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UNC vs. CoC: Beyond the Box

When we did the basketball roundtable almost four weeks ago, I stated that the Charleston game was the first of the three most important games on the (regular season) schedule.  While the Heels certainly did not lay a beating on the Cougars, they did win, which is at least a small step in the right direction (i.e. away from last season.)  As THF stated in his postgame report, “it was a win that required copious amounts of toughness and players who kept their heads,” and while none of that will be found directly in the boxscore, there are some indirect signs that can be observed.

Four Factors

Inconsistency has really been the theme over the first part of this season for the Heels.  Against UNCA, the Heels played strong halfcourt defense, rebounded well and did serious work at the foul line, but because they turned the ball over like crazy, the game was far closer than it should have been.  Last night, despite another strong effort on the defensive end and a much better job protecting the ball (TO%: 19.7), the game was again much closer than it should have been, this time due to poor defensive rebounding (CoC’s ORB%: 40.4) and a terrible free throw shooting percentage (the FT Rate of 45% is quite good).  The Heels inconsistent play can even be seen from half-to-half, as the Heels had an eFG% of 42.9 in the first half, but raised it to a robust 53.1% in the second half (the defense, for the most part held steady: 41.7/46.3).

UNC’s defensive effort is particularly evident when you compare last night’s results to the game from last season, in which CoC had an eFG% of 52.0 and shot 40.6% from three (as opposed to 44.4/30.0 last night).  Individually, the biggest drop was for the Cougar’s point guard Donavan Monroe, who had an eFG% of 50.0 and an A/T ratio of 3.0 in January; last night, Monroe posted an eFG% of 36.3 and an A/T ratio of 0.5.  Even “Harold Arcineaux, Jr., ” a/k/a Andrew Goudelock (eFG% 50.0), found things significantly more difficult than he did last season (eFG% 60.0) or against Maryland (eFG% 69.4).

Statistical Highlights

  • Last night was the slowest game of the season, as the Heels were held to only 71 possessions.  For the season, UNC is averaging 74.5 possessions/game.  At first glance this seems like a good improvement over last season’s 72.9 possessions/game, but through 6 games last season, UNC was averaging 76.5 possessions/game.
  • UNC averaged 2.38 points per minute (PPM) when Kendall Marshall was playing versus only 1.59 PPM when Larry Drew was on the court.  However, UNC gave up 2.31 PPM when Marshall was playing versus only 1.44 PPM when Larry Drew was on the court.  The net effect was that UNC was +0.07 PPM in Marshall’s minutes, and +0.15 PPM in Drew’s.  That being said, it would be interesting to see how Marshall’s numbers changed if he was playing more with the first team.
  • UNC was 0-5 last season when they had a defensive rebounding percentage less than 60.  This was the first time they rebounded so poorly this season.
  • John Henson was the UNC leader in Roland Rating, with a score of 17.  Justin Watts had the lowest score for the game (-19).

Beyond the Box Player of the Game

Before naming the POG for the CoC game, let’s first take a look at the top five ORtgs for the Tar Heels (minimum possession percentage: 10%)

J. Henson149.31072.773.617
K. Marshall129.65100.075.9-3
D. Strickland124.6760.065.2-9
R. Bullock105.7550.050.3-3
J. Knox78.470.036.4-7

Leslie McDonald missed being on the list by one possession, but deserves mention for his outstanding ORtg (238.6) and eFG% (133.3).  McDonald has posted an ORtg of 104.2 for the season and has improved his eFG% from 34.9 to 56.0.  It is still early, but it certainly appears that McDonald will be a legitimate source of points off the bench for the Heels.

As for the player of the game, this was an easy call, as John Henson had the type of game that earned him a top-5 ranking as a high school recruit.  Henson was brilliant on offense last night, demonstrating patience around the rim and a nice use of his baby hook en route to career highs in points (19) and shooting percentage (72.3; min. 7 FGA).  While Henson did have his worst rebounding game of the season (OR%/DR%: 7.2/14.6), he did stuff the statsheet with 2 blocks, 2 assists and a steal against only one turnover.  Going forward, Henson’s foul shooting will likely continue to be an issue, but if he is only averaging 4-5 free throws a game, it certainly will not be a big enough issue to overshadow his potential to average a double/double with 3+ blocks a game.

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37 comments to UNC vs. CoC: Beyond the Box

  • scl11

    Good News: Multiple players have been on top of these ratings this season

    Bad News: No player is consistently in the top 2 or 3

  • partsman5521

    Virginia just beat minnesota. Just goes to show that everybody seems to play there very best against us……

  • scl11

    So now I’m really perplexed, Minnesota not as good as we thought or is Carolina lousier than we thought, either way 2010 can’t end soon enough…

  • partsman5521

    Where was Virginia picked to start the preseason acc?

  • faustus1500

    Minnesota was playing without Al Nolen. The guy is one of the best perimeter defenders in college basketball.

  • AZACCFan

    You can wish your life away.

    However, the COC game did show some new dimensions to the team. I was amazed to see Henson shoot so well.

    Zeller is obviously tired and struggling a bit now. He has never played these minutes with these expectations. He definitely has had very positive contributions this season and he will have plenty more. He just needs to avoid getting hurt by tripping on the opposition players who are a couple feet below his head level.

    There was hustle and lots of defensive effort throughout the game. Which is great.

    More transition points as well.

    I am not waiting for next season. I think this season will be pretty interesting. I am not going to agree with lots of the coaching decisions, but there is a lot more positive energy and spirit this year.

    They just need to keep moving forward.

  • ^^Yup, and UVa shot 77% from three. Hard to read too much into a game like that.

  • AZACCFan

    Gotta support the conference.

  • ^Well, save for maybe one game! ;) But yeah, it’s certainly a good win for UVa, even if it was a bit fluky.

  • faustus1500

    ^Save for two games. I might want Wisconsin to win their game as well.

  • partsman5521

    As I look at the stats and statistics above, I can’t help but believe that thats what Roy looks at to gage his team. But to me, they are past tense stats. How can the stats change if you play all your games the same way? I was at the game sunday, and if I remember correctly the score was around 4 all at the first 4 minute mark. With better guard play to start the game we could have been up by at least 6 or 8 easy. I also remember that as soon as KM came in, the score shot up as well. In the 2nd half after a scoring draught Roy put KM in and the crowd went crazy. Loudest of the whole game. Again the momentum changed instintly. Thats the stat I look at. It’s called an eyeball stat.

  • faustus1500

    I will say it now. If Drew players more than 20 minutes tomorrow, UNC loses.

  • AZACCFan

    Williams acknowledged the guard play in his news conference. He certainly sees the difference. He is not that stupid. He did say that he played Drew down the stretch because of “his experience”. Which at least explains his logic.

    It will become a real problem when he cannot explain his reasoning. Which could be coming if things in the next game do not go as well.

  • faustus1500

    I tried looking up guards who played 25 minutes or more and who have been performing worse than Larry Drew II. Dash Harris of Texas A&M has been worse.


  • heeledsoul

    i haven’t heard anyone mention this:
    we had a bad defensive rebounding game because CoC jacked so many threes (missing 21 of 30 attempts) AND because our guards are taught to sprint up the court before the ball is secured.
    despite this, HB had his best rebounding night with 9.
    well done.

  • briarcliff

    My prediction for tomorrow:
    Roy will play KM more than LD and even uses him in a critical end of game situation. Unfortunately, KM will quite predictably wilt under pressure as any freshman would in that hostile environment which will create more cover for Roy to play LD even more. At some point, Roy will indirectly chastise his critics for trying to pressure him into playing KM over LD (see Strickland at VT last year).

  • faustus1500

    ^I think KM will be fine because he will be defending a guy who is 50% brilliant and 50% stoogelike at the point. This is a huge game for Illinois. Hopefully, Roy realizes that Drew II needs to regain his confidence by coming off the bench.

  • Heel in Purple

    Not tryin to brag, but my “ACC is gonna George Mason this Challenge” is 1-0. LOL.

    Briarcliff, I really hope you aren’t right. If we all look realistically at this game, we shouldn’t walk in with a win without playing at a MUCH higher level. Barnes and Zeller really need to play well, and whoever plays point needs to be composed. Getting offense from Strickland/Bullock/McDonald would also really help.

    I truly believe we’re gonna show up for this game (maybe not win, but maybe a loss like Hansbrough’s loss to Illinois where we learned that team was gonna be fun). A win would do indescribably good things for the confidence of everyone.

  • partsman5521

    If he starts Km, the game might not be as close at the end of the games so shouldn’t have to worry about that…

  • partsman5521

    Roy, I’m going to bed now. I’m going to dream that you started
    And play them til the 4 minute mark and lets see together if it will work out….
    Sweet dreams Roy and Happy dreams partsman…..

  • Andy In Omaha

    The issue with starting Drew and Strickland is that you’re counting on your offense to come entirely from your frontcourt. Maybe that’s why Barnes is jacking up so many outside shots because he’s the only outside threat when the starting five is on the floor. Unless Strickland or Drew can start hitting outside shots, look for any team to continue to pack it in on the inside like they’ve all been doing to us.
    If Roy is a great coach, surely he can recognize that the team looks far better with Marshall out there than with Drew on offense. If he can’t, then maybe it’s time to speculate if Roy has “Butch Davis syndrome.”

  • faustus1500

    ^Not just scoring points but creating their own offense. Seriously, offensively at times UNC’s bigs are playing 3 on 5!

  • Here’s the thing with Strickland, he is actually second on the team in FG% (.556), so it is not a question of him being able to shoot, it is a question of him not shooting enough. We’ve seen that he is spectacular in the open court, and we know the UNC plays measurably faster when KM is in, so playing the two together would seem like a great way to maximize Strickland’s ability.

    Plus, if you pair Marshall/Strickland and Drew/Bullock, then in each case you will be pairing a good defender with a good offensive threat, as opposed to two of each, which can really hamstring a team. Would be interesting to see what roughly 20 mpg of each backcourt would produce.

  • 52bgJ

    ^couldn’t agree more CM. I would still give Dexter some minutes at the point however.

  • faustus1500

    ^C. Michael

    I think starting Strickland is fine if you are starting Marshall. With Strickland’s speed and Marshall sharp passing ability, Strickland should be able to cut into the lane with some decent looks.

    As it stands, even the ESPN predictor is giving UNC no chance at all. It has picked Illinois to beat UNC 76-68, and a 48.6% chance of Illinois blowing out UNC. However, it did predict that Larry Drew will come out of his scoring slump and score 5. Vegas has Illinois at -5.5.

  • Heel To The End

    a friend tells me that Tar Heel Monthly(shout out to Tar Heel Monthly) had a story from Sean May that coaches and alum were fairly unhappy with LD2 going to California.
    that there is a lot to be learned in summer alumni games.

  • partsman5521

    How many times, last 2 years not included, has a UNC team been picked to lose a game before it even starts. Not many I believe…..

  • nativeheel

    Virginia put a hurting on Minnesota last night. Maybe the Heels can do the same at Illinois tonight. If LDII’s minutes are reduced, we stand a better chance in this game and in all future games! Go Heels!!

  • partsman5521

    What is it that calipeery tells his recruits that make them want to go to kentucky? I see he has the top 3 out of the top 6 for next year. Does he tell them they will start games over the upperclassmen? Whats his secret?

  • scl11

    ^Cash that would even make John Blake blush….

  • Heel in Purple

    Playing time, a fun style of play, guarentees of being a first rounder, and as sc11 said, money or stuff for the families. It happens everywhere in recruiting.

  • NativeMTNHeel

    ^Maybe, maybe not. I have been suspicious of Calipari for a long time and will continue to be so. However, it seems as though he relates really well on a personal level with his players and their families. I’ve read and heard numerous reports that he has an infections personality and you can’t help but like him when you meet him. Plus, as much as I hate to say it, he’s just a really good basketball coach. It’s taken more than just the raw talent of the players to have the continued success that he has had. Dribble drive plus tenacious defense plus extremely talented players who buy into and fit his system equals lots of success.

  • makeitWayne22

    ^ disagree on only one pt. Teflon John is not a great basketball coach, hes just knows how to get great players.

  • NativeMTNHeel

    ^While we may disagree, I never said he was a “great coach.” That was intentional.

  • Heel in Purple

    He does get his players to buy into his defense and play hard. And his requirements for toughness are inspiring. He was sreaming at Terrance Jones to dunk the ball when he went for a layup around a defender. That’s something I’m not sure Roy ever does.

  • 850inExile aka UNC RAJ

    Most of the top recruits are planning on being one and done and Cal gives one and dones exactly the arrangement they are looking for: just play basketball, don’t worry about trying to be a student.

    For the record I think that model is a complete mockery of “college athletics” and I would never want that model at UNC. HOWEVER, it sure would be nice to see Roy find a way to successfully integrate new players into his system as quickly as Cal does…

  • OldSchool

    I like watching this team much more than last year’s. Win or lose, it’s just a better product. I’d still like to see more emotion out there, more fire. Not sure why we seem to play with so little emotion. Barnes is stoic, almost completely emotionless. Marshall also shows little emotion. Strickland and Henson are actually our emotional leaders at this point.