time for both he and Little.
The other early season storyline will be how long Coach Williams stays loyal to the upperclassmen. Particularly, this will play out at the point guard position. Seventh Woods is an incredibly gifted athlete who will make some tremendous plays this year now that he is healthy. Coby White, however, will soon be ready to lead the team. Both need to be at the top of their games for this team to be successful but I anticipate a youth movement at the position.
Looking Forward: A quick peak ahead.
On the hardcourt, the Heels start at Wofford and at Elon. The Wofford game will be a revenge matchup of one of the biggest upsets in all of college basketball from 2017-18. Not the biggest of course. I will note that a very interesting storyline this year will be how good the Wahoos are after that historic loss, how much respect they get from the selection committee, and how vocal their fans will be.
Another great stat is that with the two road games to start the season, Carolina will play two more independently scheduled road games this week than Duke has played in the last decade.
Speaking of the Devils, a trip to Durham awaits the gridiron Heels on Saturday. I would like to provide an optimistic prognostication but I have watched too much football this year.
It is basketball season now. Time to look forward.