Two tough, sad, frustrating games against rivals to end a tough, sad, frustrating season. Against State, the ladies were just exhausted; against Duke, well, you can’t do much against 7 for 8 shooting from behind the three point line in the first half. They lost today, in overtime, to Pitt in the ACC tournament, and I think this might just be a year we chalk up to learning, and wait to see what Jamie, Steph and Des bring us next year, with the additions of Paris Kea, Hadiya Bembry, and Hillary Fuller (who all sat out this year due to transfer rules or injuries) and a stellar incoming freshman class.
This wasn’t necessarily a fun season, but sometimes this kind of year are, well, necessary; I guess this one was. Thanks for every minute you busted your asses on the court, ladies, and we’ll see you in November.
It wasn’t this game — once again the short-handed Heels had their legs give out in the back half of the third quarter — but they did snap their rotten ACC losing streak on Sunday at BC.
We have VT on Thursday and hopefully we’ll start a winning streak this time around.
The very young, very short-benched Lady Heels are hitting a wall — with a short bench shortened further by the loss of Xylina McDaniel to an ACL tear for the rest of the season — and they’ve struggled continually since beating Syracuse a few weeks ago. We took my folks to see them play Miami, and while they hung in their for a half, Miami pulled away at the end of the game. They dropped Thursday’s game at Georgia Tech and face a deeper Duke team in Cameron this afternoon.
It’s hard watching the seniors — Hillary Summers, Xylina McDaniel missing her second straight season, N’Dea Bryant — suffer through this season, really hard. But we’re still watching and cheering and loving them.
Full Miami set is here.
The final was NU 85, Heels 72, but make no mistake: it was not that close. This game was an absolute ass-whooping from the start at the hands of a bigger, more experienced Northwestern team, but I have to say — the last ten minutes, when the Heels finally pulled together and fought back to as close as only 8 down (a far cry from the nearly-30 down in the 3Q), those ten minutes were a glimpse of how good this team could be and hopefully will be. They’re young. They fluster easily. They struggled early, got rolled down the hill by the momentum of that struggle, but ultimately put their foot down and hauled themselves back up.
It wasn’t fun, but it was surprisingly illuminating in ways I didn’t expect.
The Heels hosted the first round of the Naismith Hall of Fame Challenge at Carmichael this weekend, welcoming Fairleigh Dickinson, Iona, and Yale for a round robin tournament. UNC won all three of their games, though all three were also pretty tough fights.
It’s good to see some more of the team, including the much awaited return of Xylina McDaniel, who was on the Naismith watch list last year before her season ended with an injury in December. (Yes, her dad is Xavier McDaniel. Yes, she’s got some fantastic post moves.) Her comfort levels on the court — and minutes played — increased exponentially each game and especially Friday, against a tall FDU team, her time on the court really freed up Hillary Summers (career high 20 pts) and N’Dea Bryant (15pts) to operate inside.
The Heels took a couple of shots this weekend, though, with Jamie Cherry suffering a broken nose on Friday and playing in a mask she obviously dislikes the rest of the weekend, and Steph Walker going down with an ankle injury Saturday and still looking a little stiff yesterday. A good team weekend, though — all three days somebody else was the hero.
Friday it was Hillary, Saturday it was Destinee Walker with 25 pts and an absolute third eye laser precision view of her big men working in the post, and Sunday it was Jamie Cherry with a couple big threes and some icing free throws down the stretch against a Yale team that didn’t quit. A fun weekend.
The Yale coach is Trav’s age. We’re wondering what we’re doing with our lives.
Trav and I went all-in on the UNC women’s basketball team this year, buying a full-season package of tickets and upgrading ourselves to the best seats we could afford — and they’re good ones indeed. The team had some upheaval in the off-season — a handful of transfers out — that leaves them reasonably young and inexperienced on paper, but “young” doesn’t mean “bad” or “untalented” or, God forbid, “not fun”. This team is young, but they’re also good, talented, and fun. I like fun basketball, is all.
I’m not sure that dropping a 1 point game to Gardner-Webb on a buzzer beater is fun, but it was reasonably illuminating in the categories of “young” and “talented” and “inexperienced” — a lot sloppy, some expectations that might not have been backed up by play, but there was a lot good to see. Point guard Jamie Cherry is ready to lead the team on the floor (she sees the big picture on the court damn well) and probably in scoring, and freshmen Destinee Walker and Stephanie Watts are going to make big contributions right off. And this is a young team, a young team that’s probably going to lose some they should win, but hopefully win a few they should lose, too.
Sunday’s game against Oregon — the second of a home and home; Carolina won in Eugene last year — was another heartbreaker of a similar nature. A bigger, quicker Oregon team struggled for a lot of the game but took control late in the third quarter and early in the fourth. Carolina hustled back and had the ball with the shot clock off, down two. Jamie Cherry had not one but two three pointers rim out in the final seconds, and another sad outcome. But the way they got themselves back into, after being down ten late, I liked that. I liked that a lot.
Five and six.
Catching up on six weeks of editing. And posting. Pardon me.