This has been bothering me for a long time. The party line among our brilliant Tar Heel friends (and others) is that their team doesn't play great defense because they don't bring enough intensity to that end of the floor.
THAT IS ABSOLUTE BULLCRAP. It's like saying Greg Paulus can't dunk because he doesn't try hard enough. It's like saying Lance Thomas wasn't intense enough when he misses a fullcourt shot at the buzzer.
Lawson and Ellington are simply not elite defenders. And Roy Williams is not as good as a defensive coach as Coach K is. That's it. It's that simple. It maybe has a little bit to do with intensity, but that's an incredibly small part of it compared to skill and coaching.
That is all.
Greg Paulus is missing #1 but has #2 and #3 in spades. Ty Lawson has #1, but is missing either #2 or #3 or both. If it's just #3 then your Heelish friends are correct, and if he decides to bring it he can. Or maybe he doesn't understand how to give 100% effort all the time, in which case even if he can, he won't.
I disagree that #3 is an "incredibly small" part of it. Seeing the Clemson game and the first half of the Miami game showed what happens when you don't have the intensity. The second half of the Miami game showed what happens when you bring it. Obviously intensity can't make up for inability to keep up with the person you're guarding, which is the only reason why Paulus is not an elite defender, but IMO it's intensity and desire that makes Duke the great defensive club that it is. And probably also explains why UNC is not.
However, defense is far, far more than intensity. Of course, a Tar Heel WOULD look for the simplest answer...
Coach Knight has at least twice now commented on how Duke's defense is based on great positioning, something that is taught and learned.
Image how good it would be if our team make up was just a little more athletic.
I haven't found a Tar Heel to admit a weakness since 2 years ago. Funny that these last 3 years carolina fans have told me a nothing but a championship would be a disapointment.