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UNC vs. Miami: Beyond the Box

Last year’s UNC team did a lot of things well, especially if you look at the stretch of basketball that started with the insertion of Kendall Marshall into the starting lineup.  This is not uncommon for a team that wins 14 games in conference and comes within a few stops of going to the Final 4.  However, one thing last year’s team did struggle with, at an almost alarming rate, was starting games and halves well (and in many cases, even “mediocre” would have been an improvement).  This appears to have been remedied this year, and this fix has been clearly on display in the Tar Heels’ first two Conference games.  UNC has opened their four halves in ACC play with runs of: 8-2, 10-2, 12-5, and 8-2.  That is a cumulative total of 38-11 in just 16 minutes of game time, which is an outstanding recipe for winning, and winning big.  Of course, they still need to prove to that they can do this on the road, a chance they will get this Saturday in Tallahassee.  And considering FSU’s almost comical inability to score points, a 10-2 run there might put the game out of reach by the first TV timeout…

Four Factors

The Tar Heels’ defense last night was, at times, spectacular, and on the whole, extremely impressive.  Miami came into yesterday’s contest at the Dean Dome with very respectable averages in terms of turnovers (TO%: 18.5) and 3-point shooting (3P%: 38.8).  UNC completely flipped those averages on their heads, forcing Miami to turn the ball over a season’s worst, 23.9% of their possessions, and allowing them to hit only 18.8% of their three-point attempts (also a low for the season).  For the game, UNC had a terrific defensive efficiency (DE) of 78.9 (only the 4th game this season under 80.0), and had they had even an average night on the offensive end, they likely would have won by 30.

UNC’s offensive output didn’t actually start out that badly, which is why they were able to build a 15-point halftime margin.  Despite going 1-8 from behind the arc, the team was still able to manage a 1st-half offensive efficiency (OE) of 114.3 (average OE: 115.3) on the strength of 9-11 shooting from the line and a terrific turnover percentage (11.4).  The second half, on the other hand, was a completely different story, as UNC’s OE fell to a paltry 91.7, they went 0-3 from the line (a curiously low number of attempts), and turned the ball over on 22.2% of their possessions.  Granted, they spent most of the second half playing with a 20-point lead,  so there probably isn’t too much to be read into the second half offensive numbers.

Statistical Highlights

  • UNC is becoming a monster on the defensive glass.  This was the 4th consecutive game in which the Heels had a DR% of 80.0 or better.  Under Roy, UNC had never gone more than 2 games in a row with that type of rebounding efficiency.
  • While UNC’s 5-game streak of assisting on at least 50.o% of its field goals was snapped, it did extend its streak of games with a A/T ratio great than 1.1 to 11.
  • UNC had remarkable a TO% of 15.5 during its 9-game homestand and did not have a single game in which it turned the ball over more than 19.0% of its possessions.  In both of UNC’s two “true” road games (UNC-A and UK), they had a TO% greater than 20.0.
  • It has only been two games, but so far, UNC’s starting 5 is shooting 81.5% (22-27) from the free-throw line in ACC play.

Beyond the Box: Player Impact Ratings


In spirit of KenPom and results that don’t necessarily pass the smell test (yes Wisconsin, I am talking about you), Henson and Zeller once again led the team in PIR.  At first I was somewhat surprised (dismayed?) by this, but when I took a look at their stats,  it actually makes some sense.  Not only did they both have decent, to even good, ORtgs (Henson: 107.6, Zeller: 121.4), but they were monsters on the glass (Zeller: 24.0 OR%, 18.8 DR%; Henson: 41.7 DR%;).  Additionally,  Zeller had a massive Possession % (29.2) and Henson had zero TOs, and both contributed in several other facets of the game, so when talking about their impact on the game, it is not as entirely unreasonable for frontline to be leading the way once again.

That being said, there is no questioning the fact that Strickland and Marshall were terrific, as they completely overwhelmed their Hurricane counterparts.  Despite the fact that they did not lead the team in P.I.R., their P.I.R. still reflects how good they were.  This was the first time all season that both players cracked the 25-point plateau in the same game and it should be no surprise that their combined 58.6 points was also a season’s best, and by a significant margin.  I guess (no, make that, I know) the biggest problem with P.I.R., is that there is no way to accurately quantify defensive efforts like that which Strickland and Marshall put forth last night.  And to (perhaps) make things even more unfair, it is likely that a number of steals that their teammates were credited with were actually the result of on-ball pressure from the backcourt.  I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes, even a stats-geek, has to yield to the power of observation.

Season P.I.R.

The cumulative impact ratings for each player can be found below.  A player’s average P.I.R., both for the season and the last five games only considers games in which the player officially logged at least 1 minute of game time.  The C.V. is a measure of variation; the smaller the percentage, the more consistent the player’s performance has been.  While it is not technically correct to use in this instance, because P.I.R. is an interval scale (it can go into the negative), it still has some value for the top-tier players, who will likely have a positive P.I.R. in every game.

PlayerTotalAverageC.V.Last 5

Yesterday’s game resulted in another change in the overall standings, as Dexter Stickland’s 29.1 points were more than enough to jump him over Reggie Bullock and back into the “starting five.”  There is still plenty of season left, but barring any major surprises (i.e. injuries) it is certainly looking like there will be three, 2-man races the rest of the way: Henson/Zeller for the top spot, Barnes/Marshall for the 3rd position, and Strickland/Bullock to round out the top five.

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28 comments to UNC vs. Miami: Beyond the Box

  • AZACCFan


    I completely agree with you about starts and have commented here about it a lot.

    What this really means is a much more focused and then confident team.

    They now also realize the next step, which is that defending hard will get and keep them in the game. Off night or not.

  • gregrustin

    I being a member of “team Bullock” would like to congratulate Dex on a superb effort. he was everywhere and very confident. his defensive prowess was a major factor in the success of our guards against Miami.looks like Reg is pushing him and Dex is responding. this is good news for us.

  • tarheelsky

    Kendall Marshall is that rare player that turns kids into Carolina fans and, if he keeps improving, turns Carolina fans into fans of an NBA team for the duration of his pro career.

  • BoyWilliams


    What if we played a perfect game
    where everybody brought it?
    Where we executed every play
    just like ol’ Roy had taught it?

    Where nobody missed an open shot
    and everyone fought through screens?
    And everyone had the perfect mix
    of intensity, fun, and mean?

    Where John and Z hit every hook,
    and J-Mac finally found his game?
    …And what if we found that perfect night
    under a warm April New Orleans rain?

  • 52bgJ

    ^that’ll work—good stuff!

  • AZACCFan



  • gregrustin

    kendall may not be the fastest pg Carolina has ever had, but he is the smartest. his bball IQ is Einstein level. i love to watch him between plays as he is constantly monitoring the court to make sure everyone is in their spots. he even knows Roy to a T. it is quirky. Roy wont admit it until graduation, but I can see in his eye that he knows he got em one with KM.

  • LarryS

    You bet he knows.

    Roy obviously saw something he liked, to make him an offer, and have Kendall committ, in his soph. year of high school.

    Players like Marshall can make coaches look pretty smart, and make them feel very relieved.

  • Heel To The End

    Clemson loses @ BC.
    sheesh, Tigers.

    the Murton Plumlees checking in with 3 pts on 1 FGA.
    one of em is 1/6 from the free line.

    other Murton saying to himself that Zoubeard set 300 screens like that without getting a foul.

  • There is a set of rules for Duke, and a different one for every other ACC team. Duke can hack all they want on on the peremiter, and yet a Plumlee will pick up a foul. They foul nearly every trip down court that most other ACC teams would get called for. But a Duke guard can lean into a defender and draw a foul. VA’s guard got knocked down on a 3 point attempt, and it went the other way for a dunk.

    What else should I expect from a Mike Eades officiated game. Eades, Luckie, Ayers, Cahill, and even Hess will make it a long game for anyone playing Duke when they officiate them.

    What do you get when Mike Kitts and other non-conference officials call a game in the ACC? A 20 plus point Clemson win over Duke just like 2 years ago.

    Other than that, Duke has played well enough to win this game, but there will be a greater difference in the outcome thanks to Mike Eades.

  • Heel To The End

    you couldve posted that any of the last 20 plus seasons, JB.

    recently, theyve added the chicken wing pushoff on offense.
    watch any dookie dribble, and out comes the arm.
    every. single. time.
    they may win this game, but they still have problems.

    Murton is shocked that hitting an opponent in the face is a foul.
    a hit that drew blood.
    truly brainwashed in DerHam.

    last time a dookie DIDNT make a wtf face when whistled for a foul:

  • HTTE, it may just be me, but when I’ve watched Duke in the NCAA tournament, even in their championship season 2 years ago, it appears that outside the league officials are quick to make up for the favorable conference officiating they receive. You can see it on the player’s faces as well, its like a different ballgame to them. They still have the talent to win in the tournament, but the officiating is definately different.

  • Heel To The End

    preachin to the choir, JB. hell, the president of the choir.

  • Heel To The End

    where was that “analysis” two years ago, dookie V?
    you cant move? dook big men have the least set screens in America, dood.

    Cryan Kelly:
    what??? the Ric Flair double eye poke is a foul?? show me where in the rulebook!

    the good part of the outcome is that they think theyre still good. Zeglinski has a 0, you shot 52%, and you barely won. so keep thinking that, dook.
    i obviously despise them and even i can see they dont have anyone that comes close to the intelligence of a Nolan smith or a Scheyer.
    Cook, Rivers and Curry, the 3 starting guards combine for 3 assists.
    Butta has 3 assists before the first tv timeout.

    morning chuckle @ DSPN’s game summary. funny.

  • makeitWayne22

    i stopped watching when vitale said Mile Plumlee is the best athlete on dook.

  • BoyWilliams

    Vitale now = late era Al McGuire….painful

  • scl11

    Bad news HTTE, Duke exceeded their quota for illegal screen calls against them last night, so they can’t have another one called against them until March.

    Also, when did the rules change so that a defender can fly past a jump shooter, and the shooter can jump to their right and into the chest of the defender while throwing the ball at the basket and a foul is called on the defender?

  • AZACCFan


    It’s all part of the Duke mystique.

    Seeing them play more games and looking at their offensive weapons, I think UNC can comfortably win both games in league play. Significantly because they have been starting games well at the beginning of both halves.

    There is no doubt that if the top 8 players even have average offensive games, UNC dominates.

    Also if the guard play continues as it has in the last game what happened to Marshall last year will not be repeated.

  • makeitWayne22

    “Also, when did the rules change so that a defender can fly past a jump shooter, and the shooter can jump to their right and into the chest of the defender while throwing the ball at the basket and a foul is called on the defender?”

    sch11, they call that the Reggie Miller Rule… He started it in the mid 90′s during hes yearly battles with John Starks. It a very common move in the NBA now as well.


  • After watching a good part of all the ACC games this week, I am pretty comfortable in saying that, while the gap between UNC and the other top teams in the country is much smaller than it was in 2009 (if it exists at all), the gap between UNC and the rest of the ACC might be significantly larger than it was in 2009.

    UNC has never won their 1st 4 ACC games under Roy, and during that same stretch, they have a 3-5 record in both the 3rd and 4th games of the ACC schedule. So if they can win their next two convincingly, then I think it might be time to seriously look at the possibility that this team runs the ACC table.

  • LarryS

    It does seem to look possible, and you have to consider that UNC has probably only played to, what, maybe 70% of its potential so far.

    Now, sure, even really good teams are capable of having an off night, and end up playing against someone who’s on fire, but I don’t think it’s necessarily reasonable to predict them losing one or two games just on the basis of “you know it will happen, we just don’t know against whom”.

    I think more of a matchup analysis, and stating to whom they will lose and why, should go into the prediction of a loss.

    So yeah, if they bring it every game, based on what we’ve seen so far, there’s a reasonable chance of running the table, even if the overall odds are small.

  • ^If you go by KenPom’s game-by-game picks, the only game he has them losing is their last one, at Duke. What is intriguing about that scenario is the fact that a 15-0 UNC team would likely have had the ACC Title wrapped up for a least 1-2 games. A Duke-UNC game is obviously never going to be “meaningless,” but in the grand scheme of things, this one kind of would be.

    Of course, KenPom also picks Duke to win every game save for their trip to Chapel Hill, so it’s also possible (though extremely unlikely) that that last game could be 15-0 versus 14-1. I can’t begin to imagine how (over)hyped that game would be…

  • Asheville Heel

    2-morrow is going to be a hard hat game at FSU. We shoot we win, we shoot like we did against Miami look for it to be a tussle. FSU plays well against big teams in Tallahassee especially if the refs let the game get real physical. That slows the pace and posessions become much more valuable. Barnes needs a bounce-back game and we need Hairston to rediscover his stroke. This is one I have earmarked as the first true hurdle in the conference schedule.

  • LarryS

    “a 15-0 UNC team would likely have had the ACC Title wrapped up for a least 1-2 games.”

    Mmm…..maybe. Even with the work Duke needs to do on D they could still go into that game at 14-1. Frankly, that’s the scenario I’d really like to see, not that I think guys like Bullock, Barnes, and Marshall wouldn’t do everything they could to beat Duke in Cameron, regardless of the overall value of the game.

    Also, if Virginia continues like they’ve started (I bet Duke is glad they don’t have to play them again), and UNC would be lucky enough to go into Charlottesville without a conference blemish, then that game would be big. I may even try to find tickets for that one.

  • AZACCFan

    So Coach Williams just announced that the plan for LMac is to NOT play this year. He said that while his rehab has been excellent that there is not enough season left.

    This is a crucial game as it is the first away game and FSU can be extremely physical if the refs let them. If UNC gets behind, it will be a big challenge.

  • AZACCFan

    Barnes seconded the idea that LMac is not going to play this year. He said that the decision has been made.

    No surprise there.

    Barnes seemed pretty focused on the FSU game. He could have a big one there.

    He was also complimentary of Marshall’s play against Miami.

  • LarryS

    If the quality of the Heels play this year is as good as LMac’s dance moves on the sidelines, then they’ll be in good shape. He may not play, but he’ll no doubt be helpful to them in other ways.

  • AZACCFan

    ESPN is also confirming that LMac will not play this year:


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