Mar 14, 2014; Greensboro, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams reacts in the second half. The panthers defeated the Tar Heels 80-75 in the quarterfinals of the ACC college basketball tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Five Takeaways From UNC's Early ACC Tournament Exit

UNC was bounced early from the ACC tournament by lower-ranked Pittsburgh. It was a consistent beating until about four minutes left in the game when UNC apparently woke up. However it was too little, too late at that point. Now, UNC loses momentum for the NCAA Tournament with two consecutive losses (Pitt and Duke) weighing on their psyche. It’s important to take this loss as a learning opportunity and bounce back the way Tar Heel nation knows we can. Here are five things learned from UNC’s early ACC tournament exit.

US PRESSWIRE 1) We’re a Second Half team, not miracle workers

Sure, we fought back, but no, we didn’t pull out a miracle. UNC flat out did not deserve to win that game. Pitt dominated from the opening tip. They jumped ahead 25-8 and sustained that play to give them a 61-41 lead with 7:22 to go. Chapel Hill put itself in way too deep and way too slippery of a hole to climb out of.
It’s important to realize that of course the Tar Heels should play to their strengths. However, very, very few college basketball teams can dig themselves out of that situation and UNC needs to focus on consistency. Not just showing up in the second half and waiting for the other team to lie down and die.

2) When UNC gets outrebounded, it’s time to start biting your nails

Chapel Hill gave up 21 rebounds and 19 points to Talib Zanna. The Pitt forward was a one man wrecking crew on the glass and just flat out looked like he wanted the ball more than anyone else on the court. Pittsburgh as a whole outrebounded the Tar Heels in both offensive and defensive rebounds.

Rebounds are one of the most underappreciated aspects of a basketball game. They are almost always the difference makers. They represent momentum swings and exhibit who wants the ball more. There are few things more debilitating than playing great defense for the entire possession and letting the opposition get a fresh shot clock because they got the rebound. It’s a back breaker.

Oh, and coming into the game, UNC was ninth in the nation in rebounds per game. Pittsburgh was 98th. That’s not going to get the job done.

3) We rely way too much on Marcus Paige.

He’s a monster. He wants the ball at the end of the game for either a hand-in-his-face-three or a drive-and-get-knocked-down-layup. However, UNC’s other guys need to step up. Marcus Paige had 27 points against Pitt. That’s over a third of Chapel Hill’s offense. From the point guard.

James Michael McAdoo and Brice Johnson threw in 15 and 16, respectably. Another nine came from (another) point guard Nate Britt. After that? Well, it’s ugly. JP Tokoto had five. Kennedy Meeks had one. Joel James had one. Jackson Simmons had one. Isaiah Hicks had one. That’s four players tied for fifth-best in points with one point apiece.

4) Where was Leslie McDonald?

The headline for McDonald reads as follows: 16 minutes, 3 turnovers, 5 fouls, and 0 points. He’s got to be UNC’s slashing guard that makes things happen and causes the defense to collapse. If he doesn’t do his job, as was the case against Pitt, UNC is stuck passing the ball back and forth on the perimeter for a contested, rushed three at the end of the shot clock.
And, as the old saying goes, “live by the three, die by the three.” Nobody hit a single one but Marcus Paige. He hit 4 threes…in 12 attempts. Needless to say, UNC did not walk away with a victory.

5) Someone Please Work With Joel James on Offense

The man is built like Karl Malone but has the offensive capabilities of Dennis Rodman. He could be such a defensive force for UNC if he wasn’t such a liability on the offensive end. Roy Williams sent the big guy in and he did well to shut down Pittsburgh’s Talib Zanna. The rebounding suddenly went in UNC’s favor. That was until Joel James got the ball on offense in the post and proceeded to launch a shot in twenty feet in the air and then quickly foul.

He could be such a monster for Chapel Hill if he just had some better footwork. A lot of times, he doesn’t know he’s under the basket until it’s too late. A player with James’ size could have been the difference maker in a rebounding contest like this.

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Tags: ACC Basketball North Carolina

  • Benchwarmer

    One answer is Brice Johnson, as a reserve he is the team leader in Points, rebounds and block shots per minute played and he is on the bench when the game starts, why???

  • Krissy

    McAdoo is the one and only KEY to success for UNC. While I personally don’t
    think he should be starting, he is, so that question is settled law.
    However for whatever reason, he seems to set the tone for the Tarheels
    on defense and offense. I say for whatever reason because it’s just that
    simple, when McAdoo decides to play a game with intensity and focus,
    the team does very well. That being said, and I’m not sure it’s a
    possible diagnosis, but JMM seems to have the worse case of basketball
    ADHD that I’ve ever seen. The Pitt game was a perfect example as was the
    latest Duke game. People can make excuses like he got into foul trouble
    because the refs sucked, but that’s just denial. JMM made one dumb foul
    after another in both those games. Yes, I am aware that in one game he
    got called for a foul and he wasn’t even close to the guy he supposedly
    fouled, but that was an exception. He loses interest in the game at hand
    and just gets sloppy with his ball handling, shooting, and defense I
    wish it wasn’t true that the team takes it’s intensity cue’s from JMM
    but I think at this point in the season that’s undeniable. Since Roy has
    no intention of sitting him then the real key to success for UNC this
    post season is keeping McAdoo interested. Anything less and the lack of
    intensity will doom this team to an early plane ride home from the NCAA

  • Oliver Williams

    Com-on play some Defense, You let Pitt score all of those Pt’s , but came back within Ten at half time , then broke down again in the first part of the second Half. Maybe it was too long of a layoff. You better get it going for the Big Dance, INTENSITY!! INTENSITY. GO HEELS.