Don't forget Wednesday's Daily RoundupTo be the Man, You've Got to Beat the Man (Or, Welcome Back, Roy!)
By EdWelcome Back.Your dreams were your ticket out. Welcome Back. To that same old place that you laughed about.Well the names have all changed since you hung around.But those dreams have remained and they've turned around. Who'd have thought they'd lead ya' (Who'd have thought they'd lead ya)!Back here where we need ya' (Back here where we need ya')!Yeah we tease him a lot cause we've got him on the spot, Welcome Back! Welcome Back,Welcome Back, Welcome Back!Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Backkkkkk!
There are many who will say that Roy Williams's
dream of building his own empire in Kansas was his ticket out of Chapel Hill 17 years ago. Upon his return to the kingdom that Dean built, the names had, indeed, all changed. It took him just two years to do with strangers what he had been unable to accomplish with familiar faces as a Jayhawk: win a National Championship.
He wasn't expecting a complete house cleaning weeks later.
The National Champs start this season with one mantra: To be the man, you've got to beat the man! Without a doubt, four essential ingredients were stripped from the mix that would have made backing those words up much easier: Felton, May, McCants and Williams. Oh, what a season this could have been! If you've been around UNC Basketball long enough, you are somewhat used to the stars leaving for the big lights (and graduating in due time). Never before, however, have the top 7 scorers left in the same year. It is not a scenario Coach Roy Williams would like to see play out again. Instead of basking in the glow of the team's National Championship, Roy and Co. set out to sign recruits to replace those departing underclassmen.
With the signing of C Tyler Hansbrough
, G Bobby Frasor
, WF Danny Green
, G Marcus Ginyard
, and utility big man Mike Copeland
, Coach Williams brought in a group loaded in 3 essential categories:
(1) immediate scoring ability;
(2) stellar credentials that the Carolina faithful expect, and most importantly;
(3) a likely 3-4 year stay on the Hill.
Add those players to a team returning three year 6th man David Noel
and you have a squad long on potential in 2005.
Carolina will score points in bunches. That is evident from the games already played (98.5 pts per game avg. so far). They will defend in stretches, and turn the ball over early and often. The fact is that Carolina can run the court at all 5 positions and shoot the long ball from 4 of 5 positions (Frasor, Terry,Green, Noel, Hansbrough). That ability will make up for some of those turnovers. They're going to blow some teams out of the Smith Center this year (a few good ones, too). However, if those transition shots aren't falling this team will struggle in the half court against just about any decent team (See Gardner Webb
). Freshmen don't box out as they should. Those same freshmen tend not to play defense for the full shot clock. They can also be subjected to lots of man/ball tricks (Teams like NC State and Duke SHOULD be able to exploit this young Heels team with the best set and motion offense in the ACC).
They have to grow up, and fast!The Guards
The key to Carolina's season is very simple: By the time ACC play starts in earnest, they must have a serviceable
point guard . This team doesn't need a Felton. They need a Derrick Phelps, Ronald Curry (sophomore year) type. Simply put, they need a guard who can get them into their sets and not turn the ball over.
We won't even talk about Wes Miller
. If he gets more than spot minutes in ACC play the Champs are in big trouble. For all of his accolades coming out of high school as the best guard from the west coast, Quentin Thomas
has, apparently, under whelmed the coaches with his preparedness for high stakes college basketball. That's not to say he's a bust....yet. You're not a bust when you played behind a lottery pick and averaged 2 minutes a game (albeit, for the most part, unproductive minutes). I may change my tune if he end's up playing behind Mr. Miller.
Freshman Bobby Frasor
(5 pts, 4.5 assts, 3 TO) may provide the answers. The McDonald's All- American and Chicago Catholic City League MVP was known as a shooter in high school. He also demonstrated enough competence to play point guard for the city's best team and eventual champ. That says a lot. After preseason practice, Coach Williams put the ball in his hands against Gardner Webb and Cleveland State. That says even more. Frasor promptly turned the ball over 4 times in the first 8 minutes of his college career, but settled down to record 9 assists against just 2 more turnovers during his next 42 minutes of combined play (GW and Cleveland State). Not too shabby.
If Frasor can slow his play down and stay focused on letting the game come to him, this long guard will be just the tonic Carolina needs. Help is on the way in 2006 in the form of the next great ACC floor general, #1 point guard recruit Tywon Lawson
. Until such time, stability at the point is all that is needed. Frasor may provide that stability.
If the first two games are any indication, the shooting guard spot should be in good hands with the emergence of Reyshwan Terry
(14.5 pts, 6.5 rebs, 3.5 assts). He, along with wing Danny Greene should prove quite valuable as the Champs attempt to spread teams out and hit the open man off the break. Add in defensive wiz Marcus Ginyard
(10 pts, 2 assts, 2 steals), and North Carolina should prove quite capable of, in time, holding their own against stiff competition.The Frontcourt
The fact that these Heels were taken down to the wire against a senior laden and talented Gardner Webb team should not be such a surprise (hindsight being what it is). Teams with gritty, quick and strong point guards will give this group trouble all year. The fact that the front court of pre-season ACC Freshman of the Year Tyler Hansbrough
(19 pts and 6 Rebs) and Sr. David Noel
(16 pts, 6 ReMcDonald'sts), along with McDonalds All-American Danny Green
(12 pts, 5 rebs), scored early and often should put the league on notice: These Heels are not to be taken lightly.
This group will produce the points. With newcomer Mike Copeland
and Sr. Byron Sanders
(7 pts. 4.5 rebs) providing defense and fouls off the bench, they should be able to avoid the fatigue and foul trouble that could derail any chance for the Champs to compete.The Coach
He's one of the best in the business. He has the highest active win percentage in Division I. He has the luxury of recruiting to one of the four truly historic and elite destinations in college basketball (Lexington, Chapel Hill, Lawrence, and Durham). He's a National Champion. Nuff Said.The Summary
To be the man, you've got to beat the man! Make no mistake, the Champs are here and not backing down from anyone. They WILL play the games! Anyone who has read the Blog over the last 3 weeks knows that I have been calling for North Carolina to win 20 "the hard way" in '05-'06. They may not return a superstar guard, but they return a senior leader and coach who know how to win. Their ability to coach and motivate the freshmen to higher attainment is of paramount importance. Coach Williams may very well have his most enjoyable season teaching the "Carolina Way"
to what amounts to his first group of recruited players at UNC. David Noel may play himself into a professional career.
Expectations in Chapel Hill are high and will remain so. These players will be forced to grow up quickly if they wish to attain expected levels of accomplishment. While the Champs may look a bit wobbly early, I expect steady improvement over the course of the year. Their most trying stretch will come over 11 days in January when they play at Virginia, at Florida State, Boston College, Arizona, and at Maryland. They could very easily come out of that stretch 0-5, devastating their chances of defending their crown. 2-3 would be completely acceptable no matter who the wins are against. However, a 3-2 run would guarantee a victory against a top team. That is exactly what a young squad needs to bolster their confidence. It is exactly what this Carolina squad needs to put them over the top. You never give a young team hope! With an accomplished coach and a senior leader determined not to let the hyenas of the ACC and the broader basketball world take their prize without a fight, North Carolina may be more game than people hope, or expect.
There will be no 8-20 repeat for all the ABC'ers who seethed as North Carolina cut down the nets in St. Louis last April. Roy is on the spot yet again. His dreams and dedication brought him back to Chapel Hill. He delivered! Those dreams have now turned around. He must lead a group of determined men to build for the future. Six more super talents land on the Hill in '06.
I predict lots of blood in the water before this is settled.
It won't all be Carolina Blue.