Signs of life in another tough loss
We're now to the point where the season is over. Any pipe dream of a late run and sneaking into the tourney is dead. 8 ACC losses (and counting) is Al's worst showing in conference since 2000. All that said I am going to focus on the positive of today's loss. Another close game that will go a different way next year.
-- Southern's quick accession. Because we are losing, it makes sense for him to get more minutes. But I think he is a net positive when he is out there. He's a much better rebounder than Oates or Blair and is our only good inside scorer.
-- Paris's aggressiveness. He went at the basket and also took open shots.
-- Rice's passing. He put the ball in the right place. Guys just had trouble finishing. If he comes back next year, his assist numbers will be very impressive.
One more thing: I disagree with the announcers on Rice's quiet second half being the reason we lost. Sure when they shut down your best player, it is tough to win. But I felt the bigger factor in the loss was really the poor defense when Blair and Oates were on the floor in the second half. Once we went with a lineup of Rice, Paris, Raji, Spears and Southern, the rebounding improved as did the defense. They didn't have enough time to overcome the deficit, but Rice got the players involved and they all contributed offensively.