Tag Archives: Dean Smith

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.

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Twitter: isaacschade
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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. 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”.

Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Yale

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 70-67 home win over Yale on Monday night in the Smith Center.

Condensed Game:

Shorter Highlights:

  • With the victory, Coach Roy Williams is now tied with Dean Smith for fourth all-time with 879 Division 1 victories.

  • In true Roy Williams fashion though, it was obvious post-game that all he wanted to do was get off the court to go check on Anthony Harris’ knee. Harris has been a welcome spark off the bench. He attacks the rim, plays tough man-to-man defense, and appears to elevate those around him. It was unfortunate to see his right knee buckle as he drove to the basket with 3:05 left in the game. His previous injury was to the left knee. Here’s Jeremiah Francis, who has been rehabbing with Harris, discussing the heartache of seeing his teammate go down:
  • It sounds strange to say, but this late December game against Yale was important for March. Yale is the best team in the Ivy League, so it was critical for Carolina to hold serve at home. This was a victory against a veteran and experienced Yale squad who never went away and had a shot at the buzzer to tie the game. Coach Williams will have several teachable moments from the stretch run.
  • As predicted, Jeremiah Francis started tonight, rather than KJ Smith. Joining him were usual starters Brandon Robinson, Leaky Black, Garrison Brooks, and Armando Bacot. One of the great strengths Francis brings is aggressive driving to the rim. When unable to find a seam, he continues to probe and look for a driving lane or a pass.
  • Just like Carolina, Yale is a strong defensive rebounding team. In fact the teams had 33 defensive rebounds each. The difference came on the offensive glass, where the Heels dominated Yale 15-to-1.
  • Carolina had just eight turnovers. In starting his first collegiate game, Francis had five assists and just two turnovers. No moment has seemed to be too big for him. In fact, he was the one standing at the free throw line down the stretch of the game. He hit a lay-up (plus the and-one foul shot), hit both ends of a one-and-one, but missed his final foul shot to give Yale the aforementioned opportunity to shoot a potential game-tying three at the buzzer.
  • An important factor in the victory: Zero of those eight turnovers came against Yale’s full court pressure. You might recall that the Heels struggled against UCLA’s pressure last Saturday. Tonight, in 10 possessions against full-court pressure, Carolina never turned the ball over.
  • The Tar Heels shot a more respectable 12-for-17 (70.6%) from the free throw line. You would love to see that number rise even higher, but anything in the seventies is a win.
  • Tar Heels have now played 13 games to open the season without shooting 50% in a single game. Tonight’s number was 36.6% (26-for-71).
  • Anthony Harris was not the only injury tonight; This team just cannot catch a break on the injury front. Andrew Platek was in street clothes thanks to an ankle injury. Christian Keeling rolled his ankle while saving a ball midway through the first half (he was thankfully able to come back). At one point in the second half, athletic trainer Doug Halverson was looking at Leaky Black while on the bench.
  • As has become custom for the 2019-20 Tar Heels, the first points of the game didn’t go on the board until nearly four minutes in (Bacot free throws at 16:17) and the first field goal after five-and-a-half minutes of game action (14:26).
  • This opening scoring drought resulted in an 11-2 lead for Yale. However, Carolina responded with an 11-0 run to take a 13-11 lead.
  • Carolina’s defensive aggression set the tone for the game. While the stats don’t reveal much (four steals and four blocks), the Tar Heels were active in passing lanes, had multiple deflections, and caused multiple shot clock violations. Unfortunately, Anthony Harris was often the one setting this aggressive tone, and pending the severity of his knee injury, will be out of commission for some time.
  • If you watch the Tar Heels closely on offense, you’ll notice that players are often hesitant to shoot. While yes, this team has struggled to score, it appears that at least part of the issue is mental. At some point, players will have to start unconsciously pulling the trigger.
  • Justin Pierce was a revelation tonight. He was active, confident, and attacked the glass and the basket. Carolina needs Justin Pierce to be this version of Justin Pierce every game. Here’s Pierce talking about his performance:
  • Pierce’s production is especially needed with Armando Bacot struggling as he did tonight. Bacot played just 16 minutes and had just two points (both from the free throw line).

  • Carolina has struggled with surrendering second half runs (19-0 vs. Michigan, 16-0 vs. Wofford, 10-0 vs. Gonzaga, 12-0 vs. UCLA). Yale looked like it would do something similar tonight, scoring the first seven points of the second half. But then Carolina went on a 17-2 run and never relinquished the lead.
  • Garrison Brooks has been the leading scorer in Cole Anthony’s absence, and while Brandon Robinson held that distinction tonight, Brooks continues to be the most consistent Tar Heel. He turned in a double-double with 11 points and rebounds.
  • Robinson was indeed the leading scorer (career high 20 points). Carolina needs someone to shoot consistently and dependably from beyond the arc and Robinson is the prime candidate for this role. He buried five three-pointers in this one.

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 Georgia Tech to kick off the main portion of the ACC conference schedule. The game is Saturday, January 4 at 6:00PM ET on the ACC Network.

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

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Gardner-Webb

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 77-61 home win over Gardner-Webb on Friday night in Chapel Hill.

Condensed Game:

Shorter Highlights:

  • With the win, Coach Williams is in sole possession of 6th place on the all-time Division I wins list with 874. Next up is Adolph Rupp (5th place – 876) followed by the one-and-only Dean Smith, in 4th place with 879.

  • What was a tight three-point lead at half time ballooned to a 14-point lead early in the second half behind an 11-0 spurt for Carolina out of halftime. While Gardner-Webb cut the lead to as few as four in the second half, the game never felt in doubt.
  • Cole Anthony’s double-double streak to start his career ended tonight, but that allowed Armando Bacot to record his first truly impactful game of the season. There was concern through the week whether Bacot would be available after suffering a head injury last week against UNC-Wilmington. Not only did Bacot play, but he recorded 12 points (on an effective nine shots) and 11 rebounds for his first career double-double.

  • While Mr. Anthony did not get a double-double, he did score 28 points, 11 of which came at the free throw line. He also showed off an array of silly basketball skills that one human shouldn’t be allowed to possess. Here are some examples:
  • Anthony has a knack for using his hands extremely well on defense. On the second offensive possession Anthony lost the ball but got back on defense and stripped the ball away from the defender. On another play, he was beat by his man in the half-court but reached over the ball handler’s head to pin the ball against his chest and ultimately out of bounds to Carolina.
  • Here’s another example: It’s not often you see your shooting guard throw an alley-oop to your point guard, but such is life when Cole Anthony is your point guard. Late in the game, with the Heels on the break, Christian Keeling threw the lob to Anthony for the emphatic flush. For your viewing pleasure:

  • How about one more example: Cole Anthony is a very nice safety net in late shot clock situations. One instance in particular, late in the shot clock Anthony had the ball on the left wing. Everyone in the Smith Center and all the fine people watching at home knew what was coming. Yet even with two Gardner-Webb players bearing down on him, Cole Anthony buried a three.
  • Anthony and Bacot combined to score 40 of the 77 points (I’ll save you the trouble of pulling out your calculator – that’s more than half). You love to see that type of immediate offensive production from your freshmen. But more consistent threats will have to emerge for the Tar Heels to reach the heights they all want to reach.
  • You know that thing of how Carolina usually dominates on the glass? Tonight was no different. The Heels were +19 in rebounding margin with the totals sitting at 44-23.
  • Gardner-Webb struggled to score early in both halves. Identically so, in fact. The Runnin’ Bulldogs first points of each 20-minute segment came with 15:26 remaining.
  • To that end, Carolina certainly has things to work on, on the defensive side of the ball. However, Carolina has held each of its first three opponents to under 40% shooting. All six halves and all three games in total have been under 40% field goal shooting. Tallied together, Carolina’s opponents have shot 70-197 (35.5%) on field goals.
  • One thing is clear early on about Justin Pierce: he has taken Roy Williams’ exhortation to pound the offensive glass to heart. The graduate transfer currently leads Carolina with eight offensive rebounds.
  • Garrison Brooks wasn’t as productive tonight as he has been in the first couple games. He did, however, have a steady six points, six rebounds, and five assists. The numbers dip tonight can be attributed to foul trouble, which appeared to prevent Brooks from ever getting into a steady flow.
  • Speaking of Brooks, he apparently must have drunk some Luke-Maye-improve-your-free-throw-shooting juice. Maye showed steady growth through his career (42.9%-57.9%-62.4%-77.4%). Brooks has done the same, going from 58.7% his freshman year, to 63.9% last year, and is currently shooting 82.4% on the young season.
  • On a similar note, the Tar Heels were much improved tonight from the line, thanks in large part to Anthony’s 11-for-13 performance. After shooting 58.8% and 53.3% from the line in the first two games, Carolina bounced back to shoot 76% tonight.
  • Christian Keeling had his most productive game as a Tar Heel. He missed the first shot of the game and air-balled another three-pointer a couple minutes later. Coach Williams continues to show perseverance in the matter, running a set play for Keeling to start the second half. Keeling buried a 15-footer to start the second half scoring. Keeling scored nine, had four rebounds, two assists, two blocks and one steal – all highs for his Carolina career. On of the assists was this great pitch-ahead to Garrison Brooks:
  • Oh yes, about one of those Christian Keeling blocks. With just under two minutes left in the game, Keeling chased down the play and swatted the ball from behind with authority. With Anthony and Keeling both measuring at 6’3”, it gives Carolina a nice size advantage on the perimeter. Here’s the block:
  • The second half was extremely foul-laden. Watching the game, it felt reminiscent of the second half of the 2017 National Championship game.
  • Andrew Platek needs to improve defensively in terms of keeping the dribbler in front of him. That said, he was everywhere on the court. He didn’t necessarily light up the scoreboard, but he did contribute nine points. He got loose balls. He made solid outlet passes. He showed veteran leadership, talking to Christian Keeling after a play. Platek’s body language shows that he’s becoming more confident on court – willing and ready to take a shot (like the one that pushed the lead back to seven after Gardner-Webb had just cut it to four), drive to the basket, or rotate around on help defense.
  • One of the funnier moments of the game occurred with 14:40 remaining. Bacot established great post position. Leaky fed him. Turnaround right hand baby hook. Good. Coach raised his hands for a good while as if to say, “Do you see what good things happen when you get the ball inside?” The gesture was certainly not lost on the Tar Heels.
  • Update on “Injury Watch 2019”: Sterling Manley, Jeremiah Francis, and Anthony Harris are all still in street clothes. Brandon Robinson was in uniform, but isn’t expected back til around the trip to the Bahamas. Outside of Robinson, Coach Williams has said that Harris is the closest to coming back.

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 Elon on Wednesday, November 20. Tip is at 8:30ET on ACC Network Extra.

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The Path To Houston (Glory), Part 6

We made it to “Part 6” of this column, and that’s great news because it means the Tar Heels are in the national championship game! Standing between Carolina and a sixth national championship are Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats. What do you need to know heading into the game? Read on to find out.

National Championship: Villanova

  • 34-5 (16-2)
  • 1st in the Big East
  • Stat Leaders (of contributing players)
    • Points: Josh Hart – 15.5
    • Assists: Ryan Arcidiacono – 4.3
    • FG% (min. 100 attempts): Daniel Ochefu – 62.3
    • Rebounds: Daniel Ochefu – 7.6
    • Steals: Ryan Arcidiacono – 1.36
    • Blocks: Daniel Ochefu – 1.53
    • Minutes: Ryan Arcidiacono – 31.9

Previous NCAA Tournament Meetings Games

The 2016 National Championship game will mark the 7th time UNC and Villanova have played in the NCAA Tournament. In the previous 6, Carolina is 5-1, only losing in the 1985 Elite 8. Here are all the previous games, rounds, and results:

  1. 1982, Elite 8, UNC 70 – Villanova 60
  2. 1985, Elite 8, Villanova 56 – UNC 44
  3. 1991, 2nd Round, UNC 84 – Villanova 69
  4. 2005, Sweet 16, UNC 67 – Villanova 66
  5. 2009, Final Four, UNC 83 – Villanova 69
  6. 2013, 1st Round, UNC 78 – Villanova 71
  7. 2016, National Championship, ???

Though these games are listed in chronological order, upon closer inspection, you might notice an interesting tidbit: UNC has beaten Villanova in every round of the NCAA Tournament. Every round but one. The National Championship. Time to rectify that omission.

Game Notes

  • This game has all the makings of an incredible title clash. Villanova and North Carolina come into the game ranked number one and two respectively in the KenPom Rankings. They also are number one and two in adjusted offensive efficiency, with the Tar Heels leading in this category.
  • As you mentally prepare for this game, the UNC opponent to most similarly compare Villanova to would have to be Virginia, who was also top 10 this season in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
  • Carolina’s overwhelming advantage should be on the backboards where the Tar Heels have a 40.6% offensive rebounding rate and a 69.8% defensive rebounding rate to Villanova’s 28.6% and 29.0%.
  • Hard to believe, but Roy Williams would surpass Dean Smith in number of national championships with a win (3 for Roy, 2 for Dean).
  • Despite being undersized, Villanova has limited the productivity of their opponent’s big men. Perry Ellis of Kansas, for example, was held to 4 points in the Elite 8. As we know the Tar Heel inside attack should prove a more formidable adversary. It will be interesting to see if and how Villanova can slow down Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, and Isaiah Hicks.
  • Kris Jenkins connection. 2 Tar Heels have connections to Villanova 4-man Kris Jenkins. Brice Johnson played on a youth team with Jenkins in a picture that has been circulating this past week:

CezYMj-WEAAIvXA.jpg-large

The other connection is an even deeper level. Nate Britt and Jenkins are legally brothers because the Britt family became Jenkins’ legal guardian in 2007 after some family changes for the Jenkins family. Britt’s parents and sister will be at Monday’s national championship game and have vowed to remain neutral, knowing that, regardless of the outcome, they will have a son who ends the night as national champion and one who ends the night coming up just short.

The Record Book

  • Brice Johnson currently has 408 rebounds this season – a Tar Heel single season record. With 5 rebounds in the national championship game he would move into 10th place on the ACC single season rebounds leaderboard. Interestingly, he would be the only player in the 2000s to land on this list. In fact, other than Tim Duncan’s 457 rebounds in 1997, the other most recent entry in the top 10 is from 1974 (Len Elmore with 412).
  • With 1 more rebound, Brice Johnson will be the #5 career rebounder in Tar Heel history. He is currently tied with Antawn Jamison.
  • Donald Williams holds the current UNC career record for made 3s in the NCAA Tournament with 38. Marcus Paige currently sits at 35.
  • Also, on the Marcus Paige made 3 pointers front – he is already #1 in career made 3 pointers for UNC with 295. With a big night in his final college game, Paige could be the first Tar Heel to ever have 300 for his career.

Villanova Starters

Player Ht Wt MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3-PT% FT% TPG SPG BPG
Jalen Brunson 6’2.5” 199 24.0 9.7 1.8 2.6 45.5 38.1 77.9 1.85 0.72 0.0
Ryan Arcidiacono 6’3” 195 31.9 12.4 2.9 4.3 43.9 38.9 83.3 1.51 1.36 0.03
Josh Hart 6’5” 205 31.2 15.5 6.7 1.9 51.5 35.8 75.2 1.64 1.15 0.23
Kris Jenkins 6’6” 240 28.5 13.6 3.9 2.2 45.6 38.4 85.3 1.26 0.77 0.41
Daniel Ochefu 6’11” 245 23.1 10.1 7.6 1.7 62.3 0.0 68.8 1.33 0.81 1.53

Villanova Key Reserves

Player Ht Wt MPG PPG RPG APG FG% 3-PT% FT% TPG SPG BPG
Phil Booth 6’3” 185 21.8 6.7 2.1 2.2 35.3 30.6 86.6 1.44 0.74 0.10
Mikal Bridges 6’7” 191 20.5 6.5 3.2 0.9 51.8 29.9 78.7 0.62 1.08 0.64
Darryl Reynolds 6’8” 225 17.3 3.7 4.6 0.4 64.9 0.0 72.3 0.72 0.41 0.54

The Numbers

  North Carolina Villanova
KenPom Rank 2 1
Points per game 83.0 70.1
Adj. Offensive Efficiency (Rank) 123.7 (1st) 122.0 (2nd)
Adj. Defensive Efficiency (Rank) 95.2 (23rd) 91.9 (6th)
Tempo (Rank) 71.3 (64th) 66.7 (284th)
Field Goal% 48.2 42.6
2P FG% 54.4 57.3
3P FG% 31.9 35.9
3PA% 26.7 43.0
FT% 74.8 78.2
FT Rate 32.5% 34.1%
RPG 40.7 35.2
Offensive Reb Rate 40.6% 28.6%
Defensive Reb Rate 69.8% 29.0%
APG 17.8 16.2
BPG 4.5 3.3
SPG 6.8 6.7
TPG 10.8 12.2
TO Rate 15.3% 16.3%

3 X-Factors:

  1. The backcourt (Berry, Paige, Jackson, Pinson, Britt) has done a marvelous job taking care of the ball in the tournament. Can they continue to do so against Villanova’s swarming defense. This will be all-important because the advantage on the interior is not an advantage if the guards can’t make entry passes.
  2. Isaiah Hicks’ foul trouble. With Villanova employing the use of a stretch 4, Hicks’ mobility will be important. If he can stay out of foul trouble (and therefore on the court), he could have an incredibly productive game.
  3. UNC’s backcourt & Nova’s frontcourt. All the national media attention for Villanova is on their backcourt and for North Carolina is on their frontcourt. This shapes up very similarly to the sweet 16 against Indiana. While UNC’s 3 point shooting is a statistical weakness, any combination of Paige, Berry, Britt, and Jackson could have a solid night from deep. You might recall Paige’s 3 point barrage to start the Indiana game. Similarly, don’t sleep on Villanova’s Daniel Ochefu (similar to Indiana’s Thomas Bryant). While the lone inside scoring threat, Ochefu could have a big game inside, although he has been hampered by a bum ankle.

Main Key to the Game for the Tar Heels:

You guessed it: exploit the size advantage in the paint. As has been the case all tournament long, UNC will have a decided frontcourt size advantage. On offense this means pounding the ball into the paint and continuing to offensively rebound around 50% of the misses. On the defensive end, this means playing tight defense without fouling and rebounding at the normal clip.

 

Quick Hitters – Florida Gulf Coast (1st Round – NCAA Tournament)

Quick Hitters from UNC’s 83-67 win over Florida Gulf Coast in the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament:

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Florida Gulf Coast vs North Carolina
The enduring image of this 1st round NCAA Tournament win. Brice Johnson had 8 blocks, 6 in the 2nd half.  Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
  1. 1st turnover for UNC came at 5:21 left in the 1st
  2. Favorite moment of the game: Isaiah Hicks trying to throw the ball through the hoop from 3-4 feet away with about 4:30 left in the 1st
  3. Comforting to see Marcus Paige hit his first two 3-point attempts after going 0-7 in the ACC Championship game.
  4. Despite an overall lazy 1st half, the Heels were able to push the lead out to 9, but then went back to lackadaisical mode to end the first half only up 1.
  5. After the 1-point halftime lead, the Heels came out with more determination and desire (Roy must have said some nice things at halftime) and were up by 20 with 11:32 to go in what still felt like a close game.
  6. Isaiah Hicks continues to show great athleticism and motor. This is a good sign for next year when he will most likely form the starting frontcourt tandem with Kennedy Meeks.
  7. Speaking of Kennedy, he is going to have to continue shedding weight in the offseason. Against athletic bigs inside, he consistently gets out-jumped, blocked, and fails to score what would be an easy dunk for Johnson or Hicks.
  8. At the 8:46 mark of the 2nd half, Brice Johnson got the ball in the post and an immediate double team came. Brice then delivered a beautiful wrap-around pass to a cutting Justin Jackson for 2.
  9. Joel Berry continues to have a keen awareness of when to drive to the basket, finishing strong in traffic. This will be important as the NCAA Tournament moves along. Ty Lawson had some similar big buckets in the 2009 championship run.
  10. For the 3rd game in a row, no double-double for Brice Johnson, but how’s this for a stat line: 18 points, 7 rebounds, 8 blocks, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 0 turnovers. Well done young man.
  11. Just to be sure you didn’t gloss over this – 8 blocks for Brice Johnson (6 in the 2nd half), a UNC NCAA Tournament record – and several of them were of the “Big Boy” variety.
  12. With the win tonight, Roy Williams has 66 NCAA Tournament victories, and passes Coach Smith for 2nd place all-time.