The feature photo above of Reggie Bullock is from Thursday night’s UNC vs. Clemson match up. That isn’t terribly interesting, but might be noteworthy considering the photo below — taken over a month ago:
The only difference between those two shots is the background. Bullock’s form, his elbow and hand placement, his visage — all identical. It’s hard to tell the photos apart. Even the look on his face is the same. Even his hair is the same.
“Consistency” isn’t exactly the most coveted term in sports, but there’s a reason why the media talks about it so much, and why the most consistent players tend to show up on coaches’ MVP lists and All-ACC awards.
Bullock isn’t the All-ACC preseason Lottery star that James McAdoo was. And he isn’t the mercurial scorer that Hairston is. But Reggie is UNC’s rock. And he’ll no doubt be named the 2013 Tar Heels’ MVP.
Just take a look at the ACC 2013 conference-only statistics. Bullock’s 8th in scoring, 15th in rebounding, 7th in field goal percentage, 10th in steals, and 5th in three-point shooting.
None of that strikes you as mind-blowing? Well, that’s the point. He may not be “Lottery” great. But Bullock is simply really, really, really good; and consistently so. Few ACC players are able to show up in so many statistical rankings, even if they don’t totally dominate any. Successful teams have to have that in their leader — someone maybe incapable of Hairston’s highs, but also free from McAdoo’s lows.
Reggie doesn’t dominate the highlight reels, but winning isn’t always flashy — just ask Danny Green and the San Antonio Spurs about their best record in the NBA. Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich will be probably be the first to tell you that his style of play and players of choice can often be pretty boring (Tim Duncan, cough, cough), but then again he might be too busy polishing his four rings to talk to you about it.
Boring. There couldn’t be a better word to describe UNC/Clemson on Thursday night. The game was low scoring, sloppy, void of any “SportsCenter” plays and generally without a single storyline. Though, maybe that’s the storyline. Good teams always have boring games. In a way, it’s part of how you know they’re good. The 2009 Tar Heels were so good that their National Championship Game was boring.
Good teams simply knock you out early. Marcus Paige put in a three-pointer just seconds into the game, and Bullock seemingly got (or got a finger on) every single rebound in the building in the opening period. Clemson would end up winning the battle of the boards, but that was well after the game was decided.
A lot could be made over the Tar Heels inability to hold the double-digit lead (their only non-double-digit win of the season in ACC play; marinate on that for a moment) until the final whistle. But doesn’t that seem like a relatively benign problem to have at this point in the season? The fact that you crushed a team’s spirit so early that you lost concentration down the stretch… Tar Heel fans probably won’t stress if that’s the worst of their issues.
There’s been a lot of excitement around PJ Hairston and the Tar Heels’ new lineup, and naturally, there’s been a lot of talk about Roy’s coaching sucesses in the last few weeks. But the Heels will be fighting for the second place in the conference (not a typo) in the coming weeks not because of anything exciting, but because of consistency. For the first time all year the Heels are playing well for entire games, and simply going out and beating the teams they’re supposed to beat.
No, that isn’t necessarily exciting. But consistency can often lead to more excitement down the road. And March Madness is right around the corner…
You can follow Jordan on Twitter @BlackFalcon_net