Yours truly attended the UNC-Valparaiso game in the United Center on Saturday. Since this was one of my few chances to see the Heels, I went with 3 co-workers who graduated in '08 and '06.
Going to the United Center as a Heels fan is, I would imagine, like going to UNC if you are a big MJ fan. It's seeing someone you've followed so closely for a successful period in their lives in a totally different environment, with different fans, teammates, coaches, high tops, etc. We happened to sit right under the retired Jordan jersey in the rafters of the United Center, and within easy view of all six World Championship banners. It really makes you appreciate both the Bulls' hard work and that they won 3 titles with 2 Tar Heels and 2 Hawkeyes on their team.
The game itself was uneventful as our games go. Bobby Frasor did not start, which took all of us by surprise. Also, Valpo was the home team and took it quite seriously as they brought their band and students with them behind one of the baskets. They also had quite a few fans, even though Carolina fans outnumbered them about 3-2. Valpo also watched a lot of tape and frustrated us with their box and 1 defense. We had a very difficult time getting the ball inside via Ty, Wayne, Danny, Deon or Tyler. We settled for jumpers or turned the ball over.
On the flip side, Valpo had an effective flex set offense. Their center-forward managed to get the basket over and over because of our confusion on defense. They also hit their 3's and were winning for about the first 8 minutes. Their guards and forwards also managed to lose Wayne, Danny and Deon easily for backdoor cuts. I wasn't seriously concerned, since we made them force shots and commit turnovers, but it made me think what a team with better players could do with that defense.
At this point, I ought to mention that I have never liked Valpo for what they did to Ole Miss in 1998. Ole Miss was a 4 seed ten years ago in the NCAA tournament and the coach's son (of all the people who could hit a game winning shot, it was the coach's son!!!) hit the winning 3 pointer as time expired. Until 2005, this was the main reason my dad had such a hard time watching the NCAA tournament.
As the game wore on, we were reminded why zone defenses tend to lose their effectiveness against our team. We kept getting easy rebounds and put backs. As the fouls mounted, their big men couldn't really guard anyone for fear of fouling out.
A couple of notes:
Urule Igbavboa, Valparaiso Center, threw down a dunk on Tyler in the first half when we employed the Red Sea defense. You could tell he was still thinking about it when he kept looking up at the big screens in the first half. I could tell he was still thinking about it in the second half when he smiled after being fouled and airballed the FT.
Wayne Ellington's jump shot is still MIA.
Valpo used a safety or two on offense so we had very few fast break opportunities. They did a good job of always having at least 2 guys in the paint when we brought the ball to half court.
The force was not with Danny Green on Saturday.
All the scrubs who played got on the stat sheet one way or another.
Deon continues to be efficient, going 3-4 on FG and 6-8 on FT.
Hey, we still forced 25 To's.
The Jordan statue in front of the United Center is awesome, you need to get your picture taken there.