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Saturday, December 04, 2004

How good is Carolina?

A bit of basketball zen: teams are as good as they are.

Not as good as they are predicted to be, or as good as they should be, but as good as they turn out to be. Tautological yet relevant, this is, when considering any UNC team through the hype and expectation that surround the program.

This team might be quite good.

Today's win over Kentucky was solid, with flashes of spectacular. The Heels jumped all over them, then weathered several runs and never let the visitors within 6 points before dominating the end of the game.

This is an athletic team, reasonably deep, with lots of veterans, including three seniors and four juniors who get significant playing time. McCants, May, and Felton have matured into bigtime players. Freshman Marvin Williams brings size and skill and gives May a chance to breathe. This team plays defense. The mental toughness to control close games that UNC has been missing seems to be emerging at last.

Potential problems: Felton's injured left wrist caused him to miss a few minutes today, and his foul shooting was off because of it. Any significant diminshment in his availability or level of play would hurt, badly (as the opening loss to Santa Clara showed). Also, the ability to execute an efficient half-court offense has yet to be shown with any consistency.

It's early, but so far, so good in Chapel Hill.