Much has been made of the demise of my beloved Tar Heels. For the most part, I have remained quiet while the “haters” have had their fun.
I admit the the Heels' fall from grace has been ugly. Each time I think they have hit rock bottom, they have gone even deeper. Last night’s blowout loss to Georgia Tech was no different. Last I heard, Marcus Ginyard rolled his ankle and never returned to the game. Pretty tough to win a game when your best players are sitting in suits on the bench.
That being said, this has been a year like none I have ever seen. I don’t think anyone saw this coming. Even the preseason polls had the Heels picked anywhere from fourth to sixth (which was WAY off, by the way).
What you have in Chapel Hill is a perfect storm of sorts. No team, I repeat, NO TEAM can lose four starters and five of your top scorers and return the next year just as strong. Even in North Carolina. That was problem No. 1.
Problem No. 2 is that the talent that came in this year was overrated and has underachieved. Short of a recent flash of strong play, John Henson has been the biggest disappointment.
We all knew he would need to bulk up, but this guy started the first few games this year. It was quickly obvious that he was going to need some work. Will be a great player? Yes. By his junior year, he will be a beast in the ACC. Dexter Strickland has blazing speed but has been unable to run the offense. The Wear brothers are both giving what was expected and have been a nice surprise.
Problem No. 3 is that the “Bigs” have been anything but. A majority of the issues on the inside come from the guards' inability to get the ball to the post. The best opportunity to score for this team comes from Ed Davis, Deon Thompson, and Tyler Zellar (when healthy).
All too often, the ball never reaches the paint without being turned over on the perimeter. Teams are packing it in and daring the guards to make something happen. Deon Thompson has NEVER played well when the ACC rolled around. I thought he would step that up this year now that “No. 50″ is gone, but he has not.
Problem No. 4 is injuries. All teams deal with injuries so I won’t go on and on about it here. I’m just saying that the Heels have had their share of them this year. When you add it to the list above, it doesn’t help matters much. Tough to win when your top talent is wearing a suit.
Add it all together and you have a perfect storm in Chapel Hill. It’s tough to watch but there is a big old bright spot on the horizon. I’m willing to weather the storm this year because I know what will happen next year. For those that hate the Heels, enjoy this brief moment of failure. This will not last long.
Next year the Heels welcome three McDonald's All-Americans. One of the three is the top-ranked high school player in America. We will welcome in the Harrison Barnes era in “The Hill” by returning to NCAA glory.
Get the wins against Carolina now. Enjoy them while they last. 2010 will be a blip on the radar and a year that teams top to bottom in the ACC will wish they could go back to. Count on it.