Don't Push the Panic Button in Chapel Hill Quite Yet North Carolina Tar Heel Fans

By M. Shannon Smallwood
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports


What is the pulse of the North Carolina Tar Heels faithful around Chapel Hill, North Carolina this morning?

There is no doubt a lot of fans are beginning to forecast the pending demise of the 2013 College Basketball season for sure after the Heels fell to 0-2 in ACC play with another pedestrian loss to the Miami Hurricanes in the Smith Center.

Yes, Carolina could only muster 59 points and have only been able to notch 101 total points in its first to conference games…

Yes, the Heels look small and slow compared to the likes of the Hurricanes and the Virginia Cavaliers

But you can trust this guy when he says things are far from over with this young team no matter what happens tomorrow in Tallahassee, Florida against the Florida State Seminoles (who oddly enough are 2-0 in the ACC but did lose badly to the rising power that is the Mercer Bears).

And why should you take a deep breath and calm down…

It’s simple really and its is something that Roy Williams has fought through in the past with young teams.

These Tar Heels definitely have to buy into the defensive pressure more than they do now. It is a fact any five guys in the country could run the high pick and screen on either side of the court and leave a shooter placed on the weak side corner for a wide open three and beat Carolina right now.

On the elite level of college basketball that is something that you have to adapt to quickly. That is surely something Williams worked on last night after the game and will be a heavy focus in prep for FSU.

But it has also been a problem at time for many Carolina teams through the ages. Bobby Crimmons used to kill Dean Smith teams with this play and the back screen motion on the baseline. The Heels made guys like Fred Vinson look like Larry Bird.

So the fact the defense is breaking down is nothing new and is something that can be fixed…

The other big takeaway from last night’s loss is the fact the light bulb officially went off with Reggie Bullock.

He quickly matured into the team leader Carolina has so desperately needed in the second half of the game. This will be key as Bullock will look to create more opportunities to make his teammates better instead of just trying to hit the big shot.

The other great thing about Bullock taking that next step is it will quickly spread to the likes of P.J. Hairston who Carolina desperately needs to be the inforcer.

And how about J.P. Tokoto using his slashing ability and hops to keep UNC in the game. Now that is something to watch for in the coming weeks too.

But the final key to this year’s young bunch of Tar Heels is the continued development of Joel James. He has the tools to be a dominate player in the ACC and in all of College Basketball. At times you see him on the court and you think is so close from happening. And when it does and you can put James alongside James Michael McAdoo up front the rest of the ACC better watch out.

So have faith folks in Blue Heaven.

This Carolina team has a lot of ballgames left to win…

And just like Tyler Hansborough‘s and Antawn Jamison‘s things turned quickly for the better in late January just in time for the home stretch and tournament time.

M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the
US Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.

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