UNC Basketball: Transition Woes


ESPN analyst Jay Williams continuously referred to North Carolina’s offense as high powered during Sunday nights broadcast in Charlottesville.  North Carolina may have been averaging over 83 points per game heading into their first ACC contest, but anyone who has watch the Tar Heels play this season would be leery of giving such high praise.  The fact is North Carolina’s transition game has been absent in games versus Butler, Indiana, and Texas.  North Carolina needs easy buckets and unless three things change you will continue to see them struggle to score points.

Jan 6, 2013; Charlottesville, VA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige (5) handles the ball around Virginia Cavaliers forward Akil Mitchell (25) during the second half at John Paul Jones Arena. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina needs to create more turnovers to help fuel the break, but we are seeing the Tar Heels make senseless turnovers time after time.  Roy Williams wants to play fast however you must make smart decisions.  Stealing a pass to only throw it back to the other team because you are in such a hurry to start the break is counter-productive.  In North Carolina’s loss to Virginia they committed twelve turnovers while dishing out nine assists.  Again in losses against better competition North Carolina is averaging less that thirteen assist per game hardy resemble a team ranked first in this category overall.  Players are trying to create on their own without relying on teammates and it simply is not effective. Dexter Strickland has to understand teas are giving him isolation plays for a reason.

Marcus Paige is not Ty Lawson nor is he Kendall Marshall, but the freshman does posses some traits of both players and he has to be more decisive on the break along with his back court teammates.  Too often the wing players are receiving an outlet pass to see them immediately put the ball on the floor without looking ahead.  Kendall Marshall was a master at knowing his teammates strengths and when to pass them the ball on the break.  Paige is still learning this ad in his defense James Michael McAdoo and other bigs are not finishing the way UNC needs them to on the break.  As the year goes on you would like to see better court vision from the whole team, but specifically from Paige.

North Carolina has not changed ends as they have in the past. You may be saying what the heck is he talking about, but ask yourself this question: How many times do you remember John Henson or Tyler Zeller letting an opponent’s made basket fall to the ground? Many times UNC in the past made teams pay after making a basket and beating them back down court.  This was a momentum killer and took the road crowd out of a game. Another aspect of changing ends is the exchange between UNC’s defensive rebounder and the outlet pass. If you watch this closely the Tar Heels are nowhere near as quick in this department as a year ago.  The rebounder needs to find the point guard quickly and send a pass where Paige or Strickland can gather looking ahead for a quick strike. This is a basic fundamental that is practiced daily yet takes time to master.  This was an area that never developed in 2010 and was not solved until Kendal Marshall took over in 2010-2011.

Is the season over because of a loss on the road to a team that has lost to three CAA teams? Of course not, but if Tar Heel fans think the problems will be solved in a week are truly blind to the fact this team is short four NBA players from last season.  Can the Tar Heels improve this season and compete for an ACC championship?  They will improve, but instead of worrying about whether this team can play for an ACC championship fans may just want to focus on this team beating Miami.