We interrupt the defensive coordinator discussion to bring you a basketball blog. Hey, it’s how we roll. And I’ll be brief, since I’m about to pack it up from Richmond and drive down to Raleigh-Durham area this lovely Friday afternoon.
Oops, I suppose I should say Chapel Hill.
In the meantime, I’ll use this cyberspace to throw out a few things I think Tech needs to do to beat Carolina. Granted, Tech hasn’t won at UNC since 1996, having lost the last 12 in the home of baby blue. And last year the Yellow Jackets got blown out 104-74.
But this isn’t quite your national championship caliber Tar Heel team. Gone are Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, and Danny Green – they took 430 career starts and some 8,000 points with them. But the ACC writers group still picked UNC and Duke to finish in a tie for first place in the ACC.
NC news outlets just reported today that UNC backup forward Tyler Zeller is out four to six weeks with a stress fracture in his right foot. He didn’t play against Clemson. His absence gives Gani Lawal and Derrick Favors that much more room to maneuver inside, though with both Ed Davis and Deon Thompson lurking in the paint, Tech is still going to have its best interior matchup Saturday since the Florida State game.
The Seminoles neutralized Tech’s inside game on Dec. 20. In case you don’t remember it right off, that’s the game when Favors was limited to eight points on 4-for-8 shooting and Lawal had only four points on 1-for-7 shooting. Both of those guys, especially Lawal, is playing at a different level right now. Lawal has ranged out to about 15 feet, not afraid to try the turnaround jumper, when things get crowded in the low post. And more often than not he’s hitting it. He needs to get back right at the free throw line tomorrow.
And Derrick Favors needs to be as involved in Tech’s offense as he was in the first half against Virginia. He scored 10 points in the first half, dunking two or three times, finding that backside rebound and putting it to good use.
As always it’s guard play that will be the key to taking advantage of those two guys inside. Mfon Udofia and Iman Shumpert played better floor games against Virginia but were both quick to fire up 3s late in the game when Paul Hewitt wanted them to work the ball around, and at least have it kicked back out to them before they launched it up.
It might be a nice idea for Tech to come into this game tomorrow and press early and often: it worked against Duke, if for no other reason than it got Tech playing with energy right from the start. Carolina is young on the perimeter and coming off a game in which it committed 26 turnovers at Clemson.
There you have it. I gotta hit the road. More tomorrow from the Dean Dome.