In this final chapter, two of the top teams in the country face each other. This clash of titans, Notre Dame and North Carolina, resulted in some interesting matchups- namely, that of two POY candidates Tyler Hansbrough and Luke Harangody. Both of these teams return the vast majority of their squad from a year ago- and, North Carolina added some depth with an excellent freshman class.
Tyler Hansbrough- North Carolina's success begins and ends with Tyler Hansbrough. He played a tremendous game on both ends of the floor. He cleaned up his own misses and was dominant on the glass. Also, he demonstrated his rarely showcased talent- the three point shot- which he converted. His hustle plays and aggressive basket attacks set the precedent for his team on the offensive end of the floor. Defensively, he was able to block shots and corral lose balls. Moreover, he fought hard for position on the block and ran hard down the floor. He is the consummate workhorse who gives 110% every time he suits up. Hansbrough was surprisingly quick coming off of his ankle sprain and seems as though he is improving his NBA draft stock. He simply needs to display more consistent range on his jumper and demonstrate versatility in terms of potential perimeter defense. Although it seems unlikely that NBA scouts will fall in love with him over night- especially after all that he has accomplished already- he is doing what he can to prove everyone wrong.
Ty Lawson- He was the most impressive player on the floor tonight. He was able to blow by his defender at half court and take it the length of the floor for an easy layup. Lawson is the fastest player in the country and this trait makes him a viable NBA candidate. He displayed excellent court vision, finding his teammates for several easy inside baskets. ND did not have an answer for his slashing game. Also, he showed a nice touch from behind the arc. On the opposite end of the floor, Lawson played hard, working through screens and playing solid position defense. He has the lateral quickness to stay with his man, but his height will be a concern at the next level.
Deon Thompson- Thompson demonstrated why he could very well be college basketball's most improved player. He was able to knock down midrange jumpers. Thompson attacked the basket and was able to finish against ND's post defense. He established great position in the post and was able to exploit the tired and sick Harangody. He utilized a nice series of drop step post moves. Moreover, Thompson was extremely effective on the defensive end, where he blocked several shots. And, he was relentless on the glass.
Luke Harangody- This was not Luke's best performance: given, he was very sick coming into the game, so this is probably not wholly indicative of his capabilities. Harangody played some nice help defense, but had trouble against the length of Thompson and Ed Davis. He struggled preventing Thompson from achieving post position. This weakness is going to be difficult to overcome if he wants to succeed as a post presence in the NBA. On the offensive end, he was his usual efficient self down low on the block. His perimeter shot was off and on throughout the game, and this really hurt his team.
Kyle McAlarney- McAlarney was able to demonstrate a multidimensional skillset. He took his man off the dribble on occasion, and he was effective passing to his teammates when slashing to the basket. Obviously, McAlarney's greatest strength is his three point shot- which was on full display tonight. Defensively, McAlarney was not particularly effective stopping North Carolina's perimeter barrage. On several instances, he was forced to stop Ty Lawson advancing to the basket; this in turn, gave the man he was guarding enough space to hit the open shot. In terms of his NBA potential, he needs to foster his midrange pullup jumper. Also, he should probably hone his point guard abilities so that he can handle running a team at the NBA level. On the defensive end, he is not very quick laterally.
Luke Zeller- This senior will probably receive some looks at Portsmouth camp. First and foremost, this big man has height. He is able to shoot from the perimeter and clean up some shots inside. However, in this contest, he was not able to stop Hansbrough, nor Deon Thompson. He worked hard to establish defensive position, however- drawing some charges.