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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Notes from a blowout

Posted by on Tue, Dec 2, 2008 at 12:01 AM

Wayne Ellington shooting his way to 13 points against UNCA (photo by Arianna Hoffmann)
  • Wayne Ellington shooting his way to 13 points against UNCA (photo by Arianna Hoffmann)

A friend wasn't using his ticket to last night's UNC v. UNC-Asheville game, so I took it and went. I don't want to repeat the excellent overall account from Harrington already on our blog, so a few notes from the Dean Dome:

1. It's amazing how easy the Heels made beating a team by 68 points look. (That margin was a Roy Williams-era record, by the way.) Carolina didn't appear to burn even half its game fuel -- and that was without Tyler Hansbrough and Marcus Ginyard. Partway through the rather somnolent first half, I glanced at the scoreboard. Carolina hadn’t been doing much, it seemed, and I thought it was probably an eight-point game or so. It turned out that the Heels were winning by 21 points already. The only excitement was Danny Green's run of second-half three-pointers, which was the easiest eighteen points in three minutes I've ever seen anyone score. He kept being open, he kept casually flicking up shots, and they kept going in. (The UNC-Asheville coach after the game: "We have to cover jump-shooters better." Good idea.)

Here's a prediction: at some point this year, Danny Green will rescue a Tarheel team in trouble.

2. Is Deon Thompson the second coming of (here's an oldie but goodie) Sam Perkins? Same loping stride, same long-armed shot, same blank-faced detachment. (Perkins, a.k.a. "Big Smooth," was at least once made to run up and down the steps of Carmichael Auditorium as punishment for failure to exert himself). I was amazed, scanning the box score later, to discover that Thompson finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. He's the sort of player that's likely to infuriate the Heels' hustle-loving coach, Roy Williams.

3. Speaking of Williams and his hustle-lovingness, his super-preparedness, and his general coachiness, it brought a smile to my face to watch him during the pregame shootaround. He lounged on the UNC bench, legs stretched out before him and arms behind his head, in total repose, like a man tanning by the pool, idly watching the Asheville players warming up—as if wondering whether any of them would be worth betting five bucks on to win a street-ball tournament. I was reminded of his hilariously self-contradicting postgame comment after UNC won the Maui Invitational tournament, words that managed to sound totally tense about engaging in relaxation: "I like to enjoy the journey... I'm going frickin' parasailing or something [or something?] tomorrow and having a good time. I'm going to enjoy my life. I'm trying to get our fans to do that and stop thinking about what might happen in Detroit in the middle of April."

4. Ty Lawson! You marvel at how fast he's sprinting before you even realize that he's also dribbling the ball. On fast breaks, he forces contact against much bigger players, and he has such extraordinary strength and body control that he manages to hit off-balance running shots after drawing fouls from them.

5. In case you were figuring that a Thanksgiving-weekend blowout against an overmatched, forgettable opponent means a relaxation of vigilance by stadium personnel, I witnessed a heated argument between an usher and a fan at halftime. From what I could tell, the fan was trying to sit in an empty upper-level seat that wasn't his. Bad idea. Back to your seat, pal. I politely asked the usher in my nosebleed section if I could move down a bit, and he wordlessly, unsmilingly assented. Apparently it's a given that you keep your seats at the Dean Dome. This is a well-behaved crowd. I didn't see anyone else relocate until only a few minutes remained, by which time the dregs of the Heels' bench were on the floor.

6. Speaking of those dregs, Durhamite Justin Watts got eleven solid minutes for Carolina. He was no firebrand, but he's a player who might come in handy at some point: he's athletic and aggressive, a kind of third-string Reyshawn Terry, or perhaps -- if you'll pardon another oldie-but-goodie -- Curtis Hunter redux.

7. Dregs II: The ballboy I watched playfully chasing Danny Green around during the shootaround turned out to be third- (or fourth-, or fifth-) string point guard Marc Campbell. He was the only Tarheel not to score, but he did manage to dish out four assists in four minutes of action, which probably makes him the most efficient passer in college basketball to date this season.

8. Do the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs feel consoled, or do they feel worse that Hansbrough didn't play?

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