Posted on: February 4, 2011 6:45 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2011 7:08 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander
Many years down the road, when I hope I'm still in this business and well-connected to players and coaches much more than I am now, that's when I'll have the right to kill a kid over transferring in February.
But I don't know Larry Drew II. At all. I don't know Roy Williams. I don't know the culture of North Carolina basketball under Williams and with Drew. So I'll leave the circumstances regarding the point guard's unnatural jettisoning of the Tar Heels' program to experienced vets who've got plenty more stitches on their lapels than I (which is to say: none).
What I am (barely) qualified to handle: telling you how much this really isn't going to impact North Carolina.
With a 16-5 overall mark and a 6-1 record in-conference, the Tar Heels are currently is second place in the ACC. If they've made it this far with Drew on board, it's unlikely they'll flare off into dangerous territory without him. In fact, many a fan will be all too happy to tell you how often Williams' team won in spite of their much-maligned point guard.
North Carolina has trekked back into successful territory this season thanks to Williams' signature fast, secondary-break offense, along with a defense that's improved significantly in forcing opponents into taking bad shots.
Drew's traditional statistical numbers dipped in almost every category this year, as the shorter leash didn't seem to inspire him to make the most of his minutes.
Not only was he a small part of the 2010-11 UNC machine, the fact Drew started at the 1 for 90 percent of the Tar Heels' games to this point and still managed to pull off being the ninth-most effective player on the team is something that's incredibly rare.
To be frank: starting point guards who get overshadowed, from a production standpoint, by eight guys in front of them usually share a surname with a coach. This just doesn't happen; or, at least it's not supposed to. The fact that it was happening made the UNC fanbase's constant consternation over it all the more legitimate/expected/anticipated/per
missible. Some could argue Drew's "invisibility" on the floor was as much an indictment on Williams' patience as anything, but I digress.
Let's look through a little more evidence. Drew was 224th in assist rate (the percentage of possessions he delivers an assist on) and 397th in steal rate. Those are the only two tempo-free categories in which Drew ranks in the top 10, nationally, and he is hardly elite in either, as you can see. The biggest indictment on Drew's ability (and, by proxy, making Williams look a fool): In his short time replacing Drew as a starter, freshman point guard Kendall Marshall is already fifth-best in the country at distributing the ball. Simply amazing.
With Kendall needing not to look over his shoulder for the rest of this season, his production stands to continue at a high rate, especially in the average ACC.
My take is not revolutionary or original; I'm merely trying to push the stamp down for indelible emphasis' sake — Drew's departure is dramatic off the floor, but hardly impactful on it. Don't expect as much as a hiccup from UNC over this.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: January 26, 2011 2:58 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2011 3:08 pm
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:
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 10, 2011 10:25 am
Posted by Eric Angevine
Our video today comes from the A-10. Here, a couple of our television colleagues talk with UMass head coach Derek Kellogg about the Minutemen's 55-50 upset of defending NIT champs the Dayton Flyers.
Heard a good one from your team's head man? Pass it along to firstname.lastname@example.org
Keno Davis, Providence Friars. The near-misses are not going to cut it much longer. Providence is 0-4 in the Big East after almost beating St. John’s, hanging close to Syracuse and Pitt and then, quite frankly, laying an egg against Rutgers two days ago. Davis’ rapid ascension to the Big East always seemed a bit rash – he served just one (albeit very good) season as head man at Drake – and he still seems to be in over his head in his third season at PC. Davis - son of the great former Iowa coach Dr. Tom Davis – seems to be a very good recruiter. What happens after he gets the kids on campus continues to underwhelm, however. Looking at those four losses again, it seems that the Friars play to the level of their competition; banging with the two ranked league teams they’ve seen, then going soft at the wrong moments to lose to two undermanned teams under new head coaches. Throw in the rash of discipline problems the team has faced during Davis’ tenure, and it doesn’t look good for Keno.
Posted on: January 8, 2011 2:18 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2011 2:35 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
CHARLOTTESVILLE, 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
Posted on: December 24, 2010 11:32 am
Edited on: December 24, 2010 11:42 am
Posted by Matt Norlander
I don't think the video below's all that funny. Really, it's sort of creepy — but also revealing.
While on a recent recruiting trip, UNC head coach Roy Williams was deftly videotaped, dozing off as he fought the fight we all eventually lose: the one with our eyelids. Duke Hoop Blog ran the clip on its site yesterday (and a hat tip for the post title; sometimes they just write themselves).
It's an interesting peek. This is the life of most college basketball coaches. There's so much more time spent in echoey, mostly empty gyms, where glamour and fanfare are far, far away.
This is the view of a man trying to keep up with a rival. Said rival happens to be in attendance, too, and remains alert, focused, conversating with his spry assistant, Chris Collins. They are sitting in the bleachers, just a chest pass away.
The recruiting trip took place in Fort Myers, Fla. (I do not know who was being recruited.) While Duke is bringing in terrific prospects by the truckload, Williams and North Carolina staff are suddenly sprinting to keep up, despite the fact they brought in the No. 1-rated player of 2010. After all, Mike Krzyzewski just won his fourth national title in April, Duke remains the country's best team ... while the Heels failed to even make The Tournament last year and are struggling again so far this season. You can bet Ol' Roy's shirt collars have plenty of sweat stains on them.
One last thing: If anyone brings this video to Williams' attention, you can bet he's going to be upset with the voyeuristic nature of the video. Who wouldn't be?