By Jim O’Connell
AP Basketball Writer
PHILADELPHIA — The 30-second shot clock operator can sit with feet up and enjoy watching North Carolina play Indiana in the East Regional semifinals Friday night. These teams score and take their shots.
“They don’t put anybody out on the court that can’t defend at a high level or score at a high level,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said Thursday. “I think one of the things that separates this Carolina team so much is the way they pass the ball. It all starts with your transition because they get out and run.”
Top-seeded North Carolina (30-6) averages more than 82 points and 64 shots a game.
“They’re effective at both ends of the court,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said of Indiana. “So we’re worried about their offense. But defensively we know they do a good job of walling the guy inside. They trap when they want to. They jam when they want to.”
Indiana (27-7), seeded fifth, averages more than 82 points a game, averaging 58 shots.
There’s not going to be a whole lot of time for play-calling or directing teammates. Everyone on both teams gets out and runs, and the ball doesn’t spend much time bouncing.
The big difference is 3-point shooting. The Hoosiers make an average of nine a game, almost double North Carolina’s five.
“We’ve got to get out and try to cut their percentage down. They’re going to shoot a lot of 3s,” Williams said. “Yogi (Ferrell) gives them so much threat with his penetration and pinching that they’re going to get some 3s.”
Crean said turnovers could be the difference. The Hoosiers have averaged 12.5 in the tournament, one below their season average.
“They do as good a job as anybody in the country at turning your turnover into a dunk or a layup,” he said.
BEATING No. 1: The Hoosiers have a winning record in the NCAA Tournament against No. 1 seeds (5-3).
PHILLY FUN: This is the third time Indiana and North Carolina have met in the NCAA Tournament. The Hoosiers are 2-0, having won the 1981 national championship game and in the 1984 East Regional. This is the third time Indiana has played NCAA Tournament games in Philadelphia. The won the 1976 and 1981 national championships in the Spectrum, which was in the same complex as the Wells Fargo Center is now, but was demolished in 2010.
“I think it’s tremendous,” Crean said of being in Philadelphia. “And when you look at the national championships that have been won here, they’ve heard about that this week. I wish we could take them and tour the Spectrum. We should go take a picture outside in the lot there. We had a great day today. We went and practiced at the Palestra. And they understand how big that is to me. That’s a bucket-list deal for me for us to be able to get in there. And that was fantastic.”
DIFFERING DUNK: “The highlight of my day was just watching Nick Zeisloft get a dunk out there,” Crean said of the end of his team’s practice at the Wells Fargo Center. “He could barely touch the rim when he got to Indiana as a grad transfer from Illinois State. Now he’s dunking the ball like it’s nothing.”
When told of Crean’s comments the 6-foot-4 Zeisloft was quick to answer.
“He’s not telling the truth with that. I’ve been able to dunk for quite some time, not as much as people might think I can,” he said. “It wasn’t a (teammate) Thomas (Bryant) dunk. So it was just a little dunk. I mean, I don’t know what he was laughing about with all that.”
OLDEN DAYS: Williams doesn’t spend a lot of time dealing with history and his team.
“You know 10 years ago my guys thought Michael Jordan invented the game. Now they don’t even know who Michael Jordan is, if it weren’t for the Hanes commercials,” Williams said. “I’m going to call and leave him a message, tell him I said that today. Kids are in today’s times. If I were to talk to them about ‘81 and ‘84, I have a coach that wasn’t even born then. I don’t know that my guys understand that. And maybe I’m wrong, but I’m not talking about that to them.
“If I tell them I had black hair in 1981, they’d think it’s when the rocks cooled. So I don’t deal with that very much. I could be wrong, but that’s the way I’m dealing with it.”