Saturday, March 24, 2007

East Regional Roundup

With the clock showing 17:15 in the second half, USC led UNC 49-33. With the clock showing 11:05, USC led 59-49. UNC proceeded to go on an 18-0 run over the next 6 1/2 minutes that totally demoralized USC. Even though Stewart's 3 at 4:28 cut it to 5, the game was already over. The moving screen/Tim Floyd technical three minutes later just sealed the deal. In that stretch, UNC picked up 6 offensive rebounds (against 3 defensive boards for USC) and scored 9 points on second-chance efforts (and the two baskets before the run started were on offensive put-backs as well). UNC controlled the glass all night, but never moreso that doing that run (more than half of which, not at all coincidentally, came while Taj Gibson was sitting comfortably on a cushioned folding chair next to his coach).

SC came out extremely hot. They pushed tempo on UNC (which not a lot of teams have done this year) and guards like Pruitt, Hackett, and Young were breaking people down and getting into the paint. Gibson had all sorts of energy inside - he controlled the glass, kept the ball away from Hansbrough, and blocked shots. But after picking up three quick ones in the second half, he had to go to the bench, and you could almost see the entire Trojan team look worried. At that point, all the energy the Trojans seemed to have early faded away. They were both tired down the stretch, and looked like they couldn't take the Tar Heels' punch when it finally came. The run staggered USC, and there was no coming back.

Brandan Wright, Marcus Ginyard, and Danny Green had big games - I have to admit, I love watching Brandan Wright play. He's so quick off the floor, and he just seems to hit everything from 8 feet in. He looks very pro-ready (except for the fact that he's a little wiry), but even though he plays for the Heels, I'd like to see him back in college again next year.

Sunday, the Heels play Georgetown with a chance to get to the final four. Georgetown has the size to frustrate UNC, but they absolutely need to play a slow game. There is just no earthly way Roy Hibbert can go up-and-down with Hansbrough for 30 minutes - he can't keep up. The one thing the Hoyas have going for them is that UNC has struggled some this year with system offenses - they never really shut down NC State in three games. Discipline in the half court will be essential for UNC, because Georgetown is very patient, and executes as well as anyone on offense. It'll be interesting to see whether they put Wright or Ginyard/Terry against Green - Wright has the size to matchup with him inside, but I'm not sure the Heels want Wright to spend the entire defensive game out toward the perimeter. Terry and Ginyard give up a little size, but might be able to frustrate Green's ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the hoop. Whichever one doesn't get Green will have Summers, who can be an equally problematic matchup if he's playing well. Still, the Hoyas will have a tough time running with the Heels, and while their goal will be to slow them down, not a lot of teams have slowed down North Carolina this season. If this game hits 72 possessions, I don't really see how Georgetown can win.


Anonymous said...

It looks like defense was key last night for the Tar Heels. Now, they are playing a team that is equal in offensive efficiency. Can UNC come up with another performance on the defensive end like last night?

Michael said...

Something interesting to note is that while UNC has played 10 games this year under 70 possessions, Georgetown has played just 2 over 70. Their ability to rebound on the offensive glass really prevents up-tempo teams from creating run-outs. UNC is a very good rebounding team too, though, so a lot of it will depend on who is playing with more intensity and who is or is not in foul trouble.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to see much of a pattern for Georgetown because the possessions in their games tend to always be in the 50's and 60's. Syracuse rang them up for 71 possessions and obviously that was not good for the Hoyas.

They have won all but one game the last 2 months, but the competition, even in the tournaments is not that impressive. UNC is better defensively, equal offensively, has played a tougher schedule and has more depth.

Michael said...

I don't think you can just look at the gross pomeroy ratings as evidence of whether a team is better than another defensively or offensively. These are very different teams.

UNC is so efficient offensively because of the amount of run-outs they get from long rebounds. Georgetown is such a good offensive rebounding team that it isn't likely UNC will get a lot of those opportunities today. Georgetown forces their opposition to shoot worse than UNC does - more importantly, they force teams to beat them in a half-court set, which is UNC's biggest weakness.

It should be an interesting game, and can go any way.