Saturday, January 19, 2008

The New No. 1

Well, North Carolina just dropped its first game of the season, 82-80 to Maryland. While an unbeaten season clearly is improbable, UNC losses are still tough to swallow. Of all the places where the blame could fall, in my eyes it was only a matter of time before the weakest part of the Tar Heels' game would come to haunt them - their stank inbounds play.

A friend and I have observed in every game this season that North Carolina has no structure whatsoever when it comes to inbounding the basketball from the baseline. The inbounder slaps the ball, people run around and the ball is inbounded to the furthest possible point from the basket, every time. Of course, with 1.7 seconds left and the ball being inbounded from the baseline, Roy Williams called timeout, presumably to come up with something, anything more respectable than that; ideally something that would put the ball in the hands of Wayne Ellington.

Thanks to DVR, I've already watched the reply about 10 times and my amateur analytical skills have provided me with what Gary Williams must have been thinking as the play transpired: "Ha! Idiots! That's precisely what I wanted to happen!"

Let me break down the play as best I can:

On the floor: Danny Green, Marcus Ginyard, Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough and Wayne Ellington

If I'm Roy Williams, who do I want to shoot the ball?: Plan A.) Wayne Ellington; Plan B.) Danny Green; Plan C.) Ty Lawson; Plan D.) Rashaad McCants (unavailable); Plan E.) Tyler Hansbrough

First, Danny Green inbounded the ball to Hansbrough and the ball should have come back to him immediately. Eighty-six "Plan B."

Second, Wayne Ellington begins the play in the crowded lane and breaks completely off (TV) screen. Scratch "Plan A."

Third, Ty Lawson, the smallest man on the floor, is used to clear space for good ol' "Plan E" by screening two people (Ditch "Plan C") ... TWO PEOPLE! It must've been at this very instant that Gary Williams knew he had the game in his hands. Vasquez and Osby set the bait by getting purposely caught in the screen and allowing Hansbrough the vitrually uncontested 3 which, of course, has a .000 percent chance of falling (Hansbrough is now 0-for-4 from 3-point range this year).

Am I pissed? Well, I wasn't. Then ESPN showed highlights of the fans at Cameron Indoor slappin' fives with the Clemson fans as results of the UNC loss were announced. Nothing can burn up a Tar Heel quite like that.

That said, ya can't win 'em all as they say. But the Tar Heels are three points from being 1-3 in conference play. So as much as the fan in me wants to argue NCAA supremacy, I'm better than that. I just hope UNC is too.

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