Watching Matt Coleman sink the game-winning step-back jumper at the buzzer gave me instant deja vu to the 2015 game in Austin, when Javan Felix hit his own game-winning buzzer beater. I felt like Camille Montes in Quantum of Solace when she was trapped in a burning hotel, about to die the same way her family did. “Not like this... Not this way.”
The Tar Heels did not cover themselves in glory against Texas and continued their alarming trend of high turnovers (14) mixed with low free-throw percentage (18-32, 56.3%). In the first half, the offense was stagnant, particularly when Garrison Brooks was out tending to his injured ankle. Despite missing time on the floor, he led the Tar Heels with seven points in the first half. In a game lost by a single basket, having that time back could have made up for such a fine margin.
Garrison finished the game with a team-high 18 points, and he was one of the most efficient Tar Heels on the night, shooting 58%. (Armando Bacot shot 60% but only took five shots.) Compare that to the starting backcourt (Love shot 2-13 and Davis shot 3-11), and you can clearly see where Carolina’s bread was buttered. He also contributed seven rebounds to add to UNC’s +18 rebounding advantage.
Against the Longhorns, Garrison played his greatest hits (jump hooks, drop steps, layups), but also showed some of his new stuff. He’s been workshopping a drop step, turnaround jump shot, and his jumper looks very competent. What will never change is how physical he is around the basket, easily winning fights down low against Jericho Sims and Greg Brown. He was playing grown man basketball, and some of his elbows looked like they had some extra “oomph” behind them.
As I discussed yesterday in the Stanford notes, for Garrison to go from Charmander to Charizard, he will need the perimeter players to hit shots and feed the post without turning the ball over. When Carolina’s overall efficiency improves, Garrison’s contributions will skyrocket.
It will likely take the freshmen ten or more games to figure things out and play at Roy’s preferred tempo while not making mistakes, so Garrison’s role will become even more important in the interim. He’ll be a barometer for how well Carolina does as a team with his individual productivity.
Hopefully Garrison has a chance to ice up that ankle between now and Tuesday night. Luka Garza and the Hawkeyes are waiting.