Q&A with Tar Heel Fan (11:54 a.m. Update)


It’s obvious that UNC has struggled so far this season, but it might not be completely clear (at least to NC State fans) why. I got in touch with Brian over at Tar Heel Fan to see if I could find out just what’s up with the Heels and see what NC State fans should expect to see Tuesday night in Raleigh.

Brian and I exchanged questions for each other to answer and put on our sites. Below are my questions with Brian’s answers. Go here for my answers to his questions.

1. Guard play and perimeter shooting have appeared to be a glaring problem at times. What is the most important change UNC needs to make to turn things around right away?

Turnovers are the biggest issue facing this team. UNC simply gives the ball away too much to be effective.  UNC’s penchant for giveaways means opposing teams are simply getting more shots overall, some of them easy ones. The offensive execution likewise has been horrid. Even when the ball is not turned over, passes are not clean or accurate. Interior players who are open for a second, fumble the entry pass giving the defense a chance to recover.  Overall the players need to make better decisions with the basketball but also focus on the little things like catching the ball.  It seems silly but fundamentals might be the one thing that saves this team. I also think Roy Williams needs to consider slowing this team down.  The offensive pace seems to create some of the problems and they might benefit from being in the halfcourt more.

2. What are Carolina fans thinking right now? Is it shock? Surprise? Was this expected?

It seems like the five stages of grief.  First there was denial(hey those 23-1 runs by Syracuse, Kentucky and Texas were just random right?) Then after the loss to College of Charleston came anger.  We were all bargaining during the Clemson game, depressed after the loss to Georgia Tech and with the latest defeat, acceptance that this team has a long way to go has started to kick in.  The problem was the expectations by both fans and media.  UNC had no business being 4th in any poll and would have been better off to toil quietly to begin the season. There is also this notion that the 2006 season was the rule rather than the exception.  Looking at this team on paper it appeared to be in a better position than the 2006 squad and Ol Roy did it once he can do it again right? Unfortunately quite a few things have not panned out.  For one, John Henson and the other freshmen have been slow to develop. Injuries have been a wrench in the works. The once touted “best frontline in the ACC” has been troubled by physical play in the post. I also think this team has fails the eyeball test.  They simply look bad at times. If they were losing games because shots did not fall or something along those lines, it would be easier to handle. The losing is a result of poorly played basketball and that is a tough pill to swallow for most.

And no, I am not a subscriber to the “UNC lacks talent” theory that has been postulated by some. The talent is there, it simply needs to be molded into an effective unit on the floor.  That may just take more time than they have right now.

3. Tyler Zeller and Ed Davis have been hurt recently. Certainly that’s had an impact. How is the team health wise?

Ed Davis was supposedly 85% prior to the Wake game but Roy Williams opted to hold him out.  Barring another setback he should play at 100% versus NC State which should give us a nice Davis vs Smith matchup to watch. Tyler Zeller will be out until March probably. The rest of the team is physically healthy.  However, if you could list things like “low confidence” on the injury list they all would be on there.

4. How do you expect the Tar Heels to approach the game with NC State?

I think they will be up for it. Roy Williams has made it abundantly clear via threats to withhold nourishment from his team, that he considers the State game a big frickin’ deal. UNC is right on the edge where another loss puts them in such a bad position where NCAA Tournament margin of error is concerned. Anything less than everything they can bring will be sorely disappointing.

5. Based on what you’ve seen this season so far, is this a team that will get things straightened out and get into the NCAAT?

I think it is possible they can correct some of the mistakes and get a nice run put together. The problem is getting that first win. When rendering first aid on a nasty cut the first order of business is to stop the bleeding. Once you do than then you move forward.  Winning cures a variety of ills and with a young team playing well and getting on the right side of the score could do wonders to propel this team forward. Not to mention this team has not done well on the road and just given away two home games they desperately needed. A win in Raleigh might be just what the doctor ordered.


What do Carolina fans think of Roy Williams’ antics so far this season?

Speaking for the THF community I think the general feel has been one of: “I wish he would handle certain things in a different way.” For example, when he had the Presbyterian fan removed from the Dean Dome, I thought there was a better, quieter way to handle it. Likewise with the tirades during the call-in shows and what not. It is as though Roy does not have a grasp of the media age he is living in…well…because he doesn’t, by his own admission. He probably could stand to phrase things in a nicer manner but unfortunately that is just not his thing. If he has a filter it is in need of an upgrade. What is funny is how polar opposite he is from Butch Davis in this regard.  Roy will say practically anything on his mind whereas every single word that comes out of Davis’ mouth is vetted and couched in his head before he says it.  Which is to say the UNC media folks probably enjoy football season more than basketball. It also means I spend a lot more time trying to figure out what the heck Davis meant than I do Roy who usually leaves very little mystery.

I think it is also a “warts and all situation” On one hand you have the winning, the titles, the program being very active with the community(i.e. Special Olympics clinic) and overall it is just a great basketball program.  However you also have some negativity there which means enduring Joe Ovies constantly playing Roy soundbites which are not very flattering or ribbing from rival fans.

To be a bit cliche:  It is what it is.

Check back tonight for more discussion of tomorrow’s big game, including a plea to students from an NCSU alum.


09-10 Basketball ACC Big Four Rivals

33 Responses to Q&A with Tar Heel Fan (11:54 a.m. Update)

  1. RSP123 01/25/2010 at 9:19 AM #

    Huge game for both teams. For State, how do we respond from the blowout at Md? Will a leader(s) emerge and carry the team? Make no mistake, this UNC team will come into Raleigh like their lives depended on it. For me, this is how I hope the Pack comes into the game – with a chip on its shoulder and be ready to counter the Holes energy. Roy will have his team ready. The big question is – will Sid? I usually do not like to gauge a season on one game – but I think this game because it is at home, it is a rival and both teams are still looking to achieve success – is one that you can circle! Win it – the Pack takes another step forward. Lose it, and I think we become the headless chicken with no hope and direction. Go Pack!

  2. graywolf 01/25/2010 at 9:25 AM #

    Does Karl Hess officiate this game? That is also a huge question. If so does he determine the outcome?

  3. tobaccordshow 01/25/2010 at 9:39 AM #

    Ah, Derek, you missed a grand opportunity. I’d like to know what the Heels think of their coaches baffling antics!

  4. waxhaw 01/25/2010 at 9:42 AM #

    Unfortunately, I think the Heels will play one of their best games of the year. Not a good time to catch them.

  5. ryebread 01/25/2010 at 10:05 AM #

    This sets up perfectly for UNC:
    – Almost a week’s rest to get everyone (who they can healthy)
    – A week’s worth of time for a pretty good coaching staff to watch tape and look at our weaknesses.
    – They’re on a 3 game losing streak and will come out fired up.
    – We’re riding an emotional roller coaster having experienced the high of beating Duke followed by a complete blow out on the road at MD.
    – We’ll probably be a little bit tired due to the MD game.
    – We won’t have a ton of time to prepare for UNC.
    – UNC needs a win to right the ship. We need to avoid a loss that sinks ours. Like it our not, but they’re playing for more.

    The only way this could set up better for UNC would be if this game were @ UNC. It’s almost like it was scripted. If Hess is trotted out, I’ll know the fix is in. 😉

    I’m afraid this one gets ugly. I really, really hope I’m wrong and will be pulling for NC State as hard as I do every game. Come on guys — prove me wrong!

  6. VaWolf82 01/25/2010 at 10:09 AM #

    One of UNC’s biggest issues wrt to the RPI ranking is that the OOC schedule was simply too difficult combined with a tough start to their ACC schedule (3 of 4 games against top-50 ACC teams). Losses to Syracuse (#1), Kentucky (#7), and Texas (#9) compound the losses to three Top-50 ACC teams and of course the COC disaster.

    Their remaining schedule against the top half of the ACC is where they need some wins (0-3 so far):
    Duke x2, WF, GT, FSU, UMD

    The games against the bottom half is where they can’t afford losses (1-0 so far):
    VT, NCSU x2, UVA, BC, UM

  7. triadwolf 01/25/2010 at 10:10 AM #

    Wow, his answer to question one could describe the 2007/08 & 2008/09 teams for the Wolfpack with barely any editing.

    “gives the ball away too much”
    “offensive execution… horrid”
    “passes are not clean and accurate”
    “players need to make better decisions with basketball…”

  8. Wolfy__79 01/25/2010 at 10:33 AM #

    haha, ed davis vs tracy smith… i hope that is their gameplan. actually, anything halfcourt would be nice.. sound defense and we should be ok

  9. Clarksa 01/25/2010 at 10:33 AM #

    I don’t think I’ll be surprised with any of the possible outcomes…

    – close loss
    – close win
    – blowout loss
    – close win

    There is just no telling which team will show up for which school…but I might would put money on us blowing a big lead to lose the game.

  10. waxhaw 01/25/2010 at 10:42 AM #

    ^ My money is on us coming out and playing our hearts out….only to see Tracy Smith and Scott Wood get several phantom calls and we trail the majority of the game by 3-10 points.

    Of course, I thought Duke would pound us so what do I know? This team does have heart and has shown the ability to press and create turnovers so there is a chance.

  11. burnbarn 01/25/2010 at 10:49 AM #

    I don’t see us losing a big lead to this UNC team should we have one with 10 to play. This UNC team has been too inconsistant and also lacks consistant 3 pt shooting.

    More likely; Will Graves careers it for like 30 and we lose.

  12. Thinkpack17 01/25/2010 at 11:20 AM #

    Yeah UNC is boned. Like Va said they still have Duke twice, they still have to visit Maryland, GT and Wake. With all those OOC loses they can’t count on their overall record to help them. No way the committee can swing allowing them in on “Tradition” with a shabby overall and ACC record. They don’t beat us and it’s armageddon.

  13. fullmoon1 01/25/2010 at 11:41 AM #

    I like our chances in this one. No one can say unc has decent point guard play and that is usually what kills us. Based on our performance against a good Duke squad we should be able to win this one. Should being the key word, this state quad does not always operate as it should. I think Sid has the game plan as well as the substitution pattern down however it is going to come down to execution and desire, a healthy dose of desire I might add. Im going to go out on a limb and say(hope and pray) we win by a small, yet comfortable margin of ts.
    If Hess is calling the game forget about it, we go to the line twice and unc shoots a record #of foul shots.

  14. newt 01/25/2010 at 11:44 AM #

    This reminds of the UNC team after Wallace and Stackhouse left and they had to depend on Carter and Jamison. They lost their first 3 ACC games and then beat us and never looked back on their way to the Final Four. (Over the years teams that were struggling got well on us a lot, but that’s a different topic.)

    Difference between that team and this year’s I think is that 1) Jamison took the reigns and led that team; he wouldn’t let them lose confidence and 2) they still had experience at the point guard position in Ed Cota.

    The other comparison is Matt Doherty’s second season and hopefully this team turns out more like that one – and don’t tell me it can’t happen with Roy. Matt Doherty won National Coach of the Year the year prior.

    Don’t hold me to the accuracy of any of this information; I’m not a Tarheel fan.

  15. D_Medlin 01/25/2010 at 11:47 AM #


    Check the update. Bonus question just for you.

  16. 61Packer 01/25/2010 at 11:49 AM #

    If we had become half as worried about our own situation sometime in the past 2 decades as we are now about UNC’s situation after only 2 months, our program might not be in the mess that it’s in now.

    It’s a very winnable game for State, but we’ve had problems beating Carolina at home. Our overall record against them in Reynolds Coliseum was 50-50, and in the ESA/RBC, I don’t think we’re ahead.

    We owe ’em.

  17. Thinkpack17 01/25/2010 at 11:57 AM #

    ^Who the hell is “we”?

  18. wolfbuff 01/25/2010 at 12:09 PM #

    I stopped guessing what a bunch of 18-22 year old knuckleheads will do in any individual game long ago. Obviously, the team has shown flashes of brilliant play in some halves (in the case of the Duke game, both halves), which is what makes it so frustrating when they get pounded by Maryland. So, yeah, this game is winnable, but they all are. In order for this team to win more than they lose, they have to learn how to bring energy every night and to play with more basketball IQ. To bring energy every night means they have to learn to channel it for 40 minutes, and immediately ramp it down – win or lose. Easier said than done. That comes with maturity. Basketball IQ, IMO, means: Know when to force a pass, know when not to. Know when to take it to the hole, know when to stop and pop. Know when to run, know when to pull back and reset. Know when to foul, know when not to foul (my biggest pet peeve). I believe the lack of basketball IQ on this team is astounding and is what leads to inconsistency. Some of that is innate through intelligence, and improves through maturity. But coaching has a lot to do with it. Repetition in practice, situational coaching. If they do it in practice, they’ll do it in games. It’s one thing to get down on Javi for a stupid turnover. But if he hasn’t been coached with repetition and consistency, what do you expect?

    That said, Pack in a squeaker. 🙂

  19. burnbarn 01/25/2010 at 12:15 PM #

    Davis ‘very questionable…

    I fully expect him to play and expect him to go Kenny Smith on us.

  20. tobaccordshow 01/25/2010 at 12:37 PM #

    Derek, thanks for the follow up question!

  21. WolftownVA81 01/25/2010 at 12:40 PM #

    Good Q and A. I thought the questions and responses were very well thought out. I have no idea how we will do because I can’t figure out which team will show up Tuesday night. Except for the home court, I definately give UNC the advantage.

    Loved this quote from question 3 “However, if you could list things like “low confidence” on the injury list they all would be on there.”

    We’ve had this injury for years. Seems like we should be past it based on some of the games played this season but like herpes, it keeps coming back. Go Pack.

  22. LKNpackfan 01/25/2010 at 1:25 PM #

    I fully expect TSmith to have two fouls before the 1st offical timeout.

  23. Class of 2009 01/25/2010 at 1:32 PM #

    “the other freshmen have been slow to develop. Injuries have been a wrench in the works.”

    …cry me a river, Carolina.

  24. Wolfy__79 01/25/2010 at 1:51 PM #

    i just got off the phone with one of the few tarheel fans i know or would be friends with. unlike most of their fans, he’s pretty level headed.. probably representing 1/50 of those jerks. judging from his perspective, there is ALOT of intimidation coming into the rbc center. and i can see that. one thing i’d like to highlight is his opinion on ed davis, at first he was sold on him being a lowpost threat with size… but the reality check has come in and he’s not quite the power player he’s credited for. sure he gets rebounds and puts them back pretty hard but i quote “he can’t shoot, and he can’t dribble.” that said, his counterpart in deon thompson, he seems to be built like a power player, yet he lacks the mental toughness so far to be a true force on the interior. there are the two names, all of that opinion from a blue blood alumni. i look at their size and compare it to what we’ve been working with for the past year or two.. and all of the sudden i see how vulnerable they are. i’m certain their intensity will be there, that’s one thing they are able to bring to the table. so unless we are complete fools and try to run an up tempo offense, we’ll eliminate 3/4’s of their offense. i’ve seen what they do in halfcourt sets and haven’t been impressed with it at all in roy williams’ tenure. they basically suck at it. it was disguised by the play/hustle of tyler hansbra but the aforementioned forwards are suffering after being exposed with life w/out him. IMO, it will take some pretty accurate shooting for them to beat us, the RED BLAZER is out and very likely still smoking from last week. i think we’ll typically come out and figure things out, and finish them off with the longest continuing run in the history of sidtastic.

  25. Wolfy__79 01/25/2010 at 1:59 PM #

    … i don’t see a blowout coming, from either team. i would just like us to “control tempo,” meaning, dictate when its time to run or slow up. that definition i guess goes without saying. more specifically, don’t allow them to run, play our best defense… stay calm on offense and defense.. then when they get kind of settled with that, get degand in there and push it. motorboat that SOB.


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