Saturday, March 5, 2011

Duke - UNC

Tonight the University of North Carolina held serve at home and in the process won the 2011 ACC regular season. The outcome of this game meant that the preseason #1 ranked Duke Blue Devils couldn't even win a watered down league. This year's UNC team should be credited for what was a remarkable season. They won every close ACC game (5-0 in games decided by 5 points or less) and could easily have finished with the forth best record in the ACC. Also, they improved. The talent was always there, but talent is almost always there at UNC. This year's team has projected lottery picks (Barnes and Henson) as well as plenty of former McDonald's All-Americans and a point guard that makes me miss Larry Drew. Last year's team was talented, and they were also terrible. This year's team seems to have finally figured things out and is peaking at the right time. It doesn't take much effort to see that team making it to the Final Four.

However, that is the story I want to write since my concern is for the 2nd place, 2nd seed in the ACC tournament and probably 2nd seed in the NCAA tournament. It should be hard to complain about a team that has only lost four games, but for a variety of factors it isn't that difficult. For one this team should be better. Sure, they lost a group of talented seniors from last year's team, but they were replacing them with a top ranked recruit (Kyrie Irving) and a big time transfer (Seth Curry). Also, the thought was that everyone (with a special emphasis on the Plumlees) would improve. Out of that only Seth Curry's production has matched expectations.

Here are my thoughts on the game from tonight
  • Duke's starting forwards (Singler, Kelly and Plumlee) were 4-25 from the field. How is that possible? Singler was a preseason player of the year candidate, Kelly was a McDonald's-All American and Plumlee has been considered a possible lottery pick.
  • I liked Pat Forde's take on Singler "It's been painful watching Singler shoot. Looks like he has no confidence."
  • M liked my take on Singler when I complained about how he looked so much better against UNC his freshmen year compared to this year. I compared Singler to Benjamin Button since he seems to have regressed over the years instead of improving.
  • Did Ryan Kelly really win the McDonald's All-American 3 point contest? I don't know if if is more surprising that he was a McDonald's All-American or that there was a point in time when he could shoot well?
  • Nolan Smith is incredibly good. It is nice rooting for a team that almost always has the best player on the court.
  • Coach K doesn't take many transfers, but when he does he picks up good players - Seth Curry is another one.
  • Andre Dawkins needs to play more minutes. I don't know what Coach K is doing to the kid, but Dawkins can be one of the better players on the team. You can't blame Coach K for Dawkins missing three straight free throws, but he hasn't exactly shown his confidence in him.
  • Mason Plumlee had some tough calls go against him in the game. His gambling style on defense was not made for the way the game was called.
  • For all of the Duke fans who are going to complain about Duke's post players, rest assured that help is on the way next year. Next year Duke gets another (wait for it) Plumlee. Whether it is Wojo or the recruiting it would help having one person in the post to match up with the Zellers and Hensons from UNC.
  • UNC's shooting in the first half was incredible. They had many long two point shots that I was happy when they took them and not so happy when I saw the result.
  • Duke looks like one of those teams that does well against mediocre competition - especially at home. When they face a good team or a tough environment they lose. That means they will win in the 1st round of the tournament pretty easily, win by 10 in the 2nd round then lose by 7 to a good team in the Sweet Sixteen.
  • It was really depressing writing that I think they are going to lose in the Sweet Sixteen, but if they are matched up against a #3 seed like Syracuse then I think they are going to lose.
  • It is pretty cool what UNC does by starting all the seniors in the last game.
  • However, it was kind of surprising watching UNC storm the court. Act like you have been there before.
Anyway, next week is the ACC tournament and then Selection Sunday. I will have more thoughts later.

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