Thursday, February 10, 2005

Turnovers Killed the Tar Heels

Back 30 years ago tickets for a Duke vs. UNC matchup would only set a person back $2. Can you imagine that? That is so crazy to think about now, when tickets on ebay for the rematch on March 6 are going for $660(for those of you who think that is insane, there is already 9 bids on those tickets). So many players have come and gone throughout the years, but this rivalry remains as intense as it ever has been. Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter, Eric Montross, Shane Battier, Christian Laettner, and Grant Hill have all participated in the greatest rivalry in college basketball. Unfortunately for North Carolina's three seniors that have played and taken part in this rivalry their record now stands at 1-7 against the hated Blue Devils. Jawad Williams, Melvin Scott and Jackie Manuel have endured these years, and I'm sure they will be looking for a different outcome to the game when these two teams meet again on March 6 the last game of the regular season.

This game basically came down to one thing. Turnovers absolutely killed the Tar Heels as they gave Duke the ball 23 times. When one of the best point guards in America, in Raymond Felton has 8 turnovers, you know that as a team your playing great defense. Despite all of this, UNC had a chance to win it, but Felton basically threw the game away, when he decided not to take an open jumper with 5 seconds left. Instead he dribbled to the right, and passed it to David Noel who proceeded to lose the ball out of bounds. Even though it was not a dramatic ending, the ending of the game symbolized how the Tar Heels had played throughout the night, which was sloppy.

One other thing that really hurt the Tar Heels was that some of their best players just had miserable games. Rashad McCants who is the teams leading scorer shot only 3 of 13 from the field and 1 of 8 from behind the arc. Jawad Williams is another guy that the Tar Heels count on and tonight he only had 2 points. Sean May carried the Tar Heels the whole night with 23 points and 18 boards, but on the last possession of the ball game, when the Heels had a chance to win, he did not touch the ball. To go into Cameroon Indoor Stadium you need to have your big players step up. Tonight that did not happen.

Duke on the other hand got the output that they expected from J.J. Redick and Daniel Ewing. Redick was lethal behind the three point line as usual hitting 4 trifectas against UNC. Daniel Ewing had 15 points, and had two three pointers after UNC had tied the game at 53. But the player who stepped up huge in this game, was somebody that no one had talked about coming into this game, DeMarcus Nelson. The freshmen, who last year was California's Mr. Basketball had 16 points, one shy of his career high. DeMarcus also played great perimeter defense and had four steals. Sometimes in big games like this, its the person you least expect to break out, that has a huge game. Monday night JamesOn Curry of Oklahoma State introduced himself to the nation scoring 22 points against in state rival Oklahoma. Tonight the heralded freshmen from Cali showed that he can play with the big boys, as he had the best game of his young career against the school that resides only 8 miles away from Duke.

Last Friday I wrote that North Carolina is the best team in the country. Maybe I should rephrase that. They have the most talent in college basketball right now, but talent does not win a team games. Right now, I believe that when all is said and done that they will be National Champions (and I'm not a UNC fan). But to get there they must take care of the ball, and they need production from McCants, Willaims (Jawad and Marvin), and Raymond Felton consistently. As good as Sean May is, he can only carry this team so far. Every player has off nights, and unfortunately for Tar Heels fans, a few of their players dropped to this level in this game. I can guarantee you one thing, and that is when these two teams face off on March 6, the Heels will be ready. They better be, or else the fans that are willing to pay more than $660 for those tickets, are going to be severely disappointed.


Matt

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