This year’s national champions, the North Carolina Tarheels, provided a less than anticipated performance this year despite the end result. The Tarheels were expected to be a write-in for regular season ACC champs, ACC tourney champs, and NCAA champs and even considered anything less than a perfect season a failure. The reason for these expectations were the return of key players Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, and Danny Green. The team had a disappointing performance in the Final Four the year before and expected to come back with a vengeance led by these three players.
Despite amassing four losses, the Tarheels came on strong in the end winning every NCAA tournament game by double digits. Wayne Ellington received the Tournament MOP award, with his pretty jump shot on full display. Ty Lawson increased his draft stock by showing his incredible speed and quickness was now complemented with ball security and outside shooting. Tyler Hansbrough, although having decreased numbers, added an efficient 18 foot jump shot and showed no lack in overall effort. Danny Green finally lived up to his recruited status displaying deadly long range accuracy, touch in the interior, rebounding ability, and defensive skill set. Considering all of these added skills these tarheels have conjured, the next step would be anticipating their NBA potential.
Hansbrough has long been doubted as potential NBA player due to his lack of height and rather unorthodox offensive game. Regardless of his almost definite awkward transition, the one thing these playoffs have addressed is the utmost importance of intensity. Every great team has one, an energy guy, the guy who comes off the bench and just throws his body around usually stimulating his own teammates to increase their intensity. Arguably the best team ever, the 95’-96’ Chicago Bulls, had one of these guys, Dennis Rodman, starting for them even. To think that Tyler Hansbrough will be Dennis Rodman is definitely unrealistic, but to imagine Tyler Hansbrough as an essential part of a championship team, don’t count him out.
Wayne Ellington came to North Carolina primarily a spot up shooter. Despite showing a more complete offensive game in high school, his more finesse offensive style did not immediately transfer to the college game. As the “Duke of” Ellington became more confident with his game, his aggression increased rapidly. Wayne’s jump shot can’t be argued, and therefore he will find a place on just about any NBA team, but the potential he showed in this year’s tournament showed the capability he has of developing his offensive game to that of an upper echelon player. [Read more...]