Tag Archives: Kenny Williams

Quick Hitters – NC State, part 2

Quick Hitters from Wednesday night’s 97-73 road win over NC State.

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Nate Britt goes in for a lay-up during UNC’s 97-73 victory over NC State in Raleigh on 2/15/17. Photo Credit: J.D. Lyon, Jr. / @tarheel_photo
  1. Congrats to Joel Berry for becoming the third Tar Heel this year (along with Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks), and 75th ever, to score 1000 career points. With his 18 points tonight he has 1013 for his career, putting him in 73rd. place. Isaiah Hicks will join soon as the fourth this season. He needs 21 more points.
  2. I can just hear the classic Queen lyrics – “Another one bites the dust”. We welcomed Isaiah Hicks back to the lineup tonight, but Kenny Williams suffered a right knee injury yesterday at practice and was in street clothes. Apparently he will have surgery next Tuesday. Losing the top perimeter defender hurts an already struggling defense and takes away the Heels’ scrappiest player.
  3. It took til game 27, but we finally saw the starting line-up that we thought we would see all season long: Joel Berry, Theo Pinson, Justin Jackson, Isaiah Hicks, and Kennedy Meeks
  4. I said all week that this game would be much closer than the 51-point blowout earlier this season, and it certainly was, but uhhhh, yeah. A 24-point ACC road win? Doesn’t get much sweeter than that.
  5. NC State started a small lineup, which allowed Isaiah Hicks to get an easy bucket over Maverick Rowan to start the game. This was a sign of things to come. Carolina led in rebounds 41-25, Carolina had more OFFENSIVE rebounds (18) than State had DEFENSIVE rebounds (16), and Carolina led points in the point 60-22. Don’t get your eyes checked. You read it right: 60-22.
  6. I think Isaiah Hicks saved up all the fouls he’s not been committing, and poured them into the little time he spent on the court in this game (seven minutes). He picked up three first half fouls and his fourth early in the second half. While Isaiah his been doing a much better job lately staying out of foul trouble, as a senior, he’s got to be smarter. That said, I’m surprised Coach Williams brought Hicks back in the game in the first half even though the Heels had a 17-point lead. Wisely though, Coach kept him out of the rest of the game after the fourth foul. With the tweaked hamstring still on the mend, not need to push it.
  7. I like Luke Maye more and more all the time. Some great put-backs tonight. Runs the floor well. Because of his lack of size, he’s gotta be more active and gritty and that’s exactly what he does. Maye had a career high in points (13).
  8. Would really like to see Joel Berry start driving the ball more, rather than settling for threes. The Secondary Break had a great write-up on Berry’s up-and-down season: http://www.thesecondarybreak.us/joel-berrys-up-and-down-season/. Berry did have six assists, three steals, and only one turnover in this game, which is a great sign. The test will be Virginia on Saturday.
  9. How many lay-ups did Theo Pinson have in this game? Goodness gracious.
  10. Another balanced scoring night. Five different Heels (Berry, Meeks, Jackson, Maye, and Pinson) scored in double figures.
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Quick Hitters – Notre Dame

Quick Hitters from Sunday afternoon’s 83-76 home-ish win over Notre Dame. Every win down the stretch, in which the Heels face a crazy gauntlet of opponents, is big. After a crazy week of college basketball, this win solidified the Heels alone in first atop the ACC at 9-2, with a whole slew of teams bunched together right behind them.

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Tony Bradley was a spark off the bench for UNC in the 83-76 win over Notre Dame on Super Bowl Sunday. He had 12 points on 5-7 shooting, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 0 turnovers, and 3 blocks. Photo Credit: Jeffrey A. Camarati

First, a note. I didn’t have the opportunity to post Quick Hitters after the Pittsburgh game, but wanted to make sure to say congrats to Kennedy Meeks for becoming just the 11th player in UNC history for amassing 900 career rebounds.

  1. I don’t like to criticize the refs, so I won’t.
  2. This was the second time this season the Heels have had a game delayed. Last time was the 51-point NC State blow out. This one was indeed closer, but the Heels are 2-0 in delayed games.
  3. It was really nice to see a team come out and play man-to-man after a streak of majority zone defenses. Notre Dame did, however, sprinkle in 2-3 zone on several inbounds plays and other half-court possessions throughout the game.
  4. After several games of lackadaisical defense, this game featured a more aggressive and locked-in defense effort from the Tar Heels. Most notably, the there was an apparent renewed effort to stop dribble penetration.
  5. Kennedy Meeks had four rebounds before the first media timeout and finished the game with 8. He would have had more, were it not for second half foul trouble, including fouling out with 5:14 remaining in the game.
  6. Poor FT shooting – 4-10 to start the game. Including 0-2 from Justin Jackson, 1-2 from Tony Bradley, and 3-6 from Kennedy Meeks. Joel Berry, the potential all-time leader at UNC for FT%, missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 6:48 left in the game. You can’t do that against the #2 team in the nation in FT percentage. For the game, Carolina shot 17-28 (60.7%) and Notre Dame was 17-20 (85%).
  7. This was another game in which the Heels obliterated their opponents on the boards. The margin in this game was 19 (44-25). In fact, Carolina almost had more offensive rebounds (17) than Notre Dame did defensive rebounds (18). Perhaps the best stat of the day is that all 10 players that saw time on the court day had at least one rebound.
  8. Justin Jackson and Joel Berry a combined 1-9 from three in the first half. Started 0-8 before Jackson connected.
  9. While Berry and Jackson were struggling, it was Kenny Williams who picked up the slack. He shot 3-4 from deep and had 11 total points. In fact, it was Williams (as per usual) who was the spark plug in this game. He had 3 assists and zero turnovers. Perhaps his best play of the day however, came with 10:35 remaining in the game. UNC was up 65-53 and Notre Dame had gained a good deal of momentum. Williams stepped into the lane and drew a charge from Steve Vasturia.
  10. Though Joel Berry and Nate Britt didn’t score in the first half, they had 8 assists combined.
  11. Great scoring balance. 6 different Heels scored in double figures (Jackson – 16, Hicks – 14, Berry and Bradley – 12, Meeks and Williams – 11) in a game where the team had 83.
  12. Theo Pinson missed his 3rd game in a row, however he was out on the court before the game going through drills and looked to be in good form. This is a (hopefully) good sign for him suiting up on Thursday night against Duke. I thought his absence today might be the Tar Heels’ undoing because of Notre Dame’s desire to spread the floor and drive, which would necessitate a good deal of small ball.
  13. Though this version of the Tar Heels are not known for their shot-blocking prowess, the team had 6 (including 3 from Tony Bradley) today.

Quick Hitters – Miami

Quick Hitters from Saturday afternoon’s 77-62 road loss to Miami

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Nate Britt takes a shot in the 77-62 loss to Miami on Saturday. Photo Credit: Richard Lewis
  1. This is one of those games where you wish you could burn the tape and never speak of it again. In all reality, you could see this coming: The Tar Heels were on the road, less than 48 hours after their last game, against an athletic Miami team, and without the spark plug known as Theo Pinson. The ACC is so deep and so tough to win on the road.
  2. Think the absence of Pinson matters? Similar to the Indiana and Kentucky games, the length and athleticism of the Miami guards really caused problems.
  3. I’ll say this now: North Carolina does not win the ACC OR make the Final Four without a healthy Theo Pinson.
  4. Pinson’s absence alone isn’t too much to overcome on most nights;but that, coupled with Joel Berry’s forgettable game, spelled trouble for Carolina. Berry finished with two points, zero made field goals, one rebound, and two turnovers. On the bright side, Berry did have four assists and a steal.
  5. After 22 first half points, it was safe to say that the streak of seven straight games of scoring 85+ points was not going to extend to eight. Indeed, the Tar Heels finished with 62 points – the lowest point total of the season.
  6. At some point in the season, for this UNC team to put it all together, there will have to be a re-dedication to the defensive tenacity shown in the first couple games of the season. Today, the Heels really struggled to guard the dribble drive. Typically, this happens down the stretch (the ’09 championship comes to mind). This team has the capability to be lights out defensively (especially with Pinson on the floor), and I would imagine we will see that tenacity come out down the wire.
  7. It was a hot start to the game. The Heels jumped out to an 11-2 lead, including the first nine points being spread amongst four players (Berry, Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Justin Jackson). However…
  8. Miami took a timeout at 16:27 after UNC went up 11-2. They switched to a suffocating 2-3 zone and outscored Carolina 37-11 the rest of the half. This game showed the difference between when shots are falling against the zone (Virginia Tech) and when they aren’t (Georgia Tech, Miami). Since the shots were going down on Thursday night against the zone, it wasn’t a big deal. Today it was.
  9. UNC first half FGs before Miami switched to zone (Miami timeout at 16:27): 3-5. After the switch to zone: 3-24.
  10. More first half numbers: Carolina had more turnovers (nine) than made field goals (six). The last field goal of the half for UNC was an Isaiah Hicks lay-up with 8:39 left. The next field goal come at 17:44 of second half on a Justin Jackson three-pointer. If you’re keeping track at home that’s 10:55 of game time between field goals, which is more than 1/4th of the game.
  11. A big question out of this game: When Berry or Jackson is off, who becomes that consistent third scorer? Neither Meeks or Hicks fulfilled that role today.
  12. At halftime, my question was not, “Can Carolina win this game?”, but rather, “Does Carolina have the fight to get back into the game on the road?” They certainly did fight, but there just weren’t enough punches to ever get the game back into that magical single digit-range where a comeback feels possible. The classic example of this was when…
  13. Heels had the ball, down 11, with just under two minutes to play. Kenny Williams, having a cold shooting day, should have moved the ball to Jackson for a shot or probed the defense, but missed a three. This effectively ended any hope of a comeback.
  14. Best thing I can say is that Miami out-Carolina-d Carolina in this game. Miami won the rebounding battle 41-36, points off turnovers 14-8, points in the paint 28-22, and, most glaringly, fast break points 11-ZERO.

Quick Hitters – Virginia Tech

Quick Hitters from Thrusday night’s 91-72 home win against Virginia Tech

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Seventh Woods defends against Virginia Tech and his home floor as the Tar Heels beat the Hokies 91-72 to stay atop the ACC standings. Photo Credit: Jeffrey A. Camarti
  1. Joel Berry had three 3’s in the first 5:09 of the game. It was a harbinger of things to come…
  2. As a team, the Heels were 7-12 from deep in the first 10 minutes of the game. Berry, Justin Jackson, and Kenny Williams each hit a three in the first 1:46 of the second half. All in all, it was the most made 3’s in a game this season – 14. Moreover, it was a good average – 14-30 (46.7%).
  3. Five and a half minutes into the game, there was an entirely different lineup on the floor. Not because the starters played poorly, just because there is that much depth on the Carolina bench.
  4. Theo Pinson did what he does – hit a 3, had a steal, and an assist in a little more than his first minute of game action. All told, Theo shot 2-2 for five points, had three rebounds (one offensive), two assists, and one steal; in only SIX MINUTES. Would have loved to have seen what his line would have been for the full game, but unfortunately…
  5. Pinson tweaked his ankle in the first half. Was held out for precautionary measures in the second half. This makes me nervous. Short turnaround to Saturday’s game at Miami, a game in which Carolina certainly needs Pinson’s swiss army knife-ishness. UPDATE: Because I’m posting this a day late, we already know that Pinson has been declared out for the game at Miami on Saturday. No timetable for his return or official diagnosis as of yet.
  6. VT started in an aggressive zone, but the Heels shot them out of it before the second media timeout. The Hokies apparently tried to take a page out of Georgia Tech’s upset of Carolina. The difference in this one is that the Heels shot lights out.
  7. UNC rebounded their first three misses and never looked back on the offensive glass. 16-1 in the first half. VT did a much better job in the second half and allowed only three more offensive rebounds. Final margin was 19-4 on the offensive glass and 43-22 overall.
  8. Big double-double from Kennedy Meeks. 15 points & 14 rebounds. In only 21 minutes. That’s efficient.
  9. The Tar Heels have now scored 85+ points in seven straight conference games for the first time in program history.
  10. Only seven turnovers for the game. Love seeing this number in single digits.
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Photo Credit: Jeffrey A. Camarati

Quick Hitters – Boston College

I beg you to forgive my tardiness in getting this published. Computer issues over the weekend and the nearest Apple Store is two hours away. Technology is awesome. Until it isn’t. Anyway, to quote the immortal Derek Zoolander, without much further ado, here are Quick hitters from Saturday’s 90-82 road win over Boston College.

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Kennedy Meeks dribbles against Boston College in North Carolina’s 90-82 victory on 1/21/16. Photo Credit: UNC Athletic Communications
  1. While on paper, the Tar Heels should have maybe handled Boston College with more ease, as hard as road wins in the ACC have been to come by this season for all 15 teams, a win is a win. And a win keeps Carolina tied atop the ACC standings with Florida State and Notre Dame.
  2. UNC only had six fouls in the first half, and only one of those was on Isaiah Hicks who was only whistled twice in this game. Only Kenny Williams and Tony Bradley had two fouls in the first half, but both were within the last eight minutes of the half and allowed Roy to maintain his desired substitution pattern.
  3. Justin Jackson hit a ¾ court shot, but it was a fraction after the horn sounded to end the first half. It was beautiful. But didn’t count.
  4. Carolina scored just 34 points in the first half on 38.7% shooting. 34 points wouldn’t be “just” for a lot of teams, but for a team averaging just shy of 90 a game, 34 is “just”. The second half was a different story – 56 points on 54.5% shooting.
  5. Is it just meet or does Luke Maye miss a lot of point blank tip-ins? I don’t have any stats to back it up, just an observation.
  6. This was a quietly dominant game from Kennedy Meeks and Jackson who had 20 and 22 points respectively.
  7. There were two different occasions where Boston College beat UNC on a baseline inbounds play. Roy will not be happy about that.
  8. Newsflash: Joel Berry is human from the free throw line. He has missed one in three of the last four games, going 10-13 (77%) in that stretch. Though he is still currently the career leader in free throw percentage, Berry has relinquished the single season lead to Shammond Williams (91.1%-89.8%). Of course, this is complete nitpicking. The man is an incredible free throw shooter.
  9. Speaking of free throws, Isaiah Hicks is shooting 82.5% this year. He’s gone from 57.9% to 62.1% to 75.6% to this year’s 82.5% mark. If that’s not marked improvement I don’t know what is. Hicks’ number goes up to 86.5% in just ACC play and 91.1% in ACC wins (removing the Georgia Tech game).

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.

Quick Hitters – NC State

Quick Hitters from UNC’s 107-56 win over NC State on Sunday afternoon in the Dean Dome.

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Kenny Williams shoots a three-pointer against NC State in UNC’s 107-56 victory in Chapel Hill, NC on Sunday, January 8, 2017. Photo Credit: Jeffrey A. Camarati

 

  1. Well, what can you say about a game like this? It was lots of fun. A perfect mixture of UNC hitting on all cylinders and NC State hitting on almost no cylinders.
  2. A crazy stat – UNC score 56 points in the first half. NC State scored 56 points in the entire game.
  3. Perhaps the best moment in a game full of great moments: there was a huge ovation for Theo Pinson when he checked in for the first time this season with 13:47 left in the first half. There were many factors that contributed to the blowout, but excitement over having Pinson back in the line-up was certainly one of the major factors. Pinson surely has some rust, shooting 0-3 in the game. But in only 13 minutes, he had five rebounds, five assists, four steals, and zero turnovers.
  4. The Tar Heels had two separate runs of 20-0 or more in the game. The first run was exactly 20-0 and spanned nearly six minutes of game time. NC State scored with 16:56 left in the first half to make the score 6-4 UNC. The next time NC State scored was with 11:10 left in the half and the Tar Heels now led 26-4. The second streak was a 22-0 run that spanned around five minutes of game time. The score went from 77-48 to 99-48 starting around 10 minutes left in the game til around five minutes left in the game.
  5. Lead hit the 30-point margin when Justin Jackson hit a three-pointer to put the Heels up 43-12 (31-point margin) with 6:03 left in the first half. Translation: It took UNC 13:57 to amass a 30 point lead against an ACC opponent.
  6. After several games of turnover problems, it was nice to see the turnovers back in check in this game. The Tar heels did have 12 for the whole game, but only four in the first half while the game was (somewhat) still in check.
  7. Another encouraging sign? Isaiah Hicks had just one foul for the game. Of course, because of game flow, he only had to play 17 total minutes.
  8. Part of this perfect storm was the fact that NC State’s phenomenal freshman, Dennis Smith, Jr., picked up his second foul with 16:06 remaining in the first half. Sensing the game quickly slipping away, Coach Mark Gottfried brought him back in with 13:01 left. Unfortunately for the Wolfpack, he picked up his third foul three minutes later. He was able to stay on the court for almost all of the second half (19 minutes), but it really didn’t matter at that point as the game was out of reach.
  9. A game like this is going to have some crazy stats. Here’s one: NC State had ONE assist in the first half.
  10. 10 different Tar Heels had double-digit minutes in the game and many had productive games. I’ll single out Luke Maye, who almost had a double-double, finishing with nine points and eight rebounds. Half his rebounds were on the offensive side. He hit a three. He hit a couple mid-range jumpers. Good job Luke!
  11. The Tar Heels built a 33-point halftime lead. Often, in games like this, the struggle is to maintain and even further the lead in the second half. In this game, however, that was not the case as the final margin was 51 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 – Tennessee

Quick Hitters from Sunday afternoon’s 73-71 home win against Tennessee:

  1. Let’s get this out of the way: this was not a pretty game, but it was a win. A game in which the Tar Heels were missing two starters, shot 2-17 from 3, and shot 13-24 from the free throw line.
  2. Since returning from Maui (Indiana, Radford, Davidson, Tennessee), the fire, intensity, and urgency that was present to that point of the season appears to be gone. Joel Berry being out for the last 2.5 games doesn’t help matters. It could get really ugly next Saturday against Kentucky if the team can’t recapture the fire they played with in Maui.
  3. After going down 30-15 with 7:35 left in the first half, there was a steal from Nate Britt, a steal by Kenny Williams, a forced 3-second violation and, less than two minutes later (5:40), the Heels are only down 9. All keyed by defense.
  4. After cutting the lead to 8 just before halftime (on Justin Jackson’s first two points), the Heels had the lead down to two within the first two minutes of the second half. Another run keyed by defense.
  5. Nate Britt (similar to most of his teammates) did not shoot the ball well, but he did have FIVE steals.
  6. Hicks and Meeks each had 3 fouls by 2:30 into the second half and were rather ineffective.. They have to dominate games for this team to accomplish the goals it wants to. Thankfully, Tony Bradley played really well.
  7. Too many mid-range, contested jumpers. In particular from Justin Jackson, who was struggling with his shot (3-for-15 FG, 0-for-6 3P). When the shots aren’t falling you have to get the ball to the rim.
  8. Elevator screen on two straight plays in the second half. The first time, Kenny Williams couldn’t quite get through so the usual look at a 3 wasn’t there. The second time, Tony Bradley slipped the screen for a wide-open dunk when his man anticipated the screen and overplayed it to the top side. This was a thing of beauty.
  9. Who hit the shot to tie the game at 50? None other than Stilman White. He’s filling a similar role to what Jackson Simmons did in recent years. The less-talented, but savvy veteran who comes in and gives a few solid minutes to help settle his team.
  10. Great end-of-game substitution by Coach Williams. He subbed out Kennedy Meeks for the longer Tony Bradley, who promptly rewarded his coach’s decision by blocking Tennessee’s last shot.