It dawned on me today that I’ve had this journal for 8-9 months….and I don’t remember putting a UNC Tar Heels take on here anywhere.
I am a HUGE Carolina fan….and this could be a HUGE Carolina season. After an opening loss at Santa Clara [with no Raymond Felton], we’ve reeled off 14 in a row. In there, we’ve beaten Kentucky, Maryland, Indiana and Georgia Tech. Next up, Wake Forest. But, I’ll get to that later.
We’ve beaten our ACC opponents by an average of 30 ppg. The Heels just bulldozed Maryland [the defending ACC tourney champ] by 34. Tonight, they smacked the #8 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets by 22 [and they are known for their defense]. We are the top scoring team in the country. We've scored at least 91 points in 9 of our past 10 games [the lone hiccup was that 85-51 win in Virginia Tech].
But…before I get a cramp in my index finger for doing the “we’re #1” sign…..let’s be real. We’ve left the state of North Carolina only once since the start of December…and that was up the road at ACC doormat-to-be Virginia Tech. We’ll be in state against Wake….then in South Kakalaka for Clemson before hosting Miami. We’ve only played two true road games [the Santa Clara game was off campus]…the V-Tech game at a tough win in Indiana. We’ve only won THREE ACC road games in the last two years.
Oh….but that doesn’t mean this team is a fluke. They ran over Maryland and Georgia Tech….and gave Kentucky an early knock out blow. They’ve beaten Iowa, Tennessee, Indiana and Vermont…who are no slouches. This is a team with NBA talent all over the place….there are 4 guys who could play on the next level. As sophomores….Felton led the ACC in assists, McCants led the ACC in scoring and May led the ACC in rebounds. And that team was average at best. Marvin Williams may be the best freshman in the country. Jawad Williams is having an outstanding season and no one knows. This team understands Roy Williams’ style much better…..Williams understands his personnel…and the team is playing MUCH MUCH MUCH better defensively.
Just imagine if JR Smith actually kept his word and went to college instead of opting for the NBA Draft and being a New Orleans Hornet right now. WOW!!!!
Not only do we have talent and coaching....but we have solid role players. David Noel has been a nice surprise in Chapel Hill. Melvin Scott....though struggling....is a solid shooter. Quentin Thomas, another frosh, improves with each game [the kid looks to be quicker than even he can't keep up with]. Jackie Manuel is our best defensive player...with long arms and quick feet...he helps get us into those fast breaks that are killing.....KILLING....our opponents.
The ACC is unreal this season. We currently house the #3, #4, #5 and #8 ranked teams in the nation…and they are all just a car ride away from each other [well, not the #8]. How freakin’ unreal with the ACC tournament be?? Oh my God! I mean, UNC, Dook, NC State, Wake and G-Tech can’t ALL get to the ACC semifinals. Yet, all but State have legit shots at winning the NCAA tournament. I mean, no one is even talking about Dook....and they are ranked #5 and undefeated. Maryland is tough...Florida State is no pushover...neither is Virginia. Clemson is always good for an upset here and there.
Beating Wake is…well…HUGE. In the new 11-team ACC, we only have to play Wake Forest [and G-Tech] once…..meaning a win over the Deacs means tiebreakers over both them and Tech and puts us in a great position to win the ACC [we do have those two games against the #5 team in the nation which plays right down the road]. But this game will go a long way in determining who wins the ACC and most likely a top East seed in the NCAA tournament. There will be stars all over the place [Wake bring in Paul and Williams]...a lively crowd...ACC game between two Top 4 teams that reside just a bus ride away from each other. This may be the de facto ACC regular season title game. Of course, Tech has Wake twice and we still have a little matter with the guys from Durham and Raleigh.
We do have a real tough stretch when February starts. NC State, at Florida State, at Dook and at Connecticut……not to mention at NC State, at Maryland, FSU and Dook to close out the season. But judging from how we’ve started…..the ending could be just as sweet!