We thought going into the Virginia game that it could be a turning point for UNC: win and the season is redefined.
|Tuesday's ACC Action|
|Louisville @ Miami||8:00||ACCN|
|NC State @ Wake Forest||8:00||ACCN|
|Virginia Tech @ Syracuse||9:00||ESPNU|
Losing was obviously a possibility - Virginia is no joke. Tony Bennett is no Dave Leitao. But honestly, we thought it would be a tight game.
And it was - for the first half.
In the second - well, the N&O's Andrew Carter put it this way: "UNC came apart, again, amid a torrent of missed shots, failed box outs and turnovers that proved costly."
The biggest result? After the game, Marcus Paige called his teammates out in the locker room, which is what a leader is supposed to do, if it gets to that point. He said that he wasn't calling anyone out, but when you say stuff like this:
"It is February, you know? The season’s rolling. Great teams at this time are meshing together. You don’t have to keep preaching effort, keep preaching buying in, not worrying about your individual self.
"(You should be asking) what can I do to help the team? How can I help a teammate? What is the best thing for North Carolina? And that’s something we’re struggling with right now for whatever reason."
How else to take it?
And despite his apologetic framing, it's not the wrong thing to do - if you think it needs to be done. And it is a fair question: why can't UNC maintain a high level of play?
Realistically, injuries have definitely slowed the progress of this team and you have to factor that in. But you also have to wonder about the erratic play of Brice Johnson and others. You have to wonder why outside shooting remains so inconsistent. You have to wonder why a team with reasonable athletic ability struggles on defense.
Start here & help DBR
Kennedy Meeks tied into this a bit, saying "[w]e can’t keep talking about change. We’ve got to have guys look in the mirror and decide they’re going to change, buy in, and then some good things will happen."
With the loss, UNC falls to third, and a tie in losses with Duke and Syracuse, all with three (UNC has played and won two more games).
UNC gets two breathers before playing Duke, with BC and Pitt, both on the road. Duke's immediate path is more difficult with Georgia Tech and Notre Dame at home, then Florida State and Syracuse, both on the road, before UNC.
Whatever happened with Virginia, there's no shame in losing to a great team. But what to make of Pitt's flirtation with disaster against Bryant? Not to be unkind, but without looking, can you name the city the school is in, the conference, or a single player?
Yet there the Bulldogs were, bulldog tough, hanging right in there against Pitt, losing by just five, 72-67.
Good thing Jamel Artis went off. Artis had a career high 32 for the Panthers.
Three games on tap for Tuesday, with Louisville at Miami, State bussing over to Winston-Salem to play the Deacs, and the Hokies brave the snow to take on Syracuse. It took awhile.
The way the ACC is this year, there are no guaranteed wins. The most interesting game to us is State and Wake Forest because of the implications for State: the Pack has no margin for error. The Georgia Tech game was a ridiculous escape. Don't expect that much luck again.
If you're heading to court, what's the worst sort of enemy you could have? Quite simply, it's someone who won't settle, someone who would prefer to reach judgement.
That appears to be the case for UNC when it comes to Mary Willingham, the former academic support reading specialist who has been a real gadfly and who was fired by the university. She filed suit and to judge by her Web site, she has no interest in settling at all.
In the new rankings following Virginia's defeat, the Wahoos didn't fall far, only to #3. Duke is at #5 (Coaches poll). Louisville is #8, UNC #13, while Miami fell out.
At Syracuse, the NCAA may be just days away from announcing a decision following its investigation of the Orange program. The Chancellor was asked about it, but he says NCAA rules restrict him from talking about it at all.x