Lucas: Doing It All
Reggie Bullock had ten rebounds against Florida State on Sunday afternoon.
It just seems like someone should mention that, because, well...Reggie Bullock had 10 rebounds against Florida State on Sunday afternoon.
The achievement seemed to be met with little more than a casual yawn. Roy Williams was not asked about Bullock in his postgame press conference, and the only time the Kinston native's name was mentioned was when the head coach casually tossed off a, "Reggie Bullock was sensational," comment that did not receive a follow-up.
Oh yeah, Reggie. Nice job getting your 20 points and 10 rebounds, pal. Those five assists were decent, too. If he'd only played the game while coming off a foot injury, it's likely they would be casting the bronze statue as we speak. Unfortunately, he simply did it the same way he always does--relatively quietly, occasionally cracking a broad smile when he fires through another quick-trigger three-pointer.
One of my favorite memories from this year--this is what I'll think of when I think of Bullock, like Kendall Marshall's no-look passes or John Henson's long arms throwing down a dunk at Maryland--might be watching Bullock come around a screen, catch, shoot a three-pointer, and then eyeball it as he leans in toward the basket, as if he's pretty sure it's going in, but wants to guide it with his eyes just to make sure.
It usually does go in, by the way. He's shooting 44.4% from the three-point line, best on the team by a wide margin.
But it's Bullock's rebounding that was remarkable on Sunday (You know you are a complete player when you score 20 points, and people want to talk about something else you did other than the scoring). Thursday night, he'd grabbed nine rebounds in the win at Clemson. He considered this to be frustrating. After the game, he was leaving the Tar Heel locker room to go back to the court for an ESPN interview. He saw a bystander with a stat sheet and asked, "How many rebounds did I get?"
The answer: nine.
"Aw man, come on," he said, slapping the wall in frustration-and it looked like real frustration, not pretend frustration. "I didn't get ten?"
Nope, not that time. So what did he do? He went out and got ten against Florida State, and just happened to do it after Williams had spent 48 hours harping on rebounding in the days since the Clemson game, in a game when the head coach was very concerned about Carolina's on-court matchups.
He got his tenth board with 5:08 left, snaking in to retrieve a Dexter Strickland miss and putting it back in with the same motion. He also managed to draw a foul on Devon Bookert, creating a potential three-point play. After sinking the shot, Bullock cruised by the Tar Heel bench and high-fived everyone he could find. Reggie Bullock is not the type to count stats. But...
"I knew that was my tenth rebound," he admitted with a laugh.
This time, he wouldn't have to check the stat sheet after the game. Bullock is now the only player on the roster--he might be the only player in the conference--to have led his team in scoring, rebounds, assists and steals on multiple occasions this year.
If it's possible, Bullock may actually hurt himself for postseason honors because he does so many things well rather than one specific thing exceptionally. He is not a volume shooter or a volume rebounder and doesn't do much of anything in large quantities on most occasions. He just does everything. He is still the Tar Heel who tends to get the ball when Carolina needs a basket; when FSU closed within 53-41 with 13 minutes left, the Tar Heels ran a play for Bullock and he drained a three-pointer. That's a Bullock play.
But so is this: one minute after he cemented his double-double, he caught a pass from Brice Johnson on the left wing, saw a screen coming from Leslie McDonald across the lane, noticed Johnson rolling to the hoop, and effortlessly flicked the ball near the rim, where Johnson caught it and emphatically slammed it through. Highlight, Johnson. Assist, Bullock--one of five, good for the second-highest total in the game for either side.
It was the rebounding, though, that brought the biggest smile from him after the game. He is now averaging 6.6 rebounds per game in conference play, more than, for example, Miami wide-body Reggie Johnson.
"I have to get to the boards," Bullock said, and here he broke into a fairly credible imitation of Roy Williams. "Coach always tells us, 'Get to the boards!' So I try to get there and make something happen."
The results have not been spectacular or stupendous or even drawn much notice. But they have been sensational.