Sunday, November 15, 2009

9 comments I Tried To Avoid This Article But I Couldn't

Occasionally I run across articles that I want to avoid because they really aren't meaty or exciting enough for me to write about here. Basically I know I will end up rambling and possibly not making sense about what I am trying to say. Usually after a week or so I realize the article is no longer relevant and I delete that article from my bookmarks. Very rarely, an article just sticks with me and I can't avoid it any further, so I just hope to get a good post up about it. Today, I have found such an article.

It's by a gentleman by the name of Mike Miller who seems like a good guy. I don't think what he writes is bad journalism, I just don't agree with it. It deals with an incredibly relevant subject in my life right now, which is college basketball...and more specifically the UNC Tar Heels.

I hate UNC. "Hate" is actually a weak word for how I feel about them. I was taught at a young age by my father, who went to NC State, that UNC is pure evil, they get all of the calls from the officials and they will ALWAYS be this way so I had better get used to it. Naturally at the age of 6 I become a fan of another team that is arch rivals with UNC. My father enjoyed this because I wasn't a UNC fan. Later, my sister naturally chose to go to UNC in an effort to see how far she could push my family. I still hate her for this.

Like clockwork, every summer I think about UNC basketball and decide that I can't figure out why I hate them so much because they are just a bunch of college kids who are trying to do something with their life and playing basketball in the meantime. It's just a jersey with a name on it.

Yet, like clockwork, when I watch UNC's first game of the year it takes me less than 1 minute to hate them again. Hate them with a passion to the point I actually don't even know why I hate them anymore, I just know I do.

Throw in the fact 75% of the state of North Carolina are UNC fans. Throw in the fact I have four guys who are going to be in my wedding and they are all UNC basketball fans...I am like Will Smith in "I Am Legend," I am surrounded by zombies (UNC fans) and there is really no way out. Basically I was near my boiling point for knowing UNC fans and I couldn't handle any more in my life.

Ok, enough "Dear Diary" point is that I hate UNC. My other point is that I am not a blind, deaf and dumb "Duke is the best" type fan. There is a reason there is a "Duke sucks" tag on this blog and I have probably been more critical of Coach K and his recruiting efforts over the past couple years. This is not a fan blog, this is a blog about bad journalism, so I am not going to start ragging on UNC for no reason. I have been incredibly fair to UNC over the past couple of years and picked them from the beginning of last year to win the National Championship. It was an easy call for me because they were a fantastic college basketball team and I don't really hate Roy Williams all that much. He seems like a good guy even though I wish he wasn't such a great recruiter. I am not a real journalist but I like to keep a little blogger integrity and ripping on teams for shits and giggles doesn't pass that blogger integrity test. So now that everyone has the entire background of my thoughts on UNC, let's get to the brief article about how great they are going to be this year at the end of the year.

If one game is any indication, North Carolina’s the team you don’t want to play. And if you have to, do it early.

Mike Miller wrote this article after UNC beat Florida International 88-72 at home. I watched the game as well and apparently he saw something in the blowout that really, really impressed him with the Tar Heels. They are an incredibly young team and lost pretty much their entire starting lineup to the NBA. Those are two factors that I think about when I think about how to rate the 2009-2010 North Carolina Tar Heels team. I am not down on them this year and I do think they will beat Duke twice (though I don't know why that should matter in this discussion), but I am not quite as high on them as Mike Miller is.

Check out this lineup:

Ed Davis, 6-10
Deon Thompson, 6-9
Tyler Zeller, 7-0
John Henson, 6-10

I don't know about Tyler Zeller. I tend not to get too excited about players who really aren't that proven in college basketball as of yet. I know he broke his wrist last year early and struggled after that, but I just feel like he is "just a guy" for Roy Williams. He may be an above average "guy," but I always feel like there will be other players who play his position who are possibly better than he is. Which he has happened to him twice so far (Ed Davis and John Henson sort of). He's good enough to be a contributor, but not good enough (at least for a 7-footer) to be an impact player. Sure, I am projecting a lot for a 19 year old kid who missed nearly all of last season, but if Mike Miller can project how good UNC will be at the end of the year based on how he sees the potential of the Tar Heels' players, I can do my own projections.

My point is that they are tall and skilled. That's great, but unfortunately the backcourt for UNC is a major question mark that I don't think is answered yet. A team needs three components in my mind (generally) to win the NCAA Tournament. They need an above average point guard, a skilled big man (in lieu of a skilled big man they need 1-2 athletic forwards that can rebound and score inside) and a senior leader on the roster. I'm not saying every team needs these ingredients, but this is generally what I look for in a team that is a National Championship contender.

So when Miller is saying that Carolina will be good at the end of the year, I can't just look at the team and think, "My God, they are tall" and be impressed because I don't see an above average point guard on the roster and I don't know if Marcus Ginyard can count as a senior leader. If there is no one that can get these guys the ball, UNC won't be as imposing as Mike Miller thinks they will be.

The Heels breezed past Florida International during Monday’s opener despite committing 26 turnovers, tied for the most ever during Williams’ tenure.

This is exactly my point. UNC has a young team that isn't the most experienced and is going to have trouble handling the ball a good portion of this year, in my opinion. 9 of those turnovers were committed by the "Big Four" that Miller mentioned and 5 were committed by Dexter Strickland in 11 minutes of action. That is some Greg Paulus-type impressive ball handling right there. Young teams with young backcourts tend to have turnover problems.

“For the most part, I thought we were active. We were trying hard,” Williams said afterward. “We just weren’t very sharp. But it’s what you should expect this time of year.”

The Tar Heels weren't very sharp and that can be expected this time of year, but we also have to remember the competition is going to be stiffer as the season goes along as well. So as the Tar Heels players progress the degree of difficulty should also increase. The Tar Heels rebounded to destroy NC Central a few nights later 89-42, but that school isn't even close to being a decent program, so I don't know what we can learn from that game.

The focus of the first part of this article is that the Tar Heels have tall players who are mobile and that is true, but again, I don't know if we can see that and just say the Tar Heels are going to be dangerous come March. I think it all depends on how the backcourt progresses and that means how Larry Drew II progresses, since he will be the starting point guard this year.

(Small sample size alert) Drew II is averaging 6 points, 6 assists, 3 turnovers and 1 steal so far in 20.5 minutes per game. It looks like he very well might up to the task if he can keep those turnovers down. My only point of contention is that he does have 6 turnovers so far in 2 games and I don't know if those are a result of trying to make a spectacular play or not. That doesn't seem like a whole lot of turnovers until you think that he played against two vastly inferior teams and point guards. His job isn't to score, it is to get the ball to the big men down low. He should be fine as long as he does that.

It stands to reason that’ll improve as the season wears on, and as Larry Drew II handles the ball more and more.

It also stands to reason that as the year wears on Drew II is going to face stiffer competition and teams will have scouted what he likes to do a little bit better. It's nice to assume that Drew II is going to get more comfortable and improve as the year goes on, and that very well may be true, but the Carolina backcourt has 6 guys who can play a major role in the backcourt and they are 2 freshmen, 2 sophomores who didn't play an enormous amount last year, 1 junior who hasn't seen much action and 1 senior who is better known for his defense. That's not a whole lot of experience and age in the backcourt for me to feel incredibly confident about this team's chances to go far in the NCAA Tournament. Sure, they will get experience during this year, but I am not confident that will be enough to make them "scary good." You can't just lose all the talent the Tar Heels lost after the National Championship and expect to make another run the next year automatically, no matter how good the next recruiting class is.

Pretty much none of the players in UNC's backcourt got major minutes last year during the NCAA Tournament run. This bothers me as well. Despite the optimism that Miller seems to have towards this team, I see some question marks that apparently he doesn't see. I don't know if I see this team being incredibly strong enough at the guard position down the stretch of the year to be "scary good."

Another reason I don't know if UNC is going to be "scary good" (what does this even mean really?) towards the end of the year is for this following reason. I am sure everyone has heard about the "freshman wall" that players seem to hit towards the end of their first year of college. It seems to hit jump shooters more than post players in college basketball. All of a sudden the long college basketball year starts to wear on players and shots start falling short and players start shooting jumpers rather than driving to the basket. I am not saying this is definitely going to happen to UNC, talk to me in February, but I don't think we can just automatically assume that simply because Ed Davis, John Henson, Ty Zeller, and Deon Thompson probably will improve as the year progresses the rest of the team will follow suit. It's just a big assumption for me to believe. I think the team will progress, but I also believe there will some inconsistency along with the progression.

Games against Ohio State (Nov. 19), Michigan State (Dec. 1), Kentucky (Dec. 5) and Texas (Dec. 19) will be the biggest tests, but ultimately they’ll just prepare UNC for March.

By then, every D-I team should hope to avoid that monster roster.

I just think this is a big assumption, and I could be proven wrong, but there are major question marks for me concerning UNC's backcourt. They remind me a little bit of the Wake Forest team last year in that they are tall and athletic, but very young. I just can't assume they will be different because they have "North Carolina Tar Heels" on their jersey. That Wake Forest team had a great recruiting class, young point guards, and looked great for a period of time but faded down the stretch. Their season ended with a loss to Cleveland State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. I guess I just disagree with the sunny prediction for UNC.

What makes this progression even more ironic for me is that on October 2 of this year, Mike Miller posted this rant on his blog. He appears to greatly enjoy the rant of a UNC fan about how the MSM media was putting Duke in the Final Four over the next couple of years if they land Harrison Barnes and Kyrie Irving. He, like the author of the rant, seems to think it is a bit premature to project Duke will make the Final Four because they have "big name" recruits on their roster. The author's partial point is that you can't just see big names who are young, unproven college players and assume it will lead to success. Yet Mr. Miller has no problem projecting UNC is going to have a "scary good" team by the end of this year based on the young, unproven players on UNC's roster progressing greatly as the year goes along, which will lead to success in his mind.

I think this team is one year away from being "scary good." This was my poorly reasoned discussion about that topic.

One other thing I don't get. I don't get why no one hates the North Carolina Tar Heels. They are on television as much as any other college basketball team and they are more successful than any other college basketball program has been lately (in regard to National Championships). The media loves them and over covers them as much as any other team, unless in the past 6 months we have all forgotten about the four year "Tyler Hansbrough Full Court Press Media Coverage" experience. Yet, no one seems to hate on the Tar Heels. I don't get it.

-Most of us by now have seen how good Brandon Jennings has been in the NBA. He was one of the first high school athletes to get around the one-and-done rule by going overseas to play and it really has worked out well for him. Jeremy Tyler skipped part of high school to go play overseas but it hasn't worked out as well for him.

If anyone thought any high school athlete could go overseas and compete, read this article, because it shows that thinking isn't 100% true. When I googled the Internet for this article on Tyler, I saw that Seth Davis of had also written about it. He made two really good points that deserve to be mentioned again.

First, that if Tyler thinks Makhtar Ndiaye is going to be able to help in any way, he is incredibly wrong. I would say that Ndiaye is probably the worst person the UNC basketball program has churned out in the past 20 years. UNC usually has good people on their basketball roster, but somehow Ndiaye fell through the cracks. Let's say I am not a fan of his. Tyler appears to have bad advisors and he dates Eazy-E's daughter. Yes, THAT Easy-E. I don't know what that means but it doesn't instill confidence in me.

There is one other point that needs to be mentioned. This was a point the mainstream media has failed to point out when talking about Brandon Jennings' situation. I know it is a shock that the MSM glossed over something isn't it? Brandon Jennings probably wasn't going to qualify to go to college based on his test scores, so the University of Arizona may have been a pipe dream for him. He was looking at having to go to a junior college or going overseas to play basketball, so he chose to make some money. I didn't know about this until a few weeks before this year's NBA draft because the media has glossed over this point in an effort to act like the NCAA wasn't going to have any good basketball players playing in college anymore. The media wants us to all panic, so they withheld this information from us in an effort to encourage everyone to freak out that all the good high school basketball players will go overseas for a year to play.

I don't know anything about Jeremy Tyler, but it's not easy for grown men to play overseas. Try reading Paul Shirley's book, "Can I Keep My Jersey?" if you don't believe me, but it is infinitely more difficult for a kid who should be in high school or his first year of college to play overseas. It's a different world and it appears that world right now is eating Jeremy Tyler alive.

I don't blame this situation on the one-and-done rule, this situation is actually caused by poor decision making on the part of the Tyler family. This is what happens when high school athletes and their families try to get around the rule in a creative fashion. It's not the NCAA's job to protect the athlete and prevent him/her from making bad decisions, but as long as the one-and-done rule is in effect high school athletes are going to try and get around it with varying degrees of success.


KentAllard said...

No need to apologize for the blind hatred of another team. It's hate like that which keeps me going, because if I didn't have that, I would have too much time to focus on the trainwreck which is my own team.

Bengoodfella said...

I am not apologizing, I just don't want to bash them as much as I really, really want to...but for no reason. Regardless, this UNC teams has some holes that this author has conveniently ignored when calling them "scary good" by the end of this year.

I didn't want to say it because it is possibly bullshit, but his bio talks about how much he liked Paul Pierce, who was coached by Roy Williams, so he really like Williams as a coach and have a little lean towards Williams or UNC. It could be BS, but I looked at his archive and there was a semi-trend of him being impressed with UNC.

Martin said...

And when New England went for it on fourth down and didn't make it on their own 29, I wondered "WHERE THE HELL ARE THE FOOTBALL GODS????"

Well, I really thought "WTF?" and "FUCK YOU TMQ! Mwhahahahaha."

I want to see how the hell he explains this one away.

Fred Trigger said...

I nearly threw something at my TV when I saw they were going for it. The reward of getting 4 kneeldowns was not worth the risk of giving manning the ball on your 29 yard line.

Martin said...

Can't agree more Fred.

Bengoodfella said...

Actually, I am a little bit torn on this one. I know the Colts were really close to their goal line if the Patriots did not convert, so that was a huge risk. But I get what Belichick was thinking, you have Brady as your quarterback, if Manning gets the ball back he is probably going to score no matter what so you try and keep the ball.

Of course I also see that punting the ball and making Manning drive further makes sense. I liked the gutsy call but it was probably too gutsy.

I thought of the same thing Martin, what is TMQ going to say? I thought fortune favored the bold?

Go said...

It was a horrible call by the Pats.
You punt the ball ad the Colts will probably get it around their own 35 with 1:50 left. Sure they had been ripping the Pat defense for the last 5 minutes but everyone's (media) acting like it was guranteed that they would drive right down and score. The Colts got the ball after the 4th down and scored with :15 seconds left. I knwo they took a little time but still make them go 65 yds. The pressure's still on them. Even if the Pats make the 4th down it's still overall a poor decision.
Growing up in a MD home in the 70s and 80s you also were learned to dispise UNC and knew Dean Smith got every call. God had to be on vacation for you to beat them because they seemed so freaking lucky too. Today's MD youth despise Duke a lot more than UNC. I get it but if you were born before 1980 you hate Carolina with all your heart. I'd rather Duke than UNC anyday. UNC is the only ACC team I will not root for when they play out of conference. I never thought I'd dislike a UNC coach more than Dean Smith but Roy Williams is Satan. He's the phoniest and biggest douche in the NCAAs today.
When Bias single handily beat UNC in 86 and gave UNC their first lost at the Dean Dome, it was better than winning it all.

KentAllard said...

Also, the Colts blitzed on the fourth down play, which violates TMQ's "Everyone who blitzes loses" rule.

Bengoodfella said...

Yeah, I talk a little bit about the call in the MMQB today. I am not against the call but it didn't turn out well for the Patriots.

I was born in 1980 and I have only experienced the hatred of the Duke Blue Devils over the last 10-15 years. I guess today's Duke was UNC back in the day. I guess I am just a little surprised how no one hates UNC. Maybe I live too far in UNC country to experience this.

Roy Williams is an ace recruiter, I will give him that. His "aw shucks" act gets a little bit old. Coach K is evil and he knows it. I respect Roy Williams as a recruiter but I wish he wasn't so "aw shucks" about everything and just admit he is as ruthless and rule bending as every other successful coach.