March can be a long road or a very short one – it entirely depends on how you handle each 40 minute segment. We’re used to epic voyages in this area and I don’t expect much different this spring. UNC has the pieces – the key in my opinion is whether they can achieve the razor focus that the 2009 team demonstrated during their tour de force title run.
Carolina guys on this year’s team chafe at the comparisons, but it’s not about personnel. They are clearly totally different teams – but that 09 team received much of the same criticism during the regular season that this year’s iteration has. Not focused for 40 minutes, occasionally lackadaisical on defense etc etc. Thing is – when the lights came on, and it mattered, Hansbrough and company brought out the buzzsaw. That’s what this Heels team needs to show.
At Thursday’s media session – Harrison Barnes laughed off a question suggesting this was his final tourney run – responding ‘now you’re talking crazy…’ Of course – HB had a knowing smile on his face at the time that told a different story.
Roy Williams says he’s real concerned about John Henson’s injured wrist. I say don’t worry until Sunday at the earliest. Vermont’s a nice little team, but they’re not gonna threaten UNC today. Save the swats for the bigger fish ahead.
As for the Devils – all eyes are on their offense. You could hears the gears grind to a halt for long stretches in Atlanta. Mike Krzyzewski spoke at length about the importance of the ‘stretch 4’ position to his team. In this case – Ryan Kelly. With Kelly out – the spacing has been off and with two traditional big Plumlee guys clogging the middle, the driving lanes haven’t been there. K said Kelly could see situational minutes vs Lehigh, but not nearly the normal workload he’d normally carry. Kelly has yet to even properly practice with his teammates because of his sprained foot.
The laughs today came from a slideshow on Cosmopolitan.com that rated Stilman White, James Michael McAdoo and Austin Rivers as three of the ‘hottest players’ in the tournament. White was embarrassed by the whole thing, while McAdoo embraced it – saying he’d instructed his mother to buy him some new earrings now that he’s got a standard to live up to. Best answer belonged to Rivers though. He was unawares until I asked him about it…stuttered for a second then said simply. ‘Thanks Mom and Dad, I guess.’