North Carolina may be the victim of impossibly high expectations in basketball.
Though the Tar Heels are 10-0 and remain the nation’s top-ranked team, there are rumblings that they’re not as good as they should be. Some of the dissatisfaction comes straight from the top with coach Roy Williams, who vowed that ragged defense in Wednesday’s 88-78 win over Nicholls State would cause him to run the Tar Heels ragged during practice Thursday.
In fairness to the Tar Heels, they are doing some things well:
- Tyler Hansbrough, who’s averaging 21.8 points and 9.9 rebounds, is living up to his billing as the best center in the nation.
- After his shooting was streaky at best last season, sophomore guard Wayne Ellington has made 43.8 percent of his 3-point attempts.
- Junior Danny Green, who’s averaging 13.3 points is emerging as the best sixth man in the ACC.
Sophomore point guard Ty Lawson appears to have regressed and is averaging 1.8 assists for every turnover, far lower than last season’s average of 2.6 assists per turnover. And the combination of Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson at the post position opposite Hansbrough has made little impact on offense or defense.
There is plenty of time for North Carolina to get these problems straightened out, and Williams will take advantage of extra practice time the next few days to get his point across. But without improvement, it would be a stretch to cast the Tar Heels as a prohibitive favorite to get to the Final Four or even finish first in the ACC in the regular season.
– Ken Tysiac