Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 90-72 victory over Stanford on Monday night in the Tar Heels’ home opener.
- Let’s start with a crazy stat: Cameron Johnson is shooting 71.4 percent…on THREE POINTERS. WHAT?! No, that can’t be real. Wake up, Susan. It’s real. Johnson has hit 10 of 14 from deep and his shot is so smooth and squared up it looks like it’s going in every time he pulls the trigger. The law of averages says there’s no way he’ll maintain that pace, so let’s enjoy it while it lasts. Additionally, Cam is currently second on the team in rebounding behind only Luke Maye.
- Seventh Woods threw a beautiful lob to Nassir Little from the top of the key for a thunderous alley-oop. While Little’s dunks are something to behold, the best part of this play is Seventh’s reaction before Little even catches the ball:
- This was a tale of two different halves. In the first 20 minutes, Carolina doubled up Stanford in the scoring column 52-26, outrebounded them 24-11 and allowed zero free throws. Stanford didn’t get to double-digit points until 10:08 remaining in the first half. If the Tar Heels can find this gear consistently through the season, we’re in for a fun ride.
- After halftime, no combination of players on the court brought the cohesion exhibited in the first half. To Stanford’s credit they settled into the game and played much better while the Heels at times looked lethargic. Admittedly, Coach Williams was clearly tinkering with different lineup combinations due to the lopsided score.
- In the post-Hansbrough years, many Tar Heel teams have been labeled “soft” and allowed opponents back into games. The current batch had the opportunity to put a team away tonight. Instead of building on the 26 point halftime lead, the Heels allowed Stanford to get as close as 85-70 with 3:12 remaining. The jury is still out on what kind of fight the 2018-19 crew will display.
- Turnovers from the point guard position reared its ugly head this evening. Coby White and Seventh Woods each had three, including White giving the ball away on each of the first two possessions of the game. The team finished with 12.
- Let’s get back to good news. Kenny Williams is off the scoring schneid. The senior had one point in the first two games. He quickly changed that tonight with a nice steal and coast-to-coast bucket just 90 seconds into the game. Williams totaled 12 points including shooting 2-for-3 on three pointers. Importantly, he also dished out four assists against only one turnover. Here’s Williams talking about his performance:
- In very Roy Williams fashion, nine different players played in the first 6:30 and that number rose to 10 when Leaky Black entered with 11:12 left in the first half.
- Speaking of depth and balance, these have been the themes of the first three games. Even with Kenny Williams’ rough start to the season scoring-wise, five players are averaging double-digits in scoring (Johnson, Luke Maye, Garrison Brooks, Little and White). Only twice this season has an individual player played more than 30 minutes (Maye and Johnson against Wofford). Nine players are averaging double-digit minutes played (with Brandon Robinson just behind at 9).
- Black played his first meaningful minutes as the sole point guard on the floor for a four-minute stretch in the first half. Black, the most unheralded of the freshmen, is a lot of fun to watch. On two different occasions his length disrupted a sideline out-of-bounds play for Stanford. One resulted in a tie-up, the other with a breakaway dunk. Black is shooting 60 percent (including 4-for-4 tonight) from the field and has six assists with just one turnover. Here’s Black talking about his transition to college and playing multiple positions for the Tar Heels:
- North Carolina teams typically assist on a high number of made baskets. That propensity has not held true early this season. The numbers are 58 assists on 109 made baskets, totaling 53.2 percent. The low number could be a product of young and inexperienced point guard play. It could just be a statistical anomaly. We’ll have to keep our eyes on it.
- Sterling Manley had this ridiculous block midway through the first half. I offer no commentary. It’s just fun to watch:
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 Tennessee Tech on Friday, November 16. Tip is at 7:00ET on RSN & WatchESPN.
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Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 116-67 road win on Friday night over Elon.
- Let’s not bury the lead: rebounding was the story of the game. 60 rebounds for Carolina. First time to haul in 60 boards since grabbing 64 against Duke on March 5, 2016. Additionally, the Heels had more offensive boards (24) than Elon had defensive boards (21). And those offensive rebounds led to:
- A point of concern has been turnovers. That number continued to shrink tonight, with Carolina only surrendering 11. Most importantly, the point guards combined for only one of those 11.
- Garrison Brooks did not have the same numbers as he did against Wofford, but was solid. Seven points on 3-for-5 shooting, six rebounds, and three steals in 16 minutes. Sterling Manley had a much more productive night: 11 points and eight boards in 15 minutes. A combined 18 points & 14 boards in 31 minutes is great production from the center position.
- Remember last year when Cam Johnson only shot 34% from deep? Two games is an admittedly small sample size, but he is 7-for-10 so far this year. Additionally he hasn’t missed a free throw yet and is leading the team in scoring. Impressively, as well as Johnson is shooting, he’s still looking for his teammates. Against Wofford, a lob in the lane to Garrison Brooks. Against Elon, a kick out to Coby White for a three in transition. In both instances, Johnson could have taken the shot and no one would have batted an eye. But in both instances he found a better shot. Here’s Johnson talking about his shot:
- Last year, Carolina had to rely heavily on the starters for consistent offensive production. While tonight’s game was admittedly against Elon, the bench contributed 65 points.
- Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Tar Heel guards will need to do better at stopping dribble penetration (which leads to wide open threes) going forward. After allowing the Phoenix to shoot 57% from the field in the first half, Carolina buckled down in the last 20 minutes and allowed a paltry 16% field goal percentage.
- Leaky Black is the type of guy that might wind up with a triple-double on his résumé before he leaves Chapel Hill. The rangy freshman finished tonight with eight points, six boards, five assists, zero turnovers and a steal in just 15 minutes.
- 10 different Tar Heels scored…in the FIRST HALF. All 15 available players scored a point in the game (Walker Miller was out with an injury).
- Poor Kenny Williams can’t buy a basket right now. He still hasn’t made a field goal and his only point in the first two games is one made free throw. As has been documented, Williams is impacting the games in multiple other ways. His shot will come around (unless his shoulder injury from the other night is worse than we know).
- More on the point guards: Coby White (14 points, three boards, two assists, a turnover and a steal), traditionally a score-first point guard, is still learning how to balance when to hunt his shot and when to distribute. He is young, relentlessly fast, can light it up and will have a long leash. Be patient with him Tar Heel fans. Remember than playing point guard for Roy Williams is one of the most difficult things in college basketball. Seventh Woods (three points, three boards, five assists, one block and zero turnovers) looked the most comfortable I’ve ever seen him. He is in control, setting others up and making good play for himself. Here’s White talking about adjusting to the point guard role:
- Having more offensive firepower this year is allowing Luke Maye to somehow fly under the radar. He scored 24 points against Wofford and it was an afterthought. He had a near double-double tonight (eight points, 10 boards) and it’s just business as usual. He’s a career below 60% free throw shooter who is shooting 91% so far this year. The lack of attention will hopefully allow Maye to be more fresh as the season wears on.
- Is it time to talk about Nassir Little now? This guy can do a little bit of everything. Hit threes. Block shots. Dunk ferociously. Play defense. Despite an authoritative tip-dunk at the end of first half, Little’s first huge highlight reel dunk came with just under 14:00 left in the game after stealing an Elon pass and finding himself alone on the break. Little is beautifully not forcing anything at this point, just playing within the flow of the team. He is very “North Carolina”.
Roy Williams post-game press conference:
Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is Carolina’s home opener against Stanford on Monday, November 12. Tip is at 7:00ET on ESPN2.