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UNC vs. Notre Dame: Three Things Learned

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Never lift your nose at a win, but goodness, this one did not smell good

Notre Dame v North Carolina Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

On Orange Bowl day, Carolina fans had the unexpected treat of a basketball game against Notre Dame, a chance to get right after back-to-back losses to NC State and Georgia Tech to begin ACC play. Only their third game in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels were probably eager to shoot in their home gym.

Oof. Being in the Dean Dome didn’t help. Here are three things learned from a cardiac arrest-type night in Chapel Hill:

Poor shooting keeps this contest close

UNC continued their poor shooting this season, while allowing Notre Dame to shoot 13.5% better on 14 less shots. There’s your tight margin right there.

Carolina shot 34.8% both from the field and specifically from 3-point range, a remarkable coincidence. This was a slight improvement over their first half shooting splits (31.3/33.3%). Folks, shooting that poorly with a team like Notre Dame is all kinds of dangerous. While the Irish as a whole didn’t shoot lights out, danger man Nate Laszewski absolutely killed the Heels, going 9-14 (7-11 from 3, 64%!!!!) for 25 points. A shooter like that on a better team than Notre Dame will absolutely make the defense pay a steeper price.

UNC did have a +21 rebounding margin (+18 offensive rebounds), a statistic that usually means large victory margins for Roy Williams-led teams. But too many of Carolina’s possessions resulted in an initial missed shot at the rim, followed by a game of volleyball before the Irish eventually snagged a rebound to initiate their offense.

Let’s go back into the archives to illustrate this point. Back in 2012, Carolina beat Duke in Durham 88-70, which flattered Duke, as Roy had them doubled up at halftime 48-24. The Heels didn’t shoot the ball especially well, but did have a typical shooting split of 55/31% on the night. That type of shooting combined with their +20 rebounding margin led to a comfortable win.

Carolina can keep out-rebounding their opponents, as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing over the years, but if they shoot as poorly as they did yesterday, we’ll be in for a lot of anxious second halves.

Day’Ron Sharpe makes his presence felt

For the second game in a row, freshman Day’Ron Sharpe got the starting nod over senior Garrison Brooks. You can’t really argue with the results. Day’Ron was the player of the game, leading the Heels in points and was one rebound shy of Armando Bacot (9 to 10) for the team lead.

Day’Ron still needs some polish and refinement. He fumbles a few passes and misses a few bunnies. But whether things are going well for the Tar Heels or it looks dire, Day’Ron does not shy away. He is a protagonist, not a passenger.

Garrison Brooks is firmly entrenched in a slump. While he sorts that out, it’s comforting to know that Day’Ron is poised to earn more minutes and continue his rapid development. The only thing bad about this development is that it may hasten his departure from Chapel Hill sooner than expected.

Dean Dome replaces Paris and Milan as the fashion capital of the world

I have made it known that the decision by basketball coaches to lean into more casual wear is the right way to go. I never understood why basketball coaches dressed like Gordon Gekko in Wall Street when they have to stomp around in a hot gym, a disgusting locker room, and hug sweaty players on the sideline. It doesn’t make sense.

Roy Williams has looked so comfortable on the sideline in a variety of polos, sweaters, sweater-vests, and the like. Jordan Brand has done a great job of giving him a different pair of exclusive J’s to wear for every game. It’s great for branding and a recruiting tool.

But as a current Hawaii resident, I was blown away by Mike Brey’s game attire:

He copped my vibe, save for the Under Armour sneakers replacing my Rainbow flip-flops (or “slippers” as they’re called in Hawaii). I don’t think that Roy would ever go that far, but as hot as it gets in Cameron, he should consider it.