UNC and the Struggles of Youth

Somewhere around the sixth or seventh three-pointer it just got old.

True, by this point the game wasn't in doubt. I'm not sure it ever was in doubt, in fact, although with this team you can't really be sure, with their propensity towards turnovers. They're getting better at that, as well, but still had eleven in the second half and have yet to pare their mishandles down to below 15 this season. With that sort of ball handling, the game is never truly out of reach for an opponent.

But back to the three pointers. Grayson Flittner sunk nine of them on sixteen attempts, tying a Smith Center record. And that's pretty much all he did, managing only three other shots the entire game. He's a six-foot lefty from Indiana, and that was pretty much his one and only move. Shoot a three, sink a three. Shoot a three, sink a three.

I understand the logic. The three is a low-percentage shot, and Carolina loves nothing more than to snatch the rebound and start their own break. They played their game, which was entirely fast breaks and points in the paint. (UNC attempted four threes. Thomas Thornton made the only one with 24 seconds remaining.) But last week Ohio State stormed back from 14 down. Last week Syracuse went on a 22-1 run. I wanted a little victory, and that victory was putting a hand in the face of the short kid shooting threes from all over the place. It never happened.

To be fair, perimeter defense is not what did the Heels in at Madison Square Garden. In fact, when the Orange went to the three is when they started missing, and Carolina began their own run to cut it to eight. No this is just a young team, who haven't gotten a rhythm yet, whose turnovers aren't falling fast enough, and who would prefer to spend December experimenting with lineups and matchups instead of facing three brutal opponents in four games. That will be an interesting month.

Twelfth is a good ranking for this team right now. They were overrated at fifth, and the order you list teams in November is only slightly less useless in the grand scheme of things than picking names out of a hat. It does rankle a bit that adjustment was a headline, with terms like "dropped sharply" and "falls." When you're the only team moving you get stuck with all the attention. There's one more tune-up game before the Heels return to the national stage in a week and a day. Who knows where the team will be by then?

But it would have been nice to shut down a couple of those threes.

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