In many respects, Duke made UNC's varsity team look like the JV team. They took the ball away from them on a regular basis, ran by them at will, and jumped over them like they were a foot taller.
Duke's first half defense was good - Duke held UNC to 12 points in the first fifteen minutes of the game. They weren't on fire at that point in the game, but if they had been, things would have been much worse. But it got much, much better in the second half. Duke went on a 40-9 (someone told us it was 50-9 but we haven't confirmed that yet) run, and that's just ridiculous. You can say whatever you want to when you do that. Our guess is that UNC's players may avoid the barbershop where they all get their hair cut for a week or two.
When you break it down, there's really so little to complain about. Duke maybe let UNC get a bit too confident in the first half and let a few points go up that they could have stopped. Jawad Williams got an easy pass to Lang for a slam that was avoidable. Daniel Ewing may be hitting the freshman wall. But that's quibbling.
The passing was first rate, the defense was superb. Dahntay Jones continues to surge. Chris Duhon has gone through the Hurley maturation, so named for Bobby, who was petulant and whiny as a freshman but who shut the hell up and started to play consistently great ball as a sophomore. Carlos Boozer is, increasingly, stepping out for jumpers, which opens up the interior for Williams, Jones, and Dunleavy. Duke shot almost 57% for the game and toyed with Carolina like a cat with a mouse.
Of all the Heels, only erratic Brian Morrison hit double figures. Lang and Capel were held to eight each. Only Jackie Manuel got as many as five rebounds. Amazingly, considering how thoroughly they were dominated, UNC did shoot .500 for the game.
For UNC fans, there is comfort in the tradition of excellence and the reinforcements who are coming next year, including a football recruit who is a hugely talented athlete who now may change his mind and play basketball. The present, though, is grim, and the soul searching and questions will continue for a long time to come. How did it come to this? How did this powerhouse become a doormat? How could Bill Guthridge miss so terribly on Jason Williams?
Perhaps most importantly, most UNC fans understand the spot Matt Doherty is in. To his credit, he has pulled in a huge recruiting class, and so UNC will have immense talent next year in the freshmen and sophomore classes.
However, his pass expires at the end of this year. Next year, he'll be expected to turn it around; more importantly, he'll be held to the standard Dean Smith set. If UNC ends up with a 17 win season, will the fans be grateful to escape this season's hell? Or will they assume that their spot at the top is to be kept warm?
Certainly with a reasonable talent base, questions about basketball IQ and fundamentals will not be attributed to a weaker talent base. Our guess is that this year's pressure could be far worse next year.
Notes - Jason Capel's petulance when he soared over Horvath's back and landed on his butt was ridiculous....is there a Capel Curse? Of all three Capels (including dad Jeff, Sr.), there are between them only two wins over either Duke or UNC...Jeff did it once, and Jason did it once...when Dunleavy slipped, did you see who ran over to make sure he didn't get a T? Dahntay's leadership may be an underrated factor on this team...