Sunday, March 22, 2009

What we learned (Greensboro edition)

• UNC needed that test
• The ACC could use Rick Barnes
• Nothing wrong with healthy dislike

Since the Final Four loss to Kansas last year, you had to wonder how UNC would handle its next tournament challenge. The Tar Heels provided an emphatic answer on Saturday with their 84-70 win over eighth-seeded LSU.

Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson, two of the biggest reasons for UNC's loss to Kansas, simply would not let the Heels lose on Saturday. Down 54-49 with 12:24 left in the game, Ellington scored five of UNC's next seven points.

Lawson's reverse layup at 10:30 gave the Heels a 58-57 lead. They wouldn't trail again. Ellington's 3 on the next possession made it 61-57.

LSU, which deserved better than No. 8 seed, fought back to tie the game at 63. After a Tyler Hansbrough free throw, Lawson's driving three-point play made it 67-63.

Ellington's hustle and tip after a Danny Green missed 3-pointer, set up Green for another 3, this one he made and the tickets were set for Memphis.

Lawson's return from injury and his ability to take control of the game in the second half will carry the headlines but it was Ellington's timely scoring and willingness to take big shots that can't be ignored.

Lawson and Ellington combined to shoot 2-of-11 from 3-point range in the Kansas loss. They were 5-of-9 on Saturday.

Unlike last year, the Heels were tested before the Final Four and that can only be construed as a positive going into the regional. Whether Gonzaga and/or Oklahoma-Syracuse-Arizona State can offer another challenge before Detroit is debatable but what's not is the Heels passed their first real test of 2009.

And, more importantly, it wasn't the rock-steady Hansbrough (who was stronger in the first half) that saved them but the duo of Lawson and Ellington. The same duo that will ultimately decide if UNC wins a second national title in five years.

The ACC could use Rick Barnes

There's a reason N.C. State threw a bunch of zeroes at Rick Barnes in 2006. The guy can coach. Yes, the Horns have parts, namely guard A.J. Abrams and forward Damion James, but this was far from Barnes' most talented team in Austin since he left Clemson in 1998.

The Horns gave Duke everything they wanted on Saturday in part because reserve guard Varez Ward got hot, scoring 16 points and erasing Duke's second-half 10-point lead, but also because Barnes pushed the right buttons.

Texas played man defense for better part of the game's first 30 minutes. Coaches like Mike Krzyzewski prepare for everything but the 2-3 zone has become Barnes' bread-and-butter. Barnes went man, in part because Duke is not the most athletic team, but also because it wasn't what Duke expected.

Once the game got close, in the final minutes, Barnes went back to his fastball, the zone. Good coaches make adjustments and then adjust to what the opposition does. Barnes did that Saturday and really made the game closer than it should have been, certainly after Duke stretched it out to 64-54.

Virginia would be smart to gauge Barnes' interest in its opening. A North Carolina native, Barnes is in his element in the ACC. You couldn't help but watch Saturday's game at the Greensboro Coliseum and not think of the 1995 ACC Tournament when Barnes went nose-to-nose with UNC's Dean Smith at the scorers' table.

The prospect of coaching Kevin Durant kept Barnes in Austin when State came calling '06. When you have a lottery ticket like Durant, you have to scratch it. With just a regular roster, by his standards, Barnes might be willing to leave a football-first school for a program like Virginia's. Either way, it can't hurt to ask.

• Nothing wrong with healthy dislike

The atmosphere in the final 2 minutes of the Duke-Texas game at the Greensboro Coliseum was better than anything in four days of the ACC Tournament in Atlanta.

Never mind the size of the crowd, it was the passion, perhaps misplaced, but still electric. UNC fans, those still in the building, were rooting against Duke as much as they had rooted for their team about four hours earlier.

That's what happens when the ACC Tournament is in Greensboro and that's what was missing in Atlanta. After your team plays, you root against the team you hate. Simple really.

The small swatch of Duke fans in Section 108 pulled against Carolina in the first game, even joining the LSU section from across the arena in a "Go Tigers!" rendition.

Forget conference congeniality, that's the way it should be.

Duke will welcome a true neutral site in Boston next weekend against Villanova.-- J.P. Giglio


Daddyx4 said...

Here are a couple more "observations" JP:

(1) Carolina's defense was once again exposed for its weakness in guarding the perimeter and in transition.

(2) LSU did NOT deserve better than an 8 seed - the SEC was incredibly bad this year and LSU did not take care of business. Despite their playing above average in the game yesterday, they shrank when it mattered in BOTH the first and second half - at the end. Poor coaching and good play by Carolina also helped.

(3) Lawson's toe is a non-issue. Does it hurt...sure. But get over it - after yesterday, I don't want to hear anything else about it. The man clearly overcame it and played a very good game. No more excuses.

(4) Duke will not be the only team to be on a "true" neutral court next week. Hello...Carolina was playing on essentially its home court. Due to its unusually weak out-of-conference schedule this year, it will be extremely interesting to see how Carolina handles a TRUE non-conference game on a neutral court against a GOOD opponent. I think last night was NOT a good "test" for Carolina but just a sign of the worst to come.

Anonymous said...

First let me make one thing very clear. The feelings between Dook and Carolina is not simply a "healthy" dislike. It is out and out HATE. Evidently with a woosey name like "My Girl's Daddy" he has to be a Dookie. Therefore I HATE him too. Dook almost choked a 10 point lead late and they were lucky to make it out of the first weekend for a change. Next game, one of the few they have played against a decent non conference opponent(Sorry can't play St. Johns again), the dookie farce will go down in flames again as it has the last 2 years.K used to be good, but his time is past.They can look forward to going back to the friendly confines of Hansbrough Indoor Arena for a fifth straight beatdown by the Heels.

Daddyx4 said...

Ah, and in typical fashion, a TarHole fan is not (wo)man enough to post a name. Sweet backbone.

No St. John's...sure. No Kentucky either. And, I'm pretty sure Duke played a few more games against non-conference opponents who mattered. I.e., No. 12 Georgetown (while ranked and before their collapse), No. 7 Xavier (heard of them?), No. 10 Purdue, and Michigan...twice. I realize the TarHoles played Michigan State (as part of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, NOT its own scheduling, and in NC), but who else...Notre Dame in And the only team they played away from home...Nevada. Wow. Solid. Like I said - the real test away from home is coming up. Time for a real test little boys.

Awwww, and you HATE me too. I'm crushed. I hate that Duke "choked" a 10 point lead (how is it that a good team "makes a run", but when some douche doesn't like the team, it is that the other team "choked"?) to Texas, but at least they weren't LOSING the game in the last 11 minutes against a team from the pathetic SEC.

And, hey, Duke is not "supposed" to win the Tourney this year, right? Sure, their "time" has "passed." Precious. So...what is the Tar(cry)babies' excuse?

Anonymous said...

"The ACC could use Rick Barnes." The ACC already did and, like every bad meal, regurgitated his foulness. Barnesball is best suited to other areas where belligerence is mistaken for manliness, where finesse is viewed as effete. Besides, Barnes wants no part of the UNC/Dook league dominance, just as no looser likes to continue loosing. He cannot out-recruit those programs like he can in Texass. Good riddance was good and remains good for the ACC. And for the True Spirit of the Game Basketball.

Anonymous said...

Wipe your mouth,'re slobbering over good-but-not-great Carolina again.

Can't wait till Carolina gets a REAL test away from the friendly baby blue confines of Greensboro.

Anonymous said...

i love crybaby wanna be's dookies like the little baby girl, oh, i mean mygirlsdaddy. you'll never be the king of college basketball as UNC!

WW Tiger said...

Not counting the current 2009 NCAA's.........

ol' ROY BOY has taken his teams to the Dance 19 times and come home a LOSER...... 18 times !!!!!!!!

The exception was 2005 when coaching Doherty's UNC recruits......BUT...... with so much talent, they were able to WIN........ IN SPITE OF the coach........

SIT Thompson...keep Frasor on the Bench.....and Da Man Ed Davis starts and plays 30-35 minutes.

Any continuation of his Business as usual approach to a Lawson -less or a less than 100% Lawson team on the floor...will result in the SOS that happened in Atlanta...ACC Tournament....a bus ticket home WITHOUT A Championship Banner for the Rafters....


GREAT Recruiter

AVERAGE at best Bench coach.

Anonymous said...

Actually MYGirlsDaddy, the UNC - Michigan State game was played in Detroit, not NC and the Tar Heels won 98-63. While I will admit the UNC's out of conference schedule was not overly difficult this season, Duke's virtual refusal to play any good non-conference team outside of Cameron is legendary.

MichaelProcton said...

So Seattle: please explain Michigan and Purdue on the road back-to-back. Or Xavier in the Meadowlands. That's three games in four against top 50 RPI teams away from Cameron.

And Giglio, you're kidding yourself if you don't think the Carolina fans were rooting against Duke with everything they had in Atlanta. Duke had just settled the game by the half and they had to whine quietly.

Unknown said...

barnes has the #2 rated class coming in next year. 3 top 25 players and it looks like james is staying. ward is only a freshman. i don't think he'll leave now either.

Anonymous said...

Michael - at the risk of turning this into a p..sing contest, the Michigan road game was part of the ACC-Big 10 challenge. Other "powerhouses" played by Duke this year (all at home) were Presbyterian, GA. Southern, Montana, Duquense, UNC-Asheville and Loyola, MD. And yes,I was personally impressed by the ease that Duke beat Purdue on the road, but to try to defend Duke's record of scheduling tough non-conference contests unless at home, MSG or the Meadowlands with a straight face is laughable. UNC's schedule this year was no better but Duke has a long history of generally refusing to schedule any big hitters on the road unless required. (e.g ACC-Big-10 challenge)

Daddyx4 said...

Ah SeattleHeel, once again showing the ridiculous blinders of a TarHole. There is no need for this 3rd grade pissing contest crap, but since you insist on being so absurd with the claim that Duke has a "long history" of "refusing" to schedule "any big hitters"...let me educate you:

Since 2001, both Duke and Carolina have played many creampuffs on their home courts. However, Duke has actually played 2 MORE games than Carolina on the road against "quality" non-conference opponents from BCS conferences. Breakdown:


2001-02: Iowa; Michigan, Boston College
2002-03: St. John's
2003-04: Michigan State, Georgetown
2004-05: Valpo, St. John's
2005-06: Indiana, Texas, Georgetown, Temple
2006-07: Gonzaga, St. John's
2007-08: Pitt, Temple


2001-02: UK
2002-03: Kansas, Illinois, St. John's
2003-04: UK,
2004-05: Tenn., Indiana, UConn
2005-06: UK, USC
2006-07: Tenn., Arizona
2007-08: UK, Rutgers

I am not counting (or not intentionally counting) any early season tourneys for either team. And, despite your whining that Duke is not playing a "road" game when playing at MSG or the Meadowlands - get a grip. Sorry, that IS a road game - just as when Duke lost there it was counted as a loss ON THE ROAD. Just because Duke has more fans there than most visitors doesn't mean it is not a road game...go check the dictionary.

SO - stop whining about Duke's non-conference road games "in history" and look at the unbelievably non-existent non-conference schedule (in general) of Carolina's this year - as that was the point in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Duke has an RPI1.

I doubt Rick Barnes would go to Virginia. I do not think Virginia would pay nearly as much as Texas

Anonymous said...

Does it count as road game for Dook in Hansbrough Indoor Stadium? Just checking.

Anonymous said...

Wow, MyGirl has a real inferiority complex. Here's all that matters this year: NC 2 wins over Duke. Previous seasons are just history.

Anonymous said...

Duke: #1 RPI
Strength of Schedule: #1 in NCAA

Carolina: #3 RPI
Strength of Schedule: #22 in NCAA

Anonymous said...

Duke: #1 RPI
Strength of Schedule: #1 in NCAA

Carolina: #3 RPI
Strength of Schedule: #22 in NCAA

Head to head.....UNC 2, Dook 0.


Anonymous said...

Coach K: 3 and counting
Dean: 2