Thursday, February 10, 2011

Off and running...

Alright.  As you can see from last night's (really this morning's) post, this blog is off and running.  What better night to start it than the night of a UNC-dook game? 

I'm not really sure where I plan to go with this blog.  As much hate as I have for dook - and that hate is immense - I'm not sure I can fill up a blog solely on that.  I have much more love for my Heels than hate for dook, and I hope to celebrate that too, if not moreso.  "BEAT DOOK" is more of a slogan to live by than it is a testament to the amount of dook-bashing I plan to do here.  But, don't worry - there'll be plenty of that too.

As I reflect on last night's game in a clearer state of mind, I wish I could say that my rantings were solely out of frustration.  I am normally not the type to whine about refereeing, because I truly believe that in most UNC-dook games, the refs do an outstanding job of letting the game go and letting it be decided on the court.  I can say this as a Carolina fan that my team definitely gets calls at times because of the name on the chest, and obviously I feel that dook does as well.  The cool thing is that usually when these two teams face off, the refs let them decide the game on the court.

Unfortunately, I do feel like the refs had an outcome on the game last night.  I won't back down from that just because it's not PC to mention the refs' impact on a game.  The PC thing is to say that it's not an excuse and the players have to fight through some bad calls.  I do believe that a team has to fight through the bad calls, but I don't believe in sweeping those calls under the rug.  The refs make mistakes just like the players do, and they shouldn't be above criticism.  Sometimes their mistakes even out or don't add up to much at all, and sometimes they have a big impact in the way a game is played.  I felt like last night the way the game was called rewarded one team for playing lazy basketball and punished another team for playing patient basketball.

I mentioned some patented dookie tactics to gain a cheap advantage.  Here's a list of things I noticed last night - some of which are legal, and most of which aren't:

  • Flopping - Dexter Strickland's third foul was a flop where the defender slid underneath him as he was going up for a shot.  dook players last night could not challenge Carolina's players defensively underneath, so they made up for it by flopping whenever UNC got near the basket.  When refs reward this, they continue to push the game farther from the basket into a three-point shootout.  Because of dook's great outside shooters, they will win often when refs allow them to flop and take other teams out of their inside game.
  • Moving screens - dook's offensive system is based on three-point shooting.  That is obvious to anyone that knows the game.  As effective as dook's shooters can be, you'll notice they aren't quite as good when the defense gets a hand in their faces.  In the first half, Carolina defenders switched on dook's screens and harassed their shooters.  In the second half, I'll put it this way:  dook was more "adamant" about their screening.
  • Fouls on offensive rebounds - dook's inside players (the Plumlees) got abused inside in the first half.  Carolina rebounded at will against them.  They responded to this by going over the back often in the second half to tip out many offensive rebounds, as well as shoving skinnier UNC players under the basket.  The happened numerous times on offensive rebounds of missed free throws.  By definition, if a player with rebounding position gets shoved under the basket, that's supposed to be a foul.  It wasn't called once.
  • Catching made shots and throwing the ball to the ref - This is a ploy a lot of teams use to slow down a fast-break team.  Technically, it's legal to throw the ball to the ref if you "rebound" a made basket, if you will.  Obviously you can't back off every shot and assume they'll all go in; sometimes you'll accidentally catch a shot that goes in because you were primed for a rebound.  However, there's a difference between that and going out of your way to catch made baskets to slow down the game.  When that happens, the refs should give a delay of game warning.  Instead, they let it happen over and over last night.
  • Jumping into a defender to draw a foul - This hasn't happened as much with this year's dook team, but JJ Redick and Jon Scheyer were masters at this.  They initiate the contact on the defender but somehow still get the foul call.  It happens underneath the basket often, but the most frustrating part is when Redick or Scheyer used to do this while shooting a three-pointer.  Again, giving this advantage to the offensive player is just rewarding lazy basketball.
  • Hand-checking - dook has gotten away with this for as long as Coach K has been there.  They are hailed as a "gritty" defensive team, but in reality they scratch and claw and slap their way to "good" defense.  I always think back to Ed Cota's talking to the media about DPOY Wojo's gritty defense:  He showed the press his scratched up arms and said, "He fouls.  A lot."  Unfortunately, that's another type of lazy basketball rewarded by poor refereeing.  Good defense is supposed to be about moving your feet, staying between your man and the basket, and getting a hand in his face on shots.  It's not supposed to be about pushing and slapping - i.e., playing defense with your hands.
There are others, but that's a greatest hits compilation of cheap dookie tactics.  They were on full display last night.

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