Monthly Archives: January 2020

Quick Hitters – UNC @ NC State

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 75-65 road win over NC State on Monday night.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • How exactly did Carolina follow-up their success from Saturday’s win over Miami when they went on the road to play a potential NCAA Tournament-caliber opponent in NC State? They follow it up with another win. This has to be a great feeling for those young men and coaches who have continued to work tirelessly to get better.
  • As has often been true this season, Garrison Brooks deserves the statistical accolades and top billing, but tonight we must start with Brandon Robinson. This poor guy has had a rough go of it in the 2019-20 basketball season. A sprained ankle in the exhibition game kept him out of the first four games of the year. He missed another just last week recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident. He’s hobbled off the court in multiple other games to get ankles re-taped. Tonight he fought through tweaking his right ankle and some sort of rib injury. On three different occasions he left the court for medical attention. But he just kept coming back, and in total played 29:32. Despite his aching midsection, Robinson secured an important offensive rebound in the closing minutes and, as you undoubtedly saw, nailed four straight free throws to close the game (after his teammates had just missed five straight). Robinson definitely wins tonight’s “tough little nut” award.
  • Okay, now it’s your turn Mr. Brooks. Brooks was an absolute beast out of the gate. He scored the first two Carolina points with 17:10 left in the first half and by the time the clock showed 14:24 he was up to 10 points. Just to make sure you get what a big deal that is – Carolina as a team has rarely scored 10 points in a three-minute span this season and here Garrison Brooks was doing that all by himself. He got back on the double-double train (seven in the last eight games) by finishing with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists. What a season this guy is having. Here are some of Brooks’ highlights from tonight:
  • Carolina has been at their strongest when both big men contribute in big ways. Tonight was no different. Armando Bacot had 11 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists. He was a steady 7-for-11 from the free throw line. Bacot’s most impressive stretch was two and-one potential plays just before halftime. He completed the first free throw, but missed the second. But as you might guess (because this is what he always does apparently), Brooks was there for the offensive rebound and putback. Here’s the first of the two plays before halftime:
  • The Heels were one made field goal and five points away from back-to-back games of 50% field goal shooting and reaching 80 points. They shot 49.1% (28-for-57) from the field. Making one extra of those shots would have put the team over 50%.
  • Andrew Platek’s assist-to-turnover numbers were negative (1:2) for the first time since he’s been in the starting line-up, but he contributed in multiple other ways. He played solid defense and contributed eight points (on 4-for-5 shooting). The biggest of those buckets helped push the Carolina lead back to 10 after an NC State surge. The Wolfpack had cut the lead to four with 6:36 left. Platek and Leaky Black both scored and with 3:47 remaining Platek received an outlet pass from Garrison Brooks, found NC State’s transition defense in a state of disarray (even though four of them were back on defense) and promptly drove for an easy lay-up. The Heels never led by fewer than eight points the rest of the way. Here’s video of Platek’s lay-up:

  • Justin Pierce and Christian Keeling didn’t have overwhelming nights, but did contribute seven straight Carolina points midway through the second half to push a three-point lead back to eight.
  • Injury watch: Jeremiah Francis sat out again. Today marked the six-week point for Cole Anthony following his surgery. You have to think he’ll be back sooner rather than later.
  • As I’ve documented, Carolina has pushed to double-digit leads in multiple ACC games that they’ve lost this year. Thankfully, in this one they were able to maintain their lead. Had the Heels held on against Clemson and Virginia Tech, they would be 5-4 in the ACC and tied for fifth, rather than sitting alone in 12th.
  • The possibility of a loss similar to Clemson was present in the closing minutes. Carolina was up 10 with 2:00 to go. Rather than standard turnovers, they missed five straight free throws (three of which were the front end of one-and-ones), which might as well have been turnovers. Unlike Clemson though, NC State couldn’t capitalize and Brandon Robinson sealed the deal. The most glaring difference tonight (at least Roy Williams would say so) is that Carolina had three timeouts for those final minutes.
  • Carolina showed strong road resilience tonight. NC State jumped out to a 7-0 and 9-2 lead. However, the Heels employed traps and quickly tied the game at 12 behind the Garrison Brooks barrage. The basket that tied the game at 12 featured multiple misses and offensive rebounds right at the rim for Carolina before Brooks finally got the tip-in. My family was watching the game at a restaurant and my four-year-old said “miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, HE DID IT!”
  • The Tar Heel resilience allowed the team to grab its first lead at 16-14. They eventually took a 39-35 advantage to the locker room and never trailed in the second half.
  • NC State made a lay-up with 6:36 remaining and didn’t score again until 1:35 remained in the game. Tough to win with a 5:00 scoring drought to essentially close out the game.
  • Despite Brooks’ gaudy scoring numbers, three other Tar Heels reached double figures in the scoring column (Bacot, Robinson, and Black each had 11).

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Boston College on Saturday, February 1. Tip is at 6:00pm ET on ACC Network.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
Email: tarheelhoopsblog@gmail.com

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Miami

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 94-71 home win over Miami on Saturday afternoon.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Congratulations to Coach Roy Williams who, with today’s victory, passed Coach Dean Smith for fourth in all-time Division 1 career coaching victories (880 to 879). Feels good to have that out of the way, doesn’t it? Hopefully with that monkey off the back, Carolina can get things going. If you didn’t have a chance to read my article about Coach Williams and Coach Smith, you can do so here.
  • Happy birthday to me! I turned 36 today and Carolina broke their five game losing streak (and six game ACC losing streak). Perhaps, for good luck, I should celebrate my birthday every day the Tar Heels play.
  • As weird as it sounds to say, this was Carolina’s first win in the month of January 2020. The Heels’ last win was against Yale on December 30.
  • The big Tar Heel lead allowed Coach Williams to limit the minutes of some of the starters, Garrison Brooks in particular. Brooks played 27:19 today, marking the first time he’s been under 30:00 since game eight of the season against Ohio State. The reason minute-reduction was so important is that Carolina turns around and plays at NC State on Monday.
  • Brooks’ double-double streak ends at six games. At first blush, this is a disappointing statement. However, I would suggest to you that this is good news, because it means his teammates are helping carry the load. It’s nice for Brooks to not have to shoulder so much.
  • His frontcourt partner, Armando Bacot, on the other hand did record a double-double. In fact, Bacot’s line was very nearly a triple-double as he finished with 19 points (on efficient 8-for-11 shooting), 12 rebounds, and seven assists. For good measure, Bacot added two blocks and had just one turnover. Here’s one of the seven assists:

  • After missing the previous game with soreness from his car accident, Brandon Robinson returned to action today and scored a career high 29 points. He did so on just 16 shots, including an impressive 6-for-10 from three. Here’s highlights of Robinson’s performance:
  • Finally! For the first time all season (this was game number 19), the Tar Heels shot 50% or more for the entire game. The 55.0% (22-40) shooting in the first half was a great mark, but the 62.1% (18-29) in the second half brought the final tally for the game up to 58.0% (40-69). The individual half percentages clock in as the second and third highest numbers of the season, behind only the 64.3% (18-28) Carolina shot in the second against Notre Dame in the season opener.
  • If you shoot that strong a field goal percentage you also probably score a whole truckload of points. That conjecture turned out to be factually correct. Carolina obliterated their previous season high (83 vs. GT) by finishing with 94 points. The Heels passed the previous mark on a Justin Pierce three-pointer with 6:01 left in the game. Today was just the third time Carolina has eclipsed 80 points this season, but the first time to do in a victory. Here’s Pierce’s three that set the new season mark:

  • Over the course of the last four games, Andrew Platek has moved into the starting line-up and amassed 17 assists against just four turnovers in those games. For the season, his assist-to-turnover ratio is an absurd 3:1.
  • Bacot’s free throw shooting has grown dramatically through the season. Through the first 12 games of the season, he was shooting 54.2% (26-48). In the seven games since he has shot 78.6% (22-28) to bring his season average to 63.2% (48-76).
  • If you watch enough North Carolina basketball, you’ll learn that Roy Williams teams typically move the ball rather adroitly against zone defense (which the depleted Miami roster employed for most of the game). Today was no different. Carolina assisted on 17 of 22 made baskets in the first half and finished with a season high 32 assists on 40 made baskets. For the game, nine different players recorded an assist. 32 assists is also tied for the most ever in a game in the Roy Williams era.
  • The Carolina “missed-games-due-to-injury” meter is now up to 61 missed games through 19 games played. Jeremiah Francis was once again in street clothes today. The Heels got no sympathy from Miami though, as the Canes are going through similar woes and only had six scholarship players available on Saturday. One of those missing-in-action was Chris Lykes who has wreaked havoc the past couple years against the boys in baby blue.
  • The Tar Heels dominated the glass 41-21. They were also efficient at getting offensive rebounds and turning them into second chance points (17 points on 10 offensive rebounds). Miami only had two offensive rebounds, the first of which came with 13:07 left in the game.
  • Justin Pierce followed up his strong performance against Virginia Tech by chipping in nine points, five rebounds, and four assists. Fellow grad transfer Christian Keeling also had nine points, and looked more confident today. Both players were just one point away from joining Robinson, Brooks, and Bacot on the double-digit list.
  • Carolina has struggled to hold onto leads of late (lost three of last four after having a double-digit lead at some point in the game). That double-digit lead threshold was reached early today as the Heels jumped out to a 15-4 lead. The encouraging fact is that that lead did not stay stagnant, but rather ballooned to 24 by halftime (the largest lead of the season to that point). Carolina showed good resolve in growing the margin to as much as 34 with around seven minutes remaining.
  • This might be painful to hear, but if Carolina had hung onto two of those losses (Clemson and Virginia Tech, for example), they would be 4-4 in the conference and sitting in 7th place rather than tied for 12th with Notre Dame and Wake Forest.
  • Although the Heels finished the game with 12 turnovers, 10 of those came in the second half with the game well in hand. That means Carolina committed just two turnovers in the opening frame.
  • Three-point shooting was a plus today. Five different players connected from deep (Platek, Keeling, Black, and Pierce each had one; Robinson had six). The final percentage was 43.5% (10-23) and at the point when Robinson hit his sixth three, Carolina was shooting 50% from outside the arc.
  • Leaky Black is starting to hunt for and find his outside shot more and has connected on seven threes in the past five games. It might not seem like much volume, but even the threat of him pulling the trigger creates more space for Carolina’s strongest current assets (Brooks & Bacot) to operate inside.
  • Good to see KJ Smith get back on the court after not playing in the previous two games.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game against NC State on Monday, January 27. Tip is at 7:00pm ET on ESPN.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
Email: tarheelhoopsblog@gmail.com

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Virginia Tech

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 79-77 double overtime road loss to Virginia Tech on Wednesday night.

Condensed Game: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoH0leKhcvM

Highlights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8trkNusECtY

  • Let’s start here: you just have to feel heartbroken for the players and coaches. They are working their butts off, but to no avail (at least on the scoreboard). Given the circumstances (road game, more injuries – including your senior leader, etc.), this was probably the grittiest showing of the season for Carolina. They just couldn’t make the plays down the stretch of regulation to pull out the victory.
  • The war of attrition continues in Chapel Hill. In addition to Sterling Manley and Anthony Harris, who are out for the season, and Cole Anthony, who is still out, Brandon Robinson missed the game with stiffness in his neck relating to his recent car accident. This is now 57 games (by seven different players) missed due to injury in the first 18 games of the season.
  • The lack of depth certainly played a role tonight. Only seven players saw the court, four of whom (Garrison Brooks, Andrew Platek, Leaky Black, and Justin Pierce) played 45+ minutes. Fatigue was absolutely a factor in the outcome. Here’s Justin Pierce talking about the team “running out of gas”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PEHM1uM1II

  • The loss marks the first time in program history Carolina has lost six straight ACC games.
  • Carolina has held a double-digit lead at some point in three of their last four games, only to lose each one. The Heels held a 12 point lead with 12:57 remaining and a seven point lead with 3:35 left, but just couldn’t hang on down the stretch.
  • Despite a size advantage for Carolina, Virginia Tech was able to keep the Heels relatively in check on the glass. Carolina won the rebounding battle, but just 43-39 and only had six offensive rebounds.
  • Unfortunately, free throws once again were a major factor in the loss. Carolina shot 8-for-8 in the first half and the overtimes, but just 6-for-12 in the second half. Amongst those six misses were two misses by Justin Pierce (which fed into an 8-0 Tech run), misses on the front end of a 1-and-1 from both Garrison Brooks and Andrew Platek, and a miss from Leaky Black with 19.9 seconds remaining in regulation which would have given Carolina a three-point lead heading into Virginia Tech’s last possession. A make on any of these five free throws would have been the margin of victory.
  • An unfortunate call that went against the Heels: With 1:35 remaining in the first overtime and Carolina leading 67-65, Leaky Black deflected a pass which Andrew Platek appeared to be on the verge of corralling possession. However, one of the officials blew the play dead, ruled a kick-ball, and awarded possession to Virginia Tech. Big momentum swing. If Carolina had scored there, they lead by four or five points with likely 1:00 remaining.
  • 18 games into the season, Carolina still has not shot 50% for an entire game. The first half showed promise, with the Heels recording a 50% mark in the first half for the first time all season (51.6% on 16-for-31 shooting).
  • For all the talk of the zone Carolina played Saturday against Pitt, the Heels stayed exclusively in their staple man-to-man defense.
  • Some individual performances deserve to be highlighted. First of which is Garrison Brooks. Brooks now has double-doubles in six straight games. He led the team in points (28), rebounds (13), and assists (six). Brooks scored or assists on Carolina’s final 11 points of the first half.
  • Carolina was able to go to Brooks at will in the first half (26 points in the paint), but Virginia Tech defended the interior much more strictly in the second half (just four points in the paint).
  • Another important individual effort was the play and scoring of Justin Pierce. Pierce scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Nine of these points came on three-pointers. His shooting, along with Leaky Black’s three three-pointers, helped to fill the void missing with Brandon Robinson out.
  • Nothing flashy, but Jeremiah Francis had two assists and zero turnovers. Francis also had four points on two nice lay-ups, but also missed another in crunch time.
  • Andrew Platek continues to dish out assists. In his three starts, he has 13 assists and just three turnovers.
  • Leaky Black opened the scoring in both halves of the game by burying a three-pointer. He also had another late in regulation to push Carolina’s lead back to six. If Black or Pierce (or both!) can join Brandon Robinson in making threes, it will free up the paint for Brooks and Bacot to operate.
  • In general, the offense appeared to move with more fluidity. Passes were crisper. The ball didn’t stick in any one spot for too long. As players wore down, this changed, but this movement was certainly true for the portions of the game where Carolina built its lead.
  • The highlight of the game came just before halftime. Carolina had a baseline out of bounds play under their own basket. Garrison Brooks got just the screen he needed and Leaky Black fed him perfectly for a monster dunk, plus a foul. Brooks converted the free throw to push the Carolina lead to 36-28. Here’s the dunk:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_DBv1mVHPU

  • A big aspect of the second half struggles was Armando Bacot’s foul trouble. He picked up his third foul with 12:59 remaining and Carolina up 12. Tech immediately went on an extended 11-2 run. Bacot then picked up foul number four with 9:46 remaining in regulation. His absence, in a game where Carolina dominated inside, was likely a big part of the reason the Hokies were able to claw their way back and force overtime.
  • We could re-hash a lot of the plays from the end of regulation and overtimes. Suffice it to say that the exhausted Tar Heels had a lot of empty possessions. Garrison Brooks had a good look to win the game at the buzzer of regulation, but couldn’t get the drop. On the previous possession, Virignia Tech had a 56% free throw shooter go to the line and hit both. Bacot fouled out midway through the first overtime, another dagger in Carolina’s efforts to pull out a tough-earned victory.
  • Please keep in mind: these are young men trying their very best. They are working hard, playing through pain, and doing everything they can to win basketball games. It just isn’t happening right now. Will Cole Anthony’s impending return provide any kind of spark? Hopefully so, but we wait to see.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uS1-B0SShI0

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Miami on Saturday, January 25. Tip is at 12:00pm ET on ESPN2.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
Email: tarheelhoopsblog@gmail.com

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Pittsburgh

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 66-52 road loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Carolina has now dropped four straight to start the main body of ACC play. After losing 10 days ago to Pitt in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels once again fell victim to the Panthers and Coach Williams stays frozen at 879 victories.
  • Garrison Brooks is doing everything he can to put Carolina on his back. He now has five straight double-doubles (16 points, 13 rebounds in this one). On the season, Brooks is close to averaging a double-double: 14.4 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game.
  • Holding it down with Brooks in the front court, Armando Bacot also turned in a strong performance today. He totaled 12 points and 11 assists.
  • Two glaring statistical issues tell the story of the day; the first of which is turnovers. In the first half, the Heels committed 11 turnovers while making just eight field goals in the same time frame. Five of those turnovers came on five straight possessions midway through the first half. For the game, Carolina had more turnovers (16) than assists (11).
  • The second statistical issue is not a new story: free throw shooting. While difficult to believe, it’s true, Carolina shot UNDER 50 percent from the free throw line today (10-for-21, 47.6 percent). In a season where the team struggles offensively, leaving free points at the free throw line makes it even more difficult to win. Even Garrison Brooks fell victim, shooting just 2-for-8 from the charity stripe.
  • Andrew Platek has now started the past two games and has shown a real penchant for putting his teammates in position to succeed. In the two games he has totaled 10 assists versus just two turnovers, good for an absurd 5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • An already depleted team had to finish without Brandon Robinson and Armando Bacot, who both fouled out.
  • The highlight of the day came just over a minute into the game. It was an unbelievably athletic play from Garrison Brooks for Carolina’s first bucket. He contorted his body to lay in an alley-oop from Andrew Platek while someone was undercutting him. Brooks missed free throw but Bacot tipped out the rebound. The ball came back to Bacot who found a wide-open Leaky Black for a three. The gave the Tar Heels a 5-2 lead (the only lead of the day).

  • The good news is that Carolina never stopped fighting and was able to cut Pitt’s lead to 10 with 1:49 left in the game. As we know all-too-well from the Clemson game last Saturday, 10 points in that amount of time can be overcome. Unfortunately, Garrison Brooks missed a wide-open lay-up which would have cut the lead to eight and Pittsburgh pushed the lead back to the final 14 point margin.
  • Some more potential injury concern: Justin Pierce limped off the court with some type of lower leg injury.
  • On the positive side of the injury epidemic: Brandon Robinson was able to start and play 32 minutes despite being involved in a car accident a week ago (although he missed the final 5:55 after fouling out). Jeremiah Francis, who missed the last game, didn’t start but was able to play 15 minutes. Here’s Robinson talking more about his accident:
  • Pittsburgh curiously piled up five fouls in the first 4:40 of the second half. However, even when the Heels got to the bonus, as you know from the previously mentioned free throw statistics, they couldn’t take advantage
  • Pittsburgh shot terribly in the second half: 22.7 percent on field goals and 10 percent on three pointers. Over the final 15 minutes of the game, the Panthers made precisely ONE field goal. Despite all of this ugly shooting, Carolina still only outscored Pitt by six in those 20 minutes.
  • Carolina shot 31.7 percent for the game. That now makes 17 straight games to start the season without shooting 50 percent for an entire game.
  • Curiously, KJ Smith didn’t play. He was in uniform and on the bench. He’s played in literally ever contest this year other than the season opener when he was sidelined with an injury. Is he suffering from an injury? Was it a conscious decision by Coach Williams to cut his minutes?

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game against Virginia Tech on Wednesday, January 22. Tip is at 8:00ET on ACC Network.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
Email: tarheelhoopsblog@gmail.com

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Clemson

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 79-76 overtime home loss to Clemson on Saturday afternoon.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • An absolute soul-crushing disappointment in Chapel Hill today. The Tar Heels led by 10 points with 2:00 remaining, but managed to lose the game. The heartbreaking thing is that for 38 minutes, Carolina played tough, they were aggressive, they shared the ball, the defense looked a lot better, and everything seemed to be pointing to a historic win, but it was not meant to be. In a season full of low points, perhaps we have reached the bottom.
  • Unfortunately, this loss means that not only has Coach Williams still not passed Coach Smith for fourth place on the all-time Division 1 wins list, but that the unbelievable win streak in Chapel Hill against Clemson ends at 59.
  • In any game that goes to overtime (especially one in which you led by 10 points with 2:00 remaining), you will inevitably play the “what-if” game. Here are a few big ones:
    • With just seconds remaining before halftime, Armando Bacot tipped out a rebound in an effort to run out the clock, but the ball went straight to a Clemson Tiger who buried a three-pointer to cut the Tar Heel lead to 10. Without that shot, Carolina wins.
    • With 10:00 left in regulation, Armando Bacot got a steal leading to a monstrous fast break dunk to put Carolina up eight. Roy Williams was incensed, believing that a foul should have been called. Meanwhile, Clemson abruptly went to the other end and buried a three to pull the game back within five. If that foul is called (and Bacot hits the free throw), Carolina is up nine instead of five.
    • Up three points with 12 seconds remaining in overtime, the Tar Heels elected not to foul, which resulted in Clemson burying the game-tying three-pointer. According to Coach Williams in the post-game press conference, he forgot to remind the team to do so in the timeout before that play.
  • The injuries just keep mounting: Today, Jeremiah Francis was in street clothes due to concerns over knee soreness. Carolina has paid enough injury dues this season to last them the entire 2020-2029 decade.
  • Carolina’s turnover numbers weren’t all that glaring – 10. Curiously, they had committed just six with 2:00 remaining in the game, but coughed up three during those final two minutes of regulation. Clemson, meanwhile was busy hitting three three-pointers in that same stretch. Here are the turnovers:

  • Due to Francis’ injury, Andrew Platek got his first career start and made the most of it. He scored eight points and had career highs in both rebounds (eight) and assists (six). If you were to nitpick, you could certainly question some of his shot decisions (early shot clock threes down the stretch and at the beginning of overtime), but all-in-all Platek played admirably.
  • Carolina had uncharacteristically not made 50% of their shots in any one single game so far this season. Today was game number 16, and after Brandon Robinson’s three-pointer with 5:25 remaining in regulation they were sitting at exactly 50% (25-for-50) shooting. From there, the Heels missed their final six shots in regulation and shot 3-for-10 in overtime.
  • Armando Bacot seems to have emerged from his rough patch. Against Pittsburgh and Clemson, he shot a combined 13-for-21 from the field and 10-for-14 from the free throw line for a total of 36 points.
  • Despite a slow offensive start (two points in the first 25 minutes), Garrison Brooks scored 13 to extend his double-digit scoring streak to seven straight games and his 11 rebounds extended his double-double streak to four straight games.
  • For the second time this season, Justin Pierce has scored zero points in back-to-back games. Curiously, these most two recent performances come immediately on the heels of back-to-back double-digit scoring outputs against Yale and Georgia Tech.
  • Similar to Garrison Brooks’ performance against Georgia Tech in a losing effort, Brandon Robinson was absolutely sensational this afternoon. He scored a career high 27 points, hit two clutch free throws to put Carolina up three with 12 seconds remaining in regulation, carried the Tar Heels offensively in the first half with 19 points.
  • One curiously glaring number is that Clemson managed to match Carolina on the glass, 39-39. Watching the game, it was clear that Clemson was getting a fair share of rebounds (more so than the Heels usually surrender), but it still felt that Carolina won the rebounding battle. The numbers told a different story.
  • As previously mentioned, Carolina shared the ball more capably today than in recent games. The assist total was 18 (on 28 made shots). Interestingly, the Heels assisted on the first four made baskets of the game, the first three of which all went to Andrew Platek.
  • Credit to the big guys for staying out of first half foul trouble. Carolina was playing with an already shortened bench (which was made even shorter with Francis out) and Armando Bacot picked up a quick foul and Garrison Brooks got his second midway through the first half. Both players were able to stay away from adding to these totals, which enabled Carolina to keep the Tigers at bay in the first half.
  • Hard to know what to say and where to go from here. It’s obvious that the injuries (to players in street clothes and those who are still playing) are severely limiting Carolina’s ability to win consistently. How do you salvage this type of season? Are there moral victories? As coaches, do you start getting younger guys as much experience as possible for next year? With Carolina losing these three very winnable games, does Cole Anthony elect to not suit back up? Keep in mind – these are 18-to-22 year old young men. Continue to cheer them on, continue to root for them, continue to encourage them. Their worth as humans is not (or at least should not be) tied to their ability to put an orange ball through a hoop at a higher rate than their opponents. Chin up, Tar Heel fans.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a road game against Pittsburgh on Saturday, January 18. Tip is at 12:00ET on one of the ESPN Networks (TBD).

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
Email: tarheelhoopsblog@gmail.com

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Pittsburgh

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 73-65 home loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.

Condensed Game:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCNsDmhpBYI

Highlights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PJ_jTFJJiQ

  • We are now 15 games into the season and Carolina has failed to shoot 50% from the field in a single game.
  • With the win, Pitt breaks a 22 game ACC road losing streak. This was also their first victory ever in Chapel Hill (0-7 before this game).
  • In a reversal from the Georgia Tech loss on Saturday, this game had a rather promising first half. Carolina was hustling, the offense looked more efficient, and the defense held Pitt to 32.1% shooting, including just 1-for-10 from deep.
  • With the game tied at 14, Carolina took control of the first half when Xavier Johnson picked up his second foul and went to the bench. Carolina immediately went on a 13-2 scoring run to take a 27-16 led and eventually lead by as many as 14 points, before finishing the half up nine. The lead could have been bigger, but some careless turnovers (harbingers of what was to come in the second half) prevented that from becoming a reality.
  • The second half was a completely different story. It’s hard to put your finger on just one issue as the main culprit, but carelessness with the basketball is what seemed to prime the pump of Pitt’s comeback. Jeremiah Francis and Leaky Black handled the majority of the point guard duties and combined for seven of the 17 turnovers, many of which were of the live ball variety. KJ Smith also had a turnover in his three-plus minutes on the court running the point.
  • As Pitt’s confidence grew in the second half, so did their three-point shooting. The team that had just shot 1-for-10 in the first half from three suddenly went 8-for-12 (70%). That’s a better percentage from the three-point line in the second half than Carolina shot from the free throw line. Freshman Justin Champagnie led the Panther charge from deep, burying four threes over the course of just four minutes of game action.
  • While Carolina’s defense was once again struggling in the second half (the last two opponents have shot 63% and 58%), the offense was also losing its way. With no Cole Anthony to confidently run the point guard position, the offense looks discombobulated at times. The ball moves east and west around the perimeter several times before someone has to hoist a desperation three.
  • There is no question that this team struggles offensively; the statistics and advanced metrics bear out that reality. Therefore, in order to be successful, defense will have to be the calling card of this crew. Thus far, that has not been the case. Never count out Coach Williams’ ability to get his team bought in.
  • Garrison Brooks followed up his monster game against Georgia Tech with his third straight double-double and sixth straight scoring in double-figures. His tally for this game was 21 points (9-for-12 shooting), 10 rebounds, and interestingly, hit his first career three-pointer in an end-of-shot-clock situation.
  • Armando Bacot had a nice bounce back game, scoring 15 points (6-for-11 shooting), grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing out four assists (although he did have four turnovers). Bacot looked more aggressive and engaged throughout the first half and the beginning part of the second.
  • The Brooks / Bacot combination carried the offensive load, scoring 36 of the team’s 65 points. This is great news for a Roy Williams-coached team. Unfortunately, there is not currently a dynamic point guard in uniform to balance the front court and back court.
  • Brandon Robinson has scored in double figures four games in a row; the longest such stretch of his career.
  • It’s clear that Coach Williams is doing anything he can to find a nuance to help his team or throw off the opponent. At the beginning of the game, Carolina was trapping every ball screen they could. The Heels secured a turnover on the first possession of the game, but didn’t have as much success afterwards.
  • In this injury-laden season, it was a nice change to get Andrew Platek back on the court. He hustled and was aggressive, apparently trying to fill the void left by Anthony Harris. Shortly after checking in for the first time, Platek had a steal and ensuing fast break lay-up. At this point, you need all the bodies you can get to field a competitive team.
  • To that end, while no one left the game, Carolina continues to have injury concerns. Brandon Robinson had medical attention more than once on the bench. Garrison Brooks took a hard fall and on another occasion landed on his elbow going for a loose ball. Jeremiah Francis appeared to be hobbling at one point and was examined by Doug Halverson on the bench.
  • Every starter committed a turnover, and four of the five had at least three.
  • Free throws continue to be an issue. Tonight the Heels shot 10-for-17 (58.8%).
  • A positive take-away: eight of the nine Tar Heels who played scored at least one point.
  • Christian Keeling’s minutes continue to dwindle. Tonight was the fewest minutes he has played all season (6:00).

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVbsyF6pwDE

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Clemson on Saturday, January 11. Tip is at 4:30ET on Regional Sports Networks.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
Email: tarheelhoopsblog@gmail.com

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Georgia Tech

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 96-83 home loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday evening.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Not sure why, but Carolina came out completely flat. Was it the hangover from Anthony Harris’ injury? Was the team feeling the pressure of Coach Williams passing Coach Smith in career victories? Tough to say, but the first half effort was not nearly enough to win an ACC basketball game.
  • You’ve likely heard by now, but just to make sure: add Anthony Harris to the growing list of 2019-20 Carolina casualties. Harris tore his right ACL last Monday against Yale. He participated in few enough games where he should be able to receive a medical redshirt and still have four years of eligibility ahead of him.
  • Unfortunately it’s precisely the energy Harris has brought over the course of the past several games that the Tar Heels would have benefitted from in the first half.
  • Before looking at all the messy numbers, let’s start by celebrating a few bright points. First off, Garrison Brooks. Brooks made big play after big play and was the heart and soul of the team. He had a monster offensive game, setting a new career high in scoring (35), which eclipsed his previous high by 15 points (20). Brooks made 17-of-18 free throws and brought in 11 rebounds. Here’s a look at Brooks’ game:
  • Brooks has now scored in double-digits five games in a row, the longest such stretch of his career (previous high was three in a row). On the season, Brooks has scored double-digits in 10 of Carolina’s 14 games. All due respect to Brooks, it could also be said that the fact that Garrison Brooks is the team’s leading scorer (by total points scored) is not what anyone expected coming into the season and an obvious sign of Carolina’s offensive struggles.
  • Brooks’ 17 made free throws are the most since Tyler Zeller made 20 on 2/29/12 against Maryland (the most ever by a Tar Heel in the Smith Center). Brooks also ties Tyler Hansbrough (2/10/08 vs. Clemson) for the second most free throws ever made by a Tar Heel in the Smith Center.
  • Largely on the back of Brooks’ free throw shooting, Carolina went 23-for-27 (85.2%) from the free throw line. The only game they shot better this season was against Oregon (20-for-21, 95.2%).
  • Georgia Tech applied full-court pressure from the outset. Carolina handled the pressure well and didn’t turn the ball over once against it.
  • Unfortunately, while handling the full-court pressure well, Carolina turned the ball over 15 times, including the first three possessions of the game. Christian Keeling was the main suspect (four turnovers), while Brandon Robinson and Jeremiah Francis each had three.
  • 50% field goal percentage watch: We are now 14 games into the season and Carolina has yet to shoot 50% from the field over the course of an entire game.
  • Today marked just the second time this season the Tar Heels have eclipsed 80 points. Unfortunately, they surrendered over 90 points in both of those games (Gonzaga – 94, Georgia Tech – 96).
  • Armando Bacot is in a shooting slump. Over the last five games, he is shooting 9-for-38 (23.7%) from the field.
  • Solid effort tonight from Justin Pierce. The past two games is his first time scoring double-digits in back-to-back games as a Tar Heel. He also had three assists and no turnovers.
  • Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Carolina took forever to score. The first points came at 16:04 on two Armando Bacot free throws. The first field goal came 13:10 minutes into the game. In that stretch, Carolina missed their first 15 field goals. If this feels like déjà vu, it is. The first points against Yale were also Bacot free throws and the Tar Heels missed their first seven shots.
  • Many of the missed shots were long-range two-pointers, the least efficient shot in basketball. Carolina continues to struggle to find the types of easy, in-the-rhythm-of-the-offense shots that they are accustomed to.
  • After the ice cold start, Carolina did hit seven of their last eight before halftime and four of the first five after halftime.
  • While the Tar Heels were struggling to score, Georgia Tech built leads of 8-0, 19-2, and 27-4.
  • Things got so dire in the first half, that Shea Rush, Brandon Huffman, and Robbie O’Han all saw the court in an effort to find something, anything that would work.
  • Three different Yellow Jackets picked up three first half fouls, and leading scorer Michael Devoe went on to get his fourth less than two minutes into the second half. Unfortunately, Carolina couldn’t capitalize and none of these players fouled out.
  • Down 20 at the half (the biggest deficit EVER in the Dean Dome), Carolina came out swinging and reeled off a 9-to-1 run. They eventually got the lead down to nine, and 10 or 11 on several other occasions, but could never make the next big play. Every time the Tar Heels threatened, they would take a bad shot, turn the ball over, or fail to corral the defensive rebound.
  • Additionally, while the offense probably did enough in the second half to pull out a victory, the defense was porous and mitigated all the hard work on the offensive end.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is a home game against Pittsburgh on Wednesday, January 8. Tip is at 7:00ET on the ACC Network.

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
Email: tarheelhoopsblog@gmail.com

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Pecan or Lemon Meringue? An Unlikely Ode to Dean and Roy

Much of what I know about life I learned about from my maternal grandpa, Gene Lester Jarrett.

One thing Grandpa taught me is how to tie my shoes, since he and I are the only lefties in our family. I can vividly remember him coming to our house specifically for the purpose of teaching me the subtle nuances of southpaw shoe-tying.

Another thing I learned from my grandpa is how to appreciate all of God’s people. Grandpa approaches everyone with respect and honor. He taught me the importance of being able to call someone by name and to bring dignity to their life, no matter how “important” or not they are.

Grandpa also taught me some vital lessons about food.

If there was a food I didn’t want to try, he would joke with me, “Good, that leaves more for the rest of us!” While at the time I always rolled my eyes, of course I now use that very same line on my own children.

The single greatest food lesson I learned from Grandpa Gene dealt directly with dessert. You first need to know that my grandma is an unparalleled cook. Amongst other things, she makes phenomenal pies. She’ll typically make two different pies for dessert, like she did for Christmas dinner this year. You see, the multiplicity of pie possibilities provides options for someone who might not care for a singular pie option.

We were in Tennessee this year to celebrate Christmas with my extended family. Grandma made a pecan pie and a lemon meringue pie; two of my absolute favorites. Mere mortals would feel boxed in and choose just one of the pie selections for dessert. But not Gene Lester Jarrett.

When someone asks Grandpa if he wants pecan or lemon meringue, he sits back, furrows his brow in an attempt to appear boxed in by this difficult and limiting decision, and then definitively responds, “Yes.”

“Yes, Gene? What do you mean ‘yes’? I asked if you wanted pecan or lemon meringue. You can’t answer that with ‘yes’.”

“Yes. Give me a slice of both. I don’t want pecan OR lemon meringue, I want pecan AND lemon meringue.”

The man is a dessert genius. A dessert savant. The rest of us are playing dessert checkers and he’s playing dessert chess.

“What on earth do your grandpa’s dessert decisions have to do with North Carolina basketball?” Great question, glad you asked.

On the eve of Roy Williams breaking Dean Smith’s all-time wins record, you’re going to encounter a number of people in the days and weeks to come (if you haven’t already) who want to force you to choose between Coach Smith and Coach Williams. In this era of hyperbolic GOAT talk and ‘Top 5 Lists’ and if-you-aren’t-first-you-don’t-matter, there’s apparently no room in most peoples’ minds to allow both men to sit atop the pantheon of North Carolina college basketball.

But if you’re forced to pick one, it means you aren’t picking the other. If you choose Dean, you feel like you’re cheating on Roy. If you choose Roy, you feel like you’re cheating on Dean.

A vote for Dean means forgetting Hall-of-Famer Roy Williams’ 879 wins, three national championships, nine Final Fours, seven Conference Tournament Championships (three ACC, three Big 12, one Big Eight), 18 Conference Regular Season Championships (nine ACC, four Big 12, five Big Eight), multiple National Coach of the Year awards, nine Conference Coach of the Year Awards (two ACC, three Big 12, four Big Eight), and countless lives changed for the better amongst other astounding professional and personal accolades.

A vote for Roy means forgetting Hall-of-Famer Dean Smith’s 879 wins, two national championships, 11 Final Fours, 13 ACC Tournament Championships, 17 ACC Regular Season Championships, multiple National Coach of the Year awards, eight ACC Coach of the Year awards, one Olympic Gold Medal, and countless lives changed for the better amongst other astounding professional and personal accolades.

There’s no way you’re forcing me to pick just one of these two giants of college basketball coaching.

So as Roy Williams prepares to pass Dean Smith in total wins at some point in the coming days (hopefully on Saturday against Georgia Tech!), it doesn’t have to be a coronation for Coach Williams or a snubbing of Coach Smith.

This is a time for North Carolina faithful (and hopefully all of college basketball) to celebrate both men for the coaches, the teachers, the confidants, the activists, the role models that they both are.

This is a time to reflect on the memories that these gentlemen have inserted into your brain because of the way their basketball teams played on the court.

This is a time to remember how lucky you are to be a Tar Heel in that no other school can boast of two such renowned and successful coaches.

This is a time to think back on the scores of players whose lives have been completely altered because of one (or in some cases, both) of these men.

This is a time to recall the laughter you have when Coach Williams crouches down in a fiery defensive stance imploring his team to get a stop or how you would smile and shake your head at the absurdity of Coach Smith confidently convincing his team that they were going to win a game they had no business winning.

This is a time to relish the fact that neither of these men want or need the spotlight, but would rather focus on the young men in their care. After the win over Yale last Monday, Coach Williams didn’t want to be celebrated; he wanted to get back to the locker room as quickly as possible to check on the ailing Anthony Harris. Coach Smith would have done exactly the same.

This is a time to remember that both men would want you to celebrate the other. As Coach Smith’s son Scott said to Coach Williams after his 879th victory last Monday night, “Dad would be really happy.”

At the end of the day, it doesn’t have to be Dean OR Roy. Just like my grandpa choosing between my grandma’s pecan or lemon meringue pie, choose Dean AND Roy.

Coach Smith or Coach Williams? Just say, “yes”.