It seems so long ago, but it was only a year ago…the North Carolina Tar Heels were on top of the world.
They had officially reclaimed their spot on top of college basketball thanks to a second title in five years. Afterwards, the Tar Heels swooped in and stole Coach K’s prom date when Harrison Barnes picked UNC over Duke.
I remember that moment well. Coach Roy Williams and the entire Carolina basketball team on Skype, celebrating Barnes’ decision. Everything was coming up Roy. He knew it. You could see it on his smug face on Skype that day.
Now a year later, oh how things have changed. First, we watched the Tar Heels go from National Champion to N.I.T. runner up. When it was over, their best remaining player (Ed Davis) bolted for the NBA.
Today though, we all learned that the Wear Twins are both transferring out of Chapel Hill. Hell, they didn’t just transfer, they got the hell out of Dodge without saying a word. Even teammate, Jon Henson, was shocked, as was Ed Davis, who also was surprised.
Word is, the twins took their last Spring semester final and bolted, leaving it up to their father to tell Coach Williams the bad news. So far, we have no reasons. In fact, I’m struggling to find one. While the twins were not going to be starters this year, they certainly would have gotten plenty of minutes since they were the only big men off the bench.
So how does this effect North Carolina and more importantly how does this effect Duke (let’s be honest, that’s all we really care about)?
I sure hope Harrison Barnes likes to play poward forward. With Davis gone and Thompson graduating, this leaves only seven-footer, Tyler Zeller and 6’10 John Henson. The next tallest player is incoming freshman 6’7 Harrison Barnes and 6’6 small forward, Will Graves.
Can you say four-guard rotation? Best case scenario is, both Zeller and Henson play like they did towards the end of the season, which makes them a decent 1-2 punch in the paint (particularly on the defensive end). Yet even if they can somehow manage to play 30 minutes a game, that leaves plenty of game time when one will be on the bench, which makes Carolina small.
The question will be, what happens if one or both players get into foul trouble? Worse yet, what happens if either one goes down with an injury. Let’s face it, Henson still looks bulimic and Zeller hasn’t proven to be Iron Man. He’s missed significant time in each of his first two seasons.
The obvious question is, can they quickly go get someone? While Jon Henson seems to think the coaching staff can race out and get some thoroughbreds, the truth is, probably not. There’s Kadeem Jack, a 4-star PF out of New York and Luke Cothron in nearby Red Springs, North Carolina. There are also a couple of other guys, but none have even been looked at by the Tar Heels coaching staff. Besides, none of the uncommitted power forwards are the type of players who can step into the ACC and contribute immediately.
As for how this effects Duke and the ACC as a whole, it matters. Now don’t get me wrong, even without the Wear twins coming off the bench, I still think North Carolina is a top-25 team. At this point, I’d still consider the Tar Heels the second best team in the ACC. I just think Harrison Barnes is just that good.
However, I do suspect this will open up some space between Duke and Carolina. Although Duke has their own issues when it comes to frontcourt depth, they at least have bodies to bring in if the brother Plumlees need to sit. They also have a current small forward (Singler) who played power forward for two years.
Carolina…not so much.
UPDATE: Word is, it was the Wear twins’ dad who made the call, not them. If true, very pathetic, pop.