Friday, March 18, 2011

Instant analysis: Blackbirds give Tar Heels a positive push

Roy Williams thought Long Island deserved better. Long Island thought Long Island deserved better. Just about everyone but the NCAA seeding committee -- even the anonymous, emotionless, cold-blooded Mr. RPI -- thought Long Island was better than a No. 15 seed.

So the Blackbirds went out and played like it Friday.

Of course, that wasn't enough to beat North Carolina. Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller together almost outscored Long Island in the 102-87 win. (They fell three points short.) But it was enough to provide the Tar Heels with a stern test to open the tournament, giving them a chance to rebound from Sunday's ACC tournament loss and the less-than-perfect performances before that.

This was exactly what the Tar Heels needed, a push that would stagger, but not topple them. Whatever does not eliminate them will make them stronger -- for now. They'd just as soon find the going a little easier from here on out.

Long Island played plenty of zone against North Carolina. The Tar Heels are going to see a lot of that in the tournament.

Long Island was willing to take the ball to the rim despite the defensive presence of John Henson and Tyler Zeller, good practice for the big men.

Long Island was willing to go fast break for fast break, shot for shot, sprint for sprint with the Tar Heels. They may not see a lot of that from here on out, but that doesn't mean it isn't good practice.

What Long Island really had was a lot of what Williams likes to call 'want to.' They weren't merely talented. After falling behind early, they got a sniff when it was tied 33-33, and the Tar Heels had a game on their hands.

A bad turnover and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first half kept the Blackbirds within 11, 53-42, and given their ability to score -- at one point in the first half, they ripped off a 12-0 run -- they were never out of the game.

The Blackbirds answered a North Carolina surge coming out of halftime and another midway through the second half and were as close as 10 with less than two minutes to go.

The Tar Heels were never able to cruise to the finish. They had to fight the whole way against a very good team -- to the Tar Heels' benefit down the road.

-- Luke DeCock


Anonymous said...

This was blend of the "Twilight Zone" and Hitchcock's "The Birds". Pretty scaarey, kids !

Anonymous said...

As a Heels fan, I'm nervous every time this team takes the court, no matter who they play. They're a very talented, yet flawed, young team, with tons of potential but not all the way there yet. Too much inconsistency.

MichaelProcton said...
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MichaelProcton said...

Long Island "deserved better than a #15?" Will the Observer's Tar Baby spin EVER end? The only team that might POSSIBLY been unfairly seeded ahead of them was St. Peter's, a team to whom they, you know, lost head-to-head. LIU had the third-weakest SOS in the tournament ahead of two #16 seeds in Hampton and Alabama St. and easily had the worst non-conference SOS among mid-majors, so it's not like they scheduled themselves any challenges along the way. UNC scored a ton of points against a terrible defensive team and allowed a ton to a mediocre offensive team. What is the incredible feat in that, precisely?

And 11:55...seems like a problem there with coaching, particularly given the pedigree of UNC recruits the past several years.

Anonymous said...

Just get slaughtered by OSU already so the Observer can shut up about the Holes for 2 seconds.