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Tar Heel Hangover: A win before exams

Thoughts on a hot shooting win and some perspective on Luke Maye’s start

NCAA Basketball: Tulane at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Tar Heel Hangover. This is our Monday morning opportunity to review last week’s game, second guess all of the key moments, and set the game plan for the week ahead.

The Elevator Speech: The State of the Team.

This has been a solid start to the pre-conference schedule. One bad game mixed in with a number of very good outings on both the offensive and defensive ends. Also impressive is that this team has only played four games at home so far.

Words of Wisdom? A Thought from MGD.

“If they shoot like that, they will be hard to beat.”

My Grumpy Dad hit the nail on the head. How about 72.7% against Western Carolina. From three. 16-22 from three and a mere 21-43 from two (49%). It was an incredible performance and one that would have prevailed against any opponent. The question will be whether or not this team can get anywhere close to that type of shooting success against ACC foes.

For those scoring at home, the Catamounts and Tar Heels combined for 57 three point attempts. This is a number to keep track of as we move through the season. The Heels have excellent perimeter shooters (mostly) and enough length and athleticism to play effective defense on the outside. Though not always the case, it would seem that more deep shots would benefit the Heels. By contrast, there were 44 total threes taken against Michigan State with a Carolina shooting percentage of 5.6%

I have not done the research, but I suspect that the 67 percentage point difference in three point shooting between the Michigan State and Western Carolina games is among the biggest in history for a team in a single season. The Heels did it in 10 days.

Lying In Bed, I Am Worried About. . .

The interior defense. The guards are overplaying everything on the outside and are applying a great deal of ball pressure. This is one way to handle being a bit outmatched on the interior. The problem, however, is that teams are taking advantage by running back cuts and getting easy baskets. This is just not a team with a rim protector like there have been in the past. Guards on this team will be challenged to stay with their man off the ball. This is the trade off for playing aggressive three point defense.

That being said, has anyone noticed Joel Berry II’s propensity to block shots as the season is advancing? His tough transition defense is merely a sign of his continued development and leadership.

When I Talk to Haters, I Brag About . . .

Let’s do a blind statistical comparison among three North Carolina players. All three are forwards and these are single season numbers.

Player 1:

22.2 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 40% 3P, 58.4% 2P, .8 APG, .8 Blocks

Player 2:

22.6 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 0% 3P (on only 7 attempts), 54.7% 2P, .9 APG, .4 Blocks

Player 3:

19.9 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 48.1% 3P, 59.3% 2P, 2.7 APG, 1.1 Blocks

These numbers are pretty even. Player three has fewer points per game but is shooting a higher percentage with nearly 2 more assists per game and the most blocks per game of the three.

Player 3 is Luke Maye this year. Player 1 is Antawn Jamison 1997-1998. Player 2 is Tyler Hansbrough 2007-2008. Jamison and Hansbrough both won the National Player of the Year for those campaigns.

Now, I fully expect Luke Maye’s numbers to come down as the season grinds on. The ACC is going to be very difficult this year and it will be hard to maintain this amazing start (after all, there has only been one ACC game played thus far and look what happened there). Nevertheless, it is time for Carolina fans to recognize how good a player Luke Maye is becoming.

Final Thoughts

Tennessee will be a very difficult game in a tough environment. It could also be the first game with Cameron Johnson on the court. In a lot of ways, this game could be the true debut for the Heels this year.

I, for one, am looking forward to it.