Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Maui, it turns out, was a perfect demonstration of everything this Carolina team is (and can be). At it's best, it is a deep team with an All-American forward, and plenty of shooters. At its worst, it is a very young team that can, be dominated by older, more physical teams if it does not play within itself.
UNC 95 - Mississippi State 49
Balance. For the second game in a row, UNC had 9 different players produce a P.I.R. of 10.0 or greater, led by career best 31.3 for Dexter Strickland. Blowouts such as this will obviously tend to have more player contribute than tighter contests, but it is important to note that last year's squad had it's fair share of blowouts, and never once had such a balanced performance.
Looking at the advanced box score, what really stands out are the terrific ORtgs of P.J. Hairston, Leslie McDonald, and Reggie Bullock, which were fueled in large part by an almost unconscious shooting display. The Tar Heels aren't going to hit 15 3-pointers often this year (translation: they won't do it again), but it should never be a surprise when any of these three do hit a shot from behind the arc. All three players have absolutely beautiful shooting strokes, and so long as the Heels continue to move the ball as well as they have early this season, they should continue to get plenty of opportunities to pull the trigger.
Butler 82 - UNC 71
To borrow from Doc, if UNC's games against MSU and Chaminade represent the "Good," then this game certainly represents both the "Bad," and the "Ugly." In (very) stark contrast to the other two games in Maui (and really, this season so far), this game saw only 5 players reach double figures in P.I.R. and only 4 players with double-digit assist percentages. The latter point is perhaps more important, because this team, at least through 6 games, does not appear to have a lot of players (if any) who are capable of creating shots for themselves, which makes it imperative that the team continue to move the ball via the pass as unselfishly as they had in their first 4 games
UNC 112 - Chaminade 70
Chaminade was simply over-matched in this game, so the obvious disclaimer applies, but despite that fact, the box score captures perfectly what this team needs to reach its ultimate ceiling. James Michael McAdoo and Reggie Bullock playing as the star, inside-outside, combination (McAdoo: 38.5 P.I.R., 141.3 ORtg; Bullock: 38.2 P.I.R., 215.3 ORtg), a deep and balanced supporting cast (9 players with a P.I.R. over 10.0 and 10 players in the regular rotation with an ORtg over 110), and a team-wide commitment to sharing the ball (6 players with an assist % over 10.0).
But perhaps the best thing that can be taken from this game is that Carolina, less than 24 hours after a disappointing loss, came out and immediately took a lesser opponent behind the woodshed and never let them have even a glimmer of hope of winning. As Carolina fans are quite familiar, this is not always a given with a young team, so to see it happen so early in the season, and in a situation in which it would have been very easy to coast, has to be a very good sign for the future prospects of this team.