Weird how about a month ago it was OKC keeping me from being completely fed up and on the ledge due to my favorite teams (UNC and OKC). Now they've reversed roles as UNC continues winning while the Thunder play like shit.
Incredible game tonight in Raleigh and there was a sick one-on-one battle between Marcus Paige and T.J. Warren. Granted, they didn't guard each other or anything, but they both hit a ton of big shots down the stretch. Paige goes for 35-6-5-2 on 11/21 shooting (31 points in the second half) and goes coast-to-coast for a game winning layup with 0.9 seconds to play. Warren, after a 3/10 first half, scored 36 points on 13/25 shooting and basically answered every UNC basket down the stretch with his own basket.
Some questionable foul calls and no calls (thought Warren got away with some hooks/offensive fouls and some walks on some of his second half scores), but it is what it is. Thought the off the ball foul called on McDonald with 1.5 seconds to go in regulation and UNC up 2 was iffy, too. Thought UNC was dead in the water after falling behind by 6 with under 2 minutes to go in OT, but Paige was f***ing amazing.
I don't know how often this happens to other people, as I realize I'm fortunate enough to be a fan of a team that regularly competes for a championship.
When I watched Felton at the TOC, then still a junior in high school, I felt it in my gut that he would lead the Tar Heels to a championship. It wasn't until Hansbrough's junior year when he picked the pocket of some Clemson guard near halfcourt and then dove on the loose ball in double overtime when I had the same feeling. I felt it tonight with Marcus Paige. It may not happen this year. Maybe not next season. Maybe it doesn't ever happen (had the same feeling with Kendall Marshall, although Creighton happened). But before tonight I never thought this core roster (and by that, I mean the leader: Paige) had what it takes. I now believe he does.
fwiw, I still think Sweet 16 is the ceiling this year. As great as tonight was, it showed some of the major flaws that gets you knocked out of the tournament: free throws, perimeter shooting, disappearing role players, too reliant on one player, boneheaded mistakes...
Side note: Have to give major props to TJ Warren; he's my pick for ACC POY. Saw the stat during the game and he's the leading scorer in major conferences by over 3 ppg. He's also one of the leading rebounders and thefts in the league and shoots 52% from the field while being game planned against every night. He's a really terrific basketball player.
Remember how this time last year people were thinking Kentucky's team was "terrible" and whatnot -- and by that I mean mostly Kentucky fans -- but how things were going to be better next year because of the recruits already committed?
After 28 games:
2013: 20-8 (11-4) 2014: 21-7 (11-4)
Gonna be hilarious, though, if all of Randle, Young, Harrisons, WCS, and even Poythress leave for the draft this year. Randle is the only that absolutely should go, and you could probably say it wouldn't be an awful idea for WCS and Young to go, too. But the others have no business leaving after this year.
Kentucky is a target. The recruits know what they are getting in to before they sign up. Every night they will go up against guys who are jealous and trying to prove themselves. They will play harder, scrappier, dirtier, and smarter. UK needs to play like the bully on the block; they need to take it straight to their opponents, and for the last 2 years, that has not happened. I am tired of the results as a UK fan, but i also understand that these guys have taken on the challenge and just haven't succeeded.
Kentucky looks like hot garbage, there's absolutely no cohesive play going on, just a lot of one on one with very little results. It almost appears as though most of the players are just putting in time, knowing they'll be drafted into the NBA next year.
They have some quality wins, but losses to Arkansas(2), LSU and South Carolina is ugly.