Tar Heel Hoops: UNC Needs To Improve Its Passing In The Half Court


The current Tar Heels basketball team is full of stars.  Players who are trying to figure out their role, and even more high school superstars, trying to figure out how to be a role player at Carolina.  And this column isn’t meant to do exactly what the national media is doing to UNC.  In other words, I’m not bashing the Heels in my evaluation at all.  Instead, think of how good this team is now, think about the criticism I’m about to deliver.  Then think about how good the Tar Heels are going to be when they get this simple problem fixed.

Aside from Kendall Marshall, the entire team needs to improve their passing.  Not that they don’t have the skill, UNC has two of the best passing big men in the nation in John Henson and Tyler Zeller.  The skill is absolutely there for every player in the Tar Heel rotation.  It’s the will, the want to pass, and the discipline to run the offense instead of always trying to create.  For many, this means breaking a habit.  Experts say it takes 10,000 hours of doing or studying something to become an expert at said subject.  Considering how little time most of these players have been in Carolina playing in Roy Williams’ system, it’s no wonder the half court passing isn’t up to its potential.

Now I know what your thinking here.  How can a team ranked #4 in the nation in assists with such a high assist percentage be a bad passing team in the half court?  I’ve seen them make a ton of awesome passes you say.  I know, I have also, but think about this for me.  If your honest with yourself, 3/4 of those passes you remember came from Kendall Marshall.  And Marshall averages about 80% of the Tar Heels assists per game.  And when it wasn’t Marshall, I bet it was either A) In Transition or B) when the offense was moving fast and a cutter got by his man on a missed assignment and someone fed him with a nice dish.  Sound about right?

Far too often, almost every time on cue actually.  If a player like John Henson, PJ Hairston, Reggie Bullock, Tyler Zeller, James Michael McAdoo, just about the whole team touches the ball in position to get a shot off, they shoot.  This isn’t always bad, aggressive players are a good thing in basketball, after all, you do have to score points to win.  But this team hasn’t learned how to play together in the half court.  Marshall could go play for any team in the nation tomorrow without ever practicing with them and rack up 10 assists.  Even Harrison Barnes, who has been much more efficient in the half court this season, forces up 1-3 per game.

Now try being honest with yourself  a little more.  Hairston guns anything if he has breathing room, I’ve been all over his shot selection for a while now.  Henson likes his mid range jumper way too much, he can shoot it if he’s open, but he’s shooting it with a hand in his face and we don’t need that.  McAdoo seems so anxious on the court, he reminds me of a child with ADD when he gets the ball.  He goes into way too fast, I’m asking for a charging foul right now mode.  Even Zeller who has been outstanding this season could stand to pass out of the post a little bit.  One of the reasons the Heels aren’t a better three point shooting team is they don’t do a good enough job of working inside out.

But these are all simple problems, growing pains really of a team that’s still getting acclimated to each other.  And in some case, accustomed to college basketball itself.  Tightening up on issues like this along with the inevitable explosions of Hairston and McAdoo will put this team at the next level.  Talent will get to the dance, but doing the little things right and paying attention to detail is what wins championships.

What do you think of the Tar Heel offense? Share your thoughts with us and the rest of Tar Heel Nation in the comments section. Don’t know how? Having trouble? We’ve got you covered right HERE

Follow @Keeping_It_Heel

Want a Free Tar Heel awesome prize from keepingitheel.com ? Help us spread the word, when we reach 250 “Likes” (currently 91) on the Page every single person who has Liked the site will be entered into a drawing for an authentic, brand new, top of the line Tar Heel product mailed to you free to charge. We will also be holding the same contest via our Twitter account Follow @Keeping_It_Heel on Twitter and you will be entered in both contest. When we reach 500 Twitter Followers (377 currently) the drawing is on!