The 2014-2015 Tar Heels look to finally have a balanced roster of guards, wings, and big men for the first time since 2011-2012. They look to be a preseason top 10 team and have their goals set on winning the national championship. But in order to do so, they have to improve in several categories. There is one particular statistic that only two teams under Roy Williams have done, and those teams won the title. Could this be a coincidence? Maybe to some people, but not to me.
The 2004-2005 National Champions averaged 88 points per game, 41 rebounds per game, had a junior Cousy Award winning point guard in Raymond Felton, shot 72.% from the free throw line, and shot 40.3% from 3pt land as a team. Marvin Williams was a key contributor as a freshman. They had five guys who averaged double figures in points. The 2008-2009 National Champions averaged 90 points per game, 42 rebounds per game, had a junior Cousy Award winning point guard in Lawson, shot 75.2% from the free throw line, and shot 38.7% from the 3pt line as a team. Ed Davis was a contributor as a freshman. They too had five guys average double figures in points. The last sentence in both of those last paragraphs should speak volumes. Those two teams are the only teams under Roy Williams at North Carolina to have five guys average double figures in points. Not 2011-2012 with Zeller, Henson, Marshall, Barnes. Not 2007-2008 with National Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, and Danny Green. This shows that when Roy Williams has five legitimate scorers, whether all on the court at the same time or not, the team is more dangerous. When there are five guys on the court who can all score the ball well consistently, defenses cannot focus on specific players. Defenses cannot shut down the inside game without opening up the outside game and vice versa.
These two National Championship teams played with a much faster pace than the 2013-2014 team did. This is something this year’s Tar Heels must improve upon. 77 points per game is not fast enough for how Roy Williams likes to play. The 2014-2015 Tar Heels must average over 40 rebounds per game, play much faster, average over 85 ppg, shoot better from the 3pt line, shoot above 70% from the free throw line, and the freshman must contribute.
Watching games from 2004-2005, 2008-2009, and 2013-2014 on YouTube truly shows how much slower the 2013-2014 team was from the title winning teams. Last year’s Tar Heels were terrible from the 3pt line. When Roy Williams teams have consistent outside shooting, it makes it easier on the forwards and centers to score. Teams cannot pack the paint unless they want to leave guys open from the outside, something defense did all throughout the 2013-2014 campaign. We all know the story from the free throw line last season. With the rules on fouls changing, free throws are becoming more important than ever. 62.6% from the free throw line should be easily improved upon.
With a junior Cousy Award finalist point guard Marcus Paige, a much slimmed down Kennedy Meeks, proven post scorer Brice Johnson, improving JP Tokoto, three stud McDonald’s All American freshmen, and an overall improving team, the 2014-2015 Tar Heels have all the pieces to become a National Championship winning team. A special year could be in store for Tar Heel fans, the pieces are there and just have to be put together.