Breathing room: UNC thoughts
The team is finally out of its hole. They can’t let up down the stretch but one more loss here or there won’t kill them like a 2-4 start might have. I really thought this was the best effort of the season. As much as the offense looked really crisp last night, I think the team is winning because of better defense. The help, the transition, and the defensive rebounding were all improved. Here are my likes and dislikes:
Tyrese Rice: Another clutch performance. Earlier in the season when he was flailing around a bit I wondered if he really had the goods. He may have some rough nights ahead, but last night he showed that when he is on, he is really on. The shooting is one thing. But a sign that he is really coming along is the improved passing, finding the open men in the flex and most unbelievably for a guy his size -- backdooring on the baseline. Huge game.
Sean Marshall: I’ve been killing him lately so I have to give him credit for his big first half. Last night is how he should play most games: work the boards, drift out for the occasional three and run like hell to get back on defense. He is not a gunner and maybe he has it out of his system. He can contribute effectively without trying to shoot all the time or handle the ball.
The defense on Hansbrough:You might wonder how can I like a performance when a guy 26 on us? Because I thought he could have scored more. I liked giving him different looks. I also liked McLain getting long minutes fronting him. Akida might not have the bulk, but he moves well and was working hard against Hansbrough. Williams and Oates were a little more overmatched in one on one situations but the did provide variety.
The officiating: Read my logs and you’ll see I rarely whine about the refs, but I thought last night was a horrible game. Yes the total fouls were close. I thought there was a difference in how they were called. Hansbrough got ever call close to the basket and was able to turn a few of them into 3-point plays. BC was drawing fouls in non-shooting situations on the perimeter. And Smith was getting mugged. I just think you cannot protect one star and then leave the whistle in your pocket for another.
Dudley’s foul shooting: A new theme. I have no idea what is going on. I don’t think we can count on him from the line anymore. (Notice how Hinnant took the technical against Miami.)
Overall I like where this team is heading. I’ve called for a consistent rotation, but the variety that hurt us early seemed to help us against Miami and UNC. Hopefully we will take care of Tech this weekend.
Hoping to remove any bad karma from our first matchup, I used the Chik–fil-A coupon on the back of my Tech ticket stub for my lunch today.