Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Saturday, January 17th, 9:00 PM
Livestats: SCACC Hoops
The Game Day crew is in town which mean Digger Phelps is there. I really do not like Digger Phelps.
If you are looking for a game in which UNC can really begin to set aside the questions that came up last week this is probably a good one. Miami, while not as good as people thought they were at the start of the season, is still a formidable opponent. Questions about whether Ty Lawson is up to snuff were addressed by Roy Williams after the UVa game as he defended his PG for what he thought was some undue harsh criticism on the basis of two bad games. Going against Miami's Jack McClinton would be a perfect opportunity for Lawson to put some of those criticisms to rest. Lawson himself said in meeting with reporters on Friday that one issue was losing focus if things did not go swimmingly to start the game. In other words Lawson need to be tougher mentally when the game is not going according to plan.
Jack McClinton leads the Hurricanes with 17 ppg. More importantly he is an excellent three point shooter which has been a bugaboo defensively for UNC. McClinton also shoots just as well from two as he does from three which means it almost behooves you to play him tight on the perimeter and risk a possible blow by to the hoop given he is just as likely to hit the higher points shot. Granted it would be nice to have Marcus Ginyard to guard McClinton but I think Roy would see this is as an opporunity for Lawson or even Wayne Ellington to accept the challenge and prove something.
The Heels also should be wary of Miami's rebounding which outpaces the Heels. According to Pomeroy, Miami is 6th nationally in offensive rebound percentage at 43%. UNC is 30th nationally in OR% on defense and it seems the Heels have had some issues lately with offensive rebounding particularly versus BC and in the 2nd half versus UVa. The importance of offensive rebounding for the Heels on defense cannot be stressed enough. The last thing you want is to force misses from a player like McClinton but not grab the rebound.
I have very much looked at the UVa game like a rehab start in the minors in baseball. It was chance for the Heels to get back to playing well and more importantly getting a win. Now there are no more games like that. Miami, Clemson, and Florida State are the next three contests and the final one is on the road against an FSU team that has elements that will trouble UNC. If the Heels can get through the coming week without a loss and play well in the process that should bury what happened during the first 11 days of January.
UNC 90 Miami 78