In the Tar Heels’ ACC opener, Virginia was able to hold the Heels to a season low 52 points. A large part of that was the fact that UNC shot an abysmal 37% shooting from the floor which included 29% from 3-point range. Despite that terrible performance from the floor, UNC was still well in the ball game only down 51-50 with 3:11 left in the game. Carolina had a chance to win the game, but the game should not have been that close in the first place. So what can Roy Williams do to turn things around and get a win against Miami?
One thing that has been consistent in most of the losses for UNC this year have been that their opponent has shot very well from the 3-point line. Sunday’s loss at Virginia was no different. Virginia finished the game 8-14 which is 57%. Williams needs to get his guards to turn up the perimeter defense. Even one less 3-point field goal could have made a world of difference against Virginia. If Marcus Paige can not get the job done on defense then putting a taller guy like J.P. Tokoto to guard perimeter players might be effective. Something is going to have to be done in order for the Tar Heels to win close games.
Another thing that needs to be tweaked before UNC’s home ACC opener is shot selection and ball movement. UNC averages almost 19 assists a game which is outstanding. There are many offensive possessions where UNC just makes bad decisions though. James Michael McAdoo shooting a making an 18-footer may be 2 points on the scoreboard but its a poor shot nonetheless. A wide open 3-pointer by Reggie Bullock with 25 seconds left on the shot clock is not always a good shot despite if he makes it or not. Williams needs to work on getting higher percentage shots. As the Virginia game showed by UNC shooting 29% from 3-point range, those shots are not going to fall every night. Lay-ups and dunks go in every night. The Tar Heels need to get back to basic basketball.
I am not sure why Brice Johnson does not get many minutes a game. Perhaps it is because he can become a space cadet on defense sometimes. He is an offensive presence and in games where the Heels are struggling shooting from the floor, Johnson should see more than 10 minutes of playing time. Ten minutes is all he mustered Sunday night and it dumbfounds me. I am not saying Williams does not know what he is doing because anyone who has won multiple national championships must know what he/she is doing, however I am questioning his decision making and failure to recognize certain game situations.
UNC is obviously not up to the caliber as recent Tar Heel teams, but despite their mediocre record, they are not far. With a little bit smarter decision making from Williams and the players and a lot more hustle on both ends of the floor, they could be just as good as years past. Williams just need to stress these small tweaks and the Heels will be competing for an ACC title.