Carolina got back to winning ways with two straight wins to claim the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. The Heels did not play their best basketball for 40 minutes in either game but found a way to win in each of them. Justin Jackson scored 20+ points in both games to lead the Heels and carry the torch while Marcus Paige missed his last two games. Carolina will face a much tougher test this week when Maryland comes to town.
Marcus Paige Shakes Off Rust:
Marcus Paige will play his first games of the season this week and the Heels will immediately need him to live up to the preseason All-American hype against the #2 Terps. Carolina will need Paige to be sharp shooting the ball and creating offense off of the dribble. If Paige can come back at the level he left off at last year then Carolina should be able to beat the Terps and get right back up near their preseason #1 ranking.
The Heels' Outside Shooting Picks Up:
The Heels made 13 threes last week but also failed to shoot 33% from three. The Heels need to convert a higher percentage of their long range attempts if they want to be one of the best teams in the country. The Heels need Joel Berry, Nate Britt and Theo Pinson to increase their 3 point percentages this week and as the season goes on if the Heels have any higher ambitions. Justin Jackson also seems to have found his shot recently and with him and the return of Marcus Paige the Heels shooting as a team should improve.
Meeks Back to Pounding the Defensive Glass
In the first four games of the season, Kennedy Meeks had three games of at least seven defensive rebounds. In Kansas City, Meeks struggled on the defensive glass with just three rebounds in two games. For the season, Meeks is still at 21.2% for defensive rebounding rate and UNC's overall DR% is an excellent 78.3. However given Meeks' ability to distribute the ball as a defensive rebounder, his proficiency on that end of the floor can lead to open looks down court. Maryland is 131st in OR% and Sunday's opponent Davidson is 329th making this a prime opportunity for Meeks to get his defensive rebounding back on track.
Justin Jackson Keeps It Up:
Jackson has scored more than 20 points in each of the past three games. The Heels need Jackson to play at that level against Maryland and for the rest of the season if they want to win the title this year. The Heels need to feed Jackson the ball when they are on offense to allow him to succeed. The return of Paige needs to limit the touches that Berry, Britt and the bigs get instead of Jackson. Jackson has been taking about 13 shots per game recently, given his production Jackson needs to be getting that same number of shots up this week for Carolina to have a shot at going 2-0 again this week.
Efficient Offense From The Other Guard Spot:
Even if Marcus Paige comes back and picks right up where he left off, the Heels need whoever is in the other guard spot (Berry, Britt or Pinson) needs to be efficient on offense. The Heels can not afford to have the other guards putting up 1-7 shooting lines as they have in some of the games earlier this season. The Heels need their other guards to be efficient and hit their open threes when they get them. The bigs will draw double teams and opposing defenses will collapse around Jackson and Paige's drives to the basket. When the other guard gets an open three off of these opportunities, they will need to knock them down if Carolina's offense is to live up to its potential and the Heels are to compete for a national title.