North Carolina returns to Raleigh on Tuesday night when Roy Williams will reprise his typical role of ghoul-haunting-our-dreams-for-eternity. A surprisingly tanned ghoul. No, wait a minute, what am I doing? I must shake off this foul way of thinking, for I’ve looked under the bed and there is no boogeyman.
UNC is good at basketball again this year and yada yada, doing many of the typical good things it does more often than not under Williams: playing with tempo yet under control, while establishing a rebounding edge at both ends. It’s a good recipe for success, especially when you throw in a bunch of blue-chip players. It has routinely been a recipe for doom for the Wolfpack.
Tar Heels Offense
|2018||120.3 (6)||52.0 (124)||16.7 (61)||37.4 (3)||28.0 (315)|
|2019||116.4 (8)||53.8 (63)||17.6 (96)||35.5 (26)||32.8 (203)|
This year’s UNC team has a good offense, and it will ambush opponents in transition with no apologies, but it’s not quite as frighteningly diverse as some of Ol’ Roy’s best squads. I was surprised to see that the Heels rank below 200 in both steal rate against and block rate against. Ten percent of their twos are getting rejected, and they’ve been a little lose with the ball otherwise, and having a freshman point guard probably has something to do with that.
The perimeter matchups when UNC has the ball in the halfcourt will be something to watch.
Coby White (6-5, 185) — The former five-star prospect is off to a solid start to his career—he is second on UNC in scoring at 14.4 per game and he’s hitting a reliable 37% of his threes. Nobody on the team has been better at drawing fouls. but he is also prone to turnovers, and perhaps he shouldn’t be leading this team in field goal attempts while he’s on the court.
Kenny Williams (6-4, 185) — Kenny here has lost the frequency from beyond the arc, slumping to 24.6% from deep after hitting 40% last season. You have to figure the shooting touch will come around, but let’s hope it starts after Tuesday night. Sound good to everybody? Kenny? Good? Good. Thanks, Kenny.
Cam Johnson (6-9, 210) — If Johnson accounted for more shots or averaged more minutes, he’d probably be getting more attention for the great season he’s having. Johnson is making 79.5% of his freebies, 55.4% of his twos, and 48.6% of his threes.
Garrison Brooks (6-9, 230) — Brooks has made incremental improvements as a sophomore, but he’s still mainly an excellent offensive rebounder who’ll give you some effective paint scoring in a secondary role.
Luke Maye (6-8, 240) — His shooting from the field is down a bit this season, though he is on pace to set career bests in free throw percentage and defensive rebounding percentage. Remains annoying because of the crap he does well, because he does a lot of crap well.
Seventh Woods (6-2, 185), Nassir Little (6-6, 220), Leaky Black (6-7, 185), Brandon Robinson (6-4, 170). Fun fact about Brandon Robinson: he is in his third year at UNC. I had no idea. Good for him.
Little is an elite talent who may be a top-10 pick in the NBA Draft later this year, but he has yet to earn a start for the Tar Heels. As his frame implies, he’s been a good scorer inside the arc so far, hitting his twos at a 60% clip. The outside shot (23.1%) remains a work in progress. But he’s talented enough to be a difference-maker at any time.
Lastly, I would just like to compliment Leaky Black’s grandmother for giving him the nickname Leaky, which is a play on his middle name, Malik. Sure, you gotta be good at basketball to make a nickname like that work, but clearly she knew he’d have no trouble there.
So far he hasn’t logged a ton of minutes and hasn’t shot but occasionally while on the floor, but his shooting numbers imply a seaworthy future.
Tar Heels Defense
|2018||96.7 (38)||50.1 (135)||16.3 (301)||25.5 (48)||26.0 (23)|
|2019||90.7 (11)||46.8 (57)||20.2 (114)||23.3 (14)||34.0 (193)|
UNC’s opponents are settling for a bunch of threes, not making many (31.3%), and hardly rebounding much of anything. The Heels are above-average in the disruption categories—steal and block rates—and the interior defense has been solid when tested.
Good group, but they have a thing or two to figure out Tuesday night:
Markell Johnson is a problem for defenses & he was a handful against Carolina last season— Dadgum Box Scores (@dadgumboxscores) January 7, 2019
32 points, 20 assists, 9 turnovers in a pair of meetings
Tar Heels tried switching on screens & Johnson ate up Luke Maye
Watch 3 examples in the final minutes of regulation in Chapel Hill pic.twitter.com/p68E0ofaxw
The Pomeroy Predictor likes UNC by one.