Monday, January 7, 2008

THB: Ok, it's on.

This post will start a new category, "THB," which stands for Tar Heel Basketball (to clarfiy, it is Men's Basketball to which I refer). These will not be posts about NCAA Basketball in general. These will not be objective, I am a fan.
Last night the Heels played Clemson, at Clemson. One must appreciate that the Heels have so far cruised through a pretty cupcake schedule. On one hand, all the big programs have, but the Heels have been particularly lucky because the programs on their early schedule which should have challenging, i.e., Kentucky and Ohio State, are both sputtering, or they were when they played the Heels. Until last night, the Heels' most challenging contest thus far was it's first, against Davidson, a small school with a comparatively big basketball program.

Last night, ACC play commenced like an ice-cold shower. Clemson is under-rated at #19. The Heels beat them in overtime largely because of the fabulous clutch performance of 6-4 sophomore shooting guard Wayne Ellington, who not only had 36 points, but who also sank the put-away 3, taking the Heels from a one-point deficit to a two-point lead, with 0.4 seconds on the clock in over-time. It was one of those games that makes watching all the yawners worth the trouble.

What does this say about the team? Why does the number 1 team have so much trouble with number 19?
  1. We are really starting to see what losing Bobby Frasor, the 6-3 junior guard who blew out an ACL recently, is going to cost. Bobby was not a big scorer, he was a streaky outside threat, but he was a defensive presence. There's no one on the bench with his defensive skills, we're just going to have to make it up by taking a step up in other places.
  2. Our opponents have figured out that taking Tyler Hansbrough out of the game is a matter of cutting off the passing lanes. If Tyler can't get the ball, he can't hurt you. Both Valpo and Clemson did this well, largely neutralizing his offensive threat (except from the line), and while he still pulled a double-double last night, it was an uncharacteristic 12 & 14.
  3. Danny Green, the 6-4 Junior who comes off the bench to play both guard and forward, who is one candidate to fill-in for Frasor, is still streaky, he's just been on a long streak of having a hot hand, which ended last night.
  4. The lid just sometimes goes on the basket for the Heels. They do have periods where no one can get anything to drop.
  5. The Clemson Tigers are a lot better than #19. Oliver Purnell is a first-rate ACC coach.


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