It isn’t yet March, but the madness began awhile ago for the UNC basketball team. The season thus far has been riddled with head-scratching losses, outstanding wins, and all without their best player, P.J. Hairston.
Hairston and another outside shooter, Leslie McDonald, had been suspended due to investigations by the NCAA regarding potential violations. Those all around college basketball kept saying over and over “This team could be a national title contender if they get these two guys back.” And while McDonald has been reinstated and is once again playing, Hairston unfortunately was dismissed from the team.
It is always a tough pill to swallow for fans when star players get kicked off the team. If you were thinking about feeling bad for Hairston, don’t. He will continue to work out over the next few months and will most likely get drafted and make a few million dollars over the next couple of years. And if by chance he doesn’t get drafted, he will go play overseas for a year or two, make a cool $750,000 and then go to the NBA. From here on out, The Tar Heels have to adjust to life without the possibility of having Hairston in the lineup.
Since the dismissal of Hairston, the three games the Tar Heels have played have been just about as unexpected as we expected. The Heels lost at home to the unranked Texas Longhorns 86-83, needed overtime to defeat the fighting Bob McKillop’s of Davidson, and defeated Northern Kentucky by 15 in one of the most boring games I’ve watched in a long time. The Heels face the Seahawks of UNC-Wilmington on New Year’s Eve in what will be the last game before conference play begins.
The Tar Heels have not solved the problems that have plagued them all season, and they will continue to lose games until they fix these issues. Missed free throws were the reason the Heels lost games early on, and the team missed 23 free throws in a 3-point loss to Texas. In the same game, the Tar Heels gave up 20 offensive rebounds to the Longhorns.
The Heels seem somewhat nonchalant when playing against lesser opponents and seem to lack energy at times. If you watched the game against Texas, the focus and energy seemed to be nonexistent on the defensive glass for the Heels.
After the home loss to Texas, one of my friends who is a long-time Carolina fan was texting me about the game. Obviously I was fairly ticked-off after the game and spouting out reasons why this year’s team angers me, to which my friend called me “the biggest negative Nancy” regarding my Tar Heel fanhood.
The reason why I am often critical of the players’ performances in the losses is simply because I expect better. I have higher expectations for the players and for this team than to sit around and watch them lose to UAB, and to lose in the Dean Dome to Texas and Belmont. I mean no disrespect to these programs, but everyone who watches basketball knows that these three teams are inferior to the Tar Heels in every facet of the game.
This team needs to get back to the basics which will ultimately prevent bad losses from occurring. Making free throws, boxing out, playing hard defense, and playing with passion regardless of the quality of the opponent.
No matter what team you root for, you should be afraid of this North Carolina team. As we’ve seen in a few games already, when the Tar Heels are playing their best basketball, they are as good as any team in the country. Hopefully the Tar Heels won’t sleep on any more opponents this season, which means no one should be sleeping on the Tar Heels.
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