North Carolina needed All-American forward Harrison Barnes, known as the “Black Falcon” to step up and have a big game more than ever against Ohio in the Sweet 16. With point guard Kendall Marshall sidelined with a fractured wrist somebody needed to pick up the production for the Tar Heels. Considering the consistent play senior Tyler Zeller has delivered all season long. That someone needed to be Barnes, the Black Falcon desperately needed to come out and show his wings.
Instead, what they got was maybe the worst performance all season long from Barnes. Harrison struggled all game long shooting just 1-10 in the first half and finishing just 3-16. As in all sports, in basketball, sometimes even the best players struggle. Especially perimeter shooters who rely on their rhythm and timing to knock down outside shots. To put it simply, going 3-16 was not the problem for Barnes. I’ve seen Michael Jordan shoot 7-28 before, it happens. It was the way Barnes missed, the forced shots, the deep threes early in the shot clock. His five turnovers were pretty much all of the ugly wtf are you doing variety. But again, this is college basketball, even the “superstars” can have games like this sometimes.
If only Harrison Barnes had shown me three things I know he has his performance wouldn’t be so disappointing. Heart, hustle and basketball intelligence were missing from Barnes game. After making an obvious effort to assert himself and come to the Tar Heels rescue early on, Barnes let the misses get to him. Early in the second half it was obvious to any on lookers that Barnes was discouraged. His body language made him look like a defeated soldier, as if the Heels had lost the game. He certainly didn’t look like a confident All-American playing for a chance to advance to the Elite Eight.
Again, I’m not disappointed in Harrison Barnes for shooting 3-16, committing five turnovers and playing an overall ugly game. Roy Williams and Carolina need more from Barnes in terms of leadership. With Kendall Marshall out, Barnes needs to play like he is motivated to do whatever it takes to win. Even if he’s struggling with his shot he needs to help out in other areas of the game. More so than that, he needs to play with passion and not allow his body language to look so defeated. Regardless of what they tell you, the entire team is worried about playing without Marshall. It does nothing good for the rest of the team when one of the leaders is walking around like his dog died.