Much is made of UNC's perimeter defense or rather the lack of one. In the second half on UNC's win over FSU, the Seminoles hit six threes during the first eight minutes of the period. This brought forth the usual reaction from fans but those reactions are often in the moment without a deeper look into what happens on those plays. So I cure up the DVR and analyzed UNC defense on the second half FSU three pointers.
19:03: 3P Attempt #1: Michael Snaer miss
What happened: Dexter Strickland gets screened at the free throw line, fights around it but doesn't get their in time to prevent the shot. Snaer misses a decent look.
The breakdown: None really. Strickland was screened and despite his best efforts could not get there.
18:41: 3P Attempt #2: Michael Snaer make
What happened: Dexter Strickland wandered too far into the lane and reacted to an entry pass into FSU's Kiel Turpin which Desmond Hubert had covered. Turpin swung a pass over to Snaer on the right wing and Srickland was too far away to recover and contest the shot.
The breakdown: Strickland basically left his man and was somewhere he had no business being.
17:59: 3P Attempt #3: Terry Whisnant make
What happened: Whisnant came around a screen on the right block which slowed down P.J. Hairston. To his credit, Hairston fought through the screen but it was too late, Whisnant got a wide open look.
The breakdown: Similar to Snaer's first miss, Hairston is simply screened as FSU executes a well designed play.
17:14: 3P Attempt #4: Terry Whisnant make
What happened: UNC attempts a trap on the left side near halfcourt that does not close off quick enough. Snaer comes out to receive the pass out of the trap and Hariston leaves Whisnant to cover him. At this point there are two Seminoles and three Tar Heels in an area 35 feet from the basket. Snaer swings it to Whisnant on the right wing. UNC is in full scramble mode defensively. James Michael McAdoo closes out on Whisnant but he passes it to White in the right corner. McAdoo closes out on White who then passes it back to an open Whisnant because Hairston has not recovered to his man. Instead instead he is at the top of the key, realizes Whisnant is open and comes over too late to contest the shot.
The breakdown: This really started with the trap that was poorly executed which required Hairston to help off Whisnant on Snaer. After that it was a numbers game since there were three Tar Heels out of position. McAdoo did a great job closing out on both Whisnant then White and had Hairston hustled back to his man the shot could have been prevented.
16:38: 3P Attempt #5: Okaro White make
What happened: Snaer drives past Reggie Bullock on the left side and when he beats him, White jumps out to the three point line. McAdoo(who was guarding White) shifts to help Bullock which resulted in two men on Snaer. Snaer kicked it out to White who hit the open three.
The breakdown: Once McAdoo moved in to help on Snaer and cut off his drive, Bullock should have switched to cover White on the perimeter but didn't leaving him wide open. One caveat here is it happened very quickly and Bullock switching off still may not have occurred in time.
16:03: 3P Attempt #6: Michael Snaer miss
What happened: Michael Snaer cuts from the baseline to the a spot on the wing. Reggie Bullock gets screened sort of in that Montay Brandon crosses between Bullock and Snaer preventing Bullock from getting a clean close-out.
The breakdown: Bullock could have closed out quicker but mainly it was a solid play by Snaer to make a quick move and get open with some help from a teammate running interference.
14:54: 3P Attempt #7: Terry Whisnant make
What happened: Following a Hairston dunk, FSU quickly moves the ball up court and finds Whisnant camped out in the left corner. Hairston is supposed to be guarding Whisnant but is late finding him and belatedly attempts to contest the shot.
The breakdown: Hairston lost focus after making a big offensive play and did not cover his man in transition.
11:57: 3P Attempt #8: Aaron Thomas make
What happened: With the shot clock under 10 seconds, Ian Miller drives to just inside the top of the key then whips a pass over to Thomas on the right wing. Hairston, who is guarding Thomas was cheating a bit towards the lane then rushes out to cover Thomas. Thomas pump fakes to get Hairston in the air then moves to his left and takes an uncontested three.
The breakdown: Hairston was cheating a bit off Thomas which is not necessarily a terrible idea since he was 2-20 from three coming into this game. The real mistake came with Hairston flying through the air on the pump fake instead of closing out properly and forcing a contested attempt with the shot clock running down.
5:58: 3P Attempt #9: Terry Whisnant miss
What happened: Whisnant was a good 3-4 feet behind the arc with Bullock guarding him. There is a screen attempt on Bullock right which distracts him and when he turns his head to look at the screener, Whisnant fires and misses.
The breakdown: None really. Whisnant took advantage of Bullock's attention being momentarily diverted but at the same time it was a very long three which is why Bullock wasn't closer to him. In most cases giving up a three at that length has a worse probability of success than a closer look.
0:16: 3P Attempt #10: Michael Snaer miss
What happened: FSU is trailing by three and inbounds the ball with 19 seconds left. Reggie Bullock gets a hand on the pass but White secures it and then passes it to Snaer who had inbounded the ball. Snaer is over 25 feet out and decides to take the shot with plenty of time on the clock. He misses, UNC gets the board and two Marcus Paige free throws seal the game.
The breakdown: No breakdown here. UNC made a good defensive play disrupting the inbounds pass but the subsequent recovery and pass to Snaer who took a three at extended range was too quick to cover. In fact, UNC got a gift that Snaer opted to take a quick. long three and did not work for a better look.
FSU went 6-10 from three in the 2nd half. All six made threes were open looks and in a few cases wide open looks. Out of the six makes, four of them involved Hairston's man and three were direct results of Hairston failing to cover the play correctly. Hariston's defense has been knocked on and these are perfect examples why. On one hand he makes good plays getting steals and drawing charges. On the other hand, he gets caught out of position allowing three open looks to result in nine points for FSU. One made three was a result of Strickland wandering too far off a shooter and the other one came off a drive and kick where Bullock did not switch after Snaer beat him on the dribble and White popped out from the block to the wing.
UNC's problems with defending the three infamous and a source of major frustration for fans. There are obvious concerns with how the defense is schemed from the way screens are handled to entirely too much helping off drives leading to open looks. That really wasn't the case here. FSU didn't get open looks necessarily because UNC's defense is flawed but rather because players(primarily Hairston) didn't do a better job rotating or closing out in certain situations. FSU recognized those breakdowns on the fly and got the ball to the open player rather than attacking the weaknesses of UNC's perimeter defense. That sort of thing is correctable and rests more on the players than it does the coach.
Now when some team lights UNC up because of over-helping, poor rotations and not switching on the screen it will go back to being Roy Williams fault. #sarcasm.