SMITH CENTER/ CHAPEL HILL—Much of the North Carolina fanbase is screaming for someone to press the stop button on the 2009-10 season, but the basketball gods instead continue to cruelly press repeat.
At home on Wednesday night against a beatable Florida State team, the Tar Heels dug themselves an early hole and never were able to climb high enough to smell fresh air, ultimately losing 77-67.
It’s been similar to the opening scene in There Will Be Blood, except instead of Daniel Day-Lewis falling and breaking his ankle, the Tar Heels’ plummet resulted in two shattered legs, a dislocated shoulder and a ruptured spleen.
The obvious joke to make now is that the Carolina injured its heart as well. The team’s body language was poor and its performance equally subpar, the Heels showing little fight and trailing by 15 points at halftime.
Carolina’s most nettlesome problems in the first half were turnovers and bad defense, and the 15-point halftime deficit occurred despite the Heels’ relatively efficient offensive effort. For the game, the Seminoles shot 47 percent from the field and hit an amazing 46 percent (11-for-24) on three-pointers.
Most troubling of all, though, was the lack of effort to retrieve loose balls or make the most basic plays to slow FSU in transition. Whatever the crowd lacked in abundance and spirit, the performance on the court was that much worse.
Many fans — and even Roy Williams himself — continue to note that opponents regularly shoot above their season averages against Carolina, but this pattern must be attributed to the fact that the Tar Heels’ lack of aggression and dominance inspires the other team to play relaxed, focused basketball.
By now, any discussion of potential fixes is almost irrelevant. The Tar Heels will be heavy underdogs at Duke in their rematch next month, and they’ll be doing well to win one game in the ACC Tournament (at this point, it’s unlikely they’ll be fortunate enough to draw N.C. State), their acquiescence then resulting in a trip to the NIT or the lowly CBI, depending whether the NIT opts to invite the Heels.
To study for the exam utilizing the same materials dispensed to you all season, in the form of the UNC/FSU box score, click here.