Joe Ovies

Talking Points: Tournament time runs out for Heels

Posted March 23, 2014
Updated March 24, 2014

1. North Carolina and Iowa State engaged in high level basketball throughout the second half, but it was a terrible ending for the Tar Heels as momentum proved to be fickle.

Up 76-68 with 3:56 left in the game, North Carolina saw their lead evaporate. James Michael McAdoo sank two free throws to tie the game at 83 with :16 on the clock, leaving the Cyclones plenty of time run their offense and clear out the lane for DeAndre Kane. The senior, who had a game-high 24 points thanks to repeated drives toward the basket, forced J.P. Tokoto to trail on defense and hit a layup over Jackson Simmons with barely any time remaining.


Iowa State scored on nine of their last 11 possessions and went 7-for-8 from the field in the final 3:47, including two crucial 3-pointers from Naz Long.

As much as the Cyclones played like they had acquired one of those invincibility stars from "Super Mario Bros.," North Carolina contributed to their own demise with a handful of mistakes during that critical stretch. The Tar Heels took some questionable shots, had an offensive foul and Marcus Paige committed an unfortunate turnover trying to pass the ball while mid-air to McAdoo.

2. While Kane's basket  was ultimately the dagger, North Carolina in-bounded the ball with 1.6 seconds on the clock. Head coach Roy Williams frantically called for the timeout, but the officials didn't grant it until Nate Britt signaled for a timeout once he crossed half-court.


"We're not laying this on the officials," said Williams. "We made some mistakes. We practice all the time in that situation for five guys to be calling timeout, and I'm supposed to be calling timeout. And I was calling timeout, the referees didn't recognize it."

What the officials did recognize was a delayed start on the clock following the inbound, rendering whether or not North Carolina called a timeout before the buzzer a moot point.

3. Brice Johnson left the game early after turning his ankle and didn't return to the lineup. That took away a key part of North Carolina's size advantage, considering Iowa State didn't have Georges Niang due to his own injury. Enter Kennedy Meeks, who stepped up with 15 points and 13 rebounds in 31 minutes of playing time.

Meeks was one of five Tar Heels who scored in double-figures, but the usual contributors had to struggle through Iowa State's defensive gameplan. McAdoo was 5-for-14 from the field. Leslie McDonald concluded his Tar Heel career with 18 points on 15 shots. Marcus Paige had some of that second-half magic, but turned the ball over four times and registered no assists.

4. There's a subtle difference between "disappointing season" and "could have been better." North Carolina's 2013-14 campaign falls under the latter, especially when you consider the high rate of drama associated with the beginning of the season.

Yes, North Carolina lost to UAB and Belmont. Sure, they were quickly bounced out of the ACC Tournament and couldn't close the deal on a Sweet 16 trip. But the Tar Heels still strung together a 12-game winning streak and notched high-profile wins. All without P.J. Hairston, who spent all season in the NBDL following months of NCAA drama. 

It's amazing what one more win in the NCAA Tournament can do for the overall perception of a season. Regardless, it still goes down as another example of Williams maximizing the best out of a talented but flawed roster. 

5. NC State? Missed enough free throws and couldn't get any stops in the paint against St. Louis. Duke? Got hit with the "Nae Nae" by Mercer. Syracuse and Pittsburgh? Short-circuited in the third round.

It was a no good, terrible, very bad NCAA Tournament for the ACC.

Meanwhile, all three SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament are in the Sweet 16. Hey, at least Florida State snapped their BCS Championship streak.



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  • Doc Holliday Mar 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Get what you're driving at. IMO, when you see stuff like that happening, somebody is likely getting caught up in the game which results in them "sleeping at the wheel". Is there anybody who doesn't yell at Hess?

  • ACC22 Mar 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    You are absolutely right there are no guarantees they will get it right. I totally agree. But there is a difference between the operator being a tenth or two tenths of a second too slow and screwing it up the way he did. As Mike Golic pointed out this AM there have been several cases in the middle of games in the tourney this year where the clock operator screwed up. The Nebraska coach got his second tech yelling at Karl Hess because the shot clock wasn't running. There is ALWAYS the chance of human error or equipment error. ALWAYS. The point I am trying to make is with the absolute ridiculous amount of money the NCAA makes there is ZERO reason why they can't have the best equipment and best trained clock operators working these games.

  • Doc Holliday Mar 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    There are no guarantees they'll get it right. I saw the ending of a game a few days ago between a couple of teams and the scenario was this....player on team A shoots a FT, misses, player on team B has his left hand on the ball as he's trying to secure a rebound, player on team A is going for it as well, hits player B's hand and the ball goes out of bounds. The official rules that the ball was last touched by player A, which is what it looked like live. They showed the replay & it was clear that player B had his hand on the ball when it went out of bounds yet they came back & said there wasn't enough evidence to overturn the call. I saw the replay & that was baloney. Not sure what the refs were looking at but they managed to miss the obvious in that situation. Probably should have been a foul on player A but he did not touch the ball last.

  • Objective Scientist Mar 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    OK... I understand what you say, and I too have seen what you describe "ball 3 inches out of the hand" as the clock goes to "0.00" - and I can easily imagine that situation and how it changes the outcome can be changed if the clock operator is "too slow" or "too fast" in starting and/or stopping a clock. But... there are a LOT of factors in all of that. An official must "react" to what is happening on the court and give the clock operator a signal to either start or stop the clock. The clock operator must "react" to the official's signal and start/stop the clock. We have two human beings, each possibly having different eyesight acuities and different reaction times. As long as humans are involved there will be variance in such factors. Viewing "replays" can help sort it all out... as it did in UNC's game... but when human eyesight and hand is involved in starting/stopping a "timer/clock" - it will rarely be a "perfect process"!

  • ACC22 Mar 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Where I was going with that is get the best equipment and clock operators that are fully trained for the NCAA tourney. Too much is at stake. We have all seen the last second shot where we had to look at it in slow motion to see if it left the players hand in time. You look at the replay and the ball is three inches out of the players hand when the clock goes to zero. This happens in a case where the clock operator actually does his job correctly. Now imagine that exact same scenario where the clock operator doesnt start the clock in time.

  • Objective Scientist Mar 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    If a team fails to perform to expectations on the hardwood - or the field, etc. - who has "failed"? Who do we "blame"? For Carolina basketball - the "buck stops" on the desk of Roy Williams, rightfully so with all the support provided the program and the salary paid to Roy. The same goes for "K" at Duke, etc., etc. for all other schools. Pray tell... who do we "blame", who has "failed" if a CONFERENCE fails to meet expectations? The Commissioner? Swofford for the ACC? The Commissioner has NO control over who the coaches are, or program support, or coaching salaries. Frankly, I cannot "get into" competition between conferences... and believe that has come about primarily due to "media hype". If Carolina is playing Kentucky... for me it is Carolina vs Kentucky! NOT the ACC vs the SEC!!! I'm definitely going to be unhappy if Carolina fails to perform to expectations, but I "lose no sleep" over the ACC overall!

  • dwm329 Mar 24, 2014

    What an embarrassing showing for the ACC in the tournament. I don't think we need to give writers and announcers more fodder for their often negative remarks when comparing the ACC to others.

  • Scott Burks Mar 24, 2014
    user avatar

    Good game by the Heels, but it didn't surprise me that they dropped such a winnable game. It's been the story of their season.

  • Objective Scientist Mar 24, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I'm not sure where you were going in your last 3 sentences??? The winner of the game in modern day basketball has always been the team that scored the most points between the tip-off and the final buzzer. I agree that some "clock operators" are competent and better than some others. Perhaps one solution would be to standardize the clock technology/equipment so it is the same in all venues and... AND to pay TRAINED clock operators as a 4th game official. However, assuming nothing "funny" going on with the clock... a "stop watch"/clock will almost always be a factor in determining the outcome of a close game in the last few minutes! That is - indeed - "part of the game"!

  • ACC22 Mar 24, 2014

    The clock issue at the end of the game in this situation did not affect the outcome for UNC. This is an issue that does need to be seriously addressed. Several times in the tourney this year there have been clock issues. Not at the end of games but non the less the game has to be stopped. The Nebraska coach got ejected when he was trying to argue a shot clock issue. The NCAA makes way way too much money for this to be happening in these games as often as it does. There has to be people out there they can pay that no how to manage the clock. I think we have all seen that game where the 3 pointer goes up as time expires and the refs have to look at the monitor to see if the ball left the players hand in time. What is going to happen if Britt lets it fly from three quarter court and it goes in nothing but net. What happens if its your team and its an inbound from mid court and the 3 is made and the clock didnt move. Do you want your teams fate decided by a stop watch?




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