Wednesday, January 14, 2009

game preview: North Carolina

So we can all take a big deep breath and a sigh of relief that Sylven Landesberg isn't running around on crutches this week. Kinda scary, that fall he took against Tech, no? I suppose that's what happens when the refs let you shove an opponent to the ground in order to get a steal. I can't be the only one who thought that, right? Here's hoping the game tomorrow is reffed better than Saturday's.

Virginia Cavaliers (7-6, 1-1) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (14-2, 0-2)

Possible starters:


PG: Sammy Zeglinski (11.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.2 apg)
SG: Calvin Baker (7.5 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.7 apg)
SF: Sylven Landesberg (18.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.6 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (11.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 0.8 apg)
C: Assane Sene (3.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 0.7 apg)


PG: Ty Lawson (14.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 6.4 apg)
SG: Wayne Ellington (12.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.3 apg)
SF: Danny Green (13.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.9 apg)
PF: Deon Thompson (13.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.6 apg)
C: Tyler Hansbrough (22.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 0.8 apg)

In the season preview for UNC I gushed pretty effusively about the Heels. It seems justified, what with them having all five starters in double digit scoring. But now, they're coming in to the JPJ tomorrow as basement fodder.

Yeah, don't get your hopes up though. Lightning doesn't strike twice - and no, going on the road to visit a very good Wake Forest team without your best defensive stopper and losing by three doesn't count as a lightning strike. BC, that was a lightning strike.

The one real glimmer of hope here is that they'll again be without Marcus Ginyard, their representative on last year's All-ACC defensive team. So Sylven Landesberg gets the chance to go up against the inexperienced.....uh, senior Danny Green instead. See what I mean? Friggin' team is loaded. Nevertheless, Heel fans are worried that someone is going to go off on them tomorrow night. OK, not that worried.

Here's what's gonna happen. Psycho T is gonna have a damn field day. Finally, he gets to go against a Virginia team without Lars Mikalauskas chopping him down at every chance. No doubt he will appreciate the chance to welcome the rookie Sene to the league. Sene already averages 3.6 fouls a game and isn't likely to improve on that if he has to guard Hansbrough all night - my guess is Leitao will send a steady stream of rotating players in to try and spread the fouls around. Meyinsse and Soroye will probably see more minutes than usual, either out of necessity or out of choice.

And to continue this sunny day of a post, I'm also not getting too excited about Mustapha Farrakhan's explosion in the waning moments of Saturday's game. Everyone has days on the court where for whatever reason they can't miss. Hell, I have days on the court where I can't miss (I remember both of them), and I'm 5'7" and shoot like a Tyrannosaurus with a knee problem. Sometimes it just happens. Mu's been a pretty good three-ball shooter all year, and the guy should be getting more minutes than he's been getting, but I want to see what he does in those extended minutes (if he gets 'em) before I start comparing him to J.J. "Damn It Not Again Why Do We Leave Him Open" Redick.

So, yeah, North Carolina. I'll be happy if we can stay within 15 of these guys, frankly. Three freshmen against a starting lineup full of ridiculously talented seniors that would be pissed if they "only" made the Final Four is a recipe for disaster. The common denominator between the BC and Wake losses was that both teams have a player capable of nuclear destruction - Tyrese Rice and Jeff Teague, respectively. We have that too, but the other common denominator is this: they had help. BC's Rakim Sanders had 22 points, and Wake's Chas McFarland shot 7-for-10 on his way to 20. Scott and Zeglinski are fine players and improving each game, but I don't see them as capable yet of scaring a team like UNC to the point where they're afraid to focus on Landesberg. No bold, out-on-a-limb predictions from me: expect a slaughter.

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