Sports 56 WHBlog Q

January 18, 2009

It’s Wayne’s World, Wayne’s World, Party Time, Excellent?

Filed under: Uncategorized — cameroneasley @ 4:25 pm

Coming into this college basketball season, the University of North Carolina became the first team since 1991 UNLV to impressively garner unanimous voting as the nation’s number one team.  The Tar Heels got out to a solid enough preseason start, culminating in a blistering 98-63 demolition of an overrated Michigan State team at Ford Field.  Since then, the Heels have been decidedly less impressive, moving sluggishly through a holiday schedule consisting of 7+ day layoffs between game action.  This sluggishness bred a complacency that cost the Heels dearly in their first two conference games of the season, an 85-78 home loss to BC (who have now lost their last 4 on the trot) and a 92-89 road loss in Winston-Salem to now #1 ranked Wake Forest.

Many have pointed to a lack of defensive intensity in these two contests and more importantly, a lack of effort from North Carolina.  While these criticisms are certainly valid, I would venture that one player  holds the key for the Tar Heels this season; it’s not Tyler Hansbrough, and it’s not Ty Lawson either.  Wayne Ellington is the most important player for North Carolina this season.  Outside of he and Danny Green, the team lacks a consistent threat from beyond the arc.  In the losses to BC and Wake, Ellington shot 4-14 from three point range, with the two three pointers in the Wake game coming after the contest had been decided.  Heading into last night’s game, Wayne Ellington was shooting 35% from three point range on the season.  As a frosh, Ellington shot 37%, last season in the Final Four campaign, 40%.  Which brings us to last night’s game.

In a first half where Miami played more aggressively for three quarters of the 20 minutes, Wayne Ellington was again MIA, not even scoring a point, going 0-2 from the land of plenty.  The Heels hit a late run after Miami crumbled under some full court pressure, but only led by 4.  Cue the second half: Ellington comes out and drains 3 in a row from beyond the arc after some inexplicably bad defense from the U.  At this point the game was over.  He’d go on to make 4 more before finishing 7-11, one short of tying Hubert Davis’s single game record.

When Wayne Ellington brings his A game the Heels are virtually unguardable.  In a peculiar system where the defense seems to feed off of the offense, stretching the court to create space for the Ty’s to operate is the most important factor for the Heels.  Is this a bad thing?

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