"I'm disappointed, and that's an understatement. I would have loved to have won the basketball game. We've got to be able to put the ball in the basket. We didn't shoot the ball [well], and we turned it over. Those are two things that we worked on and will continue to work on."
The Hampton Pirates came into Chapel Hill and showed that this isn't your father's Tar Heel basketball team with a 77-69 season-opening win over the favored Tar Heels, and many expected to see a more motivated team tonight.
"People had said to me, 'Boy, I'd hate to be playing Carolina; they are going to be angry, they're going to be mad, they're going to be very motivated,'" explained Davidson head coach, Bob McKillop. "If you know Matt Doherty, you don't have to get a loss to get his team motivated. He motivates his team every night. We were going to get a motivated team whether they beat Hampton by 30 or they lost to Hampton. But what we didn't realize is that the mentality of their players would be somewhat in doubt.—that their confidence would be rather fragile. Much like a glass that drops and shatters, it's pretty tough to put that back together in a 72-hour period—especially since they didn't have a significant number of veterans on the team in the upper class."
After a quick 3-pointer from freshman Melvin Scott, the Tar Heels scored only two points over the next eight minutes of the game, falling behind 17-5. Some easy baskets in transition off of turnovers helped to pull the Tar Heels back into the game over the last 11 minutes of the first half and knot the score at 27-27 at the half. While the Tar Heels had scrapped and clawed back into the game, it was enough to give Davidson confidence that they could compete and enough to give Carolina even more doubt.
"I think we held the forte pretty well for the first half," remarked McKillop. "And once we held that forte for the first half, we became the leaders, and I think they became doubters."
As bad as the first-half shooting was (8-21), it got worse in the second half when the team could manage only 10-39 from the floor, and seniors Kris Lang and Jason Capel led the way, combining for a woeful 7-28 from the field.
"I'm disappointed in myself," said Capel of the poor performance. "This is what I've been waiting for, and I'm not taking advantage of it right now, but I will. I will get better, and the team will get better."
But as bad as the shooting was, Carolina was in it right up until the end.
"We had chances, and we had opportunities, but for whatever reason, the ball didn't bounce our way," explained Capel further. "We made turnovers, and they'd get a good shot. They made the plays to win the game,and we didn't."
With the game in the balance, trailing by two, Jason Capel caught the ball in the paint and dished off to an open Kris Lang on the baseline, but it caromed off of the Gastonia native and out of bounds—and with it went hope for a victory on this night.
"Jason passed it right to me," recalled Lang. "It hit me right in the chest and went off me. I fumbled the catch. That's all there was to it."
On the bright side, freshman point guard Melvin Scott scored 15 points and added three assists along with some ball-hawking defense in 27 minutes of action.
"I thought Melvin was a big positive," said Doherty of his starting point guard. "He looked very comfortable out there and shot the ball very well, and he's our best on-the-ball defender and shot the ball better than anyone else tonight. He certainly was one of the few bright spots.
For now, the Tar Heels get a little time off—time that Matt Doherty has suggested that the players "lose themselves" in a gym where they feel comfortable shooting. They'll need better shooting when the Indiana Hoosiers come to town next Wednesday at 9:00 p.m.