This past week, I got to see the Tar Heels for the first time this season in person. This is a big shift for me. While I lived in Chapel Hill, I got to see several games per year in person. At my time with WCHL, I was blessed to see most of the home games. I forgot how great the atmosphere around a good UNC comeback and the electricity of a three point basket in overtime.
Feb 2, 2013; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige (5) reacts in overtime. The Tar Heels defeated the Hokies 72-60 at the Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
I was mentally trying to draw comparisons to teams I had seen before. The team that came to mind immediately was the 2000 team just because of how mid-season a switch got flipped and boom. They made a deep run into the tournament. All the way to the Final Four even. While I’d love for that to be the arc for this team, let’s look at the composition of those teams. The 2000 squad had Brendan Haywood, Ed Cota, and Joe Forte when he was a promising freshman. That team underachieved, then caught one of the better draws to the Final Four. There was more experience. This team isn’t like the 2000 team.
So I asked my buddy John. I almost always bounce ideas off him. He laughed at my attempt to tie this year’s team with the 2000 team. Rightfully so. 06 I asked? Negative
That team head a definite leader in Noel and freshmen who were determined to get better in a hurry. May. McCants. Lawson. Nah. Not like this at all.
Here’s John’s thoughts. ”This team may be more like that 2011 team. The one that was mediocre to start the year but gradually got better as the season went on and the freshman PG found his groove. Because Roy’s teams ALWAYS go as the PGs go. This one has better shooters than that team, but clearly that team had better bigs.”
Me – So it’s like every other team except they’re not.
John – It’s a bizarro UNC team
(That’s exactly what it is. This team is solid in the half court. As the commentator Len “Fish Sticks” Elmore noted, “This team is dangerous when its making shots.” Oh. That’s this team Len? I thought it was every other team in America, but it’s this one? Ok.) This team pushes tempo, but it does so more on the secondary break than the primary break that we as UNC fans have gotten so used to.
John – I think this team could be better on D than that team was. They just have to buy in and not try to block shots like Henson did. His shot blocking covered a lot of poor D, especially by the guards. And 2011 didn’t have anyone who could shoot like Reggie and PJ. But neither can create their own shots like that team could. We’ve always had experienced PGs or experienced big men. Except for this year and 2010.
Me – Yeah. I know what the problem was with that team. Addition by subtraction.
John – This team has two big advantages. INFINITELY better chemistry and INFINITELY better shooting potential. Say what you will about Dex and Reggie… the fact is they are experienced and committed. The 2010 team didn’t have that.
Maybe John should be writing this article.
I know I said before the VT game that the next two games would be VERY important. And they were. This team is a tournament team. Now the next two games will tell us how good this team can be against elite competition in hostile environments. Miami is the reason #beastmode was invented. Duke is Duke. I, for one, am excited to see if this team has found their groove and will blast to and through the end of the season and into the postseason.