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  • shwineka 11:54 pm on December 2, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Buffalo Billiards, , , , , Dean Smith Center, , , , , Larry Drew, Luke Winn, , , , , , , , , ,   

    Deja Vu: UNC Handles Michigan State 

    UNC 89, MSU 82

    Box Score

    It’s becoming a common thing. UNC plays Michigan State. UNC wins.

    The Heels have taken their last five meetings with the Spartans, and these aren’t just in the Big 10-ACC Challenge games. I recall an April day in 2005. A hot Spartan team was in the Final Four making some noise and ready to take down the No. 1-seeded Tar Heels. Or wait was that 2009?

    Anyway, for all the things that Tom Izzo does well, he can’t seem to figure out his Carolina conundrum. And honestly, who didn’t think Tuesday was going to be his night?

    A completely different UNC team showed up in the Smith Center than I’ve seen this year. The froshs and sophs played like upperclassmen right from the tip-off, with UNC jumping out to an early lead. It had to feel sickening for MSU fans, a horrible case of deja vu. Us DC-based Rafters bloggers sat with a decent contingent of UNC fans at Buffalo Billiards. A great idea emerged. Anyone not privileged enough to live in Chapel Hill, like our esteemed colleague Benn, should tweet us to meet up in the DC area for game viewings. We like to go out. If we go out anyway, we’ll make sure to say where we’re going.

    Hey, we might even put your picture on the internets.

    Before I get all hot and bothered thinking about tweet ups:

    Takeaways:

    • The recruiting class of 2008 came out of its shell. LD and Easy Ed both notched career highs in points (18 and 22 respectively). LD hit some clutch shots and had a 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio in 27 minutes. Davis was his normal smooth self. You must watch this guy on Ustream sometime. Just follow him on twitter and he’ll notify when he’s getting on. If you want to know why we love him so much that will tell you everything.
    • If there’s only 5 seconds left in a half, who gets the rock? Answer: Dexter Strickland. Strickland hit his second buzzer beater of the year at the end of the first half, sinking a trey.
    • Will Graves is a starter, but he logs bench minutes. He’s getting about the same run time as Strickland, John Henson and Tyler Zeller. Gut tells me that once Roy is more comfortable with Henson or Strickland they’ll get the start. (And after last night I gotta be leaning towards Strickland)
    • Back to Dex. Strickland had zero turnovers while logging some significant minutes at point. And as Luke Winn reminds us, he is a converted shooting guard. Got to be happy with that.
    • Are the Wears twins? …………or clones? Travis – 2 pts, 3 rebs in 6 minutes; David – 2 pts, 2 rebs in 7 minutes

    Superlatives

    • Players of the Game: Larry Drew and Ed Davis –  see above
    • Lookin’ Fierce Award: Roy Williams
    • John Henson, if there was an award for throwing the ball between your legs to save it from going out, we’d give it to you. I don’t think even the Rafters has an award for that.
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    • Zach Evans 12:46 pm on December 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      With all due respect to Henson, maybe the award should be the “Don’t Save the Ball Underneath the Other Basket” Award. As impressive as it looked, it did lead to an easy MSU basket.

      I guess I’m just never satisfied.

  • gonzologist 2:08 pm on November 10, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: bringin' 88 back, , , , , Luke Winn, , Quentin Thomas, ,   

    Luke Winn on Opening Night 

    I enjoy reading Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn. He’s a good writer and seems pretty unbiased in his opinions, which is why I hate to read in his opening night observations that he’s taking Ohio State to roll the Tar Heels in MSG next Thursday. He has some heavy praise for OSU’s 6’7” guard Evan Turner; we’ll see how he fares getting inside against our bigs next week.

    can't see the basket for the trees

    Three of Winn’s other points focused on the Tar Heels’ apparant weaknesses. He cites the lack of a consistent outside threat and the obvious problem with turnovers. The three point shooting was definitely suspect last night, but Marcus and LD both impressed with improved shots. Hopefully Will Graves can live up to his reputation as a dangerous distance shooter. Of LD’s performance as the floor leader, Winn had this to say:

    “While Larry Drew II didn’t put up a triple-double in his debut as North Carolina’s point guard, he acquitted himself quite well with seven points and six assists against just two turnovers. I don’t think many Carolina fans knew what to expect — they just knew their sophomore starter wasn’t going be as good as Ty Lawson (an impossibility), and they hoped Drew wouldn’t be the second coming of Quentin Thomas. Drew showed the Lawson-eque ability to push the ball at a high speed while staying under control on the primary and secondary break, and appeared quicker than I remember him being in brief stints as a reserve last season. He seems to understand that his primary duty is to feed Thompson and Ed Davis, and not force shots; as long as Drew keeps doing that, he’ll be a serviceable point.”

    I agree that LD put in a solid performance last night, looking faster than I remember him being. Though I hate to see the words “acquitted” and “serviceable,” and the evocation of the rhymin’ Quentin Thomas may seem like a low blow, Winn’s summation simply reflects the harsh expectations for LD having to bear the torch passed by the incomparable Ty Lawson. He did have some nifty dishes inside, and will only get better running the break. While Dexter Strickland struggled with 5 turnovers, Justin Watts put in some quality supporting minutes at the point and had one satisfying dunk. The backcourt story will continue to be the most intriguing moving forward in the next few weeks.

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

    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.

     
  • shwineka 12:29 pm on October 20, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Luke Winn, , Missouri, , , , Xavier Henry   

    SI’s Power Rankings 

    Sports Illustrated writer Luke Winn posted his first version of Power Rankings for the coming season last week. I’d have liked to have seen a little more analysis of the Heels than he included. Half of his post, which he admits, is just plugging the SI commemorative for 100 years of UNC basketball, (which I will be buying, but that’s not the point) and the other half is about the current recruiting battle with Duke over Harrison Barnes. Winn is usually more on his game, so I’m gonna chalk this up to preseason malaise.

    The best UNC part of the rankings is in the entry about Kansas. It states that KU’s current situation is similar to UNC’s in ’05, bringing in a major recruit to a veteran team a la the Marvin Williams effect.

    Whether Xavier Henry is the next Marvin remains to be seen. We’ll know for sure when he hits a last minute jumper to win over KU’s arch rival, Missouri. Wow, that sounds as exciting as UNC-Duke doesn’t it?

    Read it if you want, preseason rankings are hit or miss anyway, but if you want to know what it says in a nutshell, it’s: “Buy the SI commemorative issue. College teams wore funny uniforms in the past. Ed Davis name drop. Harrison Barnes is a big-time recruit!”

     
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