UNC-Duke: The Good & Bad

North Carolina's season of relevance ended on Saturday in a 75-63 loss to rival Duke in the semifinals of the 50th Annual Atlantic Coast Conference in Greensboro.

Here is a look at the good and the bad of UNC's 15th loss in 32 games.


Raymond Felton - Felton never lets up. He goes at it 100 percent every second he is on the floor. No Tar Heel wants to win more and few if any players are as mentally and physically tough as Felton. He finished with 18 points, five assists, four rebounds, three steals and two turnovers. But his desire and will amount to more than those numbers. He also deservedly made the all-tournament first-team.

Sean May – May's return was big for the Heels, mainly because everyone now knows he can get on the floor and move relatively well, all things considered. In just 10 minutes, he scored four points and grabbed three rebounds. He also had a pair of blocked shots, one a beautifully athletic play on a secondary break.

Rebounding - Carolina matched the Blue Devils on the boards (30-30) and even had three more offensive rebounds (11-8). In two tournament games UNC outrebounded its foes by 10. This is an amazing improvement from the regular season.


Energy – For the most part, the Heels didn't have much energy. They looked a lot slower than on Friday night in every way: getting back on defense, getting out in the open court, helping on defense, trying to extend their defense, cutting without the ball, reacting to open mates, in attempting open shots, etc.

Effort – The Heels' lack of energy may be why their effort was poor. Some of the players said that Friday's win took too much out of them. But, considering they were in the ACC semifinals, playing their hated archrivals whom they beat a week earlier and should have entered the game confident, and could have snuck into the NCAA tournament with a victory, it boggles the mind how they could have been anything but fired up with extra skips in their collective steps. The lack of effort is truly disturbing.

Big game, little approach – See effort.

Overall defense - Also see above. Because of those reasons the Heels were awful on defense. Duke had entirely too many open looks, and hit most of them. For the game, the Blue Devils shot 54% from the field, including 53.3% from 3-point range. The Tar Heels just didn't get out and defend.

Matt Doherty – Because of the reasons listed above, Doherty deserves criticism. Had it been the other way around he would have received praise, so it works both ways. Carolina should have gone small more against Duke because that approach was successful in the first two meetings. He also didn't call his first timeout until 54.1 seconds remained in the first half and Duke leading 51-31. The Devils' 17-4 run that turned an 8-7 deficit into a 24-12 advantage was a key stretch that justified a timeout being called.

Too often Doherty does not call timeouts when the opposition is on a run. Dean Smith used to do this, but he always had more veteran teams that he felt would learn to work through it. These Heels, the youngest bunch in school history, have routinely struggled working through such situations. With all due respect, Doherty isn't Smith, and these Heels aren't the Heels of old.

Jawad Williams – Williams didn't start for violating a team rule and missed the first two minutes. While he had some decent moments, he never really got into a groove on either end of the floor. He did score 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but he had five turnovers with zero assists. He had shown tremendous improvement in cutting down his turnovers (arguably his great area of improvement since November), but Saturday's poor performance likely had a lot to do with the overall mentality of the team, which was funk-like.

Rashad McCants – McCants appropriately admitted after the game he should have been more aggressive. He was entirely too passive, and was almost a completely different player than in the last Duke game. For a player that often loves the spotlight, it's curious that in two of UNC's three games against the Blue Devils he has not put forth the effort he did in last Sunday's win. He finished with 11 points on 3-11 shooting, had just one rebound and one assist and three turnovers.


The Tar Heels will participate in the postseason NIT for the first time since 1974 as they host DePaul from Conference-USA on Tuesday at 9 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN.

Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He also covers the ACC for the Wilmington Star-News/Morning Star and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.

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