Bryant Crawford. Plain and simple, without Bryant, this game would have been a blowout. The sophomore standout filled it up with 22 points on 10 shots (7-10 shooting, 4-6 from deep, 5-8 from the line), 4 assists, 3 rebounds, a steal, and only 2 turnovers in 23 minutes. It was an amazing offensive performance, plain and simple.
The Rise Of Lil’ Chill? Brandon Childress had by far his best game, at least in the second half. It didn’t start too auspiciously, as he had two early turnovers, but the second generation baller finished with 16 points (4-9 shooting, 2-6 from deep, and a great 6-7 from the line), 3 rebounds, and a steal. I really hope the less than stellar performances so far were a mental block for Brandon, and that this performance might help him in the long term. He shredded UNC in the second half, battling hard and getting to the rim at will, with the added bonus of getting UNC into plenty of foul trouble. I’ve said all along that I believe he’ll turn it around, and just maybe this game will be the start of it.
Coaching. I actually thought Danny Manning did one heck of a job coaching this game. The Deacs adjusted by moving to a zone in the second half, often with big Doral Moore in the middle, and it gave the Heels absolute fits. Additionally, Coach called a couple of opportune time outs that frequently led to really good set plays on subsequent possessions. Lastly, several times Coach made substitutions after guys made bad plays (notably Chill, though there were others), and almost without fail the guys who got benched came back in and performed more optimally. That’s almost always a sign of good coaching.
Lack Of Offense From Bigs. As good as the guards were, John Collins, Konstantinos Mitoglou, Doral Moore, and Sam Japhet-Mathias (who played 8 minutes) were a combined 7-20 from the field. Colllins’ 3-8, 0-2- from the line night was a particularly unpleasant aberration, and honestly if John has a more typical game, we probably win. I’m not pinning the loss on John by any means, merely saying that that was especially glaring.
Turnovers Leading To Easy Scores. The volume of turnovers wasn’t that bad, at 11 for the game, but UNC had 12 points off of those giveaways, meaning that they almost always (in aggregate) led to some sort of score for the Heels. Most of the turnovers were live ball, and that’s bad. I’d rather have, say, 15 turnovers where half are dead ball than say, 11 turnovers where all but a couple are live.
Second Chances. Much like with the turnovers, the volume of offensive rebounds wasn’t too terrible. The Heels had 13 offensive boards. However, they scored 14 points off of those. Actually, funnily enough, the Tar Heels and the Deacs mirrored each other in second chances. My problem was more that there were several sequences with either multiple offensive rebounds in a single possession or stickbacks that were far too easy.
The Bottom Line
If you look at almost any metric, this game was a heavyweight fight, with neither team really running away with any particular aspect of the game in totality. The problem was that there were just enough stretches where Wake Forest underperformed for the Heels to come away with it. The reason why I’m more optimistic for this game was the fact that some of our best play came down the stretch rather than a late collapse like the ones we’ve been seeing.
Much like the season as a whole, I see this game as being painful, yes, but having plenty of reason for hope. For now, at least, that works for me. We’ll see if I feel the same down the stretch, but I’m still more encouraged than discouraged, even though there’s plenty of frustration to be had.
On to the next. Go Deacs.