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  • shwineka 5:51 pm on December 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A Legacy Fulfilled, , Big Z, , , deon thompson, , Durham Herald Sun, , , High Five, , , , , Spartans, , , ,   

    UNC Takes on Michigan State in ACC-Big 10 Challenge 

    (pic from Edthesportsfan.com)

    Tonight begins what could be the toughest two weeks of the Tar Heels’ season. The defending champs are taking on the team they ousted for the title just eight months ago. The headlines back on that glorious April day: “A Legacy Fulfilled” – DTH and “High Five” – Durham Herald Sun, among others.

    The headlines might be a little different tomorrow as the Spartans are the favorites favored about equally tonight, but the test could prove to be a turning point for the Heels. Win or lose, I can’t see the impact of tonight’s result being negative. A win could start a wave of confidence that helps the Heels plow through December. A loss would identify the main weaknesses in a young team, preparing them for their other Top 10 match-ups this month and getting them ready for the ACC season.

    Some think we’ll win, others think we’ll lose. (No link for the lose crowd. After all, who actually picks the Heels to lose?)

    BTW that was the first time I’ve ever used the term “we” when talking about Carolina on this blog. I’ve tried staying away from it, but c’mon. You know you say it, too.

    Here’s a Rafters-worthy prediction:

    The Heels bigs hassle the tiny Spartans side-to-side and up and down the court. MSU shoots a horrible percentage while Big Z, Easy Ed and damn-he-needs-a-sweet-nickname Deon Thompson corral the boards and teasingly hold the ball above their heads. John Henson, who is also in need of a sick nombre, will have a breakout game and play 20 minutes, scoring 20 points. LD will teach Kalin Lucas to respect the wood — as Lucas will be on the floor after his ankles get broken so many times — and UNC will win by 15.

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  • gonzologist 3:16 pm on December 1, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Art Garfunkle, defense, deon thompson, , , Tarheelblue.com   

    Deon’s Subtle Dominance 

     

    Adam Lucas published an insightful profile of senior forward Deon Thompson on Tarheelblue.com over the weekend. The article discusses the myriad ways in which Deon has played second fiddle during his illustrious career: acting as one half of the Alex Stepheson/Deon Bash Brothers his freshman year, then having to Garfunkle his way for two years behind Psycho T. Deon even gets seconds here on The Rafters due to our extreme love of Ed Davis.

     

    Lucas points out some interesting facts about Deon’s defense, which I’m sure most of us hadn’t noticed:

    “Sunday, he helped harass Nevada standout Luke Babbitt into a 5-for-18 performance, including completely shutting him out from the 10:31 mark until 19 seconds remained–the key part of the game.”

    “It’s not a coincidence that with Thompson out midway through the second half, a six-point Tar Heel lead turned into a one-point deficit in less than 150 seconds.”

     

    That sort of defensive presence is a necessity, especially considering the high volume of turnovers the Tar Heels are consistently coughing up. While Davis and freshman John Henson come up with the most spectacular blocks, Deon continues to execute the less glorious maneuvers – like hedging on screens and closing out perimeter shots – that enstill an underlying defensive toughness. So far this season he has been the Tar Heels’ leading scorer, and is showing some new moves with the same fluidity his game has always exhibited. Here’s to hoping that Deon’s performance thusfar is the prelude of a well-deserved starring season.

     
  • hiphopobserver 3:12 pm on November 19, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: deon thompson, , , , , , , , ,   

    Who’s got a 9 in the Clutch column? 

    So, the main thing that worries me about tonight’s showdown against Ohio State is what happens when the game is close in crunch time?

    No player has yet to stand out as a go-to man in this sort of situation, and after watching Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan St. and other ranked teams take early games down to the wire, it made me wonder.

    Let’s run down the players:

    Ed Davis is always a viable option, and I really think kid’s got ice water in his veins. My only concern would be getting the ball down low to him for an easy basket. Same goes for Deon Thompson. I know he can score, but can we get the ball to him?

    Larry Drew II has proven that he’s a much improved point guard this season, but I’ve never seen him have to take control of a tight game. Again, not questioning his skill, but sometimes it takes an experience in this sort of situation to have what’s needed. I just don’t want tonight to be a trial by fire and come out on the wrong end of it.

    Moving out to our shooters, there really isn’t one that I completely trust. Will Graves’ shots always look like they are going in, but that’s not always the case. Drew II has knocked down a couple jumpers as well from outside, but he’s not going to take the shot. And Marcus Ginyard has also been reliable from outside, but only when the game has not been in jeopardy.

    I almost like the idea of having John Henson taking a 15 footer around the charity stripe. A couple times this year his defender has played off him and he’s knocked the shot down, but I’d hate to put the ball in his hand, have something go wrong and lose confidence. I’d rather take an early L then that.

    Here’s what I think, Tyler Zeller for a short jumper or Marcus for a drive to the basket.

    Tyler has showed us he can put up the points and knock down open shots. If Ed, Deon and Zeller were all in the game, any big will be down low on Ed and Deon, move Tyler right outside the paint and Bam!, easy two points.

    Otherwise, clear it out in the middle and let Marcus drive. He’s not going to lose the ball and he’s strong enough to take it up and either draw the foul or get a good shot off. Dude is a 5th year player and has been through it all, he’s the one with the confidence and athleticism to get us the points.

    That’s just my take, what’s everybody else think?

     
  • shwineka 2:21 pm on November 18, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Buckeyes, , , Dallas Lauderdale, David Lighty, deon thompson, , , James Madison, JMU, John Diebler, , Kyle Madsen, madison square garden, , OSU, Player of the year, , Thad Matta, , , , WIlliam Buford   

    Trees vs. Bees: UNC vs. Ohio State Preview 

    Tomorrow under the blazing lights of Madison Square Garden, Carolina will get its first test of the season against  No. 15 Ohio State in the 2K Sports Classic.

    The matchup will be tricky as the Heels are a frontcourt-heavy team, and Ohio State is guard-laden — star guard-laden.

    The Buckeyes’ point guard, in case you hadn’t heard of him, is Evan Turner, and he might challenge for National Player of the Year. If you get a chance — which if you read this blog, you probably will tomorrow night — you should watch this guy play. At 6’7″, he’s OSU’s point guard and fifth tallest player. He chalked up a triple double in the Buckeyes’ first game of the season, with 14 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists, and followed it up with 24 points and 17 rebounds against James Madison last Thursday. As you probably inferred from that stat line, the guy is active on the glass, and once he gets a defensive rebound the ball is consequently in the hands of  OSU’s point guard, making the outlet pass a threat.

    Other than Turner, they’ve got David Lighty, William Buford and John Diebler, who are all 6’5″ or 6’6″, play guard and log starter’s minutes. After watching the James Madison game, it appears Turner and Lighty look to drive first, but are certainly not shy about popping a trey. Diebler and Buford seemed more perimeter oriented. As a team, they don’t take a ton of threes, but don’t leave them open because they can shoot them at a good percentage.

    Sounds like a pretty dangerous team right?

    Here’s where the matchup gets interesting. Of the four players taller than Turner (6’8″ and up), only two of them play significant minutes. At 6’9″, Kyle Madsen has been starting and last year’s starting center, 6’8″ Dallas Lauderdale, has been coming off the bench while he recovers from a broken bone in his hand. Against JMU, Madsen played 19 minutes and Lauderdale 13. OSU doesn’t really depend on its post play.

    Carolina, however, does.

    It’s widely accepted that UNC’s frontcourt is certainly the deepest and possibly the most talented in the nation. It will be interesting to see how Thad Matta decides to defend the Heels. If he plays man-to-man, mismatches will result out the wookie, allowing the likes of Deon Thompson, Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller and John Henson to dominate down low. I’m guessing he’ll play some kind of zone, if not for the whole game, at least large portions of it. This would challenge UNC’s guards in getting the ball inside and also require them to make plays they might not normally make.

    The thing I could see hurting the Buckeyes is foul trouble. Their top six players, maybe seven, are talented enough to play with the Heels, but after that, I’m not so sure they have the depth. Another observation, is that the Bucks’ best player is also one of their tallest on the floor many times. If OSU decides to match up size-wise, Turner would end up banging down low more often than not, possibly tiring him out.

    Prediction: OSU’s shooting will suffer because of Carolina’s size on defense. UNC will win the rebounding, not often giving up more than one shot. Evan Turner will have 20 points and 11 rebounds, but his efforts will be in vain. Carolina is too deep and by the time the game’s over, Turner is worn out and his teammates are frustrated because they couldn’t get their offense going.

    Final Score: UNC 82 OSU 70

     
  • hiphopobserver 7:21 pm on November 15, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , deon thompson, , , hallowed ground, hyperize, , , , , , , , nike, ol school iii, , , , , ,   

    UNC Men’s Basketball Team Shoes 

    Besides Chuck Taylor, there is no name more synonymous with footwear than Michael Jordan.

    Lucky for UNC, Jordan is an alum and the men’s basketball team is outfitted with the best Nike and Jordan Brand gear there is. The team has their pick at which shoes they want to wear each season, but there’s always two that most of the team rocks through the season. This year there’s three: the Jordan Jumpman Pro, Jordan Hallowed Ground and Jordan Ol’ School III.

    Jordan-Ol-School-III We’ll start with the Ol’ School III. As you can see, there are several colorways for these shoes, but you’ll notice the Carolina blue one is extra special with an argyle trim along the sole. So far this year Tyler Zeller, T. Wear and Leslie McDonald have been spotted wearing these.

    tylerzellershoes

    twearshoesexhibition

    [T.Wear to right of screen]

    twearshoes

    [McDonald to left of screen]

    As you can see though in the above picture, T. Wear has switched to wearing the Jumpman Pro, like his brother David, since the exhibition. Interestingly, Zeller wore the Jumpman Pros last season also but switched this season.

    tylerzellershoes2So, onto the Jumpman Pro.

    P1020195

    These are a holdover from last year, but some of the team members are still wearing them. Deon Thompson, T. Wear, D. Wear and Ed Davis are holding strong in the kicks. Deon and Ed did not wear these shoes last season.

    deonshoeseddavisshoes

    The UNC Player Editions of the Jordan Hallowed Ground have caught favor with a couple of the underclassmen.

    jordan-hallowed-groundAmong the Tar Heels, John Henson, Dexter Strickland and Justin Watts have been wearing the shoes.

    hensonshoesstricklandshoes2wattsshoes2Now for the outliers.

    Larry Drew II has gone with some of the Jordan “remixes,” an update on the orignal Jordan IIs. Drew II wears the Jordan 2.5

    jordan-2.5-unc-sample-1drewshoes

    The one that has stumped me so far is Marcus Ginyard. A definite benefit of going to Carolina is the exclusive Jordans. Ginyard, however, has opted to go outside of the Jordan Brand to Nike and wear the Hyperize. While I’ve never seen this colorway anywhere else, the Hyperize is favored by many professionals and is a very team oriented shoe that will probably be seen a lot this season, much like the Hyperdunk was last season.

    ginyardshoes2

    The one I can’t seem to put a finger on is the renegade Will Graves. I know he is wearing a pair that is within the Jordan Brand, I just don’t know what it is.

    willgravesshoeswillgravesshoes3Any ideas?

    Now while most players will stick with the same shoe throughout the season some will experiment, as shown by T. Wear. Come tournament time, it’s a different story. Last year UNC came out with everything from the Lebron James line on Ty Lawson to Deron Williams’ signature shoes on Wayne Ellington, making it very strange to see Wayne with a number 8 on his shoe.

    57146173

    5714615457146193Deon and Danny Green are seen in both those pictures in the Jordan 2.5

    In case you’re wondering, Tyler Hansbrough also wore the Jordan 2.5 last year.

    57146778

    I’ll keep you updated on shoes developments throughout the season.

     

     
  • shwineka 1:02 am on November 12, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , deon thompson, , , , , NCCU, Nick Chasten, , , , ,   

    Block Party: UNC Defeats N.C. Central 

    UNC 89, NC Central 42

    Box Score

    For the first few minutes, it seemed Carolina would have its hands full trying to stop the hot-shooting N.C. Central Eagles. With 12:28 left to play in the first half, NCCU trailed UNC 19-17. Then the Tar Heels remembered that they had six players taller than 6’8″.

    And the block party commenced.

    N.C. Central would score three points in the rest of the first half and Carolina had nine team blocks after tallying eight in the season opener. This time the swatting was handled by Ed Davis, Tyler Zeller, Deon Thompson and — emphatically — John Henson.

    The entire team’s defense was vastly improved, as evidenced by the Eagles’ final score (which only surpassed 40 on a scrub-time 3-pointer). But it was Henson’s thunderous block late in the second half that was the nail in the coffin for Central. After a steal, Central forward Nick Chasten dribbled the length of the court to what he thought would be an easy lay-up. Henson raced back and came from the weak side to send Chasten’s shot to what seemed like the tenth row. It’s safe to say, Chasten’s mother was probably crying. UNC’s lead would reach 51.

    The defense improved, but the offense still sputtered. Not that 89 points is shabby production, but that the method of reaching it was again sloppy, with the Heels coughing up 18 turnovers. I’ll take 18 over 26 (See FIU game), but come time for ACC play that will need to be less than 10.

    Still, a great performance from a young, unproven team.

    Superlatives

    1. Best Missed Dunk. Ever. – John Henson for his missed reverse alley-oop
    2. Most Demoralizing Block – Mr. Henson again
    3. Don’t wanna jinx it, but dude can play! – LD II
    4. The David Noel Award – Marcus Ginyard 7-10, 17 pts., 2 Reb, 3 Asst, 2 Stl and best goatee on team
     
  • shwineka 11:02 am on November 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , deon thompson, , , , , , , , , turnovers, , , ,   

    Takeaways from UNC Season Opener vs. FIU 

    UNC 88, FIU 72

    EdDavis2

    Box Score
    Video

    While last night’s game was not absurdly impressive, Carolina looked good considering how much practice they’ve had. On that note, though, it appears that the team is still very rusty. They did not finish well around the rim. I recall one sequence when Ed Davis and Deon Thompson combined to get two offensive rebounds and miss two layups.  UNC’s sheer size advantage was the story of the game. The team shot a ridiculous 55.7 percent from the field — lots of dunks. The three-pointers, however, were noticeably lacking. For a more balanced team, the Heels are going to need someone to step up their shooting

    Could that person be Marcus Ginyard? Ginyard showed some stroke last night, going 2-4 from beyond the arc. He also hit a long two, in which I believe he thought he was taking a three. Roy Williams might be expecting Ginyard to perform a little better from downtown, too, starting him at shooting guard and Will Graves at small forward. One thing is certain, if Marcus becomes a reliable threat from three, UNC would instantly be more dangerous and more difficult to beat.

    As expected, Ed Davis was stellar.

    But, as was evident in the Belmont Abbey scrimmage, the turnovers are the biggest concern. Had the Heels not turned the ball over 26 times (eighth most in school history and tied for most under Roy ever) this game would have been an even bigger blowout. The good news? Larry Drew II only had two of those 26. The bad news? His backup, Dexter Strickland, had five.

    Superlatives:

    1. Most Improved Shot: Marcus Ginyard
    2. Play of the Game: Tie between Justin Watts’ alley oop to John Henson and Will Graves’ steal into Ginyard dunk (both on video above)
    3. The Danny Green Award: Ed Davis – 13 pts., 11 rebs., 4 blocks, 2 Asts
    4. The Tyler Hansbrough Award: Deon Thompson – 20 pts., 10 rebs. (6 offensive)
     
  • hiphopobserver 12:13 pm on November 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , deon thompson, , , , , , , , , , , , ,   

    UNC routs Belmont Abbey 107-59 in exhibition win 

    A lot of good things to take from UNC’s win over Belmont Abbey. Unfortunately I did not make it out because I was out doing hoodrat stuff with my friends, but I’m well-read, so, that counts.

    Deon Thompson goes 11-12 from the field and finishes with 23 points in only 17 minutes. It’s great to see Deon putting up numbers like that to pick up some of that huge scoring void that was left by last year’s departures. Just hoping that Deon doesn’t put up big offensives numbers at the beginning of the season that start trailing off by the end of the season like what happened this year.

    Even after a year, save three games, off the court, Marcus Ginyard was back in the starting lineup and was a box score filler: 9 points, 6 assists and 4 steals in 18 minutes. The 6 assists is what stands out to me. Obviously the back court has been a topic of discussion about this year’s team, but knowing we’ll have Ginyard as an if-needed backup at the point calms me a bit. I know Ginyard has played at the point some in the past and he played last night against a much over-matched opponent, but I still really like that 6 assist line.

    Also back in form, Mr. Ed Davis. Ed continued his offensive blossoming and threw in 13 points. Add that to his 6 rebounds and 4 big blocks and there you have a reason why Ed is considered one of the best big men in the nation. Also, Ed dished out 5 assists. That’s not something Carolina fans are used to seeing from their post players, example Tyler Hansbrough.

    Speaking of Ed, the nation’s best (in this blog’s opinion) 6th man last year got the start last night. He was joined by Larry Drew and Ginyard at guard and Deon and Will Graves at forward. Ed was also listed as a forward.

    The last of the starters, Drew II has a decent showing. In 18 minutes Drew II had 8 assists but also had 3 turnovers. He only shot the ball 4 times, hitting once and never made it to the stripe, leaving him with 2 points on the night. That’s really unacceptable. We need more point production from the sophomore. Graves surprised me a bit with the start, but then it made sense that Roy wouldn’t be starting Henson yet. Graves finished with 6 points and 7 rebounds in 16 minutes but missed both his 3-point attempts.

    Ah, the 3-pointer. Something that has also been mentioned in flaws of this year’s team. By far one of the dark spots in last night’s exhibition. The team shot 25% from behind the arc, hitting on only 2 of 8 shots, one coming from Ginyard the other from David Wear. At least they weren’t out there jacking them all night.

    The other downside from last night, the free throw shooting was atrocious. 13-24 for 54% as a team. Seeing right now that we can’t hit 3s or FTs consistently worries me about games that will be decided in crunch time. Don’t know if we have that right now.

    Quick round-up and the rest of the bunch:

    • Tyler Zeller scored 17 points off the bench and had 6 rebounds and only 2 fouls, pretty good for Tyler. Need him to keep up the scoring, because if he continues coming off the bench that would be a huge lift. Don’t like his 4 TOs.
    • Freshman David Wear had 9 points and 3 rebounds while twin Travis had 7 points and 4 rebounds.
    • John Henson only had 5 points, which I’m sure underwhelms a lot of people because his expectations are so high, but also pulled down 8 rebounds and had 4 blocks. Not the columns in the box score I thought he’d be filling, but I’ll take it.
    • Freshman Dexter Strickland was 4-5 from the field and finished with 8 points and 3 steals. Have to cut back on the 4 TOs.
    • Last Freshman Leslie McDonald took an 0-fer in the points column but grabbed a couple rebounds, an assist, steal and block letting me know he was at least out there hustling.
    • Sophomore Justin Watts contributed 4 rebounds and 4 points in 13 minutes

    Read the whole article and see the box score

     

     
  • shwineka 5:23 pm on November 5, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CBS Sports, , deon thompson, , , , Gary Parrish, illinois, K.C. Rivers, noel johnson, oliver purnell, south carolina, , Terrence Oglesby, , , ,   

    CBS picks Tar Heels to win ACC 

    As if we needed something to back up our personal opinions, CBS Sports picked UNC to win the ACC over Duke, even citing the fact that ACC media voting came to a tie:

    The ACC media poll named North Carolina and Duke co-favorites to win the league.

    But we don’t do co-favorites around here.

    Just a single favorite.

    And the Tar Heels are the favorite…”

    Blah, blah, blah. Yada, yada, yada. There’s nothing here that we haven’t heard or read already. The Heels will be lead by Ed Davis and Deon Thompson. The point guard situation is hairy. They lost a lot of talent. Etcetera, etcetera, etc.

    Bottom line: “Another league title is likely. Another Final Four is possible.”

    Interesting thing to me about the story is that Gary Parrish thinks Clemson will finish third in the league. I wouldn’t put money on that.

    purnell

    Because the Rafters knows, just like Oliver Purnell (above) knows, that Clemson lost both K.C. Rivers and Terrence Oglesby, their two main outside threats. They will probably rely heavily on a freshman guard in Noel Johnson, and though Trevor Booker is straight nasty, he can’t carry them. Their non-conference schedule is pretty weak. The only somewhat legit teams they play before January are Illinois and South Carolina. Consider this a forecast that — once again — Clemson will start very fast, jumping out to potentially a 12-0 record before they play Duke on Jan. 3, and it’s all downhill after that. I’m not sold on their guard play, even if they are adding one more Booker in the post for good measure.

     
  • shwineka 5:41 pm on October 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , deon thompson, , frontcourt, , , , , , , , ,   

    Heels get nod as pre-season top frontcourt 

    Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn has a ranking of the top frontcourts in the country for ’09-’10 and guess who’s sittin’ pretty at the top?……

    Did you think I would blog it if it were another team? Well, I guess I probably would with some sort of angle, but anyway he has the Heels as No. 1. The short write-up mentions that Ed Davis might have a break-out year — Um, affirmative. This will happen — but it points out something I did not know, which is that Davis had higher offensive AND defensive rebounding percentages than Hansbrough last year. When Davis came off the bench, we all knew he was going to grab boards like an effin’ carpenter, but that stat, I must say, is nice.

    ncb_a_davis_400

    He also gives a nod to Deon Thompson and freshman John Henson. What he didn’t have room for in the piece – I told you it was short – was to talk about Tyler Zeller and the Wear twins. I’m thinking he went with the sheer depth of our frontcourt as reasoning for the No. 1 ranking. Experience-wise, we’re not close. Thompson is seasoned, and Davis played about 18 minutes a game last year, but Zeller was out for most of the season with a wrist injury and the other three are freshmen. That said, if everyone shows up like they should, I don’t think we’ll have a problem defending this early praise.

     
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