ACC Rundown: North Carolina

The 2009-2010 basketball season is slowly drawing closer. Every Tuesday and Thursday this fall, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order of conference standings – from the bottom up.

Today, we’ll take a look at the North Carolina Tar Heels.


We're glad one of these guys is still around. Photo courtesy of

2008-2009 Record: 34-4 (13-3 in ACC)

Postseason Record: 1-1 in ACC tournament, 6-0 in NCAA tournament (defeated Michigan St. for the National Championship)

Projected Starting Lineup: Larry Drew II (So.), Marcus Ginyard (RS Sr.), John Henson (Fr.), Deon Thompson (Sr.), Ed Davis (So.)







The Good: Carolina will boast its deepest frontcourt in years. Leading the charge will be sophomore and ACC Player of the Year candidate Ed Davis and senior Deon Thompson, who seems like he’s been in college forever. Henson, the highly touted freshman, will play on the wing but will also see his fair share of time on the blocks. Seven-foot tree Tyler Zeller will look to rebound from last year, when he was forced to miss 23 games with an injured wrist.

The Bad: Losing Hansbrough, Green, and Ellington hurts, but Roy Williams’ biggest challenge lies in replacing Ty Lawson at the helm of the offense. Roy Williams’ primary option at the point is Larry Drew II, who was far from impressive in relief work last season(Quentin Thomas?). Williams could be forced to turn to Leslie McDonald or Dexter Strickland—both freshmen—if Drew II can’t fill in satisfactorily.

The Crazie: We all have heard of salary albatrosses, but is “scholarship albatross” an uncoined term? You heard it here first—Roy Williams will regret signing David and Travis Wear, two lumbering, unimpressive twin forwards from California. There were rumors that the UNC staff was encouraging them to de-commit, but the Wears didn’t bite. That’s two lost cause scholarships for four years. Cheers!

We Love To Hate…Marcus Ginyard, who apparently doesn’t like Duke’s style of play. What, does he expect an apology? Sad, Ginyard appeared to be respectable at some point.

The Bottom Line: We’d be foolish to say that UNC will fall from grace after their dominant run to the 2009 title—the 2006 team taught us that much. UNC will probably struggle early due to youthfulness, but Roy will find a way to pick up the pieces for a solid run in March. If the guard play is serviceable, Ed Davis and Co. will provide the firepower to win a lot of games. We expect another tussle at the top of the ACC between the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels.

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Crazie Talk’s ACC Rundowns:

Georgia Tech | Virginia | NC State | Virginia Tech | Miami (FL) | Maryland
Boston College | Clemson | Florida State | Wake Forest | North Carolina | Duke

23 thoughts on “ACC Rundown: North Carolina

  1. Who does Carolina play at the 3 this year? They don’t have the big athletic swingman who can defend both bigs and smalls this year. So do they go big and try to stick Thompson out there? Or push Ginyard or Graves to the 3? Either way, seems like they will have issues with a long, athletic SF. Strange to think, but on paper it seems like the guy they may miss most besides Lawson is Green. I bet there are going to be games with some crazy strategies by coaches in the ACC this year, especially when teams with more traditional lineups try to deal with Carolina and with us.

  2. The Chronicle thinks that Will Graves will start at SF. That may be true, at least until Henson is prepared for game activity. We’ll see how it ends up, though. Carolina could have a huge frontline, but I like Singler against any of their ‘small forwards.’

  3. This blog is complete bullshit… LMAO!!! UNC coaches urged the Wears to decommit?!?!?! LMAO, that’s laughable! Why would they offer them?

  4. Thanks for reading, rashad. The rumor mill may have been wrong there, but I guess it’s up to the Wears to prove themselves. Our opinion is that they are not ACC caliber big men.

  5. From where do you base your opinion about the Wears? They were Micky D all-americans for pete’s sake. From early reports of practice, they are considered to be complete all-around players who can defend, put it in the hoop and even handle the ball very well. I think you all are mistaken if you assume they won’t be “ACC caliber big men.” They will at LEAST be solid post players for UNC, maybe better than that…

  6. Sorry, the comments on the Wears are WAY off. All of the reports from practice are saying that they are the biggest surprise of the freshman crop, and that they could contribute this year.

    And Henson will be the 3, at least by mid-season. Unlike you, I like him against Singler. He effortlessly blocks Ed Davis and Zeller in practice, and is reportedly the 2nd fastest player on the team (after Strickland).

    What you should’ve focused on is the absolute lack of outside shooting on this team. Carolina looks fine at the 3-4-5 (as well as at the 2, defensively at least).

  7. Scotty and Scooter: fair enough. We hadn’t heard the practice reports. Either way, we’ll see what the Wears can do in games. To make a Duke comparison, Brian Zoubek looked amazing his freshman year in early scrimmages… and he’s been, well, less than expected. I know they’re different types of players, but sometimes expectations do not become reality.

  8. The difference between the Wears and Zoubek, besides talent and athletic ability, is that they come into a system where they are at best the 4th and 5th options this year. Having the ability to ease into the system, the college game, and work on all aspects of their game (how many 6’10” guys get time to work on developing a mid-range or outside game during their Freshman year because of the stable of guys in front of them?) is a luxury Zoubek did not have. He came in off the heels of the last legitimate duke big man in Shelden Williams and was pressed too hard too fast. Will the Wears be the next rising of Hansbrough? Never. Will they provide more production, longevity and consistency than Zoubek? Without a doubt.

    You also have to look at the system they play in. Duke was shifting to a four out one in system when Zoubek arrived, something that has likely hurt him in not having another big man to attract attention on the block (and leaving Zoubek to simply take up space and attempt to defend the other team’s center, attempt being the key word). The Wears are known for their ability to handle the ball and play face up, which probably gives them a greater chance of succeeding in UNC’s fast-paced system. The one area that they will be completely overmatched this year is defense, but with a year to learn and gain strength, they will be ready to be solid producers when they are no longer the 4th or 5th option.

    Jake, if you guys did not hear any practice reports, are you merely basing your arguments on The Devils Den message boards from over a year ago after they committed and when everyone assumed that Roy was mad that he didn’t get a chance to offer Plumlee II or Kelly? Seems to me if you are going to do a preview of the ACC that you would base your arguments on something a bit more solid and a bit more recent. I guess if you are merely trying to appeal to the duke crowd, however, then your reporting is just fine. I like your passion, but more actual journalism is needed for you guys to be respected outside of the duke bubble.

  9. Cool Jake..yeah we’ll see what will happen during the season. I am not sure how much PT they will get because we have a loaded front court but it seems they have good talent for big men and should contribute down the road. But by no means do I already consider them “lost” scholarships…I’m sure any team in the country would love to have two hard-working, talented forwards with excellent dribbling and passing ability. Also, I don’t think Larry Drew was “far from impressive” last season…I think he did an excellent job backing up during the ACC tourney when Lawson was out.

  10. Scott (the one with the multi-paragraph comment): Thanks for your input, those are all valid points. On the topic of journalistic credibility: we do take our work seriously, but this is not a full-time job. We are all students at Duke, and have a lot to do outside of the blog. If we miss on a few practice reports from UNC, we apologize. This is, of course, a Duke-slanted blog: we’re here to represent the voice of Duke students as best as we can. We will joke about Carolina players—it’s inevitable.

    This post does, however, say a lot of positive things about your Tar Heels. Although it’s natural for opposing fans to fixate on the negative things we say about their team, we try to be fair and balanced in our evaluation. Of course, have have our opinions like everyone. The ACC previews showcase our editorial aspect more than some of our other posts that have to do with Duke specifically (our passion). Check out our first post “A Season on the Brink” as well as “The Kyrie Irving Effect.” I think you’ll find that we’re levelheaded and measured in our assessment of Duke, and deserve respect for quality journalism outside of the “Duke bubble.”

    Either way, we appreciate your thoughtful reasoned argument in defense of the Wears: we don’t always get feedback like that. Thanks for reading, and good luck this year.

  11. I like how these guys are picking up on all of the supposed “practice reports”. So are Seth Davis and Andy Katz now posting under the names Scooter and Scotty? Doubtful. How were the practice reports coming out of the Vanderbilt scrimmage because what I read said that unc looked terrible against a very average opponent that was playing without it’s best player (AJ Ogilvy).
    The Wears are stiffs until proven otherwise and the reality is, with the talent at unc, we probably won’t even see them on the floor for meaningful minutes until 2011. Zoubek and LT aren’t all-americans but they are experienced seniors so for this year, I’ll take that over potential.
    As for Henson, I think he’s a unique player with a lot of skill and extraordinary length. I also think that if gets isolated on Singler, he will be on the bench with foul trouble very quickly. Experience and the savvy/strength that comes with that goes a long way in the ACC. Henson could be special but I suspect he’ll have to learn the hard way this year.
    Duke will take the ACC this year and if they are pushed, it won’t be by unc. Too many holes to fill.

  12. You completely missed the boat on the Wears and the little tidbit about UNC’s staff trying to get them to decommit is just a lie. You either made that up or actually took the word of someone who did without doing your due diligence and investigating it yourself. You then compound your obvious lack of journalistic integrity by calling them “stiffs” in a response without having seen them play one second of basketball.

    I HAVE seen them play many times and have spoken to both coaches and analysts about the twins. research would have shown you that they started out as guards and simply outgrew the position. They both handle the ball extremely well in the open court and in traffic and are the two best passers in UNC’s loaded frontcourt. I quarentee they will both see minutes THIS season, especially David who is a legitimate threat on the perimeter out to the 3-point line. They are both fundementally sound and play excellent position defense.

    You’ve based your evaluation of the Wears on internet message board drivel and ignorance in my opinion, and I eagerly await the apology their play will demand of you. The only question is wether you have the character to print it.

  13. OK, now we’ve seen UNC play.

    1. Graves got the start at the 3 spot, but Henson will get significant time there and may displace him as the season goes on.
    2. UNC has issues taking care of the ball. To be expected for a new team, and especially a very big team. They’ll have to get that corrected, but since many of the ACC teams are also big teams I’m not sure who they’ll play that will really be able to press them and take advantage of that.
    3. Drew looked fine. We’ll need to see how he does against better competition to really evaluate how solid UNC will be at the point guard spot.
    4. This is clearly Ginyard’s team. They play with his personality and his commitment to defense. Against a nobody opponent, they played a more complete game defensively than they have in 4 years.

  14. DMoore: good analysis. I was really impressed by the play of Davis, Thompson, and Ginyard–the three “vets” on these team if you will (Davis plays like a vet anyway). Drew had some good moves and passes, but you’re correct that he will have to prove himself against better competition than FIU.

    I don’t know that UNC played a more complete defensive game than in the past 4 years. Last year was a great year defensively for UNC in general. They took a good number of charges, but that’s more because FIU was out of control and played the fastpaced game that the Tar Heels wanted.

    Henson didn’t look ready to play on the perimeter to me. But we’ll see. Graves is more than serviceable for now.

  15. Jake-

    Thanks for a thoughtful response. My intention was not to challenge what you guys are doing here as Duke students trying to show your perspective, I actually respect that you guys are maintaining a pretty level head amidst the greatest rivalry in sport (while managing to still go to class). The problem I do have, though, is calling out the coaching staff, players and program as a whole by stating that the coaches were trying to get the Wear’s to de-commit because they are lumbering and unimpressive. While it is true that Roy had picked up his recruitment of some of the other PFs in the class at the time of their commitment, the Wears got the offer first because of their potential fit into our system. Any rumors that they were unwanted, were likely just that, rumors. Most likely stemming for the fact that their stock fell way off after they committed and Plumlee II and Kelly shot through the roof. Being that they are in-state players, many UNC fans were probably upset, as Duke fans rejoiced, that UNC did not even get a chance to offer them. However, I think all four are in systems that will be good for them, so time shall tell how they develop. Any idea that the coaching staff would try and pressure a de-commit is absurd, its like saying Coach K wouldn’t want a star player to stay for 4 years, its just not part of who they are.

    As to the comments to the practice reports, I would not expect you guys to know that stuff at all, just like I dont know (and frankly dont care) what is going on with duke practice right now. Thats for the duke fans to obsess over. Overall, I am impressed with the thorough knowledge of the conference and all the players because I doubt anyone who has posted could tell you much about more than 2 players at any ACC school that is not a shade of blue. My issue was more that the Wears have been committed for over a year and a half, so while there may have been some buzz in January 2008 about their commitment, the buzz now is about their well-rounded game and their fit for the system. It just seemed like the weakest point of your article in a rivalry rich with intriguing (or “crazy”) story lines.

    I can appreciate, as dukies, you guys stirring the pot, as I know I often do that with the likes of Zoubek and Paulus with the dukies I know. I neither take it seriously, nor get offended, but more wanted to offer the UNC perspective on the Wears and how they differ from most big men that arrive underdeveloped to the college game (based on depth, the system, and the early repots on them).

    Personally, I see UNC and Duke as very similar this year. A core of 3-4 vets, each team with 1 star finally getting to shine (Davis and Singler in increased roles in their best positions) and a couple other key pieces. Both teams will be longer than any team they play, besides each other, and both will have troubles at the point (however serviceable Scheyer may be). We certainly lost our game-changer in Lawson and all ability to shoot the 3 consistently, but I think the loss of Henderson could prove harder on duke coupled with the loss of Williams and only one addition of an athlete in Dawkins. UNC will have better speed and athleticism, and certainly has a stacked front court, but the inability to protect the ball and have a viable outside threat may make those advantages irrelevant. Duke will be able to fill it up from the outside as always, but will also be subject to a few games with shooting slumps as always. I look for Plumlee II to be the biggest improvement to the t?eam and am completely puzzled at what to expect from Kelly (I only see him as effective at the 3, no?).

    My call for the difference in the each team’s success? Ability to limit turnovers (while still creating) and which team can come up with the best defensive packages given their length.

    Thank you for remaining civil and thoughtful, even when commenters chose not to be. In the end, we are programmed to hate each other, but I prescribe to the theory that I keep my friends close and my enemies closer.

  16. Ok my friend, 2 games in and the Wears are anything but “stiffs” and wasted scholarships, eh? Roy said preseason they were the most college ready frosh on the team and fundamentally they’re better than the rest of the class.

    David has shown the passing skills and ability to shoot from the perimeter I spoke of and both are contributing. David has even played the 3 in spurts thus far and been impressive enough that he’ll see minutes at both the 3 & 4 from here on out. In fact, David’s production per minute based on pts., rebounds, assists and steals as tracked by the staff trails only Ginyard. Watch the Wear’s minutes increase as the season goes on and remember; they’re both 4-year players, and this is only the beginning. Cheers.

    “The Crazie: We all have heard of salary albatrosses, but is “scholarship albatross” an uncoined term? You heard it here first—Roy Williams will regret signing David and Travis Wear, two lumbering, unimpressive twin forwards from California. There were rumors that the UNC staff was encouraging them to de-commit, but the Wears didn’t bite. That’s two lost cause scholarships for four years. Cheers!”

  17. Four games in and the Wears’ PT has come at the expense of much more heralded recruits Henson and McDonald, as well as cutting into Zeller’s burn. The Twins look very comfortable on the court and are contributing more than any of the other frosh. Gee…whoda thunk it, lol.

    I’m still waiting on you to admit that “Scholarship albatross” remark was all BS. I don’t expect it, but I’m waiting.

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