Thursday, November 15, 2007

DAVIDSON v. GOLIATH

(Props to G. Bengston, Washington State - wherever the hell that is - for the clever title)

The pro-tem 2008 NCAA Division Men’s Basketball Champions, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, cruised to an easy victory last night in their opener against pesky Davidson College. The final score of 72-68 belies how close this game was to being a wide open rout.

Just the same, not so fast Jay Bilas and Dickie V with the UNC National Championship anointment. Last night showed the Heels have a way to go to achieve last season’s form.

First off, Davidson (Wildcats, 1,700 students, Davidson, NC) is no “cupcake” and insiders expected a tough game. The Wildcats were SoCon champs the last two years, posting a record 29 wins last season. They returned the same team this year intact. Predicted to win their conference again (because S. Riddle doesn’t play hoop (yet)), this year they feature Virginia Tech’s NBA star Del Curry’s son Stephen (#30) who put up 24 in a losing effort.

Carolina on the other hand, looked completely discombobulated offensively. No one should be too surprised after just two exhibition games. While there has been much talk about UNC returning the “same” team that went deep in last year’s Dance, fact is they lost three players who are all playing pro basketball – Brandan Wright and Rayshawn Terry in the NBA and Wes Miller in England.

The Heels replaced a first round NBA pick (Wright) with two sophomores (Stepheson and Thompson) with little experience, and it showed…Luckily for the Heels, Wayne Ellington stepped up with 20 much needed points. Hansbrough (the third best athlete in the galaxy behind Tiger Woods and that Riddle kid) was dominant in the first half and invisible in the second.

Interestingly Coach Roy Williams wasn’t having a coronary on the bench even while the Tar Heels scored just 2 points during the first six minutes of the second half.

Williams claims that exhibition games that generate 50 point wins are not much help, and tough non-conference games are a good thing. "I told the guys in one of the huddles, 'You may not believe this right now, but I love this,'" Williams said. "This is great for us." (What do we bet he really said “but Coach Williams loves this.”?)

He probably also didn’t mention the fact that every time he has lost his season opener, his team has landed in the Final Four. The last time was in 2004 when UNC lost it’s opener to Santa Clara, and then went on to be the 2005 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball National Champions.

(A small feat the University of Virginia has failed to accomplish in over 200 years...Oh by the way, Virginia is now 2-0 after beating , Howard (Bisons, 23 students, Washington, DC) 92-53.)

Is the kid in the middle a young Terry Holland?

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton, Streeter Lecka/Getty Images, unknown)

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