As we start out 2008, I figured the best way to kick things off is to do a running commentary of the #1 team in the nation – the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Heels come into the game a bit short handed – backup guard Bobby Frasor blew out his knee and is gone for the season, backup guard Quentin Thomas is nursing an ankle injury is questionable for the game, and forward Alex Stephenson is away from the team attending to family matters.
Will the lack of depth hurt UNC?
The announcing crew is Mike Patrick and Len Elmore. Let’s get to the opening tip…
- Kent State comes out in an extremely aggressive man-to-man defense – lots of pressure up top on the guards, overplaying the passing lanes – and it results in an early backdoor dunk by Tyler Hansbrough.
- Another easy dunk by Hansbrough – the Golden Flashes are trying to single team Hansbrough, and it isn’t working – UNC up 8 to 4 early on.
- Note to Kent State head coach Jim Christian – Hansbrough is a Player of the Year candidate for a reason – he can finish around the basket. You might try a few double teams here and there. Just a thought.
- The Golden Flashes, who only average 11 turnovers a game, already have 3 – and we’re only 5 minutes into the game.
- Pretty top-of-the-key jumper off a curl by UNC’s Wayne Ellington – very pretty stroke. UNC up 10 to 4 at the first T.V. timeout.
- Kent State is very deliberate on offense – lots of movement, off-the-ball screens, backdoor cuts and slashes to the basket. They are 10-2 for a reason. Very sound fundamentally.
- Kent State decides to triple team Hansbrough on the low post, who proceeds to kick the ball out to Danny Green who nails a deep three. You need to double team Hansbrough and make the Tar Heel outside shooters beat you.
- Hansbrough puts up an ugly shot out of the double team – very poor decision. If Kent State can rattle Hansbrough enough, this game might be interesting.
- Long range three by Mike Scott brings the Flashes to within 4.
- UNC up 19-13 with 11:21 to go in the half. Kent State cannot afford to get into a track meet with the Tar Heels, and they are doing a good job at slowing the game down.
- Lawson comes back into the game after a long breather – not having Frasor around definitely hurts the Tar Heels point guard play.
- UNC is now up 24-13 – the Heels are coming up with every loose ball.
- Hansbrough is absolutely mugged on a breakaway dunk attempt by Al Fisher, who is called for the flagrant foul. Fisher is 6’1″… Hansbrough is 6’11″. You’ve got to give Fisher credit for not being afraid of the big man. Hansbrough hits the two foul shots to push the lead to 26-13.
- Lawson hits another three after a nice kick-out pass from Green. Hansbrough forces a traveling call on Haminn Quaintance – #8 for the Flashes – and the game is starting to slip away from Kent State. UNC up 29-13. Somewhere in Florida, Dick Vitale is whispering (no yelling yet Dick) “Take a T.O. baby!!!!!” Christian somehow hears Vitale and calls timeout.
- UNC is shooting 52% from the field so far, Kent State is shooting 42%.
- Ellington swoops in from the right side for an easy layup – UNC up 37-19 at the 3:42 mark.
- Kent States is running some good sets, but they are missing some easy shots.
- Fisher hits a trey off a Quaintance screen to bring the Flashes within 13 with under a minute to go.
- Williams calls a timeout with 35.5 seconds left after Quaintance hits an easy lay-up – UNC up 41-30.
- Ellington hits a three from downtown Charlotte to push lead to 44-32. UNC had allowed an easy alley-oop dunk before Ellington’s long range bomb. Williams cannot be happy with their letdown on the defensive end of the floor. Once you have an opponent down, you need to go for the jugular, and UNC took their foot off the pedal.
- UNC comes out with two quick turnovers. You can actually see Roy Williams’ hair turning more gray with each turnover.
- Quaintance with a nifty block on Lawson’s dunk attempt leads to an easy layup for the Flashes. UNC up 53-38 with 15:56 to go.
- Deon Thompson with a nice turnaround J from the low left block – Thompson has been very quiet this game, and with his size and athleticism, UNC needs to feed him the ball more.
- Kent State with another extra pass to free up Fisher for the backdoor layup. Kent State hanging around at 57-42.
- UNC forces a turnover off their midcourt trap that leads to a Hanbrough flush – Carolina now up 19.
- With Quaintance on the bench, UNC is looking to Hansbrough more, and he’s coming through with some good shots. Carolina up 63-42 with 11 minutes left.
- Ellington with yet another bucket from the elbow off a screen – he is an absolute pure shooter.
- Lawson penetrates and hits the up-and-under layup to push the lead to 23. Both teams are getting a little sloppy on both ends of the floor, and UNC is getting the better of it.
- Hansbrough bullies his way through two Kent State defenders for the basket and foul. UNC up comfortably 72-48 with 7:47 left.
- UNC is shooting 71% in the 2nd half, but they are still allowing some defensive lapses that need to be corrected.
- Give Kent State credit – even though they are down big, they are staying within their offense and are not forcing shots. They are getting some good looks, but can’t seem to find the bottom of the net.
- Mike Scott just came flying through the lane, grabbed a rebound with his right hand and sent it home with authority. “That was awesome, baby!!! Scott is a high-flyer!!!”. Unfortunately, it was only worth two points.
- Hansbrough leaves the game at the 5:00 minute mark with 25 points. Ellington follows him to the sidelines with 17 points. Looks like its garbage time.
- Final score: UNC 90-61.
Kent State showed everybody the blueprint for beating UNC – take away the Tar Heels transition game and force them to run their half court sets. Carolina was much less effective in the half court game and showed some vulnerabilities.
Unfortunately for the Golden Flashes, they didn’t have the depth to hang with Carolina for the full 40 minutes.
With athletes like Lawson, Green and Thompson, UNC is deadly when they push the tempo. And if you choose to single team Hansbrough, you might as well not even show up.