Tag:North Carolina Tar Heels
Posted on: February 9, 2011 11:49 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 1:25 am
 

No quitters in Cameron Indoor Stadium

Coaching advice=keep doing what you're doing

Posted by Eric Angevine

Durham, North Carolina -- I made a rookie mistake in my first trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium. When I left press row during halftime – with North Carolina up 43-29 on enemy turf – I left my laptop open to the page where I had been keeping my game notes.

When I came back, the Cameron Crazies who had been measuring the thread count of my shirt all game long had a look I have seen on my eight-year-old son’s face many times. The “I didn’t do anything” look.

I squeezed back to my seat, secure in the knowledge that one of them had, indeed, done something. Right below my final note of the half, which read “Curry directing traffic , sent Singler left then drove in for pull up 2 ptr,” was a line I had not written. “Devils have amazing second half comeback!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1”

If this were Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I’d give that kid top marks in divination, because that’s exactly what happened. The game that started with Carolina running the floor and scoring in bunches ended up a 79-73 victory for the never-say-die home team.

The first half had been dominated by UNC’s big men. Tyler Zeller went into the locker room with 13 points and 9 boards and ended up with 24 and 13, but in-between, there were just too many big shots by Duke guards Nolan Smith (34 points on 13-23 shooting) and Seth Curry (22 points).

“Seth started the second half and he and Nolan were… both of them were sensational,” Coach K said after the game. “Our defense really picked up. They didn’t get the fast breaks in the second half that they did in the first, in part because our shots were better. Sometimes you get so ready to play you just get nuts. We had to calm them down.”

Roy Williams concurred. When the UNC coach was asked why Harrison Barnes finished the game with just 9 points after making just three of his eight shots from the floor, he chuckled quietly, looked down at the paper he was creasing and re-creasing and said “It’s called the Duke defense.”

The UNC defense made Kyle Singler’s life miserable for 40 minutes. The senior never left the floor, but he struggled to get position against a variety of defenders, and the team effort by the Tar Heels held him to 10 points on 3-17 shooting.

Coach K thanked the fans – the legendary Cameron Crazies – for refusing to give up on the Devils, and there’s a word document saved in my computer that will attest that hope springs eternal amongst the blue-painted hordes at all times. Coach K’s final comment paid due respect to an opponent who once again made this game a pleasure for college basketball fans across the nation.

“A win over an outstanding program is a treasured win, no matter what the score is.”

Posted on: February 9, 2011 8:08 pm
 

Video: North Carolina warms up in hostile arena



Posted by Eric Angevine

This is the noise level one hour before tip-off.

Posted on: February 8, 2011 5:01 pm
 

Barnes gets mentally ready for Cameron Crazies

These guys think they can rattle the Black Falcon?

Posted by Eric Angevine

As we inch closer to the North Carolina-Duke game tomorrow night, I'm keeping an eye out for articles that tell us something about the mindset of Carolina players as they get ready to head into their own personal hell: Cameron Indoor Stadium.

I'm especially interested in the rather unflappable nature of Harrison Barnes, who blithely told the Charlotte Observer "I think they're going to be excited to see me," when asked about the Cameron Crazies (above).

Barnes was coveted by Duke as well, so one chant we shouldn't hear is "you suck!". It's patently untrue and beneath the reputation for cleverness the Crazies have cultivated.

We've documented how rough it was for Barnes to live up to his own pre-season hype, but he's handled the pressure with a cool head, and spent his time learning how to fit into the Carolina system. He told the Observer how his mindset has changed over the past three months:

"Just developing into the system, it was a little different than I was used to," Barnes said. "Because in high school, I could do whatever I wanted - I could create whatever shot I wanted. And I had the ball in my hands the majority of the time.

"At the college level, you have to play off the ball; you have to learn how to make a move in a small amount of space with only one or two dribbles, rather than unlimited dribbles and no shot clock. So those are the things that go into that, and the more games you play, the more you can rely on your instincts."

As a result of honing those instincts, the 6-feet-8 starter makes his first trip as a Tar Heel to Cameron Indoor Stadium playing the best college basketball of his young career.

Carolina is peaking just in time for the game, which may be the closest the regular season can come to a tournament atmosphere. The only thing worth regretting at this point is that another stud freshman, Duke's Kyrie Irving, won't be there to make the evening complete.

Regardless, we know the Crazies will try to shake Barnes' confidence through any means necessary. They won't be the first to try to crack the Black Falcon's veneer, but something tells me the kid's got his head straight.

Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: February 6, 2011 4:12 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2011 4:13 pm
 

Larry Drew who?

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.
Posted on: January 26, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2011 3:08 pm
 

Roy Williams is still lashing out at critics

Roy Williams is still sweating the small stuff

Posted by Eric Angevine

Is it just me, or is Roy Williams getting more cantankerous and reactionary the longer he coaches?

Williams has always worn his emotions on his sleeve. Back when he ran the Kansas Jayhawks, it was a near-run contest as to who would shed more tears in a post-game press conference each week: Roy or Kansas City Chiefs coach Dick Vermiel. He caught a lot of flak for that, but I always thought it was rather touching that he cared about his players so much that it choked him up to see them miss out on opportunities.

Around the time Williams began to flirt with the North Carolina job he now holds, he began to turn more grumpy. Can't say I blame him for that, either. The dichotomy between the love he felt when he turned his alma mater down the first time and the pure hate he earned from the same fans when he accepted the second opportunity had to be rather galling.

Since then, however, Williams has won two national championships and been elected to the Hall of Fame. You'd think that would mellow the guy out a bit, but it hasn't. Especially since the past two seasons have brought so much mediocre play and outright losing. Williams has had an opposing fan thrown out of the Dean Dome and recently ripped callers on his radio show for daring to complain about the product on the floor.

His anger was just so... Daggum Roy. Aside from the one slip, in which he uttered a word that rhymes with "flit" on national television following his final loss at Kansas, the man from Asheville is just so Mayberry about his anger. Here's the rant he unleashed last week on the air:

Everybody was talking about how they were Carolina fans for nine million years and how bad we are. I don't give a damn how long you're a Carolina fan, those are kids in the locker room, and they played their buns off tonight. Don't call me next week and say how good we are; keep your damn phone calls to yourself.

First of all, only Bill Guthridge has been a UNC fan for nine million years. Second of all, righteous anger is really defused by my desire to laugh hysterically at the word "buns".

What should we make of Roy's famous tissue-paper skin? Is it a detriment to his team, or do they like that he takes up for them? Do they even care?

Bellyaching fans with short memories and unrealistic expectations are very annoying, without a doubt. But they always have been and always will be a part of sports. Coaching anywhere will bring a fair share of people accosting you in the restroom to tell you you should have switched to zone in the second half, and it's got to be ten times worse when your history is with Kansas and North Carolina exclusively. Blue blood fans get spoiled by the good years, and some have no perspective on what it takes to run a successful team at this level.

And yet, by the time a person reaches the pinnacle of his profession (and age 60), doesn't a bit of gravitas come along with all the accomplishment? Coaches and actors and politicians, musicians and, yes, even obscure internet basketball writers have to deal with anonymous rants about what we do and how well (or poorly) we do it. It goes with the territory.

In my experience, one phrase in particular is aces in cooling off the anger that comes from pearhaps unwarranted criticism. It's an internet meme, so perhaps Ol' Roy doesn't spend enough time surfing the web to have come across it yet.

HATERS GONNA HATE

It's a fact of life. So just get your strut on and be yourself. Hall of Fame coach and two-time national champion Roy Williams.
Posted on: January 18, 2011 3:51 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2011 4:43 pm
 

Will UNC change starting lineup vs. Clemson?



Posted by Eric Angevine

Looking at Jerry Palm's Bracketology for this week, we see a sight that must have Chapel Hill residents in a right tizzy: The Tar Heels are projected to hold a 9 seed and face Washington of the Pac-10. If the bracket projection holds true, that means that UNC fans will have to travel to Tucson to see their team play a team from the West Coast. That's a lousy deal for those who made a short drive to Greensboro two years ago, but a darn sight better than hosting NIT games, as they did last season.

The question is, does a team that lost to the 8-8 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets even have a firm grip on that low single-digit seed? Tonight's home game will tell us a lot about that. Clemson, like so many other ACC teams, is breaking in a new coach this season, and Brad Brownell actually has the Tigers off to a decent start in his first go-round in the ACC, having beat Miami and Georgia Tech at home and taking an understandable loss in Tallahassee to go 2-1 thus far. This roadie at UNC is a prime opportunity for his team to move ahead of the Tar Heels into the slippery upper reaches of the league. It was Brownell's good fortune to take over for a coach who left his team in good shape and took another job, rather than one who was fired and left his team in shambles.

Clemson may be in good position to pull off that nominal upset, with senior guard Demontez Stitt putting up some of the best numbers of his career, with appreciable upswings in distribution and deep shooting over the past five games. Fellow senior Jerai Grant provides the kind of interior beef UNC can only dream about these days, and his ability to block shots could make things difficult for Tyler Zeller and John Henson in the post.

In the weekend loss to Georgia Tech, Roy Williams acknowledged the struggles of his starting five early on. Just three minutes into the game, he yanked the entire handful and gave nearly as much time to key bench players as he did to the team's stars. Kendall Marshall had six assists in the loss, and Reggie Bullock snagged five rebounds in relief. Leslie McDonald scored ten off the bench, which put him in near company with starters Henson and Harrison Barnes , who each posted 11.

If the starters aren't fit to play more than three minutes together for UNC, is it maybe time to shake up that set-in-stone lineup? Williams has been slow to make changes this season, but it's hard to question a Hall of Fame coach when it comes to talent evaluation. Nonetheless, Barnes is still lackadaisical on the court and Larry Drew II doesn't offer much in the way of distribution or scoring from the point guard slot. Williams has earned the right to be stubborn - two recent national championships will do that for a guy - but the last thing he wants to do at this point is remind Tar Heel fans of the bad old days of Matt Doherty.

Photo: US PRESSWIRE

Posted on: January 16, 2011 9:22 am
 

Big East showdowns pace Sunday's action

Posted by Eric Angevine

Here's a quick look ahead at the handful of big games being played in college hoops today.

Purdue @ West Virginia, 1:30 p.m., CBS: Bob Huggins' team has been a rare disappointment this season, and it's even more surprising to see that the problem comes on defense. The Mountaineers are still one of the nation's top teams on the offensive glass, but they post bafflingly weak rebounding numbers on defense, and fail to make opponents pay on the free-throw line. Purdue is a defensive powerhouse that would like to grab this road win after dropping a travel game at Minnesota three days ago. If this one comes down to free throws in the waning minutes, send the children out of the room, because it could be a horror show.

Notre Dame @ St. John's, 12:00 p.m., ESPN3: The Red Storm needs to win one of these marquee games in order to prove that the upset of Georgetown had meaning (the Hoyas also need to do their part to add juice to their profile, but Steve Lavin has no control over that). Five seniors lead the Johnnies, so don't count them out. Notre Dame's opportunities will be predicated on their ability to hit some perimeter shots, as the arc is SJU's obvious achilles heel. The Irish should be able to work the inside-out game, but last week's embarrassing double-digit loss at Marquette has their road warrior cred in serious question.

Washington @ Cal, 10:00 p.m., Fox Sports Net: Another opportunity for the Huskies to prove that they are, in fact, Pac-10 royalty this season.

North Carolina @ Georgia Tech, 7:45 p.m., Fox Sports Net: Another opportunity for Roy Williams to steal some cookies from an ACC also-ran.

Missouri State @ Bradley, 8:00 p.m., ESPNU: The Bears have won eight straight games, including a roadie at Wichita State, and they aim to continue to roll in the Missouri Valley. Former Purdue great Cuonzo Martin has his team playing great defense, and we wouldn't be a bit surprised to see these guys pulling some upsets worthy of the "One Shining Moment" video this March.
Posted on: January 8, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2011 2:35 pm
 

Free throws seal close game for Tar Heels

Posted by Eric Angevine

AP photo of Harrison Barnes by Gerry BroomeCHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- A magician provided the halftime entertainment when UNC visited Virginia today, but his display of legerdemain was rather anticlimactic*. Harrison Barnes (right), the Tar Heel voted 'most likely to succeed' in the preseason, had already showed the crowd at John Paul Jones Arena how to disappear. his nine points and zero fouls told much of the story of a game that nearly got away from the Tar Heels in their first ACC road trip of the season.

In fact, it was a late team defensive effort by the Heels, and the free-throw shooting of Dexter Strickland that kept this from being a runaway upset for the homestanding Virginia Cavaliers. The final score was 62-56 in favor of the Heels, but the result was very much in doubt until late in the second half, when UNC regained control of a game they had once trailed by double digits.

Barnes did not attack the defense or force the undersized Cavaliers to account for him in any way. The first freshman to ever land on the preseason All-America list was neither magnetic nor indispensable for the Heels, which is the type of showing we've come to expect from one-and-done superstars after watching Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and John Wall. The lack of will is baffling, really. Barnes hit all three of the shots he took in the first half. Then he stopped shooting until late in the second half.

Picking on Barnes has become a national pastime, but it's not his fault he was over-hyped. Much of Carolina's malaise is systemic right now. The Heels have the perfect weapon against Tony Bennett's pack-line defense: the fast break. They used the runout to great advantage in building an early lead; getting to the rack before Bennett's young charges could even think about setting up in transition. When UVA's three-guard lineup began to create steals on the long passes, the fast break dried up. Tyler Zeller and John Henson struggled to find open shots, and the defensive rebounds ended up in enemy hands when they missed.

Williams' unwillingness to turn his other freshmen loose strains an observer's credulity. Larry Drew II continued to turn the ball over against pressure, but still earned the lion's share of the minutes at point. Kendall Marshall used his quick hands to knock away steals in his limited time, and Reggie Bullock looked to have the range that would draw UVA defenders out of their game plan, but neither was used to great effect, in large part because neither was a regular presence on the floor.

Virginia was led throughout the game by the driving intensity of Jontel Evans, who went to the rack three times near the end of the game. His first two went in, bringing his team within one of the visitors. The third rolled out. When Virginia's guards are playing their roles well, this team can win. A  little more seasoning for the freshman-laden team probably would have given them the victory here.

The upshot is that UNC is not a juggernaut right now. The lineup Roy Williams has settled on does not strike fear into opponents' hearts. The good news for the Heels is that most of the rest of the ACC is not fully equipped to make them pay for that lapse. However, that will be cold comfort if Duke once again dominates college basketball's hottest rivalry. We won't get to see how that plays out until February 9th, when the Heels travel to Durham.

*Actually, he was quite good, but I didn't want to ruin my lede.

Photo of Harrison Barnes by Gerry Broome, Associated Press
 
 
 
 
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