Tag Archives: Walker Miller

Quick Hitters – UNC @ Duke

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 89-76 road loss to Duke on Saturday night.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Carolina fought valiantly to maintain proximity to Duke tonight, but it was not meant to be. The Heels weathered an early Blue Devil storm and eventually tied the game at 28, before finding themselves down by eight at halftime. Again the Heels clawed back to within one point twice in the second half, but couldn’t make the plays to get over the hump and the lead ballooned to the final margin of 13 points.
  • With apologies to Garrison Brooks, can we just pause and appreciate what a rough season Brandon Robinson’s body has endured? He has suffered countless ankle injuries and re-aggravations, a car accident, and tonight a head injury. The official word came out that Robinson would not play in the second half after taking an elbow to the face in the closing minutes of the first half. And yet he came back into the game early in the second half and wound up playing 13:51 and connecting on two three-pointers.
  • Garrison Brooks is having one of the more impressive offensive stretches in recent memory. Tonight’s 26 points give him six straight games of scoring 20-plus points and four straight games of scoring 25-plus points. His ups and downs at the free throw line have been well documented, but in this four game stretch Brooks is shooting 82.2 percent (37-for-45). Tonight’s double-double is his’ 12th on the year. Nine of Brooks’ 13 rebounds were offensive.

  • There was question whether Armando Bacot would be able to play tonight. He not only started, but had one of his most efficient outings of the season. Foul trouble and the lingering ankle injury limited Bacot to 23:2j3 of playing time, but in that time scored 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting and had 12 rebounds (including six offensive). Bacot’s double-double gives him 10 this season, the second most ever by a Carolina freshman (Antawn Jamison had 13).
  • Tonight was just the second game all season in which Cole Anthony didn’t achieve double-digits in the scoring column. Anthony had a bit of a rough night, due in large part to Duke’s defense. After multiple strong performances in a row, Anthony tried to win the game too much on his own tonight rather than involving his teammates. Such has been the case for many freshmen in their first game at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
  • By no means should Anthony get all the blame. As a team, Carolina only achieved seven assists, the second lowest total this season. Far too often in the first half, the Heels let Duke goad them into taking jump shots rather than taking advantage of opportunities inside the paint.
  • Christian Keeling’s streak of nine straight games of scoring nine-plus points ended tonight as the grad transfer was only able to connect on one of his six shot attempts.
  • It was a strange rebounding night. Carolina won the overall battle 38-37, but exactly half of their rebounds were offensive. As you would imagine, the offensive glass kept Carolina close for much of the game.
  • After shooting over 40 percent from three each of the past two games, the Heels cooled off to just 33.3 percent (4-for-12) tonight. Conversely, Duke’s hot shooting from deep (10-for-21) provided a big advantage for the home team.
  • Each team’s first possession provided an inauspicious outlook for the rest of the game. On Duke’s first possession, Cole Anthony fouled Tre Jones just 16 seconds into the game. On Carolina’s first possession, Anthony turned the ball over after driving too far into traffic.
  • Duke outscored Carolina 19-to-5 in fast break points, several of which came on plays where the Blue Devils just plain outran the last line of Tar Heel defense for an easy lay-up.
  • For all the good things ESPN does, some of their production decisions are confounding. For example, why are we seeing a split screen of “94 Feet With Jay Bilas” during game action? This occurred from 11:59-11:18 of game action plus two Bacot free throws at the end of that time. People are tuned in to see the game, not hear a recap of a filler segment. It’s fine to show things like this, but don’t move away from game action for this.
  • Along a similar line (and it’s hard to say if this is a Jay Bilas issue, a referee issue, or some of both), on two different occasions in the game, Bilas said, “I don’t think that would have been a foul if the shot had gone in.” I get the humanity of officials, but it’s either a foul or it isn’t and officials should adjudicate the game as such.
  • The final 3:50 of the first half was an exercise in “don’t-let-Duke-build-too-much-of-a-lead-with-all-five-starters-on-the-bench”. At 3:50, Leaky Black picked up his second foul so he and Bacot (who already had two fouls) checked out. At 2:26, Brooks picked up his second foul and headed to the bench. At 1:42, Robinson got hurt and went straight to the locker room. Finally, with 0:56 left, Anthony picked up his second foul. So with four starters on the bench with two fouls and the fifth in the locker room injured, the lineup of Jeremiah Francis, Christian Keeling, Andrew Platek, Justin Pierce, and Walker Miller finished the first half. They played those 56 seconds to a 2-2 tie.
  • Justin Pierce drew another offensive foul tonight. Those types of hustle plays have been his biggest contribution to the 2019-20 Tar Heels.
  • We now turn our attention to do-or-die time in the ACC Tournament. We are to that strange part of every season where the next game could be the last.

Roy Williams postgame press conference:

Remember to check in for Quick Hitters after every North Carolina basketball game. Next up is the first round of the ACC Tournament. Carolina has the 14 seed and will play Virginia Tech on Tuesday, March 10. Tip is at 7:00pm ET on ACC Network.

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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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Email: tarheelhoopsblog@gmail.com

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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Wake Forest

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 74-57 road loss to Wake Forest on Tuesday night.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • Do you want to know how cruel this game is? On a night where Carolina got absolutely blown out (aside from a late push), they went 14-for-16 (87.5%) from the free throw line. That would have been quite useful on Saturday night.
  • Garrison Brooks played with an eye injury suffered against Duke on Saturday. Brooks’ issue was less about pain and more about an inability to see. He wore protective goggles during the game and was clearly hampered.
  • Brooks suffered an additional injury late in the first half when a Wake Forest defender flailed his arm and caught Brooks in the mouth. The Tar Heel junior had to get two stitches in his mouth.
  • Armando Bacot suffered some type of right hand injury and came out of the game for a time, before returning with some of his fingers taped together for stability.
  • Walker Miller not only played meaningful first half minutes, but started the second half to give Brooks time to recover from getting stitches.
  • You love to see Brooks learning more and more about what it means to be a vocal leader. Even though he wasn’t starting the second half, he huddled with the starters to give them some last minute coaching and encouragement.
  • The Tar Heels found themselves down at halftime. By 18 points. To Wake Forest. Who started the game at 3-10 in the ACC. This is Carolina basketball in 2020.
  • Part of the reason Carolina played so well on Saturday is that the ball moved well amongst the five players on the court. Tonight it didn’t and the Heels managed just four assists in the first half and finished the game with only nine.
  • Wake Forest started the second half on a 7-0 run to open up a 25-point lead. A 10-2 extended run made it a 26-point lead for the Demon Deacons – the biggest deficit the Heels have faced all season.
  • Despite the massive deficit, the Heels cut the lead down to nine points with 2:37 to go (and missed a three-point shot to make it six). Unfortunately, the late game push was too little, too late.
  • Christian Keeling was the lone individual offensive bright spot for Carolina. He hit double-digits for the third game in a row, this time dropping 15 points (his season high). Over those three games, Keeling has shot a combined 17-for-31 (54.8%) from the field.
  • Garrison Brooks, despite his impaired vision, shot much better from the free throw line tonight – 7-for-8. Curiously, these were his only seven points of the game.
  • The Tar Heels had multiple scoring droughts in the first half, including the first 3:30 of the game.
  • Andrew Platek inexplicably only played the first 54 seconds of the second half. Neither he, nor Coach Williams made any mention of the reason in their postgame comments.
  • Carolina and Wake were very close in their made field goals (21 and 23 respectively). The difference tonight was a sizable three-point discrepancy. The Tar Heels shot a putrid 1-for-16 from deep, while the Demon Deacons connected on nine of 23. That shooting stat alone is a 27-point difference.

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 Virginia on Saturday, February 15. Tip is at 8:00pm ET on ESPN.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Duke

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 98-96 home overtime loss to Duke on Saturday night.

Condensed Game:

 

Highlights:

 

  • I sit here on my couch five hours after the game ended and I am still numb. I am still confused. I am still heartbroken. None of that compares to how the players and coaches must be feeling.
  • Bottom line: if you hit your free throws you win this game. Overall, Carolina went 21-for-38 (55.3 percent) at the free throw line. The most painful thing is that the Heels made just five of 10 in the final 1:11 of regulation. If the Heels make any of those five misses, Tre Jones is never in the position to potentially send the game to overtime.
  • Speaking of that end-of-regulation scenario, how (painfully) ironic that it was nearly identical to the end of the Clemson game? Against Clemson, Carolina forgot to foul up three in the waning seconds and gave up the game-tying three. Against Duke, Carolina did foul (maybe a little too quickly) and everything went the Blue Devils’ way to force overtime.
  • Sticking with free throws, you really have to feel for Garrison Brooks. He went 0-for-7 against Boston College. If he makes any of those, Carolina wins. Tonight he went 0-for-5 (including missing the front end of a 1-and-1. If he makes any of those, Carolina wins. Outside of the missed free throws and five turnovers, Brooks played a really strong game. He shot efficiently (9-for-12 for 18 points) and played solid defense on Player of the Year candidate Vernon Carey.
  • Guess how many shots Garrison Brooks took over the final 8:50 of regulation and the 5:00 of overtime? TWO (And both were off broken plays. On the first, Pierce randomly found Brooks in the lane when he got trapped on the baseline. On the second, Brooks received the ball in a late shot clock situation and had to hoist a shot. There were ZERO times when he received an intentional post feed in a scoring position, which had worked so well earlier in the game.
  • How many times has it happened this year? Carolina builds up a double-digit lead, only to fumble it away at the line or with late turnovers. Tonight, the Heels led by 13 with 3:55 left, 10 with 2:10 left, seven with 1:11 left and five points with 20 seconds left in overtime. It’s like there’s this one missing piece, this one play and if Carolina could just get that they would come out on top.
  • Okay, let’s talk about some positive things. We must turn the tide. Christian Keeling is having his best stretch as a Tar Heel. Against Florida State and Duke, two of the best three teams in the ACC, he has scored double digits back-to-back for the first time all season. In those two games he has hit 10 of his 17 shots, two of three three-pointers, and all five of his free throws.
  • Fellow grad transfer Justin Pierce also had a good night, scoring 11 points. The two combined for 24 points in their first ever Duke game.
  • Pierce scored five straight points for Carolina in what looked like it would be the most important stretch and turning point of the game prior to the outcome being what it was. With 1:51 left before halftime and Carolina clinging to a four point lead, Armando Bacot picked up his second foul and went to the bench to join Garrison Brooks and Leaky Black in the two-foul club. Seldom used Walker Miller came in to guard Vernon Carey, who already had amassed 16 points. In those 111 seconds, Carolina stretched the lead to nine (plus-five in this span) with a line-up of Cole Anthony, Christian Keeling, Justin Pierce, Andrew Platek, and Walker Miller. Each team had three possessions. Duke missed a three, hit two free throws (Carey), and had a turnover. Carolina had a Pierce lay-up, a Pierce three, and a Platek (incredibly athletic double-pump) lay-up. Holding off Duke in this stretch to close out the front half (and instead expanding the lead) should have been a huge deal, but instead it will be shelved right alongside Marcus Paige’s three in the 2016 National Championship game. Here’s Platek’s lay-up:

 

  • Also lost to history will be Brooks’ block on Cassius Stanley with seven seconds remaining in regulation to stop Stanley from tying the game. In the moment, it felt like a game-saving play. Sadly it will just be a footnote.
  • Despite all three of Brooks, Bacot, and Black having two first half fouls, the Heels managed the foul trouble (mostly) wisely and none fouled out in regulation (although Bacot and Black both did in overtime). In his postgame comments, Bacot lamented that he could have secured one of the free throw rebounds had he been in the game. Roy Williams pointed out that Leaky’s defense on Tre Jones would have been beneficial when Jones put the Duke team on his back.
  • Let’s go back to Walker Miller. What must have been going through his head when Bacot fouled out, Brooks was back in the locker room with an injury and he had to step to the free throw line in a tie, overtime situation against Duke? Miller made one of two (although the first nearly dropped as well) to give the Heels a one-point lead which would not be relinquished until the final six seconds of overtime.
  • Duke landed the first punches in overtime, taking a five-point lead just one minute into the extra session. While it appeared the Heels might be out of gas, they responded with an 11-1 run to take a five point lead with 20 seconds left. Unfortunately they never scored again and the Blue Devils reeled off seven straight for the final 98-96 tally.
  • You never want to blame the refs (especially when you miss 17 free throws), however the previously mentioned Duke 7-0 run was helped by an egregious no-call with 12 seconds left and Carolina up one. Brooks inbounded the ball to Platek, who was bumped, resulting in the ball going out of bounds and being awarded to Duke. So rather than shooting two free throws with 12 seconds left and leading by one (with a chance to go up by three), Carolina had to defend, which lead to the game-winning play. Here’s the no-call:

 

  • Andrew Platek will be quite frustrated with himself for shooting 1-for-4 from the free throw line at the end of regulation and feel like he cost the team the game, but he did some great things. Earlier in the second half, he hit both parts of a one-and-one. On two important plays in the second half, he doubled on Carey, who spun right into the waiting Platek. The first occurrence resulted in a Duke turnover. The second time Carey bulldozed Platek and picked up his fifth foul.
  • As strange as it sounds, Vernon Carey fouling out was a blessing in disguise for Duke. The freshman big man scored 18 in the first half, but had as many points as I did in the second half (zero). He fouled out with Carolina up 13 (77-64) and over the course of the final four minutes of regulation, Duke outscored the Heels 20-7. Carey’s absence opened up the floor for Duke to attack off the dribble, which they did at will.
  • So many good things to be said about what happened in the first 37-38 minutes of the game. Carolina played with intensity. They moved the ball well: assists on 10 of the first 14 field goals. They had a balanced scoring attack: seven Tar Heels scored multiple baskets in the first half and five finished in double-figures. They gang rebounded: seven players had four or more rebounds. Every time Duke punched or threatened, Carolina answered. They were disruptive on defense. Bacot ran the floor really well. On more than one occasion, I uttered: “That’s a Carolina fast break!” Here’s a great example of one of those fast breaks (Kendall Marshall pitch-ahead style):

  • Cole Anthony felt like he was more in the flow of the offense tonight. There was more cohesion. He took fewer shots, made a higher percentage of those shots, got more teammates involved, grabbed 11 rebounds, and hit nine of his 10 free throws. Of course he’s only played 12 college basketball games, so he still made some freshman mistakes. One in particular came with 2:00 left in regulation. Carolina was up nine and Duke applied pressure. Anthony got sped up and didn’t pull the ball back out when he got across the timeline to run some clock, but rather pushed on towards the basket for a difficult and contested lay-up. Duke quickly converted the miss into a three-pointer. Down to a six-point lead with 1:45 to go. From there the game turned into the parade to the free throw line, which we already know how that turned out.
  • As has happened seldom this year, the Tar Heels both hit the 80-point plateau (and in fact scored a season high 96) and achieved a 50 percent field goal success rate. In fact, the first half Carolina shot 59 percent and scored 44 points (the most Duke had given up in a first half this season).
  • Leaky Black played a solid and diverse game before fouling out. He finished with eight points, seven rebounds, and a career-high nine assists; just a few plays shy of a double-double. Black also seems to have a knack for hitting the first shot of the game. He’s done so multiple times this season, and did so again tonight.
  • Something to keep an eye on: Tonight we saw Leaky Black play some point guard, and Cole Anthony slide over to shooting guard. Not sure if it will be a look Coach Williams employs more, but could be a good wrinkle in the offense.
  • A painful number to see: Carolina led the game for 41:50. Duke led for just 1:47. The game was also tied for 1:23.
  • Just to say it again: Carolina had a double-digit lead as late as 2:07. Very (very) eerily similar to the Clemson loss.
  • Joel Berry was honored at halftime tonight and his jersey hung in the rafters. Great to have him in the house for a game where his late-game sure-handedness and clutch free throw making ability would have come in handy. Here’s video of the halftime ceremony:

 

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 Wake Forest on Tuesday, February 11. Tip is at 8:00pm ET on ACC Network.

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Quick Hitters – UNC vs. Ohio State (ACC / Big 10 Challenge)

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 74-49 home loss to Ohio State on Wednesday night in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge.

Condensed Game:

Highlights:

  • This game ranks as arguably one of the most lifeless performances I’ve ever witnessed from a University of North Carolina men’s basketball team. However, many factors played into tonight’s debacle. Hope is not lost. Lots of opportunity is still ahead. Coach Williams put the loss in perspective in his post-game remarks: “I’ve had my butt beat before and it’ll be beat again. I’ll live to face another day.”
  • For statistical proof of the prior statement: The Heels have not hit 50% of their shots in a game this season. They barely achieved half of that tonight – 27.4% (17-62). In fact, this was the 2nd lowest single game field goal percentage of the Roy Williams era. Only the loss to Michigan State at the PK80 on 11/26/2017 was lower (24.6% – 15-for-61).
  • Jeremiah Francis and Anthony Harris were in uniform and both warmed up. Still no Sterling Manley though; he remains in a suit on the sideline.
  • Coming into the game there were questions about the availability of several Tar Heels due to injury. You don’t want to make excuses, however it’s tough to win when this is what Coach Williams sees when he looks down the bench: Sterling Manley, Jeremiah Francis, and Anthony Harris not ready for game action. Leaky Black can play but still has foot issues. Brandon Robinson’s ankle is still bothering him. Garrison Brooks is a Cyclops. Cole Anthony played but is sick, has ankle issues, and he took an elbow to the head that drew a good deal of blood. Not to mention Armando Bacot, the most imposing interior player, was done for the game after landing on an Ohio State player’s foot in the first half (Post-game, Coach Williams confirmed that he has a sprained ankle and “may be out for awhile”).
  • Speaking of Bacot, we can’t assume that his presence would have changed the outcome of the game. It is however, safe to say that Bacot would have at least made the game more competitive. The freshman big man, coming off his best game of the season, had two points, four rebounds, a block, and a steal in the seven minutes he did play. Here are players speaking about how Bacot’s absence affects the team:
  • For the first time all season, Carolina was out rebounded. And it wasn’t even close. Ohio State hauled in 48 to UNC’s 32.
  • For the eighth game in a row, Carolina could not crack 80 points. In fact, they couldn’t even get to 50. Here’s Justin Pierce talking about the offensive issues:
  • After shooting lights out from the free throw line against Oregon (20-for-21), the Tar Heels were back down around their season average. Tonight they hit 8-for-13 (61.5%).
  • Tonight was the first of back-to-back games against the top-two rated defensive teams in KenPom rankings. Unfortunately Ohio State is #2 and the upcoming opponent, Virginia, is rated #1. Could be another ugly offensive performance ahead for the Tar Heels, who will almost certainly be without Bacot again.
  • For those who only saw the final result, the beginning of the game was a different story: The Tar Heels forced three Buckeye turnovers on their first three possessions. Meanwhile, Carolina ran efficient offense to get Brooks an interior bucket and Leaky Black a three on the first two offensive possessions, culminating in a 5-0 lead.
  • However, as often happens against Carolina, Ohio State’s first four made baskets were three-pointers. This opened up a 12-8 lead for the Buckeyes with 14:22 remaining in the first half. Tar Heels never led again.
  • We did witness a first in this game: Garrison Brooks’ first career three-point attempt. With the shot clock winding down within the first two minutes of the game, Brooks had to hoist a three. His form didn’t look bad, but the shot didn’t go in.
  • In the second half, with the regular rotation giving lackluster effort, Coach Williams went with a classic five-for-five substitution. This switch came with 10:42 remaining and the starters didn’t come back until more than four minutes later (6:37). The bench players actually outscored Ohio State 8-6 in this time frame, including five points and a block from Justin Pierce and drawn charges from both Walker Miller and KJ Smith. Things didn’t go much better when the starters came back and Coach Williams waved the white flag with 3:02 left in the game. Here’s Shea Rush talking about the marching orders the reserves received from Coach Williams:
  • Christian Keeling is struggling to find his shooting touch. Hard to determine at this point whether he is overmatched at the high major level or if he is still trying to settle in. Whatever the case, he and Justin Pierce are the wild cards that will make or break the 2019-20 season.
  • Quite honestly, with everything that went wrong in the first half, it was quite impressive that Carolina was only down two at the break. But the Tar Heels were hanging by a thread and Ohio State was able to blow the game wide open after regrouping at halftime.
  • This is quite an obvious statement, but Carolina has to hope that Bacot is not out very long. When Garrison Brooks went to the bench with two fouls and 7:00 still remaining in the first half, Coach Williams had no choice but to rely on Brandon Huffman and, in the second half, Walker Miller as well. Both are nice stop-gaps to have on the bench in a pinch, but neither will be able to provide long term meaningful minutes.

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 Virginia on Sunday, December 8. Tip is at 4:00ET on ACC Network.

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).

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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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Quick Hitters – UNC @ Elon

Quick Hitters from North Carolina’s 116-67 road win on Friday night over Elon.

Highlights:

  • 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.