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UNC 78 Rutgers 55

For a game coming off the Christmas break, which included some insane travel arrangements and one starter missing both practices I thought that went pretty well. Sure it was Rutgers. Sure, there were a few runs of turnovers but that was not unexpected. And the point guard play continues to underwhelm while the interior game was bottled up a bit. However UNC got great perimeter shooting, nice ball movement and some decent transition offense to turn this into a laugher early. In fact that should be considered a point of encouragement that UNC came out, stuck it to Rutgers early to take a 20 point halftime lead and mostly kept it in that range for the rest of the game.

There was one peculiar aspect of this game when it came to points distribution. UNC only had two players in double figures. Leslie McDonald was one with 14 points and four threes. The other was Justin Watts. After those two it was a lot of 6-9 point performances from nine of the regular ten players with Kendall Marshall going scoreless. On the defensive side, the Heels played well but Rutgers is also not a very good team and missed tons of open shots badly.

If you are looking for things not to love, Harrison Barnes continues to struggle despite showing some flashes of brilliance and looking more aggressive on the offensive end. The point guard position scored seven points(all Drew’s) dished out 10 assists(six by Marshall) and committed five turnovers(four of those Drew’s.) What does it all means? It would be nice to see Marshall score more and Drew turn the ball over less. I did notice the minutes were nearly even with Drew playing 20 minutes and Marshall 18. Also of note, Roy Williams not pulling Marshall after a risky alley-oop pass that did not pan out. It remains to be seen if Marshall’s minutes are trending upward or not.

Heels get another few days off before taking on St. Francis(PA) in Chapel Hill.

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47 comments to UNC 78 Rutgers 55

  • BoyWilliams

    Leslie McD = Danny Green-ish
    Kendall Marsh = Ed Cota-ish
    Tyler Zeller = Joe Wolf-ish
    Dexter Strickland = Ty Lawson-ish
    Harrison Barnes = Justin Watts-ish
    Larry Drew 2 = Larry Drew 2-ish

  • gregrustin

    if you want an open look, then play ball with KMarshall.

  • gregrustin

    roy could play marshall until he gets tired, then sub in the walkon point guard for 3-5 mins,then bring marshall back in………….

  • “It remains to be seen if Marshall’s minutes are trending upward or not.”

    KM’s minutes the last 4 games: 10, 15, 16, 18.

    Certainly appears to be moving towards at least a 50/50 split, though Marshall is going to have to improve his awful FT shooting (46.2%; granted, small sample-size) if he is going to see time at the end of close games

  • gregrustin

    marshall was tired on those last free throws…..freshman.

  • ^Tired, after 18 minutes of action? I doubt it. And if his stamina is that low, then that is even more reason why he shouldn’t be in at the end of close games.

    But again, I really doubt that he was too tired to make FTs.

  • gregrustin

    Barnes………………you aint in Iowa anymore.

    imagine kmarshall getting barnes those open looks that he was feeding bullock,lmac et al

  • gregrustin

    tired after running that potent off he was dishing out………..lovin it!!!

  • gregrustin

    freshman stamina aint junior stamina

  • marcus62660

    Freshman stamina??? Are you serious? These guys are 18 years old. They’ve been playing high-level basketball since they turned teenagers. If stamina is an issue, then a doctor visit is in order because they ain’t gonna have more stamina than they’ve got right now.

  • nativeheel

    It was what it was. A win over a team that we should beat 10 out of 10 trys. I liked the distribution of scoring among the many rather than the few. Drew continues to be Drew and Marshall continues to eat into his minutes. Not a bad idea in my opinion. One more warmup game before the ACC wars! I do see positive progress towards a more complete team that should do well in a somewhat weakened ACC(excluding Dook and maybe a suprising Virginia who will be our first conference opponent).
    Go Heels!!

  • LarryS

    Very happy with the outside shooting but not necessarily with the effectiveness of the inside game, Knox excluded…I guess you take what they give you. I would like to see Z and Henson get back on track as their game is really going to be important in ACC play.

    The only thing I have to say about Barnes, other than the fact I thought he would be coming along a little quicker, is that I’m kind of surprised with his decision-making, or lack thereof. Being the smart kid he is, I sort of thought the mental side of his game would be every bit as good as the physical side.

    I still see him forcing things and generally not playing with a lot of savvy. (As opposed to Kendall Marshall, whose BB instincts seem every bit as good, if not better than advertised) I suppose different players develop at different rates, and I have no doubt he will be big, and more consistent, for UNC.

    Still, a positive road win for the Heels, and heading in the right direction.

    (Just thought I’d throw this in for the Heels-in-the-NBA followers…..Ed Davis with an impressive 17 PT’s., 12 RB’s, 3 BLK’s, and 3 STL’s in a Toronto win over Dallas last night.)

  • Wilf

    My prediction couldn’t have been any more wrong…..

    “My gut says we struggle thru one of “those” awful first halves and come out for the second half ready to play. I’d be tickled with a 10 point win considering the travel issues and I’m guessing poor attendance. I think a large crowd, even if hostile, would help us focus. So maybe more peeps will show than I expect, which is about 7500.

    Hope it’s closer to your prediction THF. Mine is UNC 75 Rutgers 64.”

    Strong first half, unimpressive second half. 9400 attendance, at least half were for UNC. 23 point spread.

    I hope they continue to put things together. Nice win.

  • Charleston HEEL

    It just seems our ball handling skills look so awkward. Does anyone else see that too? I don’t see us beating anyone off the dribble because we’re probably going to get stripped first. It seems so forced.

  • The big takeaway from this game for me was Marshall’s timing when distributing the ball and just how smooth he is when he is operating as the point. Watching Drew dish the ball can be difficult at times, he’s a little slow at times forcing the player to make something happen or his timing is off just enough that the shooter doesn’t get enough time to get set then shoot. I gregustin saw the same thing as I did, if Barnes was working on the Blue squad with Marshall we would see more shooting from him. I just don’t get it with Drew, maybe he’s too cool to execute every night or he’s just that out of sync at times but it’s painful at times to watch. Marshall made some waves last night in my mind.

    As to Barnes specifically, I do think he makes a lot of good decisions on the court. I saw him recover a loose ball twice last night with a good pass to his team and when he plays smart like the stutter step last night he makes people pay. Heading into the paint in a three on one is not so smart - dish it out. Shooting from the pro-three point line, not so much. I like where he’s headed but I feel better with more Bullock time as well. He has that raw basketball aggression that I think pays off like McCants, hopefully without the attitude though.

    Nice win. “What does it all means?” Hard to say but it was a good sign coming off a long break to be sure. I will give THF the quote of 2010 with the parade in the RBC - classic.

    Go Heels!

  • LarryS

    ^Good points about Barnes.

    It’s too easy to focus on some of the mistakes he makes (as well as it is for any player) and not on the things he does well, or is improving on.

    We know by now the bar was set much too high for him in media circles. And I’ll be happy when some of the announcers (are you listening Len Elmore) quit making this story line such a big part of their observations.

  • Asheville Heel

    I expect Barnes to continue to gradually improve. The thing with all the hype which I confess I listened to was that I expected an elite athlete who possessed great fundamentals. What I see with my eyes is a player with good fundamentals who is not an elite athlete. Compare him with Justin Watts athletically; well you get my point. I feel like he is still forcing the game instead of playing within the frame of the team. Watch when he gets the ball out on the break after a turnover; his eyes never look for any other player because he has already made up his mind to make the play. That’s not the team player I expected and I think the national hype has a lot to do with it. One of these days I’ll learn not to get too excited about a player until I actually see them perform at the college level.

  • carolinablue74

    If there is one glaring shortcoming in Harrison Barnes, it is his ball-handling and dribbling skills. He would be a much more potent threat if he could drive to the basket and score. That would really open up his game. I don’t know if this team practices ball-handling and dribbling for small forward and shooting guards, but HB can certainly do with some of that.

  • drdave


    I’ve seen Barnes play before UNC, and he does have the capabilities, but it’s as if once he put on a Carolina uniform, and was annointed an All-American, he is shaky, indecisive, and unsure of himself. Specifically, putting the ball on the floor and going to the rim is something he has always been above average at doing, but apparently has absolutely zero confidence and is unsure of himself (why you see him fumble it and turn it over) on this level. I’ve seen him go to the basket in very fluid moves in summer league and all star games playing against players a helluva lot better and more athletic than players at Barton College, Lipscomb, or William and Mary, yet for some reason he fumbles and bumbles around going to the basket against even weak competition. He NEEDS a sports psychologist and to just RELAX, play the game, and not think so much.

    Last night’s game reminded me of the Hofstra game- fool’s gold. We aren’t going to hit three pointers like that on a consistent basis.

  • LarryS

    “I’ve seen him go to the basket in very fluid moves in summer league and all star games playing against players a helluva lot better and more athletic than players at Barton College, Lipscomb, or William and Mary”

    One key thing to keep in mind regarding this comparison - they only play token defense in summer league or all-star games, and certainly not of a very organized manner.

    Barnes also did very well in the ball-handling portion of the McDonalds’ skill challenge, dribbling around obstacles, but with real players, with a real defensive game plan, it’s a lot more difficult.

    He hasn’t really caught up to the total college game yet, or best learned how to pick his opportunites, but he will.

  • drdave

    “They only play token defense in summer league or all-star games, and certainly not of a very organized manner.”

    I agree 100%, but you also can’t disagree that he probably played much more comfortable and relaxed in those games than he has been in a Carolina uniform so far. That is my main point- he is not playing relaxed, even in the exhibition games and games against lesser competition. Some people have argued on here that maybe he isn’t that athletic or may be overrated. I think that he has the skills but is not playing free and easy. Is William and Mary’s acclaimed organized, suffocating defense a reason for this? The 8 turnovers in the Barton College exhibition game?

  • OldSchool

    I just looked at two NBA mock drafts for 2011 and was shocked to see that Harrison Barnes is still listed in the top 5 of each. Those guys know a lot more about basketball than I do, but my mind just isn’t buying it. The young man looks pretty good at times, but nothing close to greatness. Maybe that will change (I hope it does), but he’s not even the best player on our team, let alone top 5 in the draft.

  • LarryS

    ^ These days, more than not, the NBA drafts on potential - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but, regardless, it takes time for them to develop.

    A lot of people thought it was ridiculous for Ed Davis to continually be listed as a higher-level lottery pick last year. Well, even though he’s not on a very good team he has still shown he’s capable of playing well at this level (see stat line, above, from last nights’ game), and his skill set was legitimately attractive.

    ^^ I’ll agree that something about Barnes’ game is not allowing him to operate closer to his potential, or flow freely as you say - maybe he’s putting too much pressure on himself, who knows.

    But it is a pretty big transition to college basketball, where even the lesser teams play better D than high school or all-star games. Barnes is a very good athlete, but not necessarily a great one, and not a dynamic one-on-one type player. He has to play within the team concept and pick his spots better - the relaxation will come.

  • chapelhillfan

    stamina affects your legs, thus your shot, and thus your free throws. Pretty simple concept.

    Barnes hasn’t shown anything to justify being a first round pick, much less too 5.

  • faustus1500

    I think Barnes is a better pro than a college game. His midrange and outside game isn’t quite good enough when he plays teams which like to play zone. One major issue as I have stated before is that in all of his previous teams the offense has run through him. That is not saying that he can not play with a good or great players. His high school teammate is doing very well at Creighton(I will be watching him front row tonight.)I think it is very easy when you are not the main focus of the offense to sit back and watch. You are still motion but you are not completely focused on the action. When that happens, any opportunities with the ball will slightly catch you off guard.

  • faustus1500

    I have thinking about this. Perhaps the reason why Marshall isn’t playing as much as Drew has to do with the fact that Marshall is simply a poor free throw shooter. Granted, Drew isn’t a world beater from the line but if there is one place where he looks more comfortable than Marshall it is on the line.

  • LarryS

    Even though Marshall’s FT% is not that good, in absolute numbers it isn’t a liability….he only averages 1 FT attempt per game.

  • ^No doubt, but it would be a huge liability if he were running the point at the end of a close game.

  • CarMichael

    Probably I need to post this and duck, but so far Barnes reminds me of Jawad Williams. Part of it, I guess, is the stiff, erect posture, but he has similar jump-shooting form, similar aggressiveness in taking shots combined with freshman confusion on offense, similar inability to slash to the basket from outside. Of course, Harrison is clearly more coachable and clued in to team play than freshman Jawad was; he defends better on the ball and has picked up the help rotations quicker than most freshmen do.

    If he doesn’t show an impressive ability to drive against college defenders-and so far he hasn’t-I don’t see how in the world he could be a lottery pick this year. The lack of slashing ability is precisely why Jawad isn’t a successful NBA small forward. (OK, Barnes is a better perimeter defender than Jawad was.)

  • faustus1500

    C. Michael,

    Hit the nail on the head. We all have seen that Drew’s defense isn’t above and beyond Marshall’s. It makes perfect sense to have Marshall on the bench during the last 5-6 minutes of a close game if Marshall is having problems at the line even in practice.

  • LarryS

    ^^^ Good point, and it would. I should have said it hasn’t been a liabilty to this point.

    I would like to think if he had a larger volume of FTA’s (i.e. a larger sample), and more in-game experience, that his percentage would be better. And even though he was not a great FT shooter in HS, he was considered a pretty clutch FT shooter.

    It will be interesting to see how much he improves.

  • faustus1500


    I would couldn’t say Barnes is Jawad Williams, but I agree there are some similarities. I would like to point there are some NBA guards and wings who weren’t amazing as freshman. We already know about Vince Carter, but Brandon Roy, Paul Pierce, Clyde Drexler are examples of freshman who were decent but not great early.

    Honestly, I picked Sullinger in the preseason to be an All-American ahead of Barnes. The reason being that big men do not have as great an adjustment to changes in speed between high school and college game. For a freshman wing to dominate in college, you need a number of factors to work in your favor. One huge factor is having a good guards playing alongside you. Another factor is that you have to be the focal point of the offense. Third, a number of wings who have come in and performed really well as freshman were able to play closer to the basketball because their teams lacked post threats. Right now, Barnes doesn’t have someone who can set him up for good looks. He is limited to being a spot/jump shooter, because Zeller is a good post player and Henson also roams the painted area. The main scoring option is Zeller and with good reason. I think Barnes has to understand to take shots when the offense gives him opportunities. At the same time, it would good for him to play alongside Marshall.

  • CarMichael

    faustus- I didn’t mean to imply that Barnes won’t make it in the NBA, just that he hasn’t shown anything-including potential-to justify a lottery pick this year. He needs to develop advanced ball skills, which Jawad never did.

  • joemags52

    couple things i didn’t like after taking the train from phila up to the game was the constant 4 in 4 out or 5 in 5 out which i know is something unc has done but i would like to see marshal play with barnes he was able to get bullock and mcdonald wide open shots, and when i say wide i mean they almost had too much time to measure it up and by they i mean bullock. i noticed before the game that bullock and marshal work together passing each other the ball and shooting from different spots, don’t know if this is before every game or not, but you can tell them have a chemistry together on the floor. the other thing i didn’t get was putting henson back in late in the game, there was no reason for that. things i liked was their energy and how knox, watts, and mcdonald played.
    what was the deal before the game? why did they pull them off the court for a minute?

  • UNCmonkey

    On the plus side with Barnes, I noticed at least once or twice that he worked for a better shot by utilizing a pump fake or I think someone mentioned a stutter step before. He is slowly realizing the extra effort it takes to be successful in college - so much of the polish from guys like Wayne, Danny, Rashad, and others that we take for granted came with experience as well as confidence. Nothing I’ve seen so far tells me that he won’t get there - it’s just taking a little longer than we expected…

    Another thing with Drew v Marshall is Marshall’s offense in general. I aggree that he orchestrates the half court MUCH better than LD2 - his passes seem sharper and he moves guys around in a way that can isolate defenders and get our better perimeter shooters like McDonald and Bullock open looks. Unfortunately his offense seems to be somewhat lacking - he left at least 3 point blank lay-ups short (or just weak) and gave up at least 6 pts of scoring - I mean the one on the fast break where he was by himself was atrocious. I don’t think he needs to be Ty Lawson by any stretch but if he was a better (more consistent) scorer, I think the case for him geting the starting job only gets stronger. Perhaps with more minutes, the scoring would work itself out?

  • drdave

    Just watching Drew dribble up the floor makes me very uncomfortable, so I can only imagine how uncomfortable he is. He reminds me so much of Quentin Thomas, it’s ridiculous. It’s a lot of mindless dribbling around the perimeter 90% of the time, and it’s herky jerky motion, there isn’t even any fluidity in the mindless dribbling. He’s good for maybe one penetration and drive to Zeller for an easy score a game.

    Things flow so much more smoothly with Kendall on the floor. I hope he improves his defense, so we can see less and less of Larry.

  • UNCmonkey

    ^My friends and I call that Drew’s “Cali dribble” - its this weird, dis-jointed, low-to-the-hip, almost palming, seat-of-the-pants kind of dribble that has reared it’s ugly head once again in 2010. I thought Drew was breaking that bad dribble habit last year in the NIT but I noticed it early on this year, much to my chagrin. its just so awkward - painfully so; LD2′s dribble constantly seems to be teetering on the brink of disaster - his passes often times are too low, he dribbles off his own feet for god’s sake…

  • partsman5521

    I think we all agree that Barnes IS going to be great for us down the road. I look at it though if he was as good as advertised this year, then he would be gone after this year. Year 2 of Barnes with us and he could bring Roy his third title.
    I saw some pictures of Marshall with Roy taken when Marshall was a little boy. He was wearing a Carolina shirt back then. I believe he must have been at a camp back then. Then more the same as Marshall was a little older. I believe Roy knows what he has in Marshall and is taking his time with him.

  • NativeMTNHeel

    The team, especially Barnes, needs to listen to a little Gloria Estefan. “The Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” Points! It seems so obvious to all of us on the list. When the players are playing within the rhythm of the offense, and just as importantly with their own rhythm, good things happen. Bullock and especially McDonald shot lights out because they were getting passes within the rhythm of the offense (i.e. Marshall) and within the rhythm of their footwork. Watching Bullock was most interesting, as he made the shots when he was in rhythm and missed the ones where he wasn’t. The same was true with Barnes, although, his rhythm resembles that of Elaine Benes right now.

  • rathskellar68

    If Barnes had not received all the hype he did, I doubt he would get one-quarter the discussion he gets here on THF. His actual play has been fully adequate for a freshman, nothing more. Personally, I HOPE he turns out to be as good as Jawad Williams. His play to date does not create the strongest case for that prospect.

    Last night’s game was as worrisome as a blowout gets. The two most important positions are PG and C. Our starters at both were underwhelming. Zeller has to be more consistent or we are in for a long season. Drew has shown enough and for long enough so that we can be sure he is NOT the answer if we are to return to prominence. At his best he is a good Quentin Thomas, and he is not at his best nearly often enough. We have to go with Marshall as the overall brightest hope for the future, which starts real soon.

    As often happens in life, there is good news and bad news, and they stem from the same basic fact: The one clearly positive thing we learned last night is that the team is deep (this includes Knox). The bad side of that is that that very depth is likely to delay the development of a 7/8 man rotation, which I think is essential to the continuity, and thus the long-term success, of the team.

    We are going to need to be tougher, and hold our concentration better, to do well in the ACC.

  • drdave


    Barnes is much better than Jawad Williams. It’s a combination of things: One, clearly he is playing with a lack of faith in his abilities at the college level. Two, he’s playing hesistantly (a natural symptom of thinking too much, rather than playing INSTINCTIVELY- just doing it. Three, his role in the offense is not clearly defined.

    Segue way to three, WHO’s role in the offense is defined, other than bench player Les Mac to shoot the ball? What is the offensive strategy- do we just push Zeller and Henson, or just have a night every 10 games where we shoot three’s out of our a**

    One of the best points that’s been made on here though is the following, which is why we struggle to score points: One, we do not have a starting point guard who can consistently create shots for others. Two, in absence of that, we don’t have guys who can create their own shots. So, what are you left with? A first team offense that struggles to score points.

    Kendall can create, and find the open man, which is why you see guys like Les and Reg get open looks, and occasionally inside for a Knox dunk.

    All these issues aside, I still would not be surprised if this team does make a surprising run in the NCAA tournament. This is one of those talented, underachieving teams that may get hot and really make a move in the tournament. At least Strickland is starting to believe in his play.

  • Heel To The End

    i suppose if Ratface has to pass Dean, the one nice facet is that its going to be in a meaningful game against an 0-11 opponent.

    how bout ECU getting absolutely shellacked today.

  • partsman5521

    Talk about depth and playing time, whats going to happen next year with 2 more 5 star players added to the mix?

  • “Talk about depth and playing time, whats going to happen next year with 2 more 5 star players added to the mix?”

    A lot of wins… ;)

  • AZACCFan

    Look askance all you want. They are getting better as a team and if the trend continues, I think they will have a good ACC season.

    The coaching staff has been mixing up the guard play an appropriate amount. All players go through slumps and Barnes can come out of it like Wayne Ellington did if he keeps working through it.

    I also liked seeing Henson using his injured hand pretty well. He has some more time to get over that.

    Finally, Zeller looked a little pissed when he had the forearm shiver to the back one time too many. Hopefully he will find a way to give it back and keep working on his physical side.

  • reggie looks like his knee is getting better. at the end of the day if reggie and kendall can’t take the starting jobs, then we’re stuck with the starting 5….i’m not advocating lMac for HB, but if zeller and henson played with that blue team’s perimeter the game would have been a lot different for them. case in point i don’t think zeller even got a quality touch until kendall came in and fed the post for zeller to turn and lay it in….not even mentioing the floor spacing with two shooters and a good passing PG.

    i love dex, but if he starts all year that really just means reggie is not panning out or roy is changing his system after all these years to be a defense first team.

  • Stratplans

    I was at the game on Tuesday night. The ball movement was great and is going to be a key to success with this group, along with defense. Things bogged down when we tried to put the ball on the floor instead of passing (except for Kendall…). Credit Zeller for playing hard and grabbing 10 boards - the Rutgers big man was an ox with limited hoop skills and a mission. He was extremely physical and not shy about using his elbows (was Rick Barnes on the bench?) to keep Zeller away from the basket. Moving screens, holding, pass blocking techniques, he used it all.

    Barnes looks like he is thinking too much about his shot and aiming the ball instead of just stroking it. He’ll get it right.