Jan 6, 2013; Charlottesville, VA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard/forward Reggie Bullock (35) looses control of the ball while guarded by Virginia Cavaliers forward Evan Nolte (11) during the second half at John Paul Jones Arena. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Improvement Against Miami Needed for UNC

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The start of conference play didn’t go the way North Carolina wanted it to go.

They opened up conference play Sunday night on the road in a 61-52 loss against Virginia that had many Carolina fans wondering what has happened. The team is off to a 10-4 start with an 0-1 conference record, and it doesn’t get any easier this week.

The Tar Heels now travel to Miami to take on the Hurricanes in what seems like a must win game in conference play. Starting off 0-2 could be devastating for Carolina. Let’s face it, Miami is no easy task either. That’s why the Virginia game was so important.

Carolina struggled early and often against Virginia. On the offensive end they looked flat out confused as nothing was going their way. On the defensive side of the ball the Tar Heels struggled with perimeter defense, and couldn’t stop penetration from Virginia.

Even with a solid start to the second half for the Tar Heels, things went down hill quickly. If it wasn’t for Reggie Bullock, this game would have been a blowout.

So with another important conference game looming tomorrow, what has to change for the Tar Heels? Let’s start with the offense.

Carolina has struggled to score when they need too. Outside of the UNLV game, Carolina has looked less than impressive when they needed a bucket. Who do they turn to? That’s a question that I don’t even think the team knows the answer too.

That has to change, and it has to change quickly.

There seems to be no leadership on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. No communication and it’s certain they are missing the leadership they had from key players last season. Until this changes, the Tar Heels are going to struggle.

While their perimeter shooting has improved, Carolina still lives and dies off the three ball. When they are hot, they can put up impressive numbers from beyond the arc. If they wan’t to beat Miami they can do it by hitting their perimeter shots and forcing Miami to focus on stopping the Tar Heels from the outside. This will lead to open lanes down low.

One thing we haven’t seen from Carolina in their losses is solid fast break offense. Granted this team won’t be as good in transition as previous Carolina teams, they still must control the tempo of the game and take advantage when they have numbers on the fast break.

The biggest key to a victory over Miami will be defense.

In their losses, Carolina has struggled on the defensive end of the floor. They give up way to many easy shots and their defense in the post has been a weakness.

Now is the time to improve those two factors of the game and get back on track. Stopping Miami while they have the ball and putting pressure on their ball handlers will work to Carolina’s advantage.

Much like the offensive side of the ball, leadership has become a big problem on the defensive end as well. Who will step up and take the roll of leading this team? Whoever it is will need to do it quickly before the defense suffers another blow.

Carolina must control the tempo of the game and play it to their advantage. We saw Virginia take Carolina out of rhythm and their game, and slow the pace down to Virginia’s advantage.

A win over Miami will help ease some of the pain for the Tar Heels. A loss however will bring up more questions and leave fans wondering what the future holds for the young Tar Heels.

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Tags: Miami Hurricanes North Carolina Tar Heels

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