Carolina handled Tennessee Tech with ease on Friday, 108-58. Before they head to Las Vegas to take on Texas and then either Michigan State or UCLA, the Tar Heels will have one more tune-up game against St. Francis tonight.
Games like these are great for getting guys experience and trying out different lineups, but they don’t necessarily tell us a ton about the team. It’s likely we won’t get a true understanding of where this team stands among the top squads in the country until Thursday.
Nonetheless, here are three things to watch in tonight’s matchup.
Can Seventh Woods keep it up?
Though he doesn’t start, Woods has arguably been the Tar Heels’ best point guard to date. Through four games, he has recorded 20 assists and just 4 turnovers, giving him an impressive 5:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Against Tennessee Tech, Woods notched a career-high 8 assists and failed to commit a single turnover in that game. Despite playing just 17 minutes, he found multiple ways to get his teammates involved, including this slick behind-the-back pass to Cam Johnson:
Woods behind the back to Cameron Johnson— Dadgum Box Scores (@dadgumboxscores) November 17, 2018
3 points pic.twitter.com/cmFSJPAWgg
Roy Williams has long said about Woods that if he can stay in front of the ball and not turn it over, he’ll earn more minutes. Well so far, he’s done both of those things. He may not supplant Coby White as the starter, but it’s possible Woods will start getting more opportunities in big moments and he may get more run with the starters.
It wasn’t long ago that fans held their breaths when Woods touched the ball, but this season, he has provided a calming, veteran presence off the bench.
Kenny Williams’ Health
Roy Williams made it clear that Kenny would be fine, but it’s still a situation worth monitoring. If you didn’t catch the play that sent him to the locker room for the remainder of the game, here’s a good look at it:
It’s most likely no more than a rolled ankle, but the Tar Heels can’t afford to have Williams dealing with an injury, even if it’s something he can play through.
Williams has struggled to find his shot early in the season, missing each of his five attempts from deep against Tennessee Tech. Still, he’s gotten more involved offensively after recording just one point over the first two games. He has scored in double figures in each of the last two.
Defensively, Williams is the glue for this team. He’s pretty clearly Carolina’s best on-ball defender and arguably one of the best such in the country. With a motor that doesn’t stop and tenacity that few can match, the last thing the Heels need is an injury slowing Williams down.
Aside from Cam Johnson, who’s shooting an ungodly 65% from the perimeter, the rest of the Tar Heels are only hitting 25% of their three-point shots.
This is a team that was pegged as an above-average shooting team in the preseason, with a trio of reliable deep threats returning in Johnson, Williams, and Luke Maye. Williams is shooting 13% and Maye is at 25%. That is sure to change, but it’d be nice to see it come to fruition before Carolina’s competition steps up in Las Vegas.
There are other guys that are capable of stepping out and hitting those shots, too. Nassir Little and Coby White have shown no fear in hoisting them up and have hit a few big ones, Brandon Robinson is a proven shooter despite not seeing one go through yet this season, and three guys (Seventh Woods, Andrew Platek, and Leaky Black) registered their first three-pointers of the season against Tennessee Tech.
This team likely won’t have to rely on the deep ball quite as much as it did last season, but it’s fair to say that they need to shoot it at a respectable clip in order to reach their goals, and 25% is not that. As the veterans start to settle in and the young guys get a better feel for the game, look for the Heels to improve on this percentage.