Tag Archives: Brandon Robinson

Quick Hitters – Duke

I know I’m a couple days late in getting this posted. What can I say, it takes awhile to get over a loss to Duke. Anyway, here are Quick Hitters from Thursday night’s 86-78 road loss to Duke.

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The Tar Heels huddle during Carolina’s 86-78 loss to Duke on 2/9/17. Photo Credit: J.D. Lyon, Jr.
  1. Seriously? Isaiah Hicks out with a strained hamstring? What is it going to take to play a game with a fully healthy roster? The good news is that every game the Heels have played this year with the full roster available, they’ve won by 29.5 points.
  2. That said, Luke Maye did a really nice job sliding into Isaiah Hicks’ starting role. He played controlled and confidently, scored eight points on 4-8 shooting, had two assists, and zero turnovers. The one glaring weakness – only two rebounds in a game the Tar Heels lost the rebounding battle (31-30) for only the third time this year.
  3. Great to see Theo Pinson back. It sure doesn’t take long for him to fill the stat sheet. First defensive possession: grabbed the rebound and drew an over-the-back foul on Amile Jefferson. First offensive possession: assist to Nate Britt. Second offensive possession: made mid-range jumper. Third defensive possession: rebound. Third offensive possession: aggressive drive to the basket. Missed lay-up, but corralled two offensive rebounds leading to a Joel Berry floater. Pinson finished with six points, seven rebounds, three assists, zero turnovers, and a block in 19 minutes.
  4. A positive sign: Seventh Woods had his most complete game of the season at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It wasn’t the most points he’s scored (four vs. nine) or the most assists he’s had (four vs. six), but he played under control, with zero turnovers, and had a seemingly better grasp of playing within the offense. On one particular stretch of the first half, over the course of four straight offensive possessions, Woods had a lay-up followed by three assists.
  5. At the end of the first half, the Heels had one of the strangest line-ups on the court you’ll ever see from Roy Williams: Nate Britt, Joel Berry, Brandon Robinson, Theo Pinson, and Justin Jackson. The line-up came because Duke essentially had one possession left and the goal was to stop the three-point barrage.
  6. While Isaiah Hicks’ absence certainly hurt, the biggest problem in this game was three-point defense. The Tar Heels seem to have an aversion to guarding the three or running shooters off the line. Too often, a defender will help off a shooter to stop dribble penetration, resulting in a wide-open kick-out three. For the game, Duke hit more threes (13) than Carolina shot (12), and had a higher percentage (48.1% to 33.3%).
  7. The Heels did a nice job of getting both Amile Jefferson and Grayson Allen into foul trouble. It wasn’t enough to affect the outcome, as Allen delivered blow after blow and Jefferson was a defensive stalwart inside. Hopefully, this trend will continue on the return game to Chapel Hill, knowing that Coach K has a shallow bench.
  8. It gave me perverse joy to see Theo Pinson block Jayson Tatum’s shot a couple possessions after he dunked and postured back down the court.
  9. Despite the loss, Carolina showed great resolve to fight back on the road after going down by eight early in the second half.
  10. A troubling trend: poor free throw shooting again in this game, including Joel Berry missing two (including the front end of a 1-and-1). Both misses were within the final five minutes of game time. As a team, Carolina shot 10-18 (to Duke’s 13-16), which won’t cut it in ACC play.
  11. All-in-all, the Heels played a good game, and had the ability to beat Duke in Cameron without Isaiah Hicks, but the three-point and free throw disparities were ultimately too much to overcome.

 

 

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Quick Hitters – Florida State

Quick Hitters from Saturday afternoon’s 96-83 home victory over Florida State.

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Theo Pinson shoots a free throw during UNC’s victory over FSU on 1/14/17. Photo Credit: Jeffrey A. Camarati
  • Biggest win of the season for UNC to this point. FSU came into the game undefeated in ACC play and on a 12-game winning streak. The Tar Heels’ other three ACC victories had come against three of the four bottom teams in the conference standings, so to get a win against one of the two remaining undefeated teams is huge.
  • Quick start for the Heels, led by Isaiah Hicks. At the first media timeout, the Heels led 14-5. At that point, Hicks had six of the 14 points, three rebounds, one assist, and, most importantly, no fouls yet. Hicks was aggressive, taking his man off the dribble on several occasions. He eventually had 10 of UNC’s first 20 points.
  • Time to rejoice Tar Heel fans – Xavier Rathan-Mayes (the “Carolina Killer” as I refer to him) only scored six points!
  • Much more disciplined defense in this game after major issues against Wake Forest.
  • Tony Bradley’s absence was noticeable in the first half as the rest of the front line (Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, and Luke Maye) each picked up two fouls by the time there was 7:12 left in the half and Coach Williams had to continue to rotate all three guys into the game hoping that none of them would pick up their third. To their credit, none did. However, because of this…
  • The last 2:57 of the first half was played by a combination of Brandon Robinson (6’5”), Theo Pinson (6’6”), Justin Jackson (6’8”), Nate Britt (6’1”), Joel Berry (6’0”), and Kenny Williams (6’4”, who subbed in for Robinson with 1:21 left). This means Jackson played Center against the likes of FSU’s Michael Ojo who is 7’1”. In that span, the Heels were actually +3 in scoring.
  • 13-21 on free throws in the first half was a bad sign, although, thankfully, FSU also missed eight free throws in the first 20 minutes. The Heels shot much better (13-16) in the second half, the Seminoles (6-12) did not.
  • Going back to foul problems, Hicks and Meeks both picked up their third fouls in the first four minutes of the second half. Then Justin Jackson picked up his third with 14:20. My reaction? “Uh-oh.” But Roy Williams coached a heck of a game managed the foul problems brilliantly.
  • Joel Berry missed another free throw. Is something wrong? Just kidding, nothing to worry about. He was 7-8 for the game and is still shooting 91.2% this season (#1 all-time for the Heels) and 85.9% for his career (also #1 all-time for the Heels)
  • Isaiah Hicks had one of the greatest and most athletic saves I’ve ever seen in a basketball game with 8:29 Resulted in two free throws for Joel Berry.
  • Theo Pinson’s first basket of the season couldn’t have come at a better time. Justin Jackson had just picked up his fourth foul with 5:53 to go. Kennedy Meeks was already on the bench with four. Xavier Rathan-Mayes made the first free throw. He missed the second, Pinson rebounded it, ran his own fast break, and then this happened:
  • Pinson later delivered a three to push the lead to 11 with 2:16 left. Pinson finished the game with his first career double-double (12 pts / 10 reb).
  • If it felt like Luke Maye was coming down with an inordinate amount of rebounds, it’s because he was – 15. Maye had never before finished with double-digit rebounds. This was a heck of a time to change that. As a team, the Heels outrebounded the monstrously tall and lengthy Seminoles 56-34. Five different players had at least six rebounds.
  • We’ve been waiting on that third scorer. Today it was Isaiah Hicks who had a career high 22. In fact, he, Justin Jackson (22), and Joel Berry (26) each had over 20 points.

Offensive Zone Possessions (@ Clemson)

Based on the way that Georgia Tech’s disruptive 1-3-1 zone slowed down North Carolina’s offensive attack last Saturday, Clemson, a team that typically stays in man-to-man on defense, sprinkled in several possessions of zone throughout the game. While Georgia Tech played an aggressive 1-3-1, Clemson played a 2-3 zone, more designed to coax a team into settling for 3-pointers and mid-range jump shots.

While the Tar Heels are currently shooting their highest 3-point percentage since 2012-13 and second highest since 2009-10, the interior game is still the bread and better so coaxing the team into shooting from outside is a good recipe for springing an upset. The Heels are shooting 36.4% from 3-point range this season. For reference, here are the shooting percentages of every team in the Roy Williams era:

  • 2016-17 – 36.4%
  • 2015-16 – 32.7%
  • 2014-15 – 35.8%
  • 2013-14 – 33.6%
  • 2012-13 – 37.3%
  • 2011-12 – 33.8%
  • 2010-11 – 32.8%
  • 2009-10 – 32.8%
  • 2008-09 – 38.7%
  • 2007-08 – 37.2%
  • 2006-07 – 35.8%
  • 2005-06 – 37.5%
  • 2004-05 – 40.3%
  • 2003-04 – 35.1%

So let’s took a look at this game against Clemson: the possessions in which the Tigers played zone, what happened in those possessions, and then we’ll make some observations about how UNC did in those possessions.

By my count, the Tar Heels had 80 possessions in this game, 36 in the first half, 34 in the second half, and 10 in overtime (including quick end-of-period possessions). For the game, Clemson played zone for all or part of six possessions. One of those six possessions included two separate sections of zone, so there were seven times when Carolina played offense against the Clemson defense. Here’s what happened in those six possessions (seven sequences):

  1. 17:56 (1st half) – Possession starts with Clemson in man-to-man. Clemson foul @ 17:49. Clemson in 2-3 zone from UNC base line inbounds. Result: Joel Berry three. Open. MADE.
  2. 13:11 (1st half) – Possession starts with Clemson in man-to-man. Clemson foul @ 13:03. Clemson in 2-3 zone from UNC base line inbounds. Result: Luke Maye 17-foot jumper. Open. MADE.
  3. 11:30 (1st half) – Full court pressure after made Clemson free throw. Once UNC is across half court, Clemson falls back into 2-3 zone. Result: Brandon Robinson three. Open. MISSED.
  4. 4:49 (1st half) – Possesion starts with Clemson in man-to-man. Clemson foul @ 4:31. Clemson in 2-3 zone from UNC base line inbounds. Result: Justin Jackson three. Contested. MISSED. UNC offensive rebound results in free throws for Tony Bradley (1-2).
  5. 18:58 (2nd half) – Possesion starts with Clemson in man-to-man. Clemson foul @ 18:50. Clemson in 2-3 zone from UNC base line inbounds. Result: Joel Berry three. Contested. MISSED. Kennedy Meeks offensive rebound. Ball out of bounds to UNC @ 18:35 (2nd half). Clemson in 2-3 zone from UNC base line inbounds. Result: Kenny Williams three. Open. MADE.
  6. 13:54 (2nd half) – Possession starts with Clemson in man-to-man. Clemson foul @ 13:40. Clemson in 2-3 zone from UNC base line inbounds. Result: Joel Berry three. Open. MADE.

So now let’s make some observations about the zone possessions / sequences:

  • Clemson certainly coaxed the shots they wanted out of the Tar Heels. The initial shot in six of the seven sequences was a three-pointer. The seventh might as well have been – a Luke Maye 17-foot jump shot just inside the three-point line.
  • The Tar Heels were 4-7 (57.1%) on those initial shots.
  • Five of the seven initial shots were either open or wide open due to good ball movement and probing the middle of the defense.
  • Of the six possessions, UNC scored on five of them (83.3%), thanks to offensive rebounds on two of the three misses.
  • Six of the seven sequences occurred from dead ball, rather than live, situations. In the lone outlier, Clemson began the possession with full-court pressure and sunk into the 2-3 zone once UNC got the ball across half-court.
  • Of the six dead ball zone sequences, five of them occurred after a Clemson foul. In the outlier, Clemson played zone after the ball went out of bounds off a Tiger.
  • Worth noting: Clemson didn’t play zone out of every dead ball situation.
  • Curiously, the possession that started at 13:54 of the second half was the last in which Clemson played zone for the game. The Tigers returned to their man-to-man defense for the rest of the second half and all of overtime.

All-in-all, UNC faired well in their zone possessions in terms of shot success. However, they failed to do what they do best – get the ball into the middle and score at the rim. So while Georgia Tech’s 1-3-1 zone was more disruptive when it came to taking the Tar Heels out of their offensive rhythm, Clemson’s 2-3 zone was effective at changing their shot selection.

It will be interesting to see whether other ACC teams follow this blueprint and sprinkle in zone principles to cause similar disruptions to Ken Pomeroy’s 11th-rated efficient offense. Even more curious – when faced with zone, will the Tar Heels continue to settle? Time will tell.

Quick Hitters – Clemson

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Joel Berry had a career-high 31 points to help North Carolina beat Clemson 89-86 on 1/3/17 in Clemson, SC. Photo Credit: J.D. Lyon, Jr.

Quick Hitters from Tuesday night’s 89-86 overtime road win against Clemson in their newly-renovated Littlejohn Coliseum.

  1. Great first defensive possession to force a steal and a transition lay-up. Already a seemingly better start than Saturday.
  2. This was Roy’s 796th He should reach 800 sometime in the next couple weeks.
  3. Undoubtedly due to Saturday’s struggles against Georgia Tech’s zone, Clemson (a typically man-to-man defensive team) played sprinkled in zone several different times throughout the game. By my count, there were seven possessions when Clemson played zone. All seven came out of dead ball situations. Six of the seven resulted in Carolina shooting a three-pointer and the seventh might as well have been. The Heels were shot 4-7 on those possessions. I’ll post another blog detailing the possessions against zone.
  4. After a dialed in start to the game, the Heels gave up back-to-back sloppy turnovers that led to fast break lay-ups for Clemson and a 13-11 lead. In fact, this was another game with many unforced and silly turnovers – 18 total turnovers to be exact. This means the Tar Heels have had 17, 20, and 18 in the last three games. Gotta value the basketball.
  5. Good first half contributions from Brandon Robinson.
  6. The whole team still looks a step slow. Where is the passion and fire from Maui? Where is the drive shown in Las Vegas against Kentucky?
  7. Isaiah Hicks had two first half fouls and picked up a third within the first minute of the second half. Much of it is trouble guarding Jaron Blossomgame. We need Theo Pinson. We have to be able to play small ball against mobile and stretch 4s. Justin Jackson has the size, but not defensive prowess of Pinson.
  8. That said, after all his foul problems, with around 1:30 to go, Isaiah Hicks and his four fouls stayed in front of Blossomgame as he tried to drive, forced him under the basket – which resulted in a turnover when Blossomgame threw a pass straight to Kenny Williams. Well done Isaiah, well done.
  9. This was another game of many missed tip-ins and bunnies. There were lots of offensive rebounds, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t put the ball in the bucket on the second chance.
  10. Speaking of offensive rebounds, the Tar Heels had more offensive rebounds (23) than Clemson had defensive rebounds (22).
  11. Well, Joel Berry is back. Congratulations young man. Career high 31 points points. Career high seven made three-pointers. And all done on incredibly efficient 12-19 shooting on field goals and 7-10 on threes.
  12. Just like in the Kentucky game, the Tar Heels could not close out a late lead. Thankfully, in this game, the team was able to pull out the victory in overtime.

Quick Hitters – Davidson

Quick Hitters from Wednesday night’s 83-74 home win against Davidson.

  1. The starters looked flat to start the game. So much so that four minutes into the game the five players on the floor were Seventh Woods, Stilman White, Luke Maye, Brandon Robinson, and Tony Bradley. This crew moved the score from 10-3 to 15-13 when they exited, exactly what you want to happen when you bring in the second unit to provide energy.
  2. Much of the 10-0 run the reserves went on early in the game was fueled by Luke Maye, who had seven points in that stretch. Maye finished with a career high 10 points.
  3. Once again Seventh Woods is taking too many shots and dribbling too much. He wound up playing only 11 minutes in a game where it seemed like he would play a lot more due to Joel Berry’s injury.
  4. Most of the minutes I assumed Woods would get went to Stilman White who had a solid 15 minutes including six points (all on free throws) and one assist against no steals.
  5. Much of the credit for the frustration in this game is due to Davidson’s double-teaming the post. The Heels got sped up, made some poor decisions, and then didn’t spend time getting the ball inside in the first ten minutes of the game. This trend continued throughout the game. For the most part the interior players did not handle the double teams well.
  6. That said, the team did a poor job of forcing the issue inside. This is attributed both to Davidson’s active defense and the absence of Joel Berry.
  7. Justin Jackson’s work over the summer is paying off from deep. He finished 7-13 on three-pointers. Overall, he tied his career high with 27 points.
  8. While it hurts to have Joel Berry out, very similar to last season and Marcus Pagie’s absence early in the season, the extra experience Nate Britt, Seventh Woods, and Stilman White are getting will pay dividends later on. At the same time, based on what we saw tonight, if Berry doesn’t play against Tennessee or Kentucky, things could go south in a hurry.

Quick Hitters – Chaminade (Maui Invitational Quarterfinal)

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Joel Berry takes a jump shot in Monday night’s game against Chaminade in the Quarterfinal of the Maui Invitational. Photo Credit: J.D. Lyon, Jr.

Quick Hitters from Monday night’s 104-61 win over Chaminade in the Maui Invitational.

  1. My favorite part of tonight’s game is that Coach Robinson, who couldn’t travel with the team, was live tweeting throughout the game. It was an interesting glimpse inside the mind of a coach.
  2. Just to put any doubts to rest about a scoring drought like last game against Hawaii, Joel Berry hit a three-pointer just :53 into the game. His final line was eight points, four assists, four steals, four rebounds, against only one turnover
  3. The Tar Heels looked uninterested for the majority of the first half. Admittedly, it must be hard to get up for a game against a D2 school, but that’s no excuse to come out flat. As the game wore on, the Heels got more locked in and established their will.
  4. UNC’s main three big men (Hicks/Meeks/Bradley) didn’t miss a shot until 2:35 remaining in the first half. Prior to that point, the three players were a combined 12-12 for 27 points. By the end of the night, the Big Three were 20-26 for 56 points. Keep in mind, Chaminade as a team only had five points more (61) in the entire game.
  5. Another double-digit point effort from Tony Bradley (14). He is quickly establishing a very important role as the third option in the frontcourt. It will be fun to watch his progression throughout this year.
  6. Kenny Williams continues to be the spark plug that this team needs, filling the void that Theo Pinson’s injury created. It will be fun to see the two of them on the court together when Pinson returns.
  7. Speaking of spark plugs, Stilman White gave some nice minutes and scored a career high five points. He came into the game to give some extra minutes of rest for the regulars thinking of the three-games-in-three-days tournament as well as to bring some fundamentals to a team that looked sloppy.
  8. We found out that Brandon Robinson is tough. He took an elbow in the first half and came back into the game and had an impact in the second half. Always nice to see freshmen respond to adversity in this way.

Quick Hitters – UNC @ Tulane (11/11/16)

 

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Kennedy Meeks (#3) and the Tar Heels opened the 2016-17 season with a 95-75 victory over Tulane in New Orleans. Photo Credit: J.D. Lyon Jr.

 

  1. It took me until two weeks ago to finally re-watch the National Championship game. I was proud of myself – I even watched the final 4.7 seconds. What a wild ride and fun season 2015-16 was. That said, I’m really glad a new season is underway so I can put some new images of Tar Heel basketball in my head.
  2. When you lose players the caliber of Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson, other guys have to step up. It was an encouraging sign that both Joel Berry and Justin Jackson recorded career highs in scoring (23 and 27 respectively), while Kennedy Meeks had a career high in rebounds (15).
  3. A big part of the reason Jackson had such a big night is because he shot 4-5 from three point range. He clearly put the time in during the off-season.
  4. As a team, the Heels shot 9-20 from deep (45%). Although it’s only the first game of the season, this is an encouraging sign.
  5. One of the main storylines this season is Isaiah Hicks’ ability to stay out of foul trouble and on the court. In the first half, he had no fouls and even took a charge. Hicks did, however, have three fouls in the second half. He played 25 minutes which is good news.
  6. After committing a turnover at the 9:00 mark of the first half (the ball inadvertently went off his foot), Joel Berry had a dominant stretch that you hope to see out of your leader: He had an assist on the next offensive possession, then a steal, then another assist, then a 3-pointer, then hit 1-2 at the free throw line. In that stretch of 4 offensive possessions, he had 2 assists, a steal, and 4 points. Prior to this stretch, Tulane had cut the Carolina lead to one. Berry’s stat line for the whole game: 23 pts on 6-11 shooting, 7-9 FT (he missed two?), 6 reb, 4 ast, 2 steals, only 1 TO.
  7. Freshman Tony Bradley (surprise, surprise, another athletic big for the Heels!) had a nice run of his own early in the second half, scoring on three straight possessions. He established good post position and scored off an entry pass from Justin Jackson, had a nice little running hook shot in the lane, then scored on a put-back off a Justin Jackson miss.
  8. The most glaring area of deficiency after the exhibition game and first regular season game: Allowing offensive rebounds to the opposing team. UNC-Pembroke had 30 and Tulane had 18.
  9. Kennedy Meeks struggled shooting the ball (4-13 shooting), but clearly looks more athletic and ready to run than he ever has. He dunked a ball mid-way through the second half that he previously would have laid up. The aforementioned 15 rebounds were much needed with the void left by Brice Johnson.
  10. Tony Bradley was the most consistent of the freshmen, but Seventh Woods and Brandon Robinson both had some nice moments. Both players will get minutes and valuable experience while the Heels wait for Theo Pinson to return from injury.