On Wednesday, UNC played one of their worst games of the season and possibly one of the worst in the Roy Williams era, here are few takeaways from last night’s game that dropped the Tar Heels to 0-2 in ACC for the second straight season.
Where is the effort?: The biggest takeaway from last night’s game was the lack of effort and emotion the Heels played with. Coach Williams has always said “I should not have to coach effort”. It is becoming clear with each game that he might have to with this team. Lazy passes, bad shots and missed layups led the Heels to shoot only 30% from the floor for the game. That is the worst shooting in an ACC home game in Roy Williams’s tenure. Quite frankly at times this team did not appear to care that they were losing and being embarrassed at home by an inferior team. The Heels lost to the Hurricanes 3 times last year however last year Miami was clearly the better and more talented team that is not the case this season. Miami lost 6 of their top 7 players and over 80% of their scoring and rebounding. However, with a completely new roster expect for leading scorer Rion Brown the Canes came into Chapel Hill and completely outworked and out-hustled the more talented Tar Heels.
The Paige Factor: Marcus Paige is the best player on this team and that is no secret. For this team to be successful, the sophomore Iowa native has to play well every game which has not been the case in the last few games. Marcus Paige finished 2-of-15 from the field with 8 points in 38 minutes following a 3-12 shooting effort in the loss to Wake Forest Sunday night. He is now shooting 31.9% from the field in Carolina’s losses, as compared to 46.2% in the wins and failed to reach double digits in scoring for the second straight game after doing so in the previous 11 games. During the game’s broadcast former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl stated that since Leslie McDonald has returned, Paige has looked confused at times playing point guard position after being successful playing shooting guard to start the season. Fatigue could also be factor in his recent struggles, right now the guard is averaging 35.3 minutes per game which would be the most of any player in the Roy Williams era in Chapel Hill. Currently, that record is held by Raymond Felton who played 34 minutes per game in Coach Roy’s first season in 2003-04.
Interior and perimeter struggles: Unlike last season’s, this season’s team’s strength is down in the post. Against the Hurricanes, Carolina’s six post players combine to go 11-27 from the field struggling against Miami’s match-up zone. They did not receive much help from the perimeter duo of Paige and McDonald who combined to go 4-18 from behind the 3-point line. Last night was one of those games were nothing seem to go right for the Heels.
Free throws once again bite the Heels: While their free throw shooting was not nearly has disastrous as it was against Texas and Belmont, it still played a factor in the outcome. The Tar Heels missed 8 free throws going 12-20 and lost by six points. This team has now lost 5 games by a total 22 points and has missed an incredible 68 free throws in those losses. Everyone is tired of talking about it and rightfully so. However if the Heels hit just half of those missed free throws there is very good chance that this team could be in a much better place than it is right now.
We have seen this movie before: Last season the Heels were 0-2 in the ACC headed into a game with the other Florida school that has been a pain in its side in recent years, Florida State. The Heels came away with a crucial win that most likely helped save their season. Few people expected Carolina to win that game. Fast forward to this season and the Heels are once again 0-2 in ACC play headed into a critical game with conference favorite No. 2 Syracuse.
Will the Heels rise to challenge like it did earlier this season against the likes of Michigan State and Kentucky or will it continue to struggle? The Heels have a 7-1 record all time record at the Carrier Dome although most of those games were NCAA Tournament games.