clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Desolation Row

DBR Haywood Watch
Player Height Rebs Opp
Haywood, UNC 7-0 10 L'ville
Capel 6-8 8 L'ville
Peterson, MSU 6-8 4 UK
Chappell, MSU 6-9 1 UK
Ebong, UNC-W ? 10 Florida
Dahl, UNC-W ? 8 Florida
Harvey, Fla 6-8 7 UNC-W
Haslem, Fla 6-9 6 UNC-W
Haywood got a
double-double against a smaller, but very agressive Louisville team. He
also stayed out of foul trouble. However, Louisville also scored a lot
inside, which is Brendan Country - or should be, anyway.  Rebounding
wise, his best game in memory

It was a great day in the state of Kentucky tonight as first the Wildcats
upset Michigan State
, and then Louisville cut UNC to pieces. 
Two big fat
lumps of coal from two unranked teams to two Top Ten teams.

We rarely pull for Kentucky, but lately we kind of have been, particularly
since there has been such unbelievably unfair pressure placed on Tubby Smith and
son Saul. They don't deserve that level of disgust. Both are good, decent men,
and both are giving their all - and both have contributed to enormous success at

Now the monkey may have jumped off of Tubby's back and made the great leap to
Chapel Hill.  Generally speaking, UNC fans are more, um....worldly than
Kentucky fans, but periodically they are no less unrealistic.  We said,
when Dean Smith retired, that an era was ending.  UNC basketball has been
so good for so long that being average - even if it's the result of injuries,
(Lang), sudden unexpected departures (Evtimov) and academics (in the case of
Parker) - must seem to UNC fans like the monarch who is suddenly put out amongst
the common rabble. This simply can't be happening, not to UNC.  But at
least for now it is, though the season still has a long ways to go.

If they had Lang healthy, and Bersticker and Curry, and if Parker had managed
to get in, they would likely be in a different position, and even if they just
had Lang, they'd be in better shape,  at least inside.  But Lang
wouldn't make them much quicker, which is the heart of the problem, and he
wouldn't necessarily do a lot to take better care of the ball, being an inside

Much like Tubby, Guthridge is following a legendary coach who turned in a
phenomenal career, although in Gut's case it's tougher because the career lasted
36 years.  But the fans are having a similar reaction now that it's begun
to set in that that era is over.  And it's not like Gut is a disaster. He
had one Final Four team, and coaxed a lot of wins out of a pretty mediocre team,
by UNC standards, last season. 

But no one has been able to take up Okulaja's role on this team. Adi, who
graduated last season, was not a great player but he was a stalwart defender and
a tough rebounder.  And depth is virtually nil - Lang is at this point the
sixth man for all intents and purposes, and he played 12 minutes against
Louisville.  But after Lang,  Terrence Newby, who has had a modest
career thus far,  played 10 minutes, and Julius Peppers, from the football
team, who has practiced with the team for only a short time, got 9
minutes.  Orlando Melendez, who has been there for a few years now, 
got 6 minutes.  Brooker got 2.  Holmes got 1.  Even getting Lang
back full time will not resolve the depth problem.  There is the quick fix
of bringing in Jason Parker from Fork Union, where he has been working to bring
his grades up to snuff, and his SAT score as well, but so far Gut has said he
won't do that.  However, it would solve a number of problems - Parker could
probably outrebound Haywood from day one, he is reasonably athletic, and is
talented enough - and big enough - to punish someone on defense.

Despite the inconsistencies, UNC is still 8-4, and their losses are to
Michigan State, Cincinnati, Indiana, and Louisville. Of those three, only IU,
arguably, lacks clearly superior talent.  Louisville isn't highly regarded,
particularly since a middling UK team just destroyed them last week, but they
were shockingly quicker than UNC.

Even Dean Smith, when he had poor talent, couldn't turn a sows ear into a
silk purse.  There are some problems with UNC, but the biggest problem is
the team simply isn't as athletic as it has been in the past.  There's not
much to do about that but to sit around and figure out ways to compensate for
it, and we might remind everyone that Bill Guthridge has an excellent resource
for precisely that role just a few doors down.  We wouldn't throw dirt on
this team just yet.