UNC Basketball: Strange or Exceptional?
After the Tar Heels lost to the more competitive Clemson Tigers in another ACC game on Tuesday night, there was widespread anarchy among Carolina supporters. This was North Carolina’s second loss in as many days and their first at home this season. “North Carolina is fine, but if some signs we have seen in the last two weeks continue, they may not be,” is the mutter heard among those who closely monitor the Tar Heels.
Nobody is denying the Tar Heels’ impressive performance. Having said that, it might be time to examine their recent struggles objectively. After spending almost twenty-four hours trying to process the hundreds of viewpoints I’ve encountered, these are the conclusions I’ve come to. Let’s not act as though Hubert Davis and North Carolina were impervious to hardship—you might agree or disagree.
There’s no doubting the Tar Heels’ outstanding performance. That being said, it may be time to take an unbiased look at their recent difficulties. These are the conclusions I’ve reached after attempting to digest the hundreds of points of view I’ve encountered for nearly twenty-four hours. You may agree or disagree, but let’s not pretend that Hubert Davis and North Carolina were immune to misfortune.
They play fast-paced, free-flowing basketball. It’s so much fun when things are going well, man. When is it not? It appears that people are wondering, “What now?” To counteract any attempt to overcorrect on the other end, they must be strong on both sides of the court. North Carolina was uneasy around both Georgia Tech and Clemson. The flow was absent. This has had a significant impact on the team’s performance, and as a result, they must depend on their senior leadership and perform well every night in all areas.
They play incredibly spirited, free-flowing basketball. It’s really enjoyable when things are going well. When isn’t it? There appears to be a feeling of “What now?” They must therefore be strong on both sides of the court in order to thwart any attempts by the opposition to overcorrect. North Carolina was uneasy against both Clemson and Georgia Tech. There was not a current. This team’s success has been greatly impacted by it, so they must rely on their senior leadership and perform well every night in all areas.
I’ll move on to my next point, which is offensive execution. This is more about having a sense of the style and momentum of a basketball game, which is something else an experienced team should possess. I touched on some shot selection and one-on-one earlier. Not in North Carolina, though. In matches decided by five points or less, the Tar Heels have a record of 0–4. That is not ideal. I had the impression last night that nobody on the court understood the importance of some items so many times. It’s evident to everyone in the stadium and at home, but they play with such abandon that no possession seems too important until it’s too late.
Last night, UNC cut it to two more times than necessary and tied it once. They were never able to cross the obstacle. The Tar Heels had numerous opportunities to take the lead and numerous wasted possessions against Georgia Tech, but in the last four minutes of the game, they scored five points. Do you recall UConn? How many times did North Carolina come back to within a manageable deficit before losing badly? It keeps coming up in their losses as a recurring theme. This team’s veteran players need to be more conscious of the moments when a single possession can decide the outcome of the whole match. Avoid making the showy pass, taking the contested stepback three, and merging into dense traffic. Although there are numerous names for this defect, ultimately it comes down to If they don’t recognize and value the ball during swing possessions, they will suffer in close games.
That was a lot of bad stuff to keep bringing up, but it was important to examine because these were patterns rather than isolated incidents. But everything is not as bad as it seems.
It looks like Armando Bacot has rediscovered his offensive rhythm. That is really important. Paxson Wojcik off the bench, how about him? Every moment he was on the floor, he was blatantly competitive. It was almost impossible to match up with Harrison Ingram as he continued to shoot the ball at an extremely high level from behind the arc. The Tar Heels remain unbeaten at 18-5 and at the top of the ACC.
And what do you know?
North Carolina could have won both of its games against GT and Clemson, but they both played poorly. If there’s anything Hubert can do to help them get back on track, they have the capacity to learn. I’ve noticed a few more recurrent trends and a slight increase in urgency that need to be addressed. Miami up next.
What do you think of the Tar Heels’ present situation?