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UNC 2014-15 vs 2013-14 Through Ten Games

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

UNC is ten games into the 2014-15 season and sitting at 7-3 overall with losses to Butler, Iowa and Kentucky. A year ago, the Tar Heels were also 7-3 through ten games with losses to Belmont, UAB and Texas but wins over Michigan State, Kentucky and Louisville. Here is the overall picture of both teams at the same point in the season.

2014 2015
Points per game 78.5 80.0
Adjusted Offensive Efficiency 113.7 108.8
Adjusted Defensive Efficiency 94.2 90.0
Tempo 71.5 71.8
FG% 46.8% 45.3%
3P% 32.7% 28.9%
FT% 59.0% 70.4%
ORB% 36.7 45.4
DRB% 67.9 64.4
Turnover% 16.5 18.7
FT Rate 52.7 39.1

Sources: KenPom and StatSheet

In terms of overall shooting, UNC is a tick below last season through ten games with there being a close to 4% drop in three point shooting but an 11% jump at the free throw line. The overall efficiency numbers are quite different but in the opposite directions. The defensive efficiency is sitting at 90 which is well ahead of the 94.2 of last season. However the offensive efficiency is a good five points down. Based on the raw comparison, UNC clearly took a step back but in the context of the overall college basketball numbers not really. UNC's 113.7 last season through ten games was 25th overall which is the same ranking for the 108.8 this season. UNC's DE last season was ranked 22nd but the current 90.0 is ranked 15th. UNC's 2014-15 numbers, if ranked against last season would be 94th for OE and 4th for DE. In short, the state of offensive production in college basketball overall is not great. The average efficiency for all teams has dropped from 104.3 last season to 99.9 this season with tempo staying virtually the same.

One stat of particular note is the free throw rate. UNC is going to the line less this season through ten games than they did a year ago but also shooting 11% better on free throws. The raw numbers bear this out in stark detail. Through ten games last season UNC had attempted 317 free throws versus just 250 this season. However because the free throw shooting was so much worse last season, the current team has made just 11 fewer free throws that last season's team at this same point. It should be noted five times in UNC's first ten games last season the team had 37 or more free throw attempts in a game. So far this season UNC's most attempts in a game was 36 versus Robert Morris.

The question is what changed? Part of the equation is the absence of James Michael McAdoo. McAdoo was very aggressive driving to the basket and getting fouled but shot poorly at the line. In the first ten games last season, McAdoo had three games where he attempted 15, 19 and 19 free throws. By the end of the season McAdoo finished 90th in the country with a FT rate of 68.0 but was a 53% free throw shooter.

In addition to losing McAdoo, Marcus Paige hasn't spent nearly as much time at the line as he did last season to this point. At this stage last season, Paige had four games where he had free throw attempts of 8,8,10 and 11. He missed just one free throw in those games. This season Paige had just two such games, a 5-9 outing versus Butler and 9-10 against Florida. Overall Paige has 20 fewer attempts from the line versus last season. The absence of McAdoo means a lower FT rate for the team but also a higher shooting percentage at the line.  It also means UNC is probably leaving points on the floor by not back filling those McAdoo attempts with free throws from better shooters which Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson, J.P. Tokoto and Marcus Paige all are at this point.

The UNC's 2014-15 offense has been good enough in most of the games with the two awful outings against Butler and Iowa really tugging on the numbers. In theory this team should have improved on last season but some regression in Paige's and J.P. Tokoto's shooting numbers, the lack of three point shooting and fewer trips to the line have stagnated things a bit. The three point shooting is especially concerning seeing that last season the team was shooting better despite Leslie McDonald playing just one of the first ten games. Paige carried most of the perimeter shooting load in McDonald's absence, something he really hasn't done this season with no one else proving to be a consistent threat.

If anything the numbers tend to show why there is some perceived frustration over the current team. The expectation was this team would take a step forward offensively and that doesn't appear to really be happening. At least not yet.