If you were one of the fortunate souls that didn’t get to watch today’s game against Louisville, I have some good news for you: the Tar Heels didn’t suffer a last-second heartbreaker! The bad news of course is that the Cardinals ran them out of the building in a 55-72 defeat, further burying the Heels’ chances of getting out of last place in the ACC. It’s probably better to focus on the former more than the latter.
If we’re all being completely honest with ourselves, we all saw this coming before the ball was even tipped. UNC’s Twitter account announced that Garrison Brooks and Justin Pierce were both out for today’s game, which was an immediate recipe for disaster. Interior defense? Bad. Interior scoring? Bad again. Overall field goal percentage? Bleh. Rebounding? Kill the box score with fire. This was the first game Brooks has missed all season, and one can only hope that it’s his last.
On the other side of the court, Jordan Nwora has absolutely snapped out of whatever funk was preventing him from being the player that college basketball fans know him as. He finished the game with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and made three of his seven three-point attempts. Malik Williams was also a load to deal with in the paint, as he finished the game with 17 points off 8-11 shooting.
Outside of Garrison Brooks, one of Carolina’s biggest problems in this game seemed to be a recurring one for them, and that was lack of ball movement / ball screens. What’s funny is that when they were executing ball screens effectively Cole Anthony was able to get to the rim effectively. At this point it’s really hard to figure out how much of this problem is what is being coached to this team and how much of it is the players not doing what they’ve practiced, but it’s a troublesome issue that is bound to keep them at the bottom of the ACC rankings if they can’t figure out how to fix it.
Speaking of Anthony, he had one of his more efficient games this season. He finished the game with 18 points off 7-16 shooting, though went 2-7 from the three-point line. This has understandably been a frustrating season when it comes to how Anthony’s developed so far, but the way teams have guarded him is not without some of the blame. Days like today proved that if you can stop him from getting to the spots that he wants to get to on the floor that UNC just doesn’t have enough firepower to make up for it. That sounds like a weird statement considering the fact he had 18 points, but here we are.
This game for sure hurt, but compared to every other game this month, this one was more of a prick on the finger than a stab in the heart. Tuesday the Heels will be back in Chapel Hill to take on NC State, and we can only hope that Garrison Brooks feels better by then or else we may see some of the same issues we saw today transpire.