When Muhammad Ali was near the end of his career, he got in the ring with Larry Holmes, who punished Ali brutally, even as he kept beckoning to the ring officials to call the fight. They kept refusing, and he kept pounding the great Ali over and over and over.
This season must seem kind of like that for Carolina fans, and must feel worse after the Georgia Tech game.
Carolina lost 68-51 (we originally hit the zero key instead of the eight key, our bad), but it really wasn't that close. Georgia Tech demoralized the Heels pretty thoroughly. How bad?
Try a 21 point first-half for UNC, a 26 point lead for Tech, 32.2% from the floor, and 19 turnovers.
After the debacle, Roy Williams apologized to Paul Hewitt for his team's effort and said this:
"There's not a lot to say. I'm totally shocked, totally stunned by our performance in the first half. Mentally and physically we were somewhere, but it wasn't here for the basketball game.
"I told Paul when we got together, I said, 'I'm sorry. I think we drug your team down to a bad level in the second half.' I'm at a loss."
Larry Drew said this: "The minute a team makes a run on us, if we're not able to respond to the run, we just shut down ... Coach will probably say that we quit out there, but maybe if shots aren't going in, or if we're turning the ball over, after a missed shot or a turnover, instead of responding to it with a good play, it has a smothering effect for us sometimes, it just keeps happening, keeps happening, keeps happening. Other teams, they capitalize on that."
It was just a dreadful performance.
At this point, looking down their schedule, it's hard to see where the wins can come from. They could conceivably beat Boston College although it's on the road, and Miami at home. But Florida State? Wake Forest at Wake Forest? Duke at Duke on Senior Day?
You have to wonder what Harrison Barnes thinks. When he signed with UNC, it seemed to signal that the Heels were still rising. That's certainly not the perception now. If Duke manages to get Carrick Felix, the 6-6 kid currently at Southern Idaho who some have compared to Dahntay Jones, they will have effectively filled the spot which they had expected Barnes to occupy and set up a team with a great backcourt and a very solid frontcourt as well. Things can change in a hurry.
That's something that Wake Forest probably found out in Blacksburg as Virginia Tech pulled off the upset, 87-83. For Wake Forest, it's not a devastating loss. They're still likely a tournament team.
For Virginia Tech, however, it was an absolutely critical win. Like Miami, their nonconference schedule is ludicrous. We heard Jerry Palm on the radio say it was one of the weakest schedules he had ever seen, and that it would make their tournament odds that much longer.
Biggest surprise in this game: Virginia Tech pounded Wake Forest on the boards, 45-36. Terrell Bell grabbed 14 and Malcolm Delaney had nine along with 31 points.
This win helps a lot. At least 10 other wins are meaningless for the committee.
It also sets up a huge game in Durham on Sunday with potentially a share of first place on the line. If Miami upsets Duke, the winner of Sunday's game will have sole possession of first place.
While this has been a horrible season for Carolina, and a lot of fans, so called, are jumping ship, we would like to take a second to acknowledge those who are sticking with their guys. It's no fun going through season like this, but at least you learn who your fans really are and which fans are sincere. Don't get us wrong - it won't hurt our feelings to see a bit more suffering - but we respect loyalty, especially when it's not easy.
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