Tag Archives: Tar Heels

Quick Hitters – Oklahoma State (Maui Invitational Semifinal)

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Justin Jackson goes for a lay-up against Oklahoma State in the semifinal of the Maui Invitational. Photo credit: J.D. Lyon Jr.

 

Quick Hitters from Tuesday night’s 107-75 win over Oklahoma State in the Maui Invitational semifinal.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. All five starters scored before the first media timeout. Six players ended up scoring in double figures.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Joel Berry did a better job getting to the rim in this game; something he didn’t do well against Hawaii or Chaminade.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Quote of the night: “I don’t know how long Tony Bradley’s arms are…but they’re long.” – Jay Bilas
  10. 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.
  11. 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 – Chaminade (Maui Invitational Quarterfinal)

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Joel Berry takes a jump shot in Monday night’s game against Chaminade in the Quarterfinal of the Maui Invitational. Photo Credit: J.D. Lyon, Jr.

Quick Hitters from Monday night’s 104-61 win over Chaminade in the Maui Invitational.

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 – UNC @ Hawaii (11/18/16)

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Quick Hitters from Friday night / Saturday morning’s 83-68 victory over Hawaii, moving the Tar Heels to 4-0 on the season.

  1. I’m too old for games to start this late. That said, I made it all the way through!
  2. 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.
  3. Encouraging to see this veteran team play two true road games in their first four of the season.
  4. 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.
  5. At the first media timeout, Kennedy Meeks was beating Hawaii 6-4 and already had four rebounds, three of which were offensive.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

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

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

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

22 Points

I hate losing. If you are anything like me, every loss is a slow, painful death that sticks with you the rest of the season (and sometimes even in the years to come). I can name the Tar Heels’ 6 losses, in order, off the top of my head: Northern Iowa, Texas, Louisville, Notre Dame, Duke, and Virginia. All 6 of these teams are in the NCAA Tournament – or rather, would be if eligible (here’s looking at you Louisville). Here are the teams in order from strongest to weakest:

  RPI BPI KenPom NCAA Tourney Seed
Virginia 3 2 2 1
Louisville 17 8 11 Not in Tournament
Duke 19 11 22 4
Texas 27 37 30 6
Notre Dame 32 33 39 6
Northern Iowa 73 97 76 11

In some ways, it’s worse when the losses are really close games that you know you should/could win. Or worse yet, if it’s a game where you have a comfortable lead at some point, but can’t hold on to it.

Unfortunately, that was every one of these 6 losses. The Tar Heels lost these games by a measly 22 combined points. That’s an average of losing by 3.67. Or taken another way, Carolina lost by only 1-2 possessions a game. This is such a small margin of error: 1 or 2 extra turnovers, 1 or 2 missed boxouts, 4 missed free throws, 1 or 2 times not properly defending the pick and roll, 1 or 2 times not staying in front of your man, a silly foul, etc. You can agonize over the tiny mistakes that can swing a game. Or you can learn from them, remove them, and move on (not exactly Coach Smith’s mantra, but very similar).

The silver lining is that Carolina has been in every game it’s played this season. They have never been blown out – the largest loss was by 6 points. The largest deficit the entire season is 13 points (@ NC State). They’ve held a lead at some point in every game this season. They’ve either been tied or held a lead in the 2nd half of every game this season. In fact the only game they didn’t at some point have a 2nd half lead was the regular season loss to Virginia in Charlottesville.

So, at the end of the day, maybe these losses are not so unfortunate. Maybe this veteran group of Tar Heels have learned something from these 6 losses. Maybe those missing 22 points have helped them get tougher. The domination of the ACC tournament certainly seems to point to that.

Can those 22 points continue to be meaningful to the make-up of this team as the stakes get higher? We’re about to find out during the best 3 week stretch of every year.