Quick Hitters from Wednesday night’s 71-56 win over Wisconsin in the Maui Invitational championship.
One sign of a championship caliber team? The ability to win playing various styles. From the up-tempo game against Oklahoma State on Tuesday to the grinding Wisconsin game on Wednesday night, the Tar Heels showed the ability to either enforce their will and win, or beat you at your own game. In this championship game, it’s fair to say that North Carolina out-Wisconsined Wisconsin.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but, including this year, Roy Williams has won three Maui Invitational tournaments. The first two times were the 2004-05 and 2008-09 seasons. Anyone remember anything of significance that happened in those two years?
Amount of game time the Tar Heels trailed in Maui: exactly zero seconds.
Congratulations to Justin Jackson for becoming the 74th Tar Heel to score 1000 career points. He joins Kennedy Meeks as the second player to achieve that level this year. Look for Isaiah Hicks and Joel Berry to become numbers 75 and 76 later this season.
The first eight points of the game for Carolina went to the big men (Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Tony Bradley). This trio is should have the edge inside in nearly every game they play this year.
Wisconsin didn’t score until 12:39 left in the first half. Most of this was due to Carolina forcing them into jump shots. I’ll keep saying it: defense is keying this team. It starts with Joel Berry as the leader setting the example, and everyone else feeds off that.
Tony Bradley’s streak of double digit scoring to start his career ended tonight. He had just six points.
On the season, the trio of Nigel Hayes, Ethan Happ, and Bronson Koenig has averaged a combined 40.4 points a game. They were scoreless until Happ got a bucket with 5:45 left in first half. The trio totaled only seven points at halftime.
Just as Wisconsin pulled to within three points at 17-14, Joel Berry went on his own little five-point run with a deeeeeeep (is that enough “e’s”?) three and a mid-range jumper to push the lead back to eight before Wisconsin called a timeout. He extended his run to seven with the next Carolina bucket as well.
Sure was nice to play a game (especially after the Oklahoma State game) where there was hard-nosed, no-fouling defense. There were 52 combined free throws shot against Oklahoma State, and 22 combined against Wisconsin.
Kennedy Meeks had a double-double in the first half (10 points/12 rebounds). He finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds (a career high)
In the first half there zero fast break points for either team and only three offensive rebounds; all to Carolina.
For the tournament, the Heels shot 80% from the free throw line (60-75). Both Joel Berry and Justin Jackson were perfect from the charity stripe in the three games.
It seems like the level of games keep ramping up. Next Wednesday, Carolina heads to Bloomington to play Indiana in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge. This will be third true road game in the first eight games; a wise scheduling move for a veteran squad. Although Indiana lost last night, they are also considered one of the top five teams in the nation. And they will be looking to avenge last year’s NCAA Tournament loss. Should be a great environment!
Quick Hitters from Tuesday night’s 107-75 win over Oklahoma State in the Maui Invitational semifinal.
Let’s get this out of the way: I know not every game will be this dominant a victory (and there are certainly pieces to clean up from this game), but I really enjoyed this one. Wednesday’s Maui Invitational Championship game against #16 Wisconsin, and their traditionally stingy defense, will be the next measuring stick for where this team is at.
Great job offensive rebounding within the first three minutes of the game. As of the first media timeout, the Heels had rebounded literally every shot they took.
All five starters scored before the first media timeout. Six players ended up scoring in double figures.
Joel Berry had his right arm run into by an Oklahoma State player chasing down a rebound early in the game. He seemed to be favoring his right shoulder and stretching his arm afterwards. Curious to see how it affects him. Update: Berry’s next shot was a three that he sank and looked great for the rest of the game. Hopefully there will be no lingering effects.
Oklahoma State’s man-to-man defense is stifling. The Heels had several lazy passes on the perimeter that were either picked off or nearly picked off. That must be tightened up.
Joel Berry did a better job getting to the rim in this game; something he didn’t do well against Hawaii or Chaminade.
The thing that has impressed me most about Tony Bradley thus far is his ability to move his feet and stay in front of his man when he gets switched onto a guard.
This was the most aggressive I’ve ever seen Justin Jackson. If he continues to drive the ball and use a combination of his deadly floater and finishing at the rim, he will become one of the most unguardable players in the country. His stat line for the night: 22 points on 7-12 shooting (including 7-7 on FTs), eight rebounds, six assists, one steal, and zero turnovers. Those are the numbers Jackson needs to continue to turn in to make this a national championship caliber team.
Quote of the night: “I don’t know how long Tony Bradley’s arms are…but they’re long.” – Jay Bilas
A bit of a scare late as Kenny Williams left the game after bumping heads with an Oklahoma State player and went straight to the locker room. Williams was cleared to return to action and seemed to be in good shape.
This Tar Heel team continues to look locked in defensively. Cowboy sharp shooter Phil Forte was held to two points (free throws) and shot 0-3 from the field.
Quick Hitters from Monday night’s 104-61 win over Chaminade in the Maui Invitational.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 from Friday night / Saturday morning’s 83-68 victory over Hawaii, moving the Tar Heels to 4-0 on the season.
I’m too old for games to start this late. That said, I made it all the way through!
If my eyes saw correctly, Theo Pinson wasn’t wearing any kind of boot. He looked to be wearing tennis shoes. Luke Maye, on the other hand, had on a walking boot.
Encouraging to see this veteran team play two true road games in their first four of the season.
Despite the victory, the Heels looked rather lackadaisical for the majority of this game. Chalk it up to the long travel, adjusting to playing a game at 1:00am EST, not getting much time in Hawaii’s gym before the game, looking ahead to the Maui Invitational, or whatever else you want, but this performance was most certainly not the same team we saw in the first three games of the season.
At the first media timeout, Kennedy Meeks was beating Hawaii 6-4 and already had four rebounds, three of which were offensive.
UNC held Hawaii to just 7 offensive rebounds, after giving up double digits in this stat category in every other game (30, 17, 15, 12), including the exhibition.
Joel Berry had zero points in the first half. Didn’t end up scoring till there was just 5:10 left in the game. Also, he uncharacteristically had four turnovers.
Thankfully, Nate Britt really stepped up his production, scoring 13 on 5-9 shooting (including 3-5 from deep), three assists, one turnover, and two steals.
Freshman Tony Bradley continues his streak of scoring in double digits every game thus far of his career. He added 13 rebounds in this game to notch the first of what will probably be many double-doubles during his time in Chapel Hill.