By Eddy Landreth
Carolina will attempt to bounce back from a humiliating performance in its last game, a 90-57 loss to Florida State in Tallahassee.
â€œThe embarrassing part is how they kicked our tails in every part of the game,â€ said point guard Kendall Marshall, who, along with most of his teammates, played his worst game of the season.
â€œThere is nothing we did better than them,â€ Marshall said. â€œThat in itself is truly embarrassing.â€
The Tar Heels fell to No. 8 in both national polls on Monday. They will begin their drive to become a more consistent, better basketball team and finish first in the regular-season standings tonight at 9 at Virginia Tech.
â€œI donâ€™t think it needs much elaboration,â€ coach Roy Williams said. â€œWeâ€™ve got to have great practices. I mean, weâ€™re not going to go up and beat Virginia Tech just because we lost on Saturday.
â€œPeople say, â€˜Oh, theyâ€™re going to bounce back.â€™ It makes no difference. We could go up there and play well and still not be successful. Weâ€™ve just got to do a heck of a lot better job.â€
Perhaps, but after what happened on Saturday, it is really quite difficult to imagine the Tar Heels (15-3, 2-1 in the ACC) not playing better basketball tonight.
â€œWe had no answers for them on the court,â€ Williams said. â€œI had no answers for them on the sideline. I did the worst job of coaching the team that I have ever done, the worst job of preparing the team to play that Iâ€™ve ever done. Iâ€™ve got to do a heck of a lot better than that.â€
The first thing this team is going to have to do is become more physical. From here on out, teams are going to do their best to push Carolina around to see if the Tar Heels will complain to the refs or respond, which they failed to do at Florida State.
UNC had been playing excellent defense in its previous games, but everything fell apart against the Seminoles.
FSU guard Deividas Dulkys and his game-high 32 points was the biggest issue for which UNC had no answer. He went 12 of 14 from the field and eight of 10 from 3-point range.
Offensively, UNC did something that has been rare this season. The Tar Heels tried to go one-on-one under pressure instead of moving the ball for the best possible shot. Marshall committed a season-high seven turnovers.
There is simply a level of physical play Carolina has to establish as a baseline from which it will not wavier night-in and night-out.
Senior Tyler Zeller played hard and productively against FSU, but he did not get much help.
Virginia Tech (11-6, 0-3) has had its own troubles this season, but regardless of what has happened with other opponents, the Hokies usually give Carolina a tough game. Coach Seth Greenbergâ€™s backcourts are what usually give the Tar Heels the most trouble.
Keeping Virginia Techâ€™s guards out of the lane has been the biggest challenge for UNC in the past.