Talking Points: Kansas overpowers UNC down the stretch
Posted March 24, 2013
1. North Carolina had its season shut down by Kansas in the third round of the NCAA tournament. The natural tendency is to immediately process the last few months of basketball and determine whether or not the campaign was a success.
Saying it was a good, not great, season in Chapel Hill is probably the fairest assessment. Roy Williams pushed the right buttons with the lineup change and turned what could have been a rehash of the 2010 NIT squad into a buzzed-about stretch of basketball that almost produced an ACC Tournament title.
In the end, the Tar Heels took care of business against teams at or below their level and just couldn't get over the ones slotted above them. It certainly wasn't because they lacked urgency, which could be a question easily lobbed in the direction of another school in the Triangle. It's just that those other teams ended up being better than North Carolina.
Quibble and nitpick at Williams' reluctance to insert P.J. Hairston into the starting five in favor of trying to shoehorn a trio of big men into his system, but he gave plenty of hints to understand his reasoning. Once Hairston gave Williams what he was looking for, in games and in practice, the Heels turned into a fun group to watch.
Crowds ate up every 3-point attempt by Reggie Bullock, Marcus Paige matured and Dexter Strickland's YOLO adventures became a thing.
2. So what in the world happened to North Carolina on Sunday night? Going 22-of-73 from the field and getting out-rebounded 47-30 will do the trick.
Yet the Tar Heels had control over Kansas at halftime thanks to a 14-4 run. North Carolina forced 12 turnovers, did a good job helping on Jeff Withey and forced the Jayhawks to operate outside the paint.
The shift began when Travis Releford hit Kansas' first 3-pointer of the NCAA tournament, followed by Elijah Johnson burying a 3-pointer to tie the game at 35 with 15:26 left on the clock. Naadir Tharpe ended up hitting three from beyond the arc.
3. Withey also came alive. The senior looked like he could fit right in with the Dunk City boys of Florida Gulf Coast and made life hell for James Michael McAdoo. The Tar Heels had to settled on the perimeter against one of the best defensive teams in the country, which was a recipe for disaster.
Withey also created a viral moment with one of his five blocks of the night. CBS cameras caught a North Carolina reacting with a stank face similar to DeAndre Jordan's after he dunked on Brandon Knight a couple weeks back. Although Twitter claims he's was crying and Twitter never gets anything wrong. Ever.
4. Two is a coincidence. Three is a trend. Now 0-3 against Kansas in the NCAA tournament, Roy Williams has a new narrative to deal with, and his outward fondness for the 15 years he coached the Jayhawks doesn't help matters.
Frankly, it's all dumb. Williams shouldn't have to constantly explain the situation when North Carolina and Kansas show up in the same bracket. Especially since it's worked out for everyone in the end. The Heels have two NCAA Championships and the Jayhawks got their own back in 2008.
It's also silly to complain about the home-court atmosphere in Kansas City. Let's not act like North Carolina hasn't enjoyed similar treatment as a higher seed playing in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte.