Tigers Turned To Butter

Last night’s UNC-Clemson game was an interesting one. Because of their success so far this year and Carolina’s lofty ranking, the crowd had a ton of energy and it seemed to feed into the players. Clemson pressed and ran all night and were quite successful in forcing turnovers. It seemed like the Heels coughed it up every third possession and the Tigers blocked a lot of the shots UNC managed to get off. Sounds like a perfect scenario for a big Tiger win, right? Nope. When Carolina didn’t turn it over and didn’t have their shot swatted, they scored, mostly on easy layups and dunks. If anyone kept such a stat, I think Brandan Wright might have challenged the ACC record for dunks in one game.
On the other end of the floor, if the Tigers didn’t turn a steal into a layup, they probably weren’t going to score. They played way too fast and seemed to be trying a bit too hard. They simply didn’t have the patience to beat an excellent Tar Heel defense.
The net result was a surprisingly easy win for Carolina. Even though their point guards played a fairly awful game, the Heels still beat the Clemson press time and again for easy shots. I couldn’t figure out why Oliver Purnell didn’t try to reel his guys in a bit. Clearly they brought the necessary energy, but you just can’t stick with a press once your opponent has shown that they can beat it. Just ask Pete Gillen.
I didn’t see the other game of the night, Virginia Tech’s loss at Florida State, but the write-ups I read this morning confused me. Both articles went on and on about what a wonderful second half Al Thornton had. There’s no question that 27 points in one half is extremely impressive, but how come neither writer noticed that in the first half, when Thornton was shutout and the Noles were getting offense from a number of guys, they built a big lead? When Thornton took over in the second half, the Hokies nearly came all the way back and won. That should tell you a little something about basketball. It’s almost always better to not have to rely on a single star to provide all of your offense, no matter how talented and effective he is. Good teams will overcome one great player.

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