A Trip to the Vault: North Carolina and Michigan State Face Off in the 2005 Final Four

Posted by mpatton on October 7th, 2011

Until the season kicks off, we’re going to be taking weekly trips to the ACC and NCAA Vaults to look at classic ACC games of yore.

Rashad McCants

Rashad McCants' college career is sometimes overshadowed by his failed stint in the NBA.

In honor of the upcoming Carrier Classic between Michigan State and North Carolina, here’s a look back at the 2005 Final Four game between the Spartans and Tar Heels. Watching the game was also a great reminder of just how good Roy Williams‘ 2004-05 squad was (especially with regards to depth). The 2005 national championship team probably had a talent advantage over the current team at every position:

  • Point Guard: Raymond Felton over Kendall Marshall
  • Shooting Guard: Rashad McCants over Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullock
  • Forward: Jackie Manuel, David Noel, Jawad Williams and Marvin Williams over Harrison Barnes, John Henson and James McAdoo (this is the most up-in-the-air position, but I’d give the 2005 team a slight advantage for going four players deep)
  • Center: Sean May over Tyler Zeller

See highlights and analysis after the jump.

19:20  – Billy Packer (I already miss Len Elmore): “Oh, I think this is going to be a much faster pace than we saw in the first game.” That’s a mild way to put it…I’m not sure Raymond Felton ever walked up the court.

16:55 – Felton picks up his second foul in the first three minutes. So far the game has been pretty out of control for both teams, but the pace definitely favors North Carolina.

14:17 – After a beautiful Felton – Rashad McCants alley-hoop and gets a big block on the other end that ends with Felton threading a pass into David Noel for a dunk. That sequence was the essence of the 2004-05 North Carolina team: capitalizing before teams even realized they made a mistake. It also tied the game up at ten apiece.

13:14 – With the game still tied, Michigan State has started looking flustered on offense. The best advice you could give someone playing UNC was to be play your style, don’t make mistakes and don’t let the Tar Heel runs get to you.

10:30 – Finally, Sean May checks into the game. He was really the X-factor for this team because he made it effective in halfcourt sets. Give credit to the Spartans though who are totally holding their own so far, largely thanks to a heroic effort from Maurice Ager.

05:39 – Suddenly, Michigan State feels in control. With Felton out, North Carolina’s offense has looked sluggish and sloppy while the Spartans have been cleaning up on the offensive glass.

03:09 – This gutsy strip by Felton (he has two fouls) keeps Michigan State from getting a free lay-up off of a breakaway. Shannon Brown proceeds to knock down two threes from the corner anyways and put the Spartans up eight.

Halftime – The first half wasn’t a pretty one, but thanks to an 18-8 closing run by Michigan State, the Spartans have a five point lead. A couple of big stats to take note of are: UNC only attempted one free throw in the half, Michigan State grabbed nine offensive boards, and the Tar Heels committed far more turnovers than usual. Michigan State is going to need to keep protecting the ball (which in turn protects from a fast break) to stay on top in the second half.

Author’s Note: It’s amazing how quickly I started cringing every time David Noel or Jackie Manuel took a shot. The Plumlees had a similar effect last year for Duke. Seriously though, anything outside of a dunk was lucky to hit the rim.

18:07 – Felton reminds Michigan State what North Carolina is best at with a backdoor cut alley-hoop to Jawad Williams. This feels like a chage in momentum. Ager and Shannon Brown have been crucial for the Spartans so far.

15:54 – Game continues to be back-and-forth. The real highlight here was Matt Trannon picking Felton’s pocket and taking it the other way for the slam.

12:31 – McCants drains a three to put the Tar Heels up ten, forcing Tom Izzo to use a timeout. They could not miss the first seven minutes of the half.

10:10 – We’ve officially entered Michigan State’s danger zone. North Carolina is shooting near 70% from the field so far, and the Spartans haven’t been able to keep the Tar Heels off the defensive glass. The lead is at 15. Michigan State desperately needs a run, but turns it over on a five second call.

05:19 – Sean May’s jumper pushes the lead to 17. Between Jawad Williams being everywhere (he’s got 20 points on nine of thirteen shooting and at least a couple of blocks) and unforced errors, the Spartans are in big trouble.

03:49 – Maurice Ager hits a dagger step back form NBA range to give the Spartans a pulse, down eleven.

Billy Packer Gem of Wisdom: “The team that gives up the lead sometimes allows the comeback.”

03:18 – Those alley-hoops are back breakers (with a block in between). May now has 22 points (18 of which came in the second half).

Eventually the pace was too much for Michigan State. Ager and Brown just weren’t enough. For North Carolina, the game showed just how deep the 2004-05 team was. Jawad Williams put up 20 points and eight rebounds, keeping the game close in the first half while Felton and the backcourt struggled with turnovers.

mpatton (466 Posts)


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3 Responses to “A Trip to the Vault: North Carolina and Michigan State Face Off in the 2005 Final Four”

  1. Bneal219 says:

    You have two future top 10 picks in the 2012 NBA draft if they decide to leave in Barnes and McAdoo and another sure fire 2012 1st round pick in John Henson along with the 4th burger boy of the bunch in PJ Hairston who is going to be a great player at UNC and the best outside shooter out of everybody you named on this write up and the edge goes to J.Williams, Marvin, and Noel???? Barnes averaged more points as a Fr than everybody on that list, Henson averaged more rebounds and blocks as a So. that anybody on that list, and don’t even get me started on Mcadoo who has yet to play a minute of college ball but is projected as a top 5 pick in next year’s NBA draft. You sir make absolutely ZERO sense….

  2. JG UNC says:

    Yea I agree… Uhh, are you insane? Harrison Barnes will be the and is the best player out of all the players listed on this whole page! He was better as a freshman than Jawad was his whole career at UNC. Last time I checked Jawad didn’t win 6-10 games by himself with one key shot late in the game to either close the game or give the Heels the lead in which they went on to win… Harrison did! Rashad is the only one who had the stats Harrison did as a freshman, but didn’t single handedly win 6-10 games. It’s one thing to put up gawdy numbers, but another to be a Michael Jordan, who made all the shots when it mattered most. Rashad made tons of shots, but I don’t remember him making anything as clutch as the shots Harrison has made in his FRESHMAN season! May was just big! Come on now, he had no hook shot, no face up jumper, he just beasted guys, which is great, but it’s not skill, which is why he has done nothing in the pros, doesn’t have the skill. Tyler AND John have a better skill set, run the floor better, have better finesse moves, better defense… Kendall Marshall is a WAY better passer than Ray, but Raymond is def a better scorer, I’d still take Kendall, because Ray had ball handling issues his first 2 years, and wasn’t NEAR the complete player Kendall is as a rising sophomore, nor the leader Kendall is. I LOVED that 04-05 team, I love ALL the championship teams, haha, and this 11-12 team has not won anything yet, BUT, this team will produce more pros who will have better pro careers than the 04-05 team. Raymond and Marvin are the ONLY ones doing anything worth a damn in the pros now… I GUARANTEE you that Harrison, Henson, McAdoo, Marshall, and Hairston will all have really good to great pro careers. End of story. All this team has to do is go bring home that title!! GO HEELS

  3. mpatton says:

    Harrison Barnes was great (for the second half of last season)…he might even turn out to be the best player I listed. His offensive rating trend is definitely trending upwards, which bodes well for his having a first team All American season. I definitely think my argument for him was the weakest. But to say he was like Michael Jordan is totally overlooking the first half of his season. The amazing thing about Jordan is he always hit shots, in the first minute and in the last minute. Barnes was fairly inconsistent. As I said before though, I expect him to improve tremendously.
    Rashad McCants was a monster in college. He’s definitely forgotten about for three reasons: (1) he was sort of a jerk; (2) he never quite made it at the NBA level (for the record, I can’t explain this other than his attitude never quite fit with not being the first scoring option); and (3) he never came across as the leader (see number 1).
    May was not “just big”. He had the softest hands I have seen in the last ten years. Seriously, you could toss it down to those mitts from anywhere. He averaged 20 points a game (and double figure rebounding) during the tournament. That’s a lot better than Zeller’s tournament performance. A whole lot. I’d take May in a heartbeat over Zeller. Henson certainly has the advantage over him on the defensive end, but he adds nothing offensively outside of alley-hoops and put backs. You have to respect a guy that can execute in the halfcourt set on his own (McCants and Felton were also excellent in this aspect).
    As for Marshall and Felton, I’m extremely worried about the way Duke shut Marshall down by closing off his passing lanes and forcing him to be more of a scorer (not even factoring the minor liability he is on defense against quicker guards). Yes, he’ll throw more beautiful cross-court bounce passes than Felton ever did, but Felton was the more complete player.

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