Saturday, March 10, 2007

Plenty of reasons to question Tar Heels

It took a trip to Tampa to do it.

After losing three of its final six regular season games, North Carolina finally is demonstrating again why it is supposed to be one of the top contenders for the national title.

The Tar Heels are doing it with defense. They held Florida State to a season-low 30.9 percent from the field in a 73-58 victory in Friday’s quarterfinals, and thoroughly frustrated Boston College early in Saturday’s semifinal.

Sophomore point guard Tyrese Rice scored 32 points in an overtime win against Miami on Friday, but had five points at halftime Saturday, when North Carolina led 38-23. He kept pulling on the front of his jersey, begging teammates to set a ball screen for him, but North Carolina defended those perfectly.

When Rice gave up the ball, Ty Lawson got face-to-face with him, preventing him from getting it back.

Jared Dudley, the crafty ACC Player of the Year, had four points and just one field goal at halftime. He was clearly frustrated, hollering "thank you" after referee Mike Eades called a foul against Reyshawn Terry for leaning on Dudley in the post.

Terry shook his head and grinned.

There are still plenty of reasons to question the Tar Heels. Center Tyler Hansbrough, who had three points and seven rebounds at halftime, still looks uncomfortable wearing a mask to protect his broken nose, and the understandably protective folks on the North Carolina bench seem to think opponents should be called for a foul every time somebody breathes on him.

(They got their wish early in Saturday’s game. Boston College was called for fouling Hansbrough three times before the first media timeout).

The only bad thing about winning by double digits is that it doesn’t give freshman guards Lawson and Wayne Ellington experience getting the Tar Heels good shots in the closing minutes of tight games.

But if the Tar Heels hold opponents to 24.1 percent from the field – as they did in the first half against Boston College, they won’t be in many close games. If North Carolina continues to play such stellar defense, it will get as much out of this trip to Florida as any of the baseball teams here for spring training.

-Ken Tysiac


Anonymous said...

Carolina is alright but if tyler hansbrough is having a bad game or they have a bad shooting game Florid A&M can beat them. Carolina will most likely get put out in the sweet 16.