Talking Points: Triangle squads hit final regular-season stretch
Posted February 25, 2013
1. Roy Williams knows what he's doing, even if more than a few Tar Heel faithful spend a good chunk of each season inclined to believe otherwise.
Rewind to the beginning of January when North Carolina began conference play with loses to Virginia and Miami. Even though they slogged through inconsistent play to get over .500 in the ACC, complaints about roster management piled up. Williams eventually gave the people what they wanted in starting P.J. Hairston, but not in the way expected with a guard-heavy lineup at Duke.
Even though the Heels lost to the Blue Devils, it was easy to see the dynamic shift following their trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium. Whatever reasons Williams had to hold off Hairston were moot, especially when the long view to a season is taken into consideration. The real question was whether or not Williams would stick with it. He did, and the Heels have won three straight.
Not only has Williams handled the Hairston situation to his advantage, Gold: Paige sees freshman growth spurt he also nudged Marcus Paige's growth along in the win against the Wolfpack.
Williams wasn't trolling everyone when he put Paige, Luke Davis, J.P. Tokoto, Jackson Simmons and Desmond Hubert on the court at the same time. Sure, it looked that way when when Scott Wood hit a couple of 3 pointers. But it gave his starters a quick rest and forced Paige into a position where he had to make plays – which he did with a 3 pointer of his own and stellar play down the stretch.
2. That loud buzzing sound you hear out of Chapel Hill is actually excitement about the rest of the season coming from the same group that openly discussed the possibility of going to the NIT instead of the NCAA Tournament.
That's right, North Carolina is headed to the NCAA Tournament. The Tar Heels were likely in the field even before their win against NC State, despite the fact their only "good" win was against UNLV. The raw résumé numbers and the need to fill out a tournament field were in their favor.
3. Same goes for NC State, up-and-down conference performance notwithstanding. Unlike last season, the Wolfpack actually have a few wins of substance in the regular season and a superior RPI ranking. Unless the wheels fall completely off, however unlikely, NC State is just allowing a favorable seed placement to deteriorate.