Blog Entry

Larry Drew who?

Posted on: February 6, 2011 4:12 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2011 4:13 pm
Dexter Strickland and Harrison Barnes have UNC humming

Posted by Eric Angevine

I hope Larry Drew isn't holding his breath, waiting for UNC to fall apart without him.

He'll turn blue waiting for anyone to regret these numbers: 89, 69, 16, 3, 3.

The first number is UNC's points scored, the second belongs to Florida State. The next three represent freshman point guard Kendall Marshall's assists, turnovers and steals.

Thanks to Marshall's largesse, the numbers were healthy all around. John Henson had 16 points and 11 boards. Harrison Barnes 17 and 9. Ty Zeller scored 16 and Dexter Strickland had 15.

Despite all the drama surrounding his lineup changes and the sudden departure of Drew, Roy Williams has his Tar Heels right where he wants them at this time of year - contending for the ACC lead.

Heading into Wednesday's trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium, UNC is right behind the Duke Blue Devils in ACC play at 7-1. Marshall, whose elevation to the starting lineup seems to have catalyzed Drew's decision to leave, had a school-record-setting passing performance against the same tough Florida State defense that humbled Duke on January 12.

His fellow freshman, Barnes, played with a hard-won sense of poise that allowed him to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous message-board fans long enough to become a valuable part of the Tar Heel offense. Where some other athletes might have crumbled under the pressure (perhaps Drew did?), Barnes displayed mental toughness in working toward being the player he wants to be, rather than the player the nation's fans and pundits want him to be.

Today's result -- indeed, the results of the past two weeks -- prove that Drew's departure was a matter of addition by way of subtraction. With Dexter Strickland, Kendall Marshall and Reggie Bullock running the floor with big men Barnes, Ty Zeller and John Henson, every Florida State miss became a race to the opposite end of the floor. Forced to react on the fly rather than establish a half-court bulwark, the Seminoles were caught flat-footed far too often. Even when FSU had defenders in place, Marshall's passing was crisp and heady enough to result in points anyway. This looked a lot more like the Carolina teams we've seen in the past.

The Heels can't expect the Devils to give them as many opportunities to start the break with defensive rebounds, but they've found their mojo just in time to make the upcoming Wednesday matchup the most intriguing game in the country again. That's good for both teams, good for the ACC, and good for college basketball.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: February 7, 2011 1:09 pm

Larry Drew who?

Roy gave Drew a year and a half to establish himself as a starting point at the elite level of college basketball and the kid just wasn't up to the task. Drew had no court awareness, couldn't shoot (17% of 3 point attempts), and gave up way too many turnovers.

In reality, Drew should have been benched two months ago, but Roy comes from the Dean Smith philosophy of giving upperclassmen every chance to succeed until it becomes painfully obvious that a change has to be made.

The Georgia Tech fiasco was the final straw and since Marshall got his first start against Clemson, Carolina has improved in every game and is playing at a higher level than I thought was even remotely possible three short weeks ago.

Marshall is the classic pass-first point guard who exploits openings in opposing defenses (in a way Drew could never do in a thousand years), but can shoot the three when he is left wide-open. He is the perfect floor leader for this team and he clearly has great chemistry with his teammates.

Despite his demotion, Drew seemed relieved to have this load taken off his shoulders and was playing much better than he had in his Carolina career. Drew's biggest strength was his defensive ability and he was definitely contributing to UNC's recent success.

Unfortunately, Larry's dad was totally delusional about this son's ability and decided to orchestrate this bush league move of leaving a heavyweight program (that was starting to play at a level that college basketball fans expect of it) in mid-season. 

To make the situation worse, the elder Drew made the stupid comment about the fact that he was considering this move since before the current season started. If that was the case, then the kid should have transferred last summer, which would put him in a situation to play for another school in November. Instead, the younger Drew will have to wait 21 months before he can play for another D-1 program.

The most despicable part of this scenario is that the father is an NBA head coach and should know better than anybody that a guaranteed part of every player's career at any level of basketball involves overcoming adversity.

To allow his son to leave UNC without saying a word to his teammates or Roy is the ultimate act of cowardice (not to mention selfishness) and should raise a red flag to the ownership group of the Atlanta Hawks about the character of their head coach.

Since: Sep 22, 2006
Posted on: February 7, 2011 9:38 am

Larry Drew who?

I don't think it's so much Roy opening up options he didn't give Drew as Marshall being able to do things Drew couldn't.  Drew never was a PG who pushed the ball; he was more comfortable (if not great) in half-court sets, and yeah, that probably was the problem.  Roy has always wanted teams to get out and run; he's an 80-90 ppg coach, not a 50-60 ppg coach.  He has horses, and he wants to let them run.  When done well, it's lovely.  When you don't have a jockey though, it gets ugly.  Good to see the Heels back; Duke game should be a classic.

Since: Dec 14, 2006
Posted on: February 7, 2011 9:19 am

Larry Drew who?

I hope Larry Drew isn't holding his breath, waiting for UNC to fall apart without him.
I hope he isn't too... He actually did the team a favor by leaving!!  Roy Williams appears to have opened up his guards to go to the bucket and take jumpers rather than just look inside for the trees... Both of those are options that weren't available with Drew as starter.. He was too erratic with the ball, committed way too many turnovers, and made bad decisions when trying to dish...

Wednesday night's game looks a whole lot more interesting as a result of Kendall Marshall taking the helm... The Heels have a legitimate shot at an upset!!  Not taking anything away from Dook, they're without question an above average squad... But without Irving, they are not a killer...  

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