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UNC vs. Wake Forest: Beyond the Box

It is possible that calling last night's game "ugly," may be a bit of an overstatement. It really was more of an "odd" game, as the Heels did actually do a lot of things well. Unfortunately for them (and us), the one thing they did not do well at all was make shots, which, as we all know, is kind of important...

Four Factors

UNC was absolutely dominant defensively last night.   Yes, Wake is not a good team, but even when you take that into consideration, Carolina's defensive performance was outstanding.  The Heels held Wake to an offensive efficiency of 79.1, which is 18.9 points below their (Wake's) season average, and an eFG% of 31.5, which is 16 percentage points below their average.  In short, the Heels took a bad offensive team and made them look awful, primarily by challenging nearly every shot the Deacons took.  Not only did Wake shoot an abysmal 11.1% from behind the arc (2-18), when they did try to attack the rim, an inordinate number of their shots were met by the hand of a Tar Heel.  UNC blocked a staggering 22.2 percent of Wake's field goal attempts, which is not only a "Roy Era" record, it is also the first time that any of his teams have had a block% greater than 20.0 for a game.  About the only thing UNC did not do well last night was limit their fouling, as they gave up a season's high FTR of 48.1 (more than 2.5 times their season's average).  This, combined with the fact that WFU shot 73.1% from the line, is really the only reason that the game was as close as 15 points (even with UNC's shooting woes).

On offense, the Tar Heels execution was pretty good; the results, on the other hand, were not.  Carolina could not buy a bucket, and the stats certainly reflect this, as UNC's FG% (31.1), eFG% (33.8) and TS% (40.1) were all season's lows, and in the case of the first two, significantly so.  Was it their legs?  That case could certainly be made, as UNC was playing its 3rd game in 6 days, all while breaking in a newly shortened rotation, but at this point that is just speculation.   Despite the horrendous shooting, UNC was still able to score on 57.1% of  its possessions (slightly off the season average of 59.9) and put together an OE that was not completely awful (101.5), primarily because of two things.  First, Carolina was very aggressive on the offensive boards, gathering 42.4% of its misses, a tone was set right from the start, as UNC's first 6 points came after offensive rebounds.  But more importantly, UNC was spectacular with the way they controlled the ball, turning it over on only 9.0% of its possessions, the lowest percentage any of Roy's teams have had against a DI-opponent (the 2009 team had a TO% of 8.6 against Chaminade).

Statistical Highlights

  • UNC has now turned the ball over 16 times in their last 141 possessions (11.3%).  That is incredible.
  • This was only the 3rd time all season that UNC's opponent had a higher FTR than did the Heels (48.1 vs. 36.6).  Despite this, UNC was still able to (barely) outscore WFU from the line by hitting 20 of their 26 shots (76.3%).
  • UNC has now had a block% greater than 10.0 in 5-straight games, another "Roy Era" record.

Beyond the Box: Player Impact Ratings

[table id=175 /]

The starters really dominated this one, especially the 4 "stars," who all produced P.I.R.s over 30.0, the first time that has happened all season.  Certainly no surprise to see Henson and Marshall with such strong scores, as both had excellent games (outside of their shooting %), but I was surprised to see that Barnes was able to put up such a solid score, as his shooting was particularly off (even from the line, where he had 4 of UNC's 6 misses), perhaps (if not probably) because of the ankle.  Looking more deeply at his boxscore though, one can see that he actually had one of his more well-rounded performances with 7 rebounds, 2 assists, a block and a steal, to go along with completely shutting down Travis McKie (8 points; 2-11 from the field).  And I would certainly be remiss in failing to mention Reggie Bullock, who once again proved to be a very capable defender, especially in the first half, when held C.J. Harris to just 4 points on 2-5 shooting.  Bullock has really stepped-up and produced P.I.R.s over 20.0 in each of his first 3 starts; which, at least for now, has somewhat softened the blow UNC took when Strickland was lost for the year.

However, the star of stars last night was once again, Tyler Zeller.  While Zeller did have a team-best ORtg of 138.8, what will get the most attention (deservedly so) was the way he relentlessly attacked both the offensive (OR%: 22.3) and defensive glass (DR%: 27.0), producing a career-high number of rebounds for the second-time in three games.  Zeller now leads the team with three 50+ P.I.R. games, and somewhat amazingly, trails John Henson by only 5 rebounds (219 vs. 214) for the team lead. (Side note: It is starting to look very likely that the two will be the first pair of Carolina teammates grab 300 rebounds (each) in the same season.)  So the real question is, if Tyler Hansbrough was the Ty Hanosaurus Rex, does that make Tyler Zeller, who is certainly establishing himself as a monster, GodZELLa?

Season P.I.R.

The cumulative impact ratings for each player can be found below.  A player’s average P.I.R., both for the season and the last five games only considers games in which the player officially logged at least 1 minute of game time.  The C.V. is a measure of variation; the smaller the percentage, the more consistent the player’s performance has been.  While it is not technically correct to use in this instance, because P.I.R. is an interval scale (it can go into the negative), it still has some value for the top-tier players, who will likely have a positive P.I.R. in every game.

[table id=176 /]