Perhaps this team was drinking too much rum punch from its Friday night victory over Hofstra. Last night in Puerto Rico reflected a nightmare for Tarheel fans bringing them back to the likes of the 2009 season. The team squared off against its first real test of the season, in the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who defeated a complacent UNC team 72-67.
It is evident that UNC will struggle this year against physically demanding teams, while the Golden Gophers were just that. The size of Ralph Sampson III inside proved to be too much as he opened up the game for the Golden Gophers forcing the Tarheels to double-team him on the post. Unfortunately, this created open looks along the perimeter for Blake Hoffarber, who buried (5) 3-pointers. The Tarheels, were outrebounded, out-shot, and out-played.
At 7’0 tall, Tyler Zeller, proved to be our “Dual-Ply Charmin Player Of The Game.” Is it humanly possible to be this tall and collect only 5 rebounds in 26 minutes? Yes, Zeller did lead the team in scoring, however he also allowed Minnesota to push him around down low and out-muscle him for rebounds. It’s time for him to realize this team needs him to toughen up and learn how to box-out and grab rebounds.
The night before the Tarheels surprised critics shooting an impressive 70% from three-point land. Unfortunately, the trend fell short and the Tarheels shoot a measly 22% from beyond the arc and 60% from the free-throw line. All American candidate’ Harrison Barnes, was partially responsible forcing many ill-advised shots ending the evening with 6 points (0-12 FG). It appeared that Barnes was pressing trying to live up to the hype of his pundits. I wouldn’t worry too much about Barnes, as he will prove to be UNC most dominant player throughout the course of the season.
The Tarheels hoped that 2010 would be different than last season as they searched for consistency from their point-guards. Roy Williams’ style is to set the tempo of games allowing his point guards the freedom to run the break. The Tarheels have benefitted from the likes of quick guards like Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson who were able to execute the Williams’ philosophy. It is evident that the last two seasons the Tarheel guards are slow and lack the ability to get to the basket. Last night displayed memories of 2009 as Larry “Nancy” Drew, struggled immensely proving he is better suited in non-fiction female novels than as a floor-general for a Top 10 team. Larry Drew III was careless with the ball ending the evening with more turnovers than assists. I get that everyone has a bad night, but his refusal to get his hands dirty and dive for loose balls or play defense are more of a detriment to this team than anything else. Kendall Marshall provided some minutes off the bench, however the team’s inability to set the tempo of this game ultimately led to its downfall. It is clear that Coach Williams has to make a change at the point position and its time to led Marshall run the show.
This team has a lot of work to do before going on the road to play a formidable team like Illinois. The Illini present more issues for the Tarheels having physical guards and a low-post presence. Hopefully, we will see a rejuvenated team this week, putting last nights’ defeat behind them.
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Written by Brian Wubbe