Friday, January 28, 2011

Tar Heels may want to peek ahead

No one preaches that good ol' one-at-a-time sermon with more emotion than North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams.

But even with longtime rival N.C. State on the Smith Center doorstep for a Saturday test (2 p.m.), the Tar Heels might be wise to take into account that their next game already has the markings of ambush.

At Boston College (14-7 overall, 4-3 ACC) on Tuesday (9 p.m.), the Heels (14-5, 4-1) can just go ahead and make book on confronting a motivated, wounded opponent that's overdue to have a hot shooting night.

Having played the league's most physical two teams -- Duke (19-1, 6-1) and Florida State (15-5, 5-1) -- back to back and on the road, new coach Steve Donahue and his players were in a foul mood by the time they left Duke Thursday.

The Eagles lost both by wide margins --67-51 at FSU and 84-68 at Duke -- largely as a result of poor shot selection, loose passing and slack rebounding.
Donahue didn't start top scorer Reggie Jackson and surprising freshman Danny Rubin at Duke.

"I think we're going to get better," Donahue said, the "or else" clearly implied.

The Eagles, for now, are just another average team. But they haven't lost three straight under Donahue and although their Conte Forum crowds don't always provide a big home-court edge, the Heels will walk into a dicey situation.

It's very much like what UNC encountered at Georgia Tech in a 78-58 loss on Jan. 16. The Yellow Jackets had dropped two straight on the road, Paul Hewitt was upset and the crowd responded.

-- Caulton Tudor