Previewing North Carolina

2010 Scouting Report / 2010 Game Plan / 2011 Scouting Report / 2011 Game Plan
2011 Stats
2011 Roster
2011 Schedule

North Carolina Offense 09-10
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 48.0 204
Turnover Rate 20.9 192
Off Reb Rate 38.9 16
FTA/FGA 37.3 179
North Carolina Offense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 46.3 142
Turnover Rate 19.3 100
Off Reb Rate 35.6 68
FTA/FGA 41.1 100

 

 

 

 

 

After bumbling their way to the NIT last season, the Heels appear to be back on an NCAA tournament track, though it's no thanks to the offense.

The Heels are struggling to shoot the ball both inside and out, especially in league play, where their 43.6 effective field goal percentage would have them in dead last by a mile were it not for Wake Forest's sad existence.  I figured they would make strides here if only because the bar was set so low last season, but that's not the case so far:

In ACC Games OFF_EFF eFG% 2FG% 3FG%
2010 95.9 (12)
44.2 43.3 31.2
2011 96.8 (10)
43.6 45.1 26.3


Fortunately the Heels rebound pretty well at the offensive end, and they get to the free throw line a bunch (insert snide remark here).  That's not a real exciting way to accomplish what little is getting done, and so a clearly bored Roy Williams has been forced to amuse himself in other ways.  In early December he lashed out at ESPN for the network's treatment of Harrison Barnes.  If he'd merely stopped there, he would've had himself a full year by most standards.  But just last week he unloaded on his radio show audience in absolutely priceless fashion. Of course that tends to happen most years, so it may be more habit than anything.  Note to self: start listening to Roy's radio show.

The good news for Carolina is that the shooting can't get any worse, and they don't need the offense to wake up as badly as they did last season.  Their defense has been outstanding, good enough to sustain them while they try to find something that works at the other end.  The other good news is that NC State is their next opponent and NC State is nothing if not a provider of all your solutions. 

Starters

Kendall Marshall (6-3, 186) -- Roy Williams has been embroiled in a point guard controversy of his own, though the issue is a bit different.  It's not so much about which guy is going to provide more offense as it is about which guy is going to screw up less often.  In several ways, Larry Drew II has been than Javier Gonzalez, but the contrast between starter and sub is less obvious here.  Marshall is the better shooter but he's not a significant part of the offense, and he turns the ball over more often.  But his assist rate is hugely better--it's the fifth highest rate in the country--and his steal  rate suggests a big more defensive value.

Dexter Strickland (6-3, 180) -- Strickland has improved his shooting over his freshman season, but he isn't likely to provide much from beyond the arc.  He prefers to score off the dribble, and that's where he's been at his best, hitting about half of his twos and generating a lot of trips to the free throw line.

Harrison Barnes (6-8, 210) -- A huge, All-America type season isn't to be.  Barnes is a large part of the Heels' shooting woes because he takes more shots than any other starter, and at this point that means a whole lot of misses for the team to overcome.  He isn't much of a rebounder at either end of the floor and he isn't a threat to block shots.

John Henson (6-10, 210) --The poor free throw shooting (37%) is a significant detriment to his efficiency, but everything else points to a player who is progressing nicely.  He hasn't attempted a three-pointer all season, which no doubt comes as a relief to the coaching staff, and his 2FG% is up despite a larger workload.  He's one of the best shot blockers in the country and rebounds well at both ends.

Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) -- Zeller seems like a real hot-or-cold kind of guy, at times unguardable, at others a mess of short-armed shots.  And really, how hard can it be?  The rim's right there, man.  Zeller's not quite the rebounder Henson is, but better in his aversion to turnovers and missed free throws.

Bench

Leslie McDonald (6-4, 215), Reggie Bullock (6-7, 190), Justin Knox (6-9, 240), Larry Drew II (6-2, 180). Drew seems to have a handle on his limitations, at least.  He's only an occasional shooter.  McDonald and Bullock, on the other hand, are not the least bit shy.  McDonald averages nearly 11 three-point attempts per 40 minutes and he's their best outside shooter.  Bullock is hitting 54% of his twos and 34% of his threes.

Given Knox's work at Alabama (he never shot better than 49% in a season), he's a real pleasant surprise for the Heels.  his 56% shooting makes him a useful role player in the frontcourt despite his exploding turnover rate.

North Carolina Defense 09-10
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 47.1 90
Turnover Rate 18.7 262
Off Reb Rate 32.1 150
FTA/FGA 24.5 3
North Carolina Defense 10-11
Four Factors Percent Nat'l Rank
eFG% 46.3 72
Turnover Rate 20.9 150
Off Reb Rate 28.9 44
FTA/FGA 24.3 3

 

 

 

 

 

It's been a good year for ACC defenses--five teams rank in the top 15 in defensive efficiency, Carolina among them.  This has been the big key to their 4-1 start, as they've improved their in-conference defensive efficiency by nearly eight points per 100 possessions.

How'd they do that?  On one hand there is the conspiracy that's poisoning the entire league and allowing the Heels to avoid fouls at a stunningly obviously fixed rate.  Conference foes average one free throw attempt for every five field goal attempts.  Add to that their league-leading DR% and solid TO% and points have been hard to come by.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes UNC by 14.

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