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Basketball Grades: Pitt, Duke and Miami

Carolina went 2-1 in their three game homestead.

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina blew out two ACC foes at home but lost the game that matters most against Duke. The Heels were very impressive against Pitt and Miami, winning by a combined 46 points; however, they failed to beat an undermanned Duke team, even though they were up by 8 in the final minutes of the game. The Heels rebounded from the Duke game with their blowout win over Miami, but the team still has a long way to go before they justify their preseason #1 ranking.


Box Out: D+

Carolina continues to surrender a large number of offensive rebounds. The Heels allowed Pitt to collect 19 offensive rebounds, Duke to have 11 and Miami to have 14. Coach Williams attempted to do do something about the rebounding issue when he started Isaiah Hicks over Kennedy Meeks against Miami but the Heels still let the Hurricanes rebound more than a third of their misses. Going forward, the Heels can not allow for teams to keep getting so many second chances at points. They will lose in March if they can not rededicate themselves to cleaning the defensive glass.

Guards Rediscover Efficiency: C

Marcus Paige and Joel Berry continue to struggle in ACC play with these past three games being no exception. Berry shot the ball efficiently against Pitt and Miami, but he struggled mightily against Duke. Furthermore, Berry had a grand total of five assists in Carolina's three most recent games. Carolina needs more creation from their point guard than they are currently getting. Paige has been in a slump for so long, that it now borders on regression for Carolina's pre-season All-American. Paige went 9-26 from the field last week, including 4-17 from three with his worst performance against Duke. Paige has been the team's biggest disappointment this year and he needs to improve quickly if they are to make a deep run in March.

Make Your Free Throws: B

Carolina shot 34-43 from the line last week, good for 79% from the charity stripe. Brice Johnson and Isaiah Hicks have both regressed a bit from the line as the season has gone on, but the team behind them remains solid. The Heels have gotten much better from the free throw line over the past few seasons and free throw shooting is now a strength for the Heels rather than a weakness.

Someone From the Bench Not Named Isaiah Hicks Produces: A-

Nate Britt and Theo Pinson each played better last week than they had in the games preceding the homestead. These two have been better creators than the starting duo of Berry and Paige. Pinson and Britt combined for more assists in each game last week than Paige and Berry did despite the fact that the pair averaged barely more than thirty minutes per game combined. In fact Pinson had six assists and one turnover against Pitt in only 15 minutes while Britt had six assists and one turnover of his own in 14 minutes against Duke. Both players have also been capable three point shooters on the season and are elevating their play at the right time of the season.

Somebody Stars: A-

Brice Johnson continues to be the leader of the team but his numbers last week were mixed. Johnson put on a show against Duke after a lackluster performance against Pitt and followed with the 16 and 15 that has been essentially the norm for him in conference play. Carolina played team basketball for their two wins last week, five players hit double figures against Pitt and six against Miami, which made a great performance from Johnson, Jackson or Paige unnecessary. For the rest of conference play, the Heels need to figure out what works best for them in each game, there are some games where one or two players can carry the team to victory but other times when a more balanced effort is required. Ultimately, it is important that the offense remains flexible as they go forward and that the Heels can win in many different ways, if they can keep that up in March, this team will go far.