It might not have been their first, but UNC’s loss to Michigan on Wednesday was definitely their most galling. They struggled at both ends of the floor. The players you would hope would step up in a big road game didn’t step up. It’s not the end of the world, but it sure was annoying to watch.
If you managed to not watch the game, lucky you, but also here are three things that stood out in the 84-67 loss in Ann Arbor.
Rightfully so, a lot was made of the freshman class coming into the season. Obviously they’re a talented trio, and Nassir Little and Coby White especially have a chance to put in big, game-winning performances this season. However, especially against the team the caliber of Michigan, if UNC’s trio of seniors struggle, the team is also probably going to struggle.
Just glancing at Kenny Williams and Luke Maye’s stat lines doesn’t paint a completely terrible picture. However, those two and Cam Johnson kinda no-showed as the game slipped away from UNC. Most of Maye’s points came early when the Tar Heels opened up a bit of a lead. Williams hit a couple of threes late when the game was mostly out of hand.
Here’s a fun stat:
From the 12 minute mark in the first half to the 12 minute mark in the second half, UNC's seniors combined for four points. Score swung 31 points in Michigan's favor in that 20 minutes.— matt ferenchincense (@MattF15) November 29, 2018
That doesn’t even take into account what was happening at the other end of the floor, which we’ll get to.
Obviously, all three of them have had good to great moments in their time as Tar Heels, so it’s not like they should be completely written off as overrated. That being said, their failure to do anything to lead the way against Michigan isn’t exactly encouraging.
Oh hey, the defense is still struggling.
To some degree, you have to give Michigan credit. They definitely appear to be a good team. Even if you have the best looks possible, you still have to make shots, and they did. They shot 57.4% overall and 50% from three.
That being said...UNC’s defense was really bad against the Wolverines. The letting teams get open three thing is a regular complaint, but it was more than that. The Tar Heels were getting beat on backdoor cuts and pick and rolls.
Not every team is be able to punish those mistakes like Michigan did Wednesday night. However, Carolina is going to need to shore that up at least somewhat. Even though the offense has been good this season, they’re going to have off-nights too. They can’t get to the biscuit score every game.
The next practice is not going to be fun for the players.
Now for some good news: North Carolina is only playing four games in December. They have one on Saturday against UNC Wilmington, but then there’s a 10-day break ahead of the Gonzaga game. Roy Williams will have plenty of time to get his points across. There might be a rim-less practice in their future. Have fun with that, boys.