At the start of the season, you figured that Hansbrough and Lawson would have All ACC type years, Ellington would have a modest improvement, and Ginyard would provide defense and would pick up hustle points. The keys according to many were the development of Thompson and an improvement in bench play. To date, IMO, there have been some surprises, both good and bad for the Heels.
First, Hansbrough is playing like an All American and Lawson, while coming back from an injury, is beginning to play like an all league selection. Ginyard is providing garbage points and Frasor/Thomas have been decent backups for Lawson. The surprises are discussed below:
Good Surprises: Ellington has improved his game markedly. His shooting has been superb and his all around game appears to be better. Like his teammates, Hansbrough and Lawson, he appears destined for All ACC honors (probably 2nd or 3rd team). As improved as Ellington has been, the most pleasant surprise has been the play of Green. He was a good shooter from the free throw line in his first two years but that did not translate into good shooting stats from the field. Well, this year it has. He is averaging 14ppg in only 20mpg and his shooting stats are nearly as good as Ellington’s. He is a perfect complement to Ginyard at the wing position and is the Heels’ answer to Scheyer off the bench.
Disappointing play: Last year, I thought that Thompson looked very good at the offensive end and he was aggressive on the boards. Statistically, he has improved nearly all his numbers (he has also played many more minutes) but in the games I’ve seen, he appears tentative. Perhaps it’s just a case of the slow development of a big man but I expected more. Luckily for the Heels, Stepheson has played well as his replacement and is a good rebounder and defensive player.
Overall, UNC is even better than I thought they would be. Like the Devils, they play nine quality players and they can put the ball in the basket. Of course, the Devils are also better than I thought that they would be. I expect the two top teams in the ACC to battle to the end of the season for the regular season title and to split their two games.
Good analysis. I also fear UNC will be better than most even thought they would be. Their early season play hasn't been perfection, but it is early in the season.
The good news is, to me they don't look indestructible. Even with improvement throughout the season, they are not that far ahead of the pack. It seems to me that there are several teams that could challenge them for the NC, most importantly Duke. Granted it will be a harder road, but at least we are in the mix.
Danny Green reminds me of Thomas Hill.
"I just met a kid who's going to be president someday." - Duke associate athletic director Chris Kennedy after his first meeting with Shane Battier.
I think you have them pegged dead-on, gw. If Ellington keeps it up, he gives them 3 top-15 league players, and the ability to play Green at the 4 gives them more versatility there than anticipated and somewhat negates Thompson and Stepheson's somewhat disappointing seasons so far. Those two big guys will still be fine, though. Overall, they're a very complete team and any questions about them will be at the margins and with respect to how they matchup with UCLA and the other favorites at this point. Can they outtough/outdefend UCLA? Does Hansbourgh have enough post moves and polish to score against the Bruins or, say, Memphis? How will the PF position fare against versatile 4s like Singler? Does the loss of Wright and Terry make them just a tad more susceptible to an early round NCAA loss? But yeah, if I'm a UNC fan, I'm confident that my team is top 3 and the only team that worries me significantly in a head-to-head matchup at this point is UCLA.
That made me laugh.
UNC may be better than expected, but I think Duke as also better than suspected as well. After last seasons debacle, I didnt expect Duke to be much better, especially w/o McRoberts, our best player. That was from the lack of senior leadership (Joe Paliuca?? cmon) This year D Nelson is playing better than expected and with Singler, Neson and Henderson doing most of the scoring that has taken the pressure off Paulus. Also, Paulus has a reliable reserve pg in Nolan Smith. Throw Taylor King in for some 3s and Duke is vastly improved and only lacking a dominant inside presence which Lance Thomas has been evloving into. Zoubek, though big is not the answer.
I had a good chuckle last night when I watched part of the Penn-UNC game. There was one sequence in the first half when the game was actually still close and UNC was on offense. Hansbrough got the ball in the paint, bent over and put his shoulder into the Penn guy and Bill Rafferty says "There's a bump" (but no whistle). Then Hansbrough shuffled his feet (and no whistle) and put his shoulder into the Penn guy AGAIN and Rafferty says "There's another bump" (but no whistle). Finally he went up with the ball and scored.
I know it is not news to this board that Hansbrough walks and bumps without getting called for it. I just found it humorous that it was obvious enough during the play for the ESPN commentator to mention it live, twice!
I am bothered by the fact that UNC has not really played well (prior to last night), yet they were not beaten. UNC under Roy has, until now, been characterized as a team that does not respond well to pressure (of the mental variety), nor did they seem capable of rising above a weak performance. It is easy to keep things going when everything is working (see Duke v. Wisconsin). It is another to eke out a quality win when things don't go great (Duke v. Davidson).
In my mind, prior to the season, I had hoped that if Duke could counter punch UNC, the Holes would fold. I am not sure that will work.
Overall, I think Duke is a little better than first predicted. I think this is largely due to Scheyers solid/strong play and Taylor King's contributions. Other players, some of whom are more important certainly, are performing to expectations or slightly better. But Scheyer, and especially King, have been superb off the bench. The national 6th man contest might be between those two, at this point.
As for UCLA and Memphis? Eh. I am not blow away by either program. UCLA seems like UNC right now. Playing pretty good, but when you look at the roster you think they should be playing a lot better. That might still come, but it is a LITTLE puzzling that they seem out of rythym early in the season. As for Memphis, I am blown away. They are a good team. They should be. Their roster is fantastic. But, Calipari doesn't seem like he is in control of the team, and I have never been enamored of his ability to unify and direct a team to ultimate victory. They will be a one seed come March (heck, they may be undefeated from that conference). They could also be the first 1 seed to go down in the tourney. Round of 32 or 16 could prove deadly to these guys.
G-Town seems to be solid. Texas is really good, better than anticipated.
Tenn looks bad. The Pearl love affair will end next season, and the divorce will occur 2-4 years from now. I thought he was heading the Vols in the right direction. Oops. Good call Elliot.
I don't see how people can say UNC is as good as predicted when they were given (IMO) way too much hype in the preseason. UNC is about as good as I expected they'd be. They're a bonafide contender and one of the best teams in the nation. But this team ain't invinceable by any stretch. My main reason for saying this is that they've looked alright against average competition at best; they have yet to play a ranked team. I think the real pressure point for this team is Danny Green. He's playing great basketball right now and he's more important to that team than many realize. They would've lost to Davidson without him.
My gut would make me go with UCLA and Memphis over UNC at this point. I just think those two teams are better right now.
Patrick, you still think they'll go undefeated in the ACC?
I guess I dont see where UNC is playing that much better than anyone. Its just too early in the season to see how they respond to......well a ranked team would be nice.
despite the look of UNC (or Duke) this early in the season, these two teams are loaded with warriors and we are going to see two very competitive games this year.
lawson's speed does present duke with a challenge (of keeping up with lawson); however, he presents this challenge to all teams so duke isn't different.
so, here it goes, right now:
coaching-Duke is better.
inside game overall: Carolina is better.
depth at shooting guard(s): Duke is better.
team speed: equal.
overall team depth: equal.
desire to kill each opponent, especially the Holes: Duke.
Duke is just better, 'do the math'.
local, dedicated kiteboarder aligned with: DUKE BABY.
I thought Roy's coaching against Georgetown was poor but I'd also say the same thing about K's coaching against LSU two years ago. I think it's a little silly to use these one game examples to say that neither coach is good under pressure.
I think the UNC team we will see in Jan and Feb, and later, will be much better than the current version. I would still not be surprised if they went undefeated. They are winning without playing anywhere near to their potential. By the time the ACC gets here, they will be playing to their potential, or at least closer to it.
I am willing to admit that I was wrong regarding Thompson, he is a major letdown so far. But, others here need to acknowledge that Ellington has arrived, and that Ginyard and Green are better than expected. The ACC this year should be Duke and Carolina. Regardless of rivalries, tradition, etc, both Duke and Carolina should consider any loss (other than the opposite shade of blue) as a serious disappointment.
Patrick S. Yates
The most worrisome thing about UNC is that they have been showing a steady improvement in their defense. I still think outside shooting will knock them out of the NCAA tournament short of a championship. But if they continue to improve defensively, especially in being consistent within a game, then their chances of surviving a cold shooting night will certainly improve.
The fact that they are not depending at all on any freshman removes the wall that most frosh seem to hit.
So most of my hope would be that their streaky three point shooting will undo them.
Its fair to say both Duke and UNC should win all of their games in the ACC. However I think both teams will slip up somewhere. Duke has had a nasty problem with Maryland and Virginia Tech in recent years. BC isn't as good as theve been in past years but it is still a tough road game. Don't sleep on FSU either.
The heel is just so lacking in natural style.
They are not sexy Devils.