Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

UNC Basketball: Defending Miami's Kenny Kadji

Remember when Carolina lost in the Dean Dome to Miami last month to fall 0-2 in the ACC? I’ve tried to forget too. Unfortunately our rematch against the Hurricanes this afternoon has brought on a slew of bad memories. The one nightmare that I particularly want to focus on is Kenny Kadji.

How do you guard this guy? Clearly that’s not a question we have a good answer for this season as he lit the Heels up for 18 points both in the paint and from three. Kadji measures one inch shy of seven feet tall and has all the athleticism in the world. He can handle the ball with ease, drive the lane like a guard, finish above the rim with power and on top of all of that, he stroke the three.

Kadji is a mismatch for any defender in the conference that’s trying to guard him because his size and reach would make him a center on most teams, but because of his versatility, athleticism, and Reggie Johnson, Miami has the luxury of being able to line Kenny up at the power forward position.

So how are we going to guard this guy and prevent him from another breakout performance? Kadji averages 13.4 ppg and 6.8 rpg which would say initially that he’s not a game changer much like Eric Green from Virginia Tech is, but don’t let that fool you. Kadji’s overall play has really evolved in conference play and he out did both of his averages against UNC.

In order to stop him, UNC will need to accomplish two things: keep him inside and keep him off the glass. More than likely, James Michael McAdoo will check Kadji while he’s in the game which makes perfect sense. McAdoo is an excellent perimeter defender as a big man (perhaps the best in the country) and does a great job at fighting through screens and denying passing lanes up top. If JMM can keep guys like Shane Larkin and Durand Scott from finding Kenny along the perimeter, then he’ll be forced to take his game inside. JMM won’t be able to completely keep Kenny off the scoreboard, but if he’s going to score, it may as well be two points and not three.

The next thing, and most important, is we have to keep Kadji off the boards. His nine rebounds against UNC before was a game high. Much of his success on the class can be contributed to his size and length, but he isn’t an impossible person to get a body on. JMM, who’s a great rebounder himself, is capable of slowing Kadji down here, but this mission will need to be carried out by the whole team. Every player, guards included, will need to crash the boards with purpose after shots. The more players that hit the glass, the better the chance they have of securing the ball. If Carolina can limit those second chance opportunities, then they’ll have a much better chance of winning.

Miami has proven to be a tough order for every team in the ACC and that won’t prove to be any different on Saturday. However, if the Heels can take away their “biggest” threat, then they have a great chance of handing the Hurricanes conference loss number one. Hey, they have to lose sometime. Right?

Tags: North Carolina Tar Heels

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