EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - North Carolina was easily the deepest team in the
country — maybe even in the last 25 years. No, make it 50. Heck, this Tar
Heels' edition was the deepest team of all-time.
But there's only one problem: Roy Williams was only able to put five guys on the
court at one time.
It might sound ridiculous, but Williams' squad may have had too much depth
this season. Too many players. McDonald's All-Americans were littered up and
down the roster. Guys like Bobby Frasor, Deon Thompson and Danny Green, who
would have started on numerous other Top 25 programs, barely got a sniff in
Thompson (14 points and six boards in 21 minutes) was virtually unstoppable
on Sunday against Georgetown, but it's not all that difficult to hold down the
6-foot-8 freshman power forward when he's sitting on the bench as a spectator
for the final 9:13 of the game.
"I felt helpless, but Tyler (Hansbrough) and Brandan (Wright) are so
good and that's how it's been all season," Thompson said.
Wayne Ellington could be a future NBA All-Star, but he was next to Thompson
for all but the final 24 seconds down the stretch in regulation and was a
bystander when the Hoyas dominated the first three minutes of overtime.
This was the most talented team from 1 to 12 in the nation. No one
will dispute that.
However, it's difficult to keep everyone content — not even so much as
happy. While Williams talks about how much he loves this team, it had to be a
chore to try and figure out rotations and playing time.
These are terrific kids, but they all have egos. They all want to play when
the game is on the line — and their "people" want them to play as
Now the chatter will start. Will Brandan Wright return for his sophomore
season or put his name in for the NBA Draft and become an instant millionaire?
Will Hansbrough bolt or stick around for another go-around since his stock won't
change much in the eyes of NBA execs, anyway?
"I'm not even in a position to talk about the future," Wright said
after the game.
Even Ty Lawson and Ellington could opt to leave after their freshman seasons.
It would certainly be surprising if they did, but a case could be made for both
as first-round picks.
"I really don't know what's going to happen," said Marcus Ginyard,
who played 18 minutes against the Hoyas. "Obviously, there are some guys
who have some options. We'll see what happens."
The bottom line is that this Carolina team, the deepest team in the land,
wasn't able to get to the Final Four with more talent than everyone else.
Williams & Co., won 38 games this season, which ties a school record, and
its clearly a disappointment.
|There was often more talent on the Tar Heels' bench
than their opponents had on the court. (Mel Evans / Associated
"Everyone expected us to win the national championship and we had big
dreams as well," Ellington said. "We fell short of that and it's real
Seniors Reyshawn Terry and Wes Miller are gone and the Tar Heels don't have
any recruits coming in next season.
Was it too much talent, inexperience, a lack of toughness (other than
Hansbrough, of course) or the inability to put teams away?
The Tar Heels wilted down the stretch. They were outscored, 16-6, to close
out regulation and couldn't manage a single point in overtime until the game was
over and Lawson made a meaningless 3-pointer with 32 seconds left.
"We had them on the ropes," said Frasor, who logged just two
minutes in the loss to Georgetown. "We could have put them away and that's
what makes this so tough."
Said Williams: "I don't think that the youthfulness of our team had
anything to do with it."
Williams is right. It had nothing to do with youth.
It had everything to do with talent.