Nov 20, 2012; Lahaina, HI, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Brice Johnson (11) reacts after dunking against the Butler Bulldogs during the 2012 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational at the Lahaina Civic Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

UNC Basketball: Maui Invitational Third Place Game vs Chaminade Preview

The Tar Heels will have to settle for third place at best in the 2012 Maui Invitational Tournament after being thoroughly outplayed by Butler on Tuesday night for their first loss of the season.

UNC was overwhelmed by Butlers never ending ball screens and three point shooting attack.  They were physically dominated on the boards and scored the fewest points in the first half in 15 years.  James Michael McAdoo the player the Tar Heels are counting on to be the leader this season, the guy who looked like a superstar the first four games of the season looked like a confused freshman on the court against Butler.  McAdoo committed seven turnovers and grabbed just four rebounds as the Heels were out muscled in the paint to the tune of -9 on the boards and -11 on second chance points.

The Tar Heels showed a lot of character fighting back and cutting Butlers lead to six with a minute to play but couldn’t cut further into the lead and ultimately fell to the underdogs.

Chaminade surprised everyone with a victory against Texas Monday night, even themselves as their own website reported a loss to the Longhorns in what turned out to be a shocking victory.  Chaminade has a long history in Maui of 29 years in the tournament but carries a dismal record of 6-76 all time.  They fell to Illinois 84-61 on Tuesday night failing to go to their first championship game in their history in the tourney.

Chaminade is a small Division II school with around 2,700 enrolled students located in Honolulu.  They are 3-2 on the season.  Chaminade’s biggest victory in school history came in 1982 when they upset then #1 ranked Virginia.

But this game isn’t about Chaminade, it’s about Carolina getting back on track and regaining some of the confidence gained with their 4-0 start to the season.  UNC needs to avoid falling in love with the perimeter shot and feed the post and work an inside out offense.  When McAdoo leads the offensive attack it has opened things up for the rest of the team and the Heels have been at their best.  It’s hard to imagine UNC losing to a team like Chaminade the biggest question is can they get back on track.

Assuming that UNC does defeat Chaminade the third place finish in Maui will not be the biggest accomplishment by any means.  That belongs to PJ Hairston, Hairston has played very well and is obviously regaining his confidence and becoming the player Roy Williams envisioned when he recruited him to Chapel Hill.  He’s taking the ball to the basket, making good decisions on the court, playing good defense and has become the leader off the bench for the Tar Heels.   UNC has also received a very strong performance from Leslie McDonald in the first round of the tournament another encouraging sign as they head into a difficult portion of the schedule.

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Tags: Maui Invitational Tournament North Carolina Tar Heels

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