Q&A with Tar Heel Fan Blog

Doc of Tar Heel Fan Blog has arrived. He brings with him a knowledge that is unsurpassed in the Tar Heel Nation. Check out his responses to questions I sent him earlier this week:

FTRS: I'd tend to think the folks in Chapel Hill are happy Roy Williams kryptonite was let go in the offseason. What do UNC fans really think about Tech's decision to fire Paul Hewitt?
Doc: I think the response was two-fold: First, what took so long, and second, Paul Hewitt must have had the best agent ever to get the multi-million dollar buyout that it took to show Hewitt the door.

The weird thing about UNC vs. Tech is that Atlanta is some kind of a black hole/Twilight Zone for the Heels in both football and basketball. The kryptonite was not so much Paul Hewitt as it is seemingly in Grant Field, the Thrillerdome, and apparently hot dogs from the Varsity. Still, I think Carolina fans in general didn't expect Hewitt to last much longer so it was no real surprise to see him go.
FTRS: The ACC is 23-25 against the Big 6 conferences with only a winning record against the Big 12 (6-1). What will it take in the coming years to regain some of the conference's lost luster?
Doc: One thing I think has hurt the ACC of late is coaching continuity. Only 4 of the 12 ACC schools have had their current basketball coach for more than 3 years. Or, to put it another way, after Mike Krzyzewski, the coach with the longest tenure at his current school is Leonard Hamilton. Coaches need time to build their programs, and I think there are some talented newer coaches in the ACC. But with the pressure to win and win now, it will be harder to have the time to build, especially in the 24/7 sports media world.

The other thing the ACC needs is a consistent third wheel to the Duke/UNC dominance of the past 20 years. In the mid-90s, it was Wake Forest. In the early 00s, it was Maryland. It has been a while since there was a sustained third team. FSU looks like they are filling the role this year but it is still early.
FTRS: Building on the previous question, the average ACC team played 4.08 Big 6 teams this season. Is it better to play the BC/Clemson/Wake schedule with 1 to 3 Big 6 opponents or a Duke/UNC/VT/UVA type schedule with 5 to 6 Big 6 opponents? Does it hurt the perception of the conference if our big guns go down on the road in December and January against BCS calibre competition?
Doc: It's sort of a Catch-22. As Seth Greenberg seemingly finds out every year, you have to play some sort of a challenging schedule - and actually win a few - to be seriously considered legitimate come March. NC State upgraded its non-conference schedule this year and actually increased its profile in respectable losses to top-25 caliber teams. Then again, you don't want to over-schedule and cost yourself a chance at being competitive. The bottom line is this: if you're only going to schedule 1-3 games against the Big 6, you'd better win more than you lose. As you pointed out in the previous question, the ACC is below .500 against those teams. Until teams not named UNC and Duke win some of those types of games, the perception of the conference is going to suffer.
FTRS: UNC actually has the exact same conference scoring defense as the Yellow Jackets. Where are the breakdowns occuring against conference foes and what do the Jackets need to do to score at least 50 points?
Doc: UNC's long-standing issue remains defending the three-point shot. The Heels have never defended the three well in the Roy Williams era based on his defensive philosophy, and there is no reason to expect that to change any time soon. UNC has also surprisingly given up a lot of offensive rebounds and second-chance points, which is unusual given Carolina's size. Tech will have to control tempo, make some threes, and steal some garbage points.
FTRS: Tyler Zeller is the 6th leading scoring and leading rebounder in ACC play thus far. What players on the team really benefit from Zeller's ability to dominate down low? Why can't Georgia Tech constantly double team Zeller?
Doc: Really everyone on UNC's team benefits from Zeller's big play down low, because the UNC offense usually flows from the inside out. Zeller had a huge night against NCSU, putting up scoring and rebounding numbers that rival Sean May and Tyler Hansbrough's dominant performances. Zeller playing at that level opens up the wings for Harrison Barnes and Reggie Bullock. When those guys are making shots and extending defenses, then teams can't pack it in against Carolina's bigs.

Tech can't constantly double Zeller because of a little something we like to call John Henson. Some teams (like Kentucky) have had success doubling down on Zeller from the guard spot because he has a tendency to bring the ball down, but teams double Zeller at their own risk of allowing Henson and his improved offensive game come into play.
FTRS: Any predictions? Does Paul Hewitt's curse remain after his departure from Atlanta?
Doc: UNC may have had its best performance of the season against NCSU on Thursday, and the Heels have played really well at home of late. UNC seems to have recovered nicely from the FSU debacle and since the game is not in Atlanta, I like the Heels. There may be a bit of a letdown after NCSU, but I'll take Carolina 83-65 over Tech.
Thanks to Doc and the fans of UNC. It's gonna be an interesting show in Chapel Hill on Sunday. Go Jackets.
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