Wednesday, February 04, 2004

A little bit of perspective on the hoops team...

I am frustrated by our hoops team's seeming inability to put together a strong game for 40 minutes, especially on the road. After reading about our terrible outing in Tallahassee (I couldn't see it on TV where I live) my worst fears were confirmed: we've lost that touch that led us to 13 straight and big wins over Texas Tech, UConn, etc.

Or have we? Virtually everyone polled on this site at the opening of ACC play, including me, said that we'd all be happy with an 8-8 ACC slate and some dared to say that 9-7 or 10-6 were possible. NOBODY felt that we'd lose just four games in ACC play, yet that's what we've done and MAN I can feel the frustration in all of our postings. Let's look at that record midway through conference play, with comments:

at No. 13 North Carolina L 103-88
A bad loss in that we weren't competing for some of the game, but one on the road to UNC in a loud Dean Dome with Roy Williams making his home debut. SURE these guys went on to lose to Clemson, but talk about having the cards stacked against you.

Virginia W 75-57 13-2 (1-1)
We blew these guys away and I expect us to do that in Charlottesville.

Maryland W 81-71 14-2 (2-1)
Maryland is a streaky team but they couldn't take us in our house. They have a good chance to beat us at the Comcast center. Hopefully, our guys will wear earplugs to avoid the expletives that will be hurled at them by the fans if they DO pull off a win there.

at No. 7 Wake Forest W 73-66
The biggest win of the young ACC season. I blame this game for your heightened expectations. IF we can take Wake at home later this year, the team can look back at this game as one to cherish.

at N.C. State L 76-72
NC STATE??? Yes, NC State is a good/sometimes great team this year with wins over FSU and Maryland both on the road. Tell me the Jackets wouldn't have liked to do THAT this year.

Clemson W 76-69
One of the biggest games of the remaining schedule is our game at Littlejohn. We HAVE TO BEAT THESE GUYS in more convincing fashion than we did at home. They've since shown that they have tremendous heart so don't put that away game in the Win column yet.

No. 1 Duke L 82-74
We were one JJ Redick three pointer away from taking these guys down and led with 3 minutes to go. That was a fantastic performance against the best team in the country.

at Florida State L 81-65
I wrote about this earlier in the year and now I'm a believer. These guys scared Duke at Cameron and I'm not afraid to tell you in advance--THEY WILL BEAT DUKE IN TALLAHASSEE,

In short, we are competing in the most balanced ACC in a long time (all time???) and I don't see a weak team here...not even Clemson.

Here's what we have left with my predictions and key wins starred:

No. 19 North Carolina W (5-4)
02/14 at Virginia W (6-4) *
02/19 at Maryland L (6-5)
02/22 No. 15 Wake Forest W (7-5)
02/25 N.C. State W (8-5)
02/28 at Clemson W (9-5) *
03/3 at No. 1 Duke L (9-6)
03/6 Florida State W (10-6)

We lose those two key wins and we're at 8-8--guess what, you were right. Do you believe that we can protect our house and beat the lower-tier (but still good) teams in the conference??? Two of the four road trips coming up are against UVA and Clemson and I think we can take them. Granted, we can lose to ANYONE playing the way that we did last night, but I can't see Hewitt allowing this team to go down like that.

Do you disagree???