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Some Notes On Today's Games

The Duke-Clemson, Tech-FSU, and FSU-Maryland games have been, by and large,
embarrassing. The Wake-UNC game, by contrast, was not. It was an exciting,
engaging games with both teams having talent, and plenty to lose. It was
easily the best game in the tournament so far, but that's not saying much, so
let's go one more and say it was one of the best ACC games of the year. There
was plenty of drama to go around, and tons of tension.

For Wake, Craig Dawson was the best thing they had going, as he heated
up from outside and
was game high with 17.
Robert O' Kelley still isn't shooting well, but
he shot well enough at the end of the game to make up for last year's disaster.

UNC, which if it has done anything well this year has shot incredibly well,
hit only .375 from the floor. Joseph Forte, who has been their savior
quite often, this season, only hit for 8 points - and he missed 11 out of
14 shots. Capel continued to show flashes of excellence, but he is really
a guy in the Matt Doherty role, rather than say the Jerry Stackhouse mold.

Most impressively, Ed Cota, who can pass with anyone in the country, and
pretty much on any level, was held to one assist. Uncharacteristically, he took
13 shots, but like his most of his mates didn't shoot well at all, hitting only
5-13. Three of those were late three point attempts, all of which missed.

Of all of UNC's players, only Haywood and Peppers broke .500 from the floor,
Haywood hitting 3-6, and Peppers hitting 2-2, one of them a massive slab dunk
(no typo).

Turnovers, UNC's major bugaboo this season, were actually not too bad, at
only 11.

At the end of the game, UNC's Haywood stole the ball, and started to get rid
of it, but slipped for a travel call. UNC, which might have hit a 3 to cut
it to a 1 point lead, instead turned it over with a 4 point deficit, and that
was pretty much it.

Obviously, UNC shot poorly, but here's the thing: the only guy on the team
who can consistently create his own shot is Forte, and he's a freshman and
played like one today. Despite his crappy shooting day, UNC was still in
position to steal the game, and if Forte had shot 50%, the inside would have
been opened, and Haywood, Lang, and Peppers could have gone to work.

Didn't happen, of course, and so Brendan Haywood's prediction of revenge upon
the Dukies will not come to pass this season.

Plus, the defense didn't step up, according to Ed Cota, as quoted by Go
Heels.com: "It’s our defense. we can’t stop anybody. We can if we want to, but everyone’s worried about their own men and no one’s helping out. We don’t box out and we don’t shadow the screens. We get caught in them.

"It’s not like that with other teams. When I get in the lane, three guys are there waiting for me. But we give up the open shots."

For UNC, some streaks are in jeopardy. The top 3 finishes is still
alive, in letter if not spirit, but the NCAA streak isn't guaranteed yet, though
their RPI is fairly high actually, at 32, and their strength of schedule is
significant.. But since they won't be a high seed, and the team hasn't
played well of late either, the 20 wins per season streak is also in danger.

Of more immediate interest is the fan reaction. Internet fan postings have
been scathing, and UNC loyalists like Art Chansky are
calling for Gut's head.

Guthridge has said he's having fun and plans to continue, but the fan base
is, without question, restless. Yet Dick Baddour, and Dean Smith, are not
going to let Bill Guthridge be run off - and if he is, the rest of the family,
steeped in the Dean Smith Way, will not take the job. At least we don't think
they will. Keep in mind every conceivable candidate, with the possible
exceptions of Larry Brown and Billy Cunningham, were all coached by
Guthridge.

If by some chance UNC fails to get a bid, the pressure on Guthridge is going
to be immense, and regardless of what he says, it won't be fun. And if they
leave the tournament early, it won't be much better.

Everyone knows him to be a good and decent man, but UNC fans, accustomed as
they are to greatness, are having a hard time accepting what, by their
standards, is mediocrity. Guthridge may be forced to pay the price.