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2011-2012 UNC basketball
The Schedule
The Roster

The Results (click each game for an analysis)

11/11/11 Tar Heels 67, Michigan St. 55 01/01/12 Tar Heels 102, Monmouth 65
11/13/11 Tar Heels 91, UNC-A 75 01/07/12 Tar Heels 83, Boston College 60
11/20/11 Tar Heels 101, Miss. Valley 75 01/10/12 Tar Heels 73, Miami 56
11/22/11 Tar Heels 102, Tenn. St. 69 01/14/12 Florida State 90, Tar Heels 57
11/25/11 Tar Heels 87, South Carolina 62 01/19/12 Tar Heels 82, Va. Tech 68
11/26/11 UNLV 90, Tar Heels 80 01/26/12 Tar Heels 74, N.C. State 55
11/30/11 Tar Heels 60, Wisconsin 57 01/29/12 Tar Heels 93, Georgia Tech 81
12/03/11 Kentucky 73, Tar Heels 72 01/31/12 Tar Heels 68, Wake Forest 53
12/06/11 Tar Heels 97, Evansville 48 02/04/12 Tar Heels 83, Maryland 74
12/10/11 Tar Heels 84, Long Beach St. 78 02/08/12 Duke 85, Tar Heels 84
12/17/11 Tar Heels 97, App. St. 82 02/11/12 Tar Heels 70, Virginia 52
12/19/11 Tar Heels 99, Nicholls St. 49 02/15/12 Tar Heels 73, Miami 64
12/21/11 Tar Heels 82, Texas 63 02/18/12 Tar Heels 74, Clemson 52
12/29/11 Tar Heels 100, Elon 62 02/21/12 Tar Heels 86, NC State 74
  02/25/12 Tar Heels 54, Virginia 51
  02/29/12 Tar Heels 88, Maryland 64
  03/03/12 Tar Heels 88, Duke 70
  03/09/12 Tar Heels 85, Maryland 69
  03/10/12 Tar Heels 69, NC State 67
  03/11/12 Florida State 85, Tar Heels 82
  03/16/12 Tar Heels 77, Vermont 58
  03/18/12 Tar Heels 87, Creighton 73
  03/23/12 Tar Heels 73, Ohio 65
  03/25/12 Kansas 80, Tar Heels 67

Postseason 2012

Late Kansas run sinks Heels season
Ultimately, UNC can't overcome injuries
A shorthanded North Carolina team hung tough against Kansas for 37 minutes. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, the game is 40 minutes. Kansas advanced to the Final Four by outscoring UNC 12-0 over the last three minutes, coming away with an 80-67 victory. (3/25) Click here for a photo gallery.

It was decided that Kendall Marshall, who fractured a wrist a week earlier, couldn't go because of soreness in the wrist. John Henson, himself recovering from a wrist injury, sprained an ankle during the game, missing time on the bench and was hobbled when he came back.

Despite the adversity, Carolina had opportunities to win but could not put the ball in the basket in the second half. The Tar Heels shot 63.5 percent in the first half, leading to a 47-47 tie at halftime. That was the best the Tar Heels shot in a half all year.

Then, in the second half, the Tar Heels shot the second worse they did in a half all season hitting just seven of 31 shots. Not only did the Heels have trouble in the second half getting the ball down low to their star big men, mainly senior Tyler Zeller, but the perimeter shooting, a consistency problem all season, was worse than inconsistent. In fact, UNC managed only two of 17 three pointers.

Yet, down 54-47, the Tar Heels went on a 12-4 run to take a 59-58 lead with 12:38 left when Henson sweeped in a left-handed hook. Carolina led 61-60 with 12 minutes left but lost the lead on a pair of Kansas free throws and never led again.

In fact, the Tar Heels would score just six points the rest of the game. Still, Carolina had a chance to tie it but Harrison Barnes missed one of two free throws and Kansas led 68-67 with 3:58 to go.

That's when the wheels came off and Carolina didn't have another run in them. Kansas' Elijah Johnson banged in a three with time running down on the shot clock to give the Jayhawks a 71-67 lead with 3:04 left.

Barnes missed a slashing layup try with 2:45 left. Then, with a chance to cut into the deficit, Kansas' Jeff Withey, playing aggressively with four fouls, bodied up Henson and blocked his shot. That led to a break out when Tyshawn Taylor (22 points) got loose on the fast break, scored and was fouled by Stilman White.

The converted free throw opened the margin to 74-67 with just 1:59 left. After some wildly missed Carolina three pointers, a Kansas dunk and four free throws, the game was over.

Four players managed double figures for the Tar Heels, who were led by James Michael McAdoo's 15 points, four of which came on dunks after steals. Barnes scored 13 points but hit only five of 14 shots, including zero of five from behind the arc. Zeller, playing in his final game, scored 12 points and had four blocks while Henson scored 10.

The Tar Heels end the season 32-6 and will look drastically different next year without Zeller and possibly several underclassmen who could decide to turn pro.

Boxscore

Preseason

2012 UNC Season Preview
Tar Heels go into season as favorites but ...
can they emulate 2009 champions?

North Carolina looks a lot like the 2009 team that won the national championship. That team was also favored at the first of the year after all the players elected to return. It’s unusual for a top team to return all its players but Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller – potential first round NBA picks last year - all decided to return to go after a national championship.

For Tar Heel fans, probably the only good thing about losing to Kentucky in the NCAA Elite Eight a year ago is that they’ll have another entire season to enjoy watching these players.

Sadly, no matter how good this team is, anything less than a national championship will be a disappointment. That pressure, along with integrating new talent into the chemistry of the team, will be the keys to the success of the 2011-2012 Tar Heels.

Ironically, this is still a fairly young team with only one senior – Zeller, the 7-foot center – having seen significant playing time. The projected lineup to start the season is Zeller, Henson (6-10 junior), Barnes (6-8 sophomore), Dexter Strickland (6-3 junior) and Kendall Marshall (6-3 sophomore).

Strickland can move over to play point guard adequately when Marshall needs a rest but UNC coach Roy Williams will want to keep his quarterback in as much as possible. Marshall’s ballhandling and ability to pass the ball made a big difference in last year’s team that came to life after he took over duties from starter Larry Drew II, who eventually left the team.

Backup guard Reggie Bullock (6-7) was a highly regarded freshman a year ago but he never found his shooting stroke for which he was known and then he was injured. If he finds that stroke he’ll see a lot of key playing time at guard and as backup to Barnes. The biggest addition to the team this year may very well be another hot-shot freshman guard in P.J. Hairston (6-6). He has looked good in the preseason and, with Leslie McDonald lost to an ACL injury, the Heels will need some three-point shooting. Justin Watts, a 6-4 senior, showed flashes of brilliance over the past couple of years and he’ll also be needed to come in and make a shot.

Carolina has a lot of depth in the backcourt but need to keep Zeller, Henson and Barnes healthy at forward/center. If any of them go down to injury, the Tar Heels will either go small with three guards or will have to use freshmen James McAdoo (6-9) and Desmond Hubert (6-10), with key backup Justin Knox having graduated.

McAdoo is further along in his development and may be a valuable contributor but both he and Hubert need to put on muscle.

Henson put on muscle before last season and it helped him to not get pushed around so much. He is perhaps the best defensive player in the league with great rebounding and shot-blocking skills. He says he has worked on his offensive game. Henson should be able to go harder to the basket this season but that can also lead to foul trouble.

Going into last season I said that this is Zeller’s team but with the emergence of a top-notch point guard, it may very well be Marshall’s team now. He’s been bothered by back spasms – he’ll need to be healthy for the Tar Heels to win a championship. Despite the fact that Barnes has the most potential to be a star in the NBA, the two players Carolina absolutely can’t have missing games are Zeller and Marshall.

Barnes, who started slowly last year, came on the in second half to be the player most experts expected last season. He has graced the covers of many magazines including the Sports Illustrated basketball preview edition. He needs to be more consistent as it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him drain 40 one game and 10 the next.

This is definitely Zeller’s final season and it will probably be the final season for both Barnes and Henson so this needs to be this season if the Heels are going to win a national championship soon.

There are a number of teams that have talented, experienced squads this year so it may be tougher for this team to win the national championship than it was for the Tyler Hansbrough-led 2009 team. But a trip to New Orleans – the site of the 1982 and 1993 championships – is expected by most experts. As for the Atlantic Coast Conference, Duke figures to be Carolina’s only real threat to the ACC regular season crown.

Anything can happen in March when the season ends with a loss but this teams seems to have the experience and determination to understand that. I expect the Tar Heels to enter the ACC Tournament with a 29-2 record and to finish the season with no more than three losses. If they are healthy, I predict they will finish with a 37-2 record and the national championship title.

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