Monday, November 22, 2010

North Carolina Still lacks An Identity

Vanderbilt 72, #25 North Carolina 65
Vanderbilt opened up a 14 point first half lead before the Tar Heels closed the entire deficit, but they faltered down the stretch and lost their second straight game in Puerto Rico. The game was a mess with 43 turnovers, 44 made baskets and 45 fouls. Jeffery Taylor bounced back after fouling out in his previous game, with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Sophomore Lance Goulbourne provided 20 strong minutes off the bench as well. But for me, the story is that North Carolina still seems not to have figured out a lot of the problems that tanked last season. I watch this team and every possession I don't know what to expect - who the leader is, who the creator will be, where the ball is going. Tyler Zeller is a tremendous interior scorer, Harrison Barnes is a tremendous athlete and overall talent, and Dexter Strickland can be a menace in an uptempo game. But there's no rhyme or reason to how each of these players is used. And Larry Drew III continues to be a disaster as a point guard (he had one assist in 23 minutes in this game). North Carolina is one of the ten most talented teams in the nation, but there's no reason that they can't repeat last season if Roy Williams doesn't clean this up. For Vandy this was a nice way to bounce back from a tough loss to West Virginia. They are a legitimate contender in the SEC at this point. Their next really tough game will be December 8th at Missouri.

Wofford 82, George Mason 79, OT
The 22 points that Jamar Diggs scored for Wofford don't begin to describe how much he dominated this game. He was able to beat his man at will, and George Mason was forced to dedicate their entire defense to stopping him. On seemingly every key possession it was him versus all five George Mason defenders, and he usually won. Star Noah Dahlman fouled out without making much of an impression in the game, but it almost didn't matter. For George Mason, it had to be frustrating to get torched by Wofford's guards after the way they dominated the boards (they had a remarkable offensive rebounding percentage of 61%). This game also meant a lot more for them than it does for Wofford, a team that will contend for the SoCon title but will likely not contend for an at-large bid. George Mason was looking like an at-large team with double-digit wins over Harvard and Charlotte, but they've followed that up with disappointing losses to NC State and now Wofford. Without a particularly tough opponent for approximately a month, George Mason needs to just start rattling off wins if they're going to get back into the bubble picture.

#16 Georgetown 82, NC State 67
I didn't think this game would be particularly close with Tracy Smith on the shelf, so it caught my attention when NC State actually had a one point lead early in the second half. But a 15-0 Georgetown run put this game away. Once again John Thompson III went with a very short bench, even though he's got some young talent he can tap that isn't playing - I have to wonder if he'll go deeper into his talent when he starts going through the grind of the Big East season. But despite some fits and starts, Georgetown is now 5-0 with three of those wins coming off teams that have a good shot of being RPI Top 100 teams (Old Dominion, NC State and Wofford). Their next big test will be next Tuesday night at Missouri. As for NC State, they have a bunch of really nice young talent, but the injury to Tracy Smith is doing a lot of damage to their at-large hopes. He is expected to be out a couple more weeks, which means that he'll miss the Wisconsin and Syracuse games. But they can survive losses to Georgetown, Wisconsin and Syracuse if they can avoid bad losses, because they always have a chance to earn an at-large bid with a full strength team during ACC play.

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