2010-2011 Should be Banner Year for Heels

The last few weeks of December 2009 and the first week of January 2010 are ones the UNC Football, Men’s Basketball teams and Tar Heel fans would just as soon forget.

Another bowl loss in Charlotte makes the Heels 0-3 in the decade there (doesn’t the Peach Bowl win at the end of 2001 seem like ages ago?). Combine that with the Basketball team’s lackluster victories against weak December opponents and a loss to College of Charleston. Roy Williams recently said this is the most negative he’s ever been with a team. Not encouraging news.

State fans are content (and loud) that Butch Davis is “0 for T.O.B. (Tom O’Brien)” and dook fans are salivating upon seeing our early struggles on the hardwood. So why think the Heels are entering a great stretch over the next year and a half? Consider this.

Football

The football team just received the second best news they could hope for: the juniors said they are back for another year. The best news they could hope for would be a shiny new quarterback to run the offense, or at least a return to the freshman version of T.J. Yates. In spite of a shaky (at best) QB, the Heels defense should keep them in every game in 2010. They managed this feat in 2009, and with virtually all of the starters coming back with an extra year of experience, strength and desire to win, they should be even more dominant.

Common sense tells you the offense shouldn’t get any worse. Going into his senior year Yates can hopefully relearn how to hit his targets above the knees, the receivers will have another year under their belt (including the young, but promising Zack Pianalto and Erik Highsmith) and hopefully the offensive line will avoid the injuries that were a major factor in 2009. With a better defense and a better offense one would think the Heels could manage 10 wins and truly challenge for the ACC title that was on the horizon at various times over the last two seasons.

It’s also encouraging to see that the rising juniors, Butch’s first true recruiting class, enjoy playing for him and that they listened to his advice to wait before entering the NFL. Carolina has long used their staff’s connections in the NBA as a recruiting pitch, and now it seems that Butch’s connections in the NFL might give them a similar advantage.

With so many seniors in 2010, it’s now or never for the Heels football squad.

Basketball

Reasonable Carolina fans should have expected the handful of losses the team has entering ACC season. The tough schedule in the final months of 2009 should have laid the foundation on which the team can build upon as they move into 2010. While this year’s team doesn’t currently look like it’ll contend for a Final Four in 2010, the best part about watching this season unfold will be the growth of the young players.

Realistically, this team is much more suited for a title run next season (2010-2011). The early thought was that John Henson was a one-and-done, but he hasn’t emerged enough to consider the NBA at this point. So he and the other freshmen will be back next year along with then upperclassmen Will Graves, Tyler Zeller and company. The key is the incoming freshmen class featuring a true point guard, Kendall Marshall, to back up Larry Drew, and athletic and sharp-shooting wing player, Reggie Bullock, to replace Ginyard and of course, Harrison Barnes, the top-rated recruit in the nation.

John Wall at Kentucky is the latest example of the impact a freshman guard can have on a team already full of solid players. Barnes might not be as dynamic as Wall, but will likely be a starter for the Heels and contribute heavily early on. The starting lineup might look like this:

C: Zeller
PF: Henson
SF: Barnes
SG: Strickland
PG: Drew

I’ll take that line up plus Graves, David and Travis Wear, Leslie McDonald, Bullock and Marshall off the bench. That group contains a lot of versatile athletes and solid defenders, plus it should produce the consistent outside shooting that is missing this season. If for some reason Ed Davis decides to return, I’d also take the Heels as the hands down favorites to win it all in 2011.

So be patient Tar Heel fans. There is plenty of reason to be optimistic about as the new year begins.

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One Comment on “2010-2011 Should be Banner Year for Heels”


  1. […] hard to see that high through the painful low of the hangover. Welcome to the Tar Heel’s season. I blogged back on January 5 that fans should have known the team would take its losses early against the likes of Kentucky, […]


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