Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

UNC Basketball: Indiana Game Reaction

To say that watching the Indiana game was painful is a huge understatement. I’m still in disbelief that I sat through the entire game. The second half in Assembly Hall was about as agonizing of a half that I remember in my years of watching North Carolina basketball. Yes, I’ve seen the Tar Heels get beat by worse and I’ve seen them lose heartbreakers at the buzzer, but this was different. This year the Heels are young, but they are talented and have a very high ceiling. After last night, the reality set in that perhaps Roy Williams and his team aren’t nearly as far along as we thought.

The game started off good. Carolina took quick shots and fortunately, they were able to get most to fall. The defensive intensity looked good as well. You could tell that our team desperately wanted to prove that they could hang with a powerhouse team in a hostile environment. Freshmen Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson both got early buckets which led me to assume that they would not be intimidated by the opposing team or the raucous crowd that came with it.

As expected, Dexter Strickland and James Michael McAdoo were involved early and often. Whether it was driving to the bucket or facing up for a short jumper, both players seemed poised to really step up for a tough 40 minute battle. After about 16 minutes, the notion became very short lived.

After the under four media timeout, Indiana imposed there will and stormed out to a 32-8 run that continued well into the second half. Pretty soon, what was a tie basketball game quickly became a 30 point deficit. Indiana had the better team, of course we knew that going in, but after a couple close games with Georgia and Georgetown I felt that there was some weakness to their game. I was very wrong.

Cody Zeller is all he is hyped up to be and more. He is so polished on the post at his age and he runs the floor just as well as his big brother we watched for four years in Chapel Hill. Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey are all big time players and just add so many different dimensions to this Indiana team. Not to mention, the Hoosiers were not even at full strength. Once big men Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin become eligible, this team will get even better.

As for the Heels, to me the biggest problem is that no one is willing to put the team on their back and just run with it. McAdoo potentially would like to be seeing that he scores most of the points and takes a good deal of shots, but teams are really starting to key on him making it extremely difficult for him to be effective on every possession. Guys like Reggie Bullock and Leslie McDonald really need to step up the production. Both players combined for four attempted three point shots last night. FOUR! That is unacceptable. This team has to understand that with the post being down this year, the three point shot will be what wins or loses Carolina games over the course of the season. Reggie has had the luxury of playing behind a guy in Harrison Barnes that had no problem taking a bunch of shots so I’m sure this new role requires some adjustment, but it seems Reggie is reluctant to take the stand.

Once the unselfishness dies down from our key players, the roles will become more defined and games like last night won’t happen as often. The Heels are in desperate need of a confidence boost and the next stretch of games is a great opportunity to take advantage with five of the next six taking place in Chapel Hill. The freshmen have had good moments and will only improve with more experience. I think it’s realistic to think the Heels can finish the non conference no worse than 10-3. Last night was beyond embarrassing and the list of things to improve on is a mile long, but the way the Heels respond to UAB will tell us a lot about where we stand going forward. I think 2010 has got us a little paranoid (hey, I don’t blame you after last night), but let’s not freak out too early just let.

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Tags: North Carolina Tar Heels

  • Souvanh

    I couldn’t even watch the second half after 5 minutes went buy! We are young and athletic, but no defense or since of urgency from anyone! We were lacking a star power! We will win a lot of games with these players we have now and players from 2013 class, but I don’t see us cutting down the nets without a true star! I’m not saying we’re not good but we can’t compete with the big boys! Hope I’m wrong though! Now I have to deal with all the Hoosiers fan since I live here!

    • hatboy

      Same here. I stopped watching about 5 minutes into the 2nd half. This team play with no heart and intensity. It is unacceptable when you’re wearing Carolina blue uniform.

      • Souvanh

        That’s true! They made us look like a high school team the 2nd half! Roy better get them better prepare or it’s going to be a NIT season again!

    • Derek Ball

      macadoo again could be a star but he seems at time to just shoot with no reasoning or emphasis on actually hitting the shot….i can tell as soon as he shoots a jumper its off

      • Souvanh

        McAdoo is a better player than that! He should use his mismatches that he cause to go to the rim instead of shooting 18ft jumpers! Same thing goes to Strickland ! I haven’t seen him hit 2 jumpers in a row since he been at UNC! But he sure shoot them! But we are lacking a go to guy and no one wants to step up and take that role !

  • Derek Ball

    their freshman all played better than our jr’s and seniors. pathetic…..i can see having a night off shooting but year in year out stupid turnovers kill the tarheels. i can understand how the coaching staff doesnt preach ball security and possession importance….especially on the road!

  • Keeping_It_Heel

    I think a big part of this is the fact that Paige is not ready and we have zero players who can create their own shot outside of PJ and he didn’t play. Tokoto seemed to be the only one playing D last night. team defense is horrible at this point

  • Heelfan82

    Paige is not ready at all. I think his decision making skills are raw and he cannot get the team together to run an offense in rhythm. He needs another year to mature and learn that he is not “the man” at this level yet. He is quick on the trigger to shoot and sometimes lackadaisical. I have seen glimpses of what Roy may see in him. I think he’ll get there.
    Our defense and rebounding is awful, period. We are lazy in a lot of situations.
    Strickland should be starting at point due to several factors. He is a proven commodity and should be charged with senior leadership duties.
    McAdoo has been dissapointing. He needs to get tougher and draw fouls. He is often too laid back and fades in games. I think he has more to contribute.
    So far my starting five would be Strickland, Hairston, Bullock, Johnson and Mac. I would almost toy with a smaller line up with starting McDonald at the 2 spot and Bullock at 4. However, the fact that Hairston doesn’t start is crazy. He has rebounded like crazy and is a scoring machine. He is also passionate on the floor. We need scoring…and if we want to win, Roy better find a way to start the best.

    • Souvanh

      I like your starting five besides strickland ! He not a pure point and shoots jumpers way to much! I have never seen him hit 2 jumpers in a row! I would put Paige at point cause he can handle the ball better! With that lineup he would have a lot of options to pass to! Hairston should start period! If he gains more confidence and get the green light to shoot he would be our leading scorer! He is coming around!

      • hatboy

        I agreed with Souvanh. Strickland is not a true PG and not a scorer either (sorry Strickland the true hurt) though he had claimed that he is. Strickland holds on to the ball too long, and he sure put up a lot of jumpers this year.

  • nadeltanz

    Lack of assertiveness by key players. You mentioned Bullock and McDonald. Throw in McAdoo as well. This is what has Mac on the cusp of being a “bust”. PJ and Brice are the most assertive, and break the soft mold criticism. It’s the talented soft vs the hard nosed physical team. UNC is losing the battle as such because they do not have the overwhelming talent to offset the competent talented physical teams. Next year the overwhelming talent looks to be there,but why not get assertive, and physical now and make a habit of lt, and have next year’s team be the best ever. It’s up to Coach and players to play assertive…so far it’s not happening and the result is showing up in the blowouts.

  • Steve

    The first half of the game made me optimistic that our team can play with the top talent in the NCAA and be competitive. The second half clearly crushed that optimism. I think it was a combination of Indiana stepping up their game while our players lost their intensity. It was painfully obvious on defense. Overall, I think as much as we may hate to admit it, but even UNC can’t reload every year, we have to rebuild sometimes. This team won’t be great and I would be elated if we made it as far as the Sweet 16. However, I can see what Roy is trying to do. None of these freshmen are going to be one and dones. A good chunk of these guys will stick around for at least 3 years because they aren’t NBA ready at the moment, which does mean growing pains right now. However, 3 years from now we will have a solid core of experienced players that with a 5 star recruit could lead to a national championship.

  • Keeping_It_Heel

    some great commentary from everyone in here, hope to talk with you all in the forums: