Rapid Reactions: UNC Stunned By UNLV


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UNLV came out storming in the first half reminding me of the days of the plastic man and Larry Johnson, I was looking for a bald man biting a towel on the sidelines for a minute.  Not really but still it was kind of crazy to see.  And that may be a problem for the UNC team that seems to play the first half of games like they don’t believe they can or will lose.  A loss this season may just be a good thing for the team in the long run, more on that later.

It was a tough first half for the Heels up just 42-38 at the half.  The Heels kept tight to the rotation playing just 8 players with James McAdoo, PJ Hairston and Reggie Bullock in the first half off the bench, something I’ll protest to Roy Williams he needs to employ on a regular basis in a post tomorrow.

Dexter Strickland looked very good on the offensive end of the floor scoring 9 first half points on 4 of 4 shooting.  His jump shot looks a lot smoother and natural coming off and he’s definitely more confident shooting the rock from the perimeter this year.  If he can join John Henson’s offensive emergence defenses will only be that much more off balance.

Coverage of the second half and a look at UNCs upcoming games after the jump

The second half UNLV came out even stronger, with UNC looking stale.  The rebels jumped out to an 8 point lead early and never looked back.  The Tar Heels seemed very stagnant on offense settling for contested jump shots instead of working the ball inside out.  UNLV took the Heels out of their game and UNC found themselves on their heels.  The Rebels rode early momentum all the way to the finish line with a stunning 90-80 win.  Time for my rapid reactions.

John Henson was very aggressive offensively, especially early putting up 11 shots before the 15 minute mark in the second half.  It’s evident that his mind set is now in full attack mode when he gets the ball, especially if he receives the ball in the post.  He’s improved his free throw shooting and his all around touch looked reformed.

Dear James Michael McAdoo, You are awesome, you run the floor like a true Heel big man, please shoot 250 free throws per day.  But man watching McAdoo come up with the steal, lead the break and make that point guard like precision bounce pass to Reggie Bullock was a thing of beauty.  I love the commentators quote “That’s your power forward?”.   The streak of 3 straight possessions where McAdoo out ran the entire UNLV team each time down the floor and ended up at the foul line is a wonderful preview of this kids potential.  It’s going to be fun watching him grow.

PJ Hairston continues to look like a superstar in the making.  His 220 pound frame and cat like quickness make him a very good defender, I contend by the end of the year he may be on Strickland’s level.  His shot is so smooth and his release is so quick he looks like a player that may be able to offset the loss of Harrison Barnes to the NBA next season.  Having this guy off the bench is almost unfair to the rest of college basketball.

Tyler Zeller after committing 3 fouls about mid way through the first half was quiet scoring just 2 points in the first half.  And finishing the game with no real impact whatsoever.  The Tar Heels need more from Zeller each and every night from their senior.

Carolina seemed to rush things very early in the second half as if it were desperation time already.  Jacking up three pointers with hands in their face like it was a must they get a 3.  Roy Williams did not utilize the timeout or any massive substitutions for motivation like I thought he might in a game like this.  In my opinion the team looked tight, shocked they were losing and needed a coach’s guidance.

Harrison Barnes waited until late in the second to assert himself after rolling his ankle early in the game and having a tough night shooting.  But late in the game he went into the post and demanded the ball, it’s an evolution process with a young player but the Heels need more of that more often and earlier in tough games.

In the end the Heels were stunned by UNLV because they didn’t dominate inside and they didn’t defend the three.  Carolina will wake up not ranked as the #1 team in the nation, with a loss to an unranked team on their resume.  It’s not time to panic, but UNCs weaknesses were exposed tonight.  It’s not too much to overcome in fact these are easy fixes with hard work and focus when you have a team as talented as this.  But this proves it can happen, and maybe these Carolina kids needed to learn that.

Upcoming Games

This was a wake up game for Carolina who has Wisconsin,  and Kentucky coming up on their schedule.  This game should tell UNC that they aren’t ready to walk into Lexington and beat Kentucky.  Not the way they played today.

Check back with us tomorrow, I’ll tell you how Roy Williams needs to set his rotation and why and what the Heels need to do to rebound.

Keep It Heel!

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