Tag Archives: Notre Dame Basketball

Quick Hitters – UNC vs. NC State

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 85-79 home win over NC State on Tuesday night.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Can’t underestimate the role the crowd played in the victory. How cool that a full (and loud) crowd will turn out for a 10-17 team to play a late game on a school night. Really grateful for the Carolina faithful. It felt really good for the Tar Heels to get a big win tonight against an in-state rival who is currently vying for an NCAA Tournament birth. Hopefully the Heels can build on this momentum!
  • For a moment, this game had the makings of the same story line we’ve seen time after time in this 2019-20 season. Carolina held an 11-point lead with 8:00 remaining and still a 10-point lead with 5:00 to go. However, NC State cut the lead to three with 2:00 remaining. Unlike other experiences though, the Heels were able to make winning plays down the stretch, including going 7-for-8 from the foul line in the final 0:40.
  • The most consequential stretch of the game came after NC State opened up a seven point lead with 14:45 left in the game. The Heels responded with a quick 9-0 spurt from 13:51-12:12. That run extended out to 22-4, giving Carolina a 67-56 lead with 8:33 to play.
  • There was question about Garrison Brooks’ ability to play after the illness he had been suffering from and the eight pounds he lost as a result. It’s safe to say he did just fine. Following in the lineage of recent Pack-killers Marcus Paige and Luke Maye, Brooks dropped in 30 points and nine rebounds. If you’re keeping track at home, that 55 points against NC State this season.
  • Brooks was also able to exorcise some free throw demons this evening. After going 0-for-7 and 0-for-5 from the line respectively against Boston College and Duke respectively, Brooks went 14-for-16 tonight including making six out of six in the final 0:41. The junior big man did his best Tyler Hansbrough impersonation by getting four separate and-ones (three of which he converted the free throw).
  • Let’s not forget that NC State jumped out to a 10-0 lead while making their first four shots (13-2 extended). During that same stretch Carolina was busy turning the ball over five times in the first 3:30. The Heels eventually settled in and ran off a 9-0 over the course of two minutes from 15:40-13:45 to cut the deficit to 13-11.
  • After the Wolfpack’s initial 10-0 lead, the Heels clawed back to take a 38-37 lead off a Garrison Brooks shot in the paint with 1:00 to go before halftime. After a sloppy sequence from both teams, a Leaky Black lay-up at the halftime buzzer made it 40-37 Heels at the half.
  • NC State foul trouble in the first half contributed to Carolina’s ability to get back in the game. Three important Wolfpack players (Hellems, Bates, and Daniels) each picked up two fouls before halftime. While Carolina didn’t take advantage as much as they would have desired, they were able to grab the lead.
  • Cole Anthony had an under-the-radar 19 points. This is a tell-tale sign of the freshman starting to settle in to the game, getting teammates involved, and then calling his own number when the time is right. He also did a great job in getting back on defense during a NC State fast break which allowed Christian Keeling to catch up and block the shot from behind.
  • Speaking of Keeling, what a night for the grad transfer! Before the Louisville game, he had not hit multiple threes in a game this season and now he’s done so in back-to-back contests. Keeling poured in a total of 16 points and the 6’3” guard was second on the team in rebounds with seven.
  • Keeling has now scored in double-digits in five of the past seven games (and he had nine in the two in which he didn’t hit double-digits). He’s averaging 12.4 points per game over that seven game stretch. It’s been really fun to watch Keeling find his offensive stride in the latter part of the season; you just wish it could be for a more successful team in terms of wins and losses.
  • Armando Bacot was curiously ineffective tonight against the Wolfpack, despite having registered a double-double against them in the first meeting in Raleigh. The freshman only played 13:26 total, and just 5:36 in the second half. Bacot picked up his second foul with 10:54 remaining in the first half and never really seemed to find his stride after that.
  • The victory loss kept Carolina from tying the 1950-51 team for the longest losing streak in program history.
  • It’s worth noting that both teams were sloppy with the ball early. They combined for 12 turnovers in the first seven minutes.
  • Carolina did all of this tonight while shooting just 3-for-16 from three.
  • One of the big factors was offensive rebounding (surprise, surprise). Carolina hauled in nearly double what State did (13-7) and held a similar edge in resulting second-chance points (13-6).
  • Carolina scored 80 points for just the fifth time all season. Interestingly, it was only the second win in those five games (Miami being the other occurrence).
  • Justin Pierce didn’t have an overly impactful game in the scoring column but he did snag four offensive rebounds, got three steals, and had two assists. It felt like both he and Keeling were all over the court. It showed in the final tally. Carolina was +25 with Pierce on the floor and +24 with Keeling on the floor.

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 Syracuse on Saturday, February 29. Tip is at 4:00pm ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters: UNC @ Louisville

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 72-54 road loss to Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • With 4:09 remaining in the first half, Cole Anthony made two free throws (the first free throws of the game for either team) to bring Carolina within four (25-21). Louisville outscored Carolina 11-2 over the remaining four minutes before halftime and 11-0 in the first five-and-a-half minutes of the second half. That 22-2 run essentially ended the game and the Heels would get no closer than 14 points.
  • At one point in that 22-2 run, Carolina missed 11 straight shots (last two shots of the first half, first nine shots of second half.
  • Carolina knew they would be short-handed in the front court before the game even started, with both Garrison Brooks (illness) and Justin Pierce (ankle) out. With apologies to senior Brandon Robinson and star Cole Anthony, Brooks is the heart and soul of this team and his absence leaves a huge hole.
  • With Brooks out, the starting five were Cole Anthony, Christian Keeling, Brandon Robinson, Leaky Black, and Armando Bacot. That quintet had literally not shared a single second of court time prior to today. This was the ninth different starting line-up the Tar Heels have used this year, the most of the Roy Williams era.
  • By the time the first media timeout occurred, neither team had attempted a two-point shot. At that point both teams were 1-for-4, all from the three-point line.
  • For the second time this season, only one Tar Heel (Cole Anthony – 18) scored in double-digits. The other instance was against Ohio State when Cole Anthony was also the only double-digit scorer.
  • For three straight games, Cole Anthony has shot 7-for-16 from the field. He has shot under 50 percent in every game this season, other than one, the first game of the season against Notre Dame when he shot exactly 50 percent (12-for-24).
  • Staying with Cole Anthony, part of the reason for his low field goal percentage is shot selection. He seems to have two or three head-scratchers per game. He will certainly grow in this area as his game continues to evolve and mature.
  • Just two Tar Heels had more assists than turnovers. One was Brandon Robinson, with three assists and two turnovers. The other was KJ Smith who had one assist and no turnovers in mop-up duty.
  • Carolina assisted on fewer than 50 percent of their made baskets (10 assists on 21 buckets) and had nearly double as many turnovers as assists (17 to 10).
  • Carolina’s side of the court appeared to have issues with moisture in the first half. Four different Tar Heels slipped in the first 20 minutes.
  • With Brooks and Pierce out, both Walker Miller (8:16) and Brandon Huffman (3:57) saw more playing time than they ordinarily do.
  • It was encouraging to see Andrew Platek hit a couple three-pointers and have a solid all-around shooting day (3-for-5 FG, 2-for-3 3FG, 1-for-1 FT).
  • Carolina played three possessions of zone late in the first half. The results were a wide-open lay-up, a three-pointer, and a dunk. Needless to say the zone didn’t come back out in the second half.
  • The Tar Heels bungled multiple fast break opportunities today. Not enough that it would have changed the outcome of the game, but would have perhaps put game pressure on Louisville.
  • In a season where the walk-ons haven’t received as much playing time as they normally would, it was encouraging to see them get a couple minutes including a great pass from KJ Smith to a cutting Caleb Ellis for a lay-up.

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 NC State on Tuesday, February 25. Tip is at 9:00pm ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Notre Dame

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 77-76 road loss to Notre Dame on Monday night.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Déjà vu? Nope. Groundhog day? Nope. Time travel? Nope. We really do keep witnessing the same miserable ending over and over again. Yes, most of the blame is on the Tar Heels for their play down the stretch in these losses, but how can you help but feel awful for these young men?

  • This was a game of runs. The Heels missed eight shots in a row in the first half, allowing Notre Dame to take a nine-point lead. Thankfully Carolina was able to get the lead down to three at the half. Notre Dame scored the first bucket of the second half but Carolina went on a 13-0 run to take an eight-point lead (19-3 extended run). Notre Dame eventually went on their own 9-0 run to cut the lead to five. The Irish kept chipping at the lead, but never led until the final bucket with :02.4 to go.
  • This was also one of those “Carolina-had-this-big-a-lead-with-this-much-time-left” games. The Heels held a 15-point lead with 8:15 remaining, a nine-point lead with 4:15 to go, and a four-point lead with the ball and just 66 seconds remaining. Another way to look at it: Carolina led from 16:35 of the second half until Notre Dame hit the kick-out three for a 77-76 lead.

  • Carolina will look back and rue several things, including two failed defensive rebounds in the final 90 seconds which both directly led to Notre Dame points.
  • Were the Tar Heels victim to another incorrectly adjudicated foul situation (for the third time in a late-game scenario)? Cole Anthony air-balled an ill-advised three with :21 left. Leaky Black nearly tracked down the offensive rebound, but was called out of bounds as he attempted to save the ball. Black’s right foot was clearly out-of-bounds, but only because he was quite clearly bumped by Notre Dame’s Nate Laszewski. If called, that would have been Laszewski’s fifth foul and he would not then have been able to hit the game winner (because he would have fouled out and because Leaky Black would have shot two free throws for a potential four-point lead). Here’s the play in question:

  • Much can and will always be said about Cole Anthony. He led all scorers tonight with 23, and despite some interesting decisions down the stretch posted his best assist-to-turnover ratio of the season at 6-to-1.
  • It’s interesting that Carolina was on the brink of a victory despite Armando Bacot scoring just two points (the first Tar Heel bucket of the second half). The freshman reeled in a typical 10 rebounds, but will need to contribute more offensively.
  • Leaky Black continues to put up productive, and diverse, stat lines. Tonight he recorded double-digit rebounds (10) for the first time in his career. He’s had at least one assist, block, and steal in five of the past six games. Black also contributed nine points tonight, including a no-hesitation three-pointer and 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
  • Garrison Brooks continues to be the most consistent performer on the year. He has back-to-back 20+ point games for the second time this season (22 tonight). Unfortunately, Brooks took exactly one shot (1!) over the final 8:30 of the game. The team has to find a way to continue getting shots for its best offensive players in crunch time. A very similar thing happened with Garrison Brooks during the stretch of the Duke game.
  • Christian Keeling’s double-digit scoring streak stopped at four games, but he managed nine in this one including the first bucket of the game just five seconds in.
  • The starting line-up was the same for the second game in a row with Christian Keeling taking the spot Andrew Platek had been occupying. However, Brandon Robinson was back tonight after missing four games. Robinson came off the bench to play 25:24. The starting five going forward will likely include two of Christian Keeling, Leaky Black, and Brandon Robinson.
  • The Tar Heels got their turnover issues mostly in check tonight. They committed just four in the first half, but added eight in the second half (including several costly turnovers down the stretch). The team got back to having more assists (18) than turnovers (12), however Notre Dame committed just six.
  • Carolina did their usual work on the backboards, routing Notre Dame 47-31, which included 18 offensive rebounds. These rebounds allowed the Heels to double up the Irish in second chance points, 16-8.
  • Similar to the Wake Forest game, Carolina missed just two free throws, both of which came from Garrison Brooks late in the first half. That also means that Carolina made every free throw they shot in the second half, including both ends of 1-and-1 on two separate occasions.
  • Curiously, Andrew Platek only played 4:32. That’s quite the fall for a player who was starting as recently as two games ago.

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 Louisville on Saturday, February 22. Tip is at 4:00pm ET on ESPN or ESPN2.

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

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Virginia

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 64-62 home loss to Virginia on Saturday night.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Well here we go again. Same script for the last three Saturdays in a row: Carolina home game. Saturday night. Comes down to last possession. Tar Heels lose. February 1 against Boston College (terrible foul called against Brandon Robinson). February 8 against Duke (let’s not talk about it). February 15 against Virginia (last second three). These poor Tar Heels just cannot catch a break.
  • Unlike last week against Duke, Carolina made offensive plays down the stretch, including sinking free throws. It’s just that Virginia had one more play in them and Carolina couldn’t make the defensive stop.
  • If you’re keeping track at home, Carolina has lost four of their last five at home (Miami being the lone win). Those four losses have been by a combined eight (8!) total points and two of the games have gone to overtime. You just can’t make this stuff up.
  • The team that showed up tonight was much more the team was saw last Saturday against Duke than the imposters that played in Winston-Salem last Tuesday. They moved the ball better, hustled more, and generally looked like a Roy Williams-coached team.
  • It’s been well documented that Carolina has struggled offensively all year long. For just the third time all season, the Heels hit 50 percent of their shots tonight (25-for-50, exactly 50 percent). And of course that happened against the team ranked 4th in defensive efficiency in KenPom. And of course Carolina still lost.
  • Garrison Brooks’ vision must be much improved from his troubles on Tuesday night against Wake Forest. Even though Brooks wore his goggles again, he scored 20 points tonight, many of which came from the mid-range game. He also made his second career three-pointer. Similar to junior and senior Tyler Hansbrough, if Brooks can continue to consistently hit these deeper shots away from the rim, he will be a very dangerous man. This also opens up more operating room for a more traditional, back-to-the-basket big man.
  • Turnovers were an issue tonight, especially early. As has happened with regularity this season, the team had more turnovers than assists (15-14). Armando Bacot was the main culprit tonight, surrendering five turnovers against zero assists. The freshman was a rebounding machine (16), but found himself in trouble often tonight against Virginia’s pesky defensive scheme.
  • A positive note about the turnovers: The Heels committed their ninth (in their first 19 possessions) with 9:18 left before halftime. However, they cleaned up their act and only committed one more in the half, and six total more for the game.
  • Christian Keeling continues to shoot well and hit double-digits for the fourth straight game. Keeling came up huge in the final minute, burying three free throws to give Carolina a one-point lead with 10 seconds to go. One thing Keeling will need to pay more attention to is getting his feet behind the three-point line. Three separate shots tonight could have been threes if he was just a couple inches further back.
  • Good to see Brandon Robinson back in uniform, although he didn’t play. Today marked the two week point since his injury.
  • Poor Cole Anthony took a shot to the face, just above his eyebrow, and bled a good deal. He just can’t seem to catch a break. After receiving medical attention in the locker room, he eventually came back in. Here’s video of the play:
  • This game moved quickly. Much of that can be attributed to the lack of fouls and foul shooting. The teams combined for just 22 total free throws. The first free throws of the game didn’t happen until 12:30 had already elapsed.
  • Carolina drew three charges in the first half (Christian Keeling, Justin Pierce, Andrew Platek).
  • As part of the offensive struggles, it’s plainly evident that several players are hesitant to shoot when they get a good look from three. There seems to be a lack of confidence. The open shots are coming within the flow of the offense, but players are reticent to pull the trigger.
  • This turned out to be one of the more fun Virginia games of recent memory. Both teams scored in the 60s. There were seven ties and 16 lead changes.
  • It’s a quick turnaround to playing in northern Indiana on Monday night. The Fighting Irish will also be flying back up after playing Duke on Saturday. Which Tar Heel team will show up?

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 Notre Dame on Monday, February 17. Tip is at 7:00pm ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Miami

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

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

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

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

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

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

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

Twitter: tarheelhoopblog
Twitter: isaacschade
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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Elon

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 75-61 home win over Elon on Wednesday night in the Smith Center.

Condensed Game:

Shorter Highlights:

  • Elon led this game 32-33 at halftime. Carolina opened up the second half with an 8-0 run which extended to a 16-2 run, and eventually 21-5 for a 53-38 lead. At that point it appeared the Tar Heels would run away with the game; building as big as a 16-point lead with 5:50 remaining. But Elon stripped the lead to seven in the waning minutes, before Carolina pushed back to the final 14-point cushion. This type of “cruise control” down the stretch is not an option for the 2019-20 iteration of the Tar Heels.
  • The schedule is about to get much more difficult. Next up is Alabama. Then Iowa State or Michigan. Then Gonzaga (#8), Southern Miss, Seton Hall (#13) or Oregon (#11). Then Ohio State (#10). Then at Virginia (#7). After a (hopeful) breather at home against Wofford is at Gonzaga (#8) and UCLA. Yikes. That means four of the next seven games could be against top 10 teams.
  • The Tar Heels had some obscene numbers in the frontcourt categories. Carolina outrebounded Elon by 31 (THIRTY-ONE!). The tally was 56-25. Additionally, Carolina held a 46-14 advantage on points in the paint.
  • With Cole Anthony struggling to score tonight (which was bound to happen eventually), another player had to step up offensively. What a perfect time for Armando Bacot’s breakout game. The freshman big man finished with a career high in points (22) and rebounds (14). He now has back-to-back double-doubles. The Tar Heels will need this consistency in the aforementioned upcoming stretch against higher-level competition.
  • It seemed like Elon was going to set the world on fire after hitting their first five shots (four of which were three-pointers), the Phoenix went just 5-for-22 the rest of the half; including not making a field goal from 9:42-2:03.
  • Elon’s shooting woes caused them to be the latest victim against Carolina’s defense. Get this: no opponent has shot 40% or better on field goals in a single half so far this season. Here are the numbers to prove it:
    • Notre Dame (11-34 | 32.2% and 13-34 | 38.2%)
    • UNC-Wilmington (12-34 | 35.3% and 13-38 | 34.2%)
    • Gardner-Webb (10-27 | 37.0% and 11-30 | 36.7%)
    • Elon (10-27 | 37.0% and 10-36 | 27.8%)
  • An anomaly to the early season: Carolina has not yet hit the 80-point mark in a game (76, 78, 77, 75). Conversely, none of Carolina’s opponents have scored more than 65 (65, 62, 61, 61).

  • Free throw shooting still needs work. Tonight Carolina was 14-for-23, 60.9%
  • Bacot teamed with his frontcourt counterpart Garrison Brooks to score nearly half (36) of Carolina’s 75 points. No other Tar Heels scored in double-figures.
  • Cole Anthony came ever-so-close to recording just the third triple-double in Carolina history. He finished with nine points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. For the record, Jason Capel and Brendan Haywood were the others to do it, and both happened within 13 days of each other in the 2000-01 season.

  • The Cole Anthony “rebound-and-run” is a great fast break and should pay dividends all season long. A couple examples from tonight’s game were a pitch ahead to a streaking Andrew Platek for a lay-up and a dish to Christian Keeling for a three.
  • The team is still learning to play defense together, but they are quite obviously buying-in on the defensive end. Some first half examples: Platek rebound in traffic with 13:00 remaining, block and save by Anthony at 10:30 left, keeping the dribbler in front and blocking his shot by Keeling at 5:30, nice footwork by Bacot after getting switched onto a guard with 4:39 left, and Cole Anthony drew an incredible charge on a one-on-one fast break with 4:21 before halftime. Here is the charge:

  • Kenny Smith, Jr. entered the game with 1:30 remaining and Carolina holding a nine-point lead. An interesting move from Coach Williams to get the point guard some “game pressure” action. Certainly a forward-looking move.
  • Still no Brandon Robinson. Coach Williams mentioned in his radio show this week that he would love to get Robinson some game action before the Bahamas trip, but it wasn’t meant to be. The depleted Tar Heels’ line-up could certainly use his presence for the three-games-in-three-days slate during Thanksgiving week.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the Battle 4 Atlantis, in the Bahamas. First game is against Alabama on Wednesday at 2:30ET on either ESPN or ESPN 2.

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

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ UNC-Wilmington

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 78-62 road win over UNC-Wilmington on Friday night.

Highlights:

 

  • While it hasn’t always been pretty in these first two games (which is to be expected given all the newcomers and injuries), Carolina is now 2-0, with an ACC Conference win and a true road win on their resume.
  • Same as last year’s games to start the season at Wofford and Elon, you aren’t going to find many (if ANY) other major conference teams who will voluntarily play a true road game in a tiny gym at a place like UNC-Wilmington. This is the genius of Roy Williams: Go play in a tough place in November to prepare your team for the rigors of road games (10 of them now) during conference play. There’s a reason the Tar Heels almost always have a winning road record.
  • Against Notre Dame, only seven players saw significant court time. Cole Anthony played 37 minutes and Garrison Brooks played 39. This was due to a combination of playing an ACC opponent to start the season and injuries to multiple Tar Heels who would otherwise be on the court. Tonight’s game, plus the next two (Gardner-Webb, Elon) should all allow Roy Williams to tinker with line-ups, get more players into the game, and not have to play anyone 35-plus minutes.
  • Some of that planned minute-management went down the drain tonight when Armando Bacot took an elbow to the head midway through the first half and was held out the rest of the game. According to Coach Williams’ postgame comments, team medical personnel are concerned about a potential concussion. Here’s video of the injury:

  • Getting back to odd line-ups, remember to withhold your exasperation as you see strange combinations playing together. That’s precisely what these games are for. As always, Coach Williams is preparing his team for March, not November and December. Finding the right mix of personnel on the court now is essential for ultimate success later.
  • Three different Tar Heels logged double-doubles: Cole Anthony (20 points, 10 rebounds), Justin Pierce (18 points, 12 rebounds), and Garrison Brooks (18 points, 12 rebounds).

  • While it’s hard to believe, this is actually Brooks’ first career double-double. He was one rebound shy against Notre Dame. If Brooks can average around 10 and 10, combined with his stellar defensive play, he will put his team in a good position to win.

  • While Anthony’s showing wasn’t as dynamic or efficient as his first collegiate game, he did finish with the previously mentioned points and rebounds, plus three assists, two steals and one block. His main issue tonight was inefficient shooting; 3-for-12 on two, 4-for-11 on threes and curiously 2-for-7 from the free throw line. And he can also do this:
  • In fact, free throws are an issue that just about the entire team needs to work on. Through two games, Carolina is shooting just 26-47 (55.3%) as a team. Oddly enough, other than Andrew Platek who is perfect on two attempts, Garrison Brooks (a career 61.6% free throw shooter) is leading the team (10-for-13, 76.9%).
  • The Tar Heels hoped for more production out of their grad transfers tonight and they got it in spades from Justin Pierce, who did a little bit of everything tonight, including cementing his double-double before the halftime buzzer sounded. Pierce’s points and rebounds have already been mentioned, but what was impressive was the way in which he went about both. The points came on an efficient 7-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-7 from deep. Of his 12 rebounds, half were of the offensive variety, which you know his coach loves. Pierce also chipped in two assists and a block, while not turning the ball over. Here’s Pierce talking about his performance:
  • Christian Keeling, on the other hand, hasn’t gotten untracked yet. He appears to be pressing too hard. He’ll find his way though. He’s too good of a scorer to be held down for long. Stick with him Tar Heel fans!
  • Carolina enjoyed a size advantage over UNC-Wilmington, but was unable to take full advantage. The Heels did win the rebound battle, but only by a margin of six (54-48). The Seahawks actually outscored Carolina in the paint, 34-30.
  • Carolina is doing a good job rebounding with a balanced approach. In both games, at least four players have had seven or more rebounds.

  • After surrendering 18 turnovers against Notre Dame, Carolina was able to cut that number in more than half tonight (eight). No single player had more than two turnovers.
  • Andrew Platek has quietly put together back-to-back solid performances. He is averaging seven points, had a career high four assists tonight, and looks much more confident than at any point in his first two seasons. He will need to continue to play “high IQ basketball minutes”, especially while other members of the backcourt rotation work to get healthy.

  • Brandon Huffman played 7:30 tonight. He had four points and four boards. If Sterling Manley is unable to play this year, either Huffman or Walker Miller will have to provide valuable minutes. Huffman seems to be in the lead at this early point in the season.
  • Curiously, for a large chunk of the first half, Carolina had taken more threes than twos. For example, 11 of the first 21 shots were behind the arc. Some of this is Bacot’s absence, some of it is 2019’s style of play; but whatever the case the Heels need to stop settling and get the ball inside more. That’s the progression of the season.
  • The Heels have had some cold shooting halves, particularly the first 20 minutes. Carolina has not eclipsed 32% field goal percentage in the first half of either game thus far. As Cole Anthony settles in, as Brandon Robinson comes back from injury, when Christian Keeling starts to find his mark, when the ball goes inside more, these numbers should start to change.
  • Milestone win:

 

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 Gardner-Webb on Friday, November 15. Tip is at 9:00ET on ACC Network (TV) and the TuneIn App (Radio).

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

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Notre Dame

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 76-65 home win over Notre Dame on Wednesday night.

Condensed Game:

Shorter Highlights:

  • Cole Anthony. This kid is as good, if not better, than advertised. There were flashes in the first half, but midway through the second he completely took over the game. 34 points (12-24 FG, 6-11 3FG), 11 rebounds, five assists, and one steal. Those 34 points set the Carolina AND ACC records for most points scored by a freshman in his debut.
  • HUGE to get this win to start the season 1-0 in the ACC, especially with a second ACC game coming in early December at Virginia (a notoriously difficult place to play). Despite those good feelings, being forced to play an ACC game to start the season is an awful idea. That’s two huge missteps by the ACC at the beginning of the new network; the other is choosing specifically Duke Basketball for its inaugural broadcast rather than something encompassing the entire conference.
  • Currently taking bets on whether Cole Anthony (34 points/ 11 rebounds / 5 assists) or Leaky Black (5 points / 7 rebounds / 5 assists) registers the first triple-double of the season.
  • Coach Williams was concerned with Carolina’s ability to rebound the basketball. The result? A 51-31 advantage for the Heels. That number will obviously come down, but a +20 rebounding margin in an ACC game is absurd.
  • With a team that projects to have trouble scoring at times as compared to recent teams, defense will be of utmost importance this year. The length of players like Leaky Black and Brandon Robinson should cause issues for opponents. Carolina held Notre Dame to 35.3% shooting and 29.0% shooting from deep. Garrison Brooks did a great job limiting John Mooney to just 10 points, eight rebounds, and zero made three-pointers (for reference, Mooney hauled in 19 rebounds against Carolina last year and hit six three-pointers two years ago).
  • But Brooks does more than just play defense:
  • Cole Anthony should be transcendent on most nights, but there will be games where he will be cold from the field. When that happens, who will step up? Time will tell. But in the meantime, the aforementioned defense will have to be dialed in every time Carolina takes the court. If the other team can’t score, they can’t beat you.
  • Technically, nine players played in this game. However, Brandon Huffman and Walker Miller each played one minute or less. For a team with injury issues and starting the season with an ACC game, this is to be expected. Would be a big plus to get Brandon Robinson, Sterling Manley, KJ Smith, Anthony Harris, and Jeremiah Francis into uniform.
  • The Tar Heels attacked the interior early in the game, but got away from that as things wore on. As Armando Bacot settles in alongside Brooks, you have to imagine Carolina will continue to pursue buckets in the post.
  • Speaking of Bacot, I present you with two facts concerning the freshman: (1) Bacot is going to shoot a lot of free throws this year. (2) Bacot is not currently a great free throw shooter. He was 1-for-6 tonight from the line. As a team, Carolina was 10-for-17, so taking Bacot’s numbers away, that’s a strong percentage.
  • A couple season “firsts”. Garrison Brooks scores the first points of the season on the first possession of the season with a baby hook on the baseline. Christian Keeling hit the first three-pointer of the season. The first missed free throw of the season was tapped back out for an offensive rebound (Tar Heels doing Tar Heel things).

  • The first five field-goals were scored by five different players (Brooks, Anthony, Bacot, Keeling, Justin Pierce).
  • After making their first three shots of the game, Carolina only hit seven of their final 29 in the first half (31.25%). The second half was a different story though, as the Tar Heels percentage in the second half (62.96%) was double that of the first half.
  • Scary moment early in the first half as Bacot came off with what appeared to be a lower left leg injury. Thankfully he checked back in just a couple minutes later,  immediately recorded a defensive rebound, and then dished an assist to Leaky Black to put Carolina back in the lead.

  • Cole Anthony does a lot of things really well. He had a monster rebound with 7:00 left in the first half. He had a great finish around the rim, and through contact, two minutes into the second half. It will be fun to watch him this season. And enjoy it, because it’s going to be the only one with him.

  • Some other Carolina scoring records to watch this year as it relates to Cole Anthony: Most points in any game by a freshman is 40 (Tyler Hansbrough – 2006 / Harrison Barnes – 2011). The most points scored by a Tar Heel in a single game is 49 (Bobby Lewis – 1965). Most points scored by a freshman in a season is 600 (Joseph Forte – 2000-01).

  • Andrew Platek is going to be an important member of this team. Sometimes scoring. Sometimes just making good, smart fundamental basketball plays. He had eight points, four rebounds, and two assists tonight. You saw several of those good basketball plays tonight: tipping a rebound he couldn’t corral to a teammate, nabbing a couple offensive rebounds, throwing a nice alley-oop to Bacot for a thunderous dunk. Here’s that alley-oop:

 

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 UNC-Wilmington on Friday, November 8. Tip is at 7:00ET on FLO Sports (a streaming service that you will need a subscription for).

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

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Brandon Robinson Injury Update and Repercussions

North Carolina senior guard Brandon Robinson sprained his right ankle with 12:19 remaining in the first half of the Tar Heels’ lone public exhibition Friday night against Winston-Salem State. The injury occurred after Robinson blocked a shot and a Winston-Salem player rolled up on his ankle upon landing back on the court.

According to a press release from the University of North Carolina, “X-rays taken on Saturday were negative for a fracture. There is no timetable for [Robinson’s] return.”

Robinson started the exhibition game and had already scored eight points by the time the injury occurred. The Douglasville, GA native, along with junior Garrison Brooks, brings the greatest level of returning experience and maturity to the 2019-20 Tar Heels.

The first regular season game is on Wednesday, November 6 against Notre Dame in the Smith Center.

What does the injury mean for the beginning of the regular season?

Starting Line-Up

In the exhibition game, the other starters were Cole Anthony, Christian Keeling, Garrison Brooks, and Armando Bacot. Graduate transfer Justin Pierce started in Robinson’s place in the second half.

Pierce and sophomore Leaky Black (this year’s “Danny-Green-Theo-Pinson-jack-of-all-trades-Swiss-army-knife” player) are the two most likely candidates to start at the ‘3’.

Two factors point to Pierce receiving the starting nod on Wednesday against Notre Dame:

First, Coach Williams has mentioned that the coaches are slowly working Black back into playing form after his severe ankle injury last season against Georgia Tech.

Second, with Seventh Woods transferring to South Carolina and freshman guards Anthony Harris and Jeremiah Francis still recovering from high school injuries, Black is the primary point guard back-up to Cole Anthony. Therefore, the coaching staff will want to preserve as much of his energy as possible.

My prediction is that Pierce starts, but that Black will receive ‘starter’s minutes’.

Join the Club

The Tar Heels are already without the aforementioned Harris and Francis, as well as junior big man Sterling Manley and junior guard KJ Smith.

Robinson will likely join them in street clothes for an unknown period of time.

It’s a good thing Carolina has depth because it will be tested.

Depth

What about that depth? As already discussed, Robinson’s absence means more minutes for both Pierce and Black. The other player who should see an increase in minutes is junior Andrew Platek. Christian Keeling already figured to play a large share of Carolina’s 200 available minutes in a game, but he will likely see an uptick for the time being as well.

Affects

Early season injuries to experienced players can often be a blessing in disguise as they allow less-experienced players to gain valuable minutes. However, in a season with new faces everywhere, the on-court consistency that a veteran like Robinson provides is invaluable. Hopefully he can provide the same leadership from the bench for however like he is sidelined.

Team Chemistry

It’s no secret that Roy Williams teams take the early months of seasons to build chemistry and figure out roles and fit; sometimes to the detriment of the win column. Depending on the length of Robinson’s absence, it could be difficult to work him back into a team that has already found its way.

Hopefully the ankle heals quickly and we get to see a long and fruitful senior season from Brandon Robinson.

 

Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Winston-Salem State (Exhibition)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 96-61 home win over Winston-Salem State on Friday night in the Tar Heels’ lone public exhibition game.

Highlights:

  • Let’s not bury the lede: Brandon Robinson’s ankle is the biggest question on everyone’s mind. With 12:19 left in first half, Robinson blocked a shot and the Winston-Salem State player rolled up on Robinson’s right ankle. Robinson never returned to the bench (which is not surprising given the typical caution shown in these situations in an exhibition). In his post-game press conference, Coach Williams said Robinson would have x-rays on Saturday morning.

  • Add B-Rob to the litany of injuries. The 2019 Tar Heels should have depth and talent. But they are banged up right now. Entering tonight’s action Sterling Manley, Anthony Harris, Jeremiah Francis, and KJ Smith were already out of commission.
  • Before his injury, Robinson played confidently and aggressively. He found his way to the free throw line for six shots in the first seven minutes of game time.
  • Three rule changes to be aware of heading into the season:
    • After an offensive rebound, the shot clock will reset to 20 seconds instead of a full 30.
    • The three-point line moves from 20’ 9” to the International (and very specific) distance of 22’ 1 ¾” straightaway and 21’ 7/8” in the corners.
    • Since the 2015-16 season, coaches had been disallowed from calling live-ball timeouts, but they will now be able to do so in the last two minutes of regulation and any overtime periods.
  • Remember that with the ACC Network also comes a 20-game conference schedule. In order to help promote the new network, the powers that be decided that each team (except guess who) would start the season with a conference game and play another early in December (at Virginia for Carolina).
  • Over the past three season, the Heels have ranked 1st, 3rd, and 1st nationally in rebound margin. Will this trend continue? Although it was against an overmatched opponent, Carolina out-rebounded Winston-Salem State by 23 (56-33). Returning to a traditional two big-man line-up should help. As should having strong rebounding guards like Leaky Black and Cole Anthony.

  • We expend a lot of energy in the off-season wondering who will start. The answer (at least for Friday night), was what most people anticipated: Cole Anthony (1), Christian Keeling (2), Brandon Robinson (3), Garrison Brooks (4), Armando Bacot (5). Justin Pierce started in place of the injured Robinson in the second half.
  • First off the bench were Andrew Platek, Justin Pierce, and Leaky Black after the first dead ball timeout.
  • Carolina drew at least three charges, the first of which came from Cole Anthony. That’s the type of play that will continue to earn the trust and respect of teammates.

  • An early playing time observation: Looks like Platek will get more playing time this year.
  • With Seventh Woods’ departure to South Carolina, the back-up point guard minutes were up for grabs. Black played those minutes tonight and did well.
  • Justin Pierce is a Tar Heel already – he missed a lay-up off a nice pass from Cole Anthony but still pointed to Anthony for the nice look. He didn’t miss this one though:

  • Roy Williams, while plenty of upset about many aspects of the game, must be happy to have a two-big starting line-up again. Brooks and Bacot both registered double-doubles. Additionally, Brandon Huffman wasn’t far off, with eight each of points and rebounds…in just 11 minutes.
  • Speaking of filling stats, Leaky Black and Cole Anthony are both on triple-double alert. Anthony finished with 11 points, five rebounds, seven assists, one block and four turnovers. Black had nine points, five rebounds, seven assists, one block, one steal, and one turnover.

  • After being held scoreless in the first half, Christian Keeling exploded for 14 in the final 20 minutes.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the first game of the season (and the first conference game!) in the Smith Center against Notre Dame on Wednesday, November 6. Tip is at 7:00ET on ACC Network.

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