I feel like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” but instead of being trapped in Punxsutawney, I’m stuck watching Carolina shoot atrociously and turn the ball over at a prodigious rate. It’s not a good combination to watch if you want to enjoy your basketball!
Progress was made since the Notre Dame game. After a narrow 1-point win, the Tar Heels opened up the flood gates and doubled their final margin, eking out a 2-point victory over a short-handed Hurricanes team in Coral Gables. Here are three things learned from a very ugly day at the office:
Shooting woes + Turnovers = Sad clown face
Carolina had absolutely no right to win this game. At the end of the day, you take the win, but this was an escape, not a statement.
After shooting a miserable 34.8% at home in the Notre Dame game, UNC came out and actually shot a worse 34.4% against Miami. That putrid percentage was actually buoyed by a great 3-point shooting night (9-20, 45%). This means the Tar Heels shot 29% from 2-point range. That is bad, bad, bad... especially with the looks the post players got in the paint.
R.J. Davis and Caleb Love were the main culprits, each hitting just one field goal each and combining to shoot a dismal 2-14 for 5 points. Total.
Roy Williams circled on this point during the post-game press conference:
“They’re both shooting the ball terribly. And they’re good shooters. But this is not kindergarten basketball. I can’t say, ‘Ah, you’re doing great, you’re shooting 28%, God, that’s fantastic!’ Sometimes you’ve got to man up and start making shots, and that’s what they have to do to get their entire game going because they focus so much on their shots going in.”
A tale of two benched players
Since being benched for the Georgia Tech game, perennial starters Garrison Brooks and Leaky Black have gone in two different directions.
Leaky returned to the starting line-up against Notre Dame, played a team-high 31 minutes, and hit the game winner. Garrison was largely anonymous and scored an inefficient 5 points while new starter Day’Ron Sharpe had his breakout game, leading the Tar Heels with 25 points.
Garrison’s funk continued at Miami, scoring 6 points on just one field goal, nearly fouling out, and generally putting sand in the gears of Carolina’s attack. We didn’t see any of the improved elbow jump shot that he worked on during the off season or the golden oldies of lay-ups and baby hooks near the rim. Instead, we saw him getting blocked at the rim, missing a dunk in crunch time, and getting whistled for silly fouls in a game where UNC could ill afford give away points to the Hurricanes. He did, to his credit, sink two free throws on a one-and-one to give the Heels a late lead before Miami’s last basket of the game.
Leaky, on the other hand, stood out with a Swiss Army knife performance; Team-high 16 points, 6-9 shooting (4-4 from 3-point range!!!), 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, and only 2 turnovers (Carolina had 19 total).
About that block.
Poor Leaky was the victim of some poor defense by Armando Bacot twice at the start of the second half. Bacot got caught in pick and roll action outside of the paint, and both times, Nysier Brooks slipped to the basket and Leaky was the rotation man that caught two dunks in the face. So when Earl Timberlake tried to yam one on Carolina after Kerwin Walton bit on pass fake to the corner, Leaky was not gonna be fooled a third time:
In a team that is desperate for a leader, Leaky has thrown his hat in the ring. He’s not typically Carolina’s strongest performer, but he has been generally consistent, particularly on the defensive end. If Leaky can keep up his current form, he could lead UNC out of its current malaise, and while doing so, create an opportunity for himself at the next level.
Andrew Platek’s moment in the sun!
On Saturday, it was Leaky Black. Yesterday, it was Andrew Platek.
Roy Williams would prefer that these games not require a game winner at the very end, but after last season’s parade of buzzer beater defeats, it’s kind of nice to be on the other side for a change.
After Isaiah Wong’s crazy, high-arching turnaround jumper to tie the game, Carolina made like the 2017 Elite Eight team, and eschewed a time-out to run their offense, hopefully before Miami’s defense could get set in the halfcourt.
Only this is 2021, and instead of an immediate inbounds pass from Kennedy Meeks to Theo Pinson, the current squad forgot that Leaky was the point guard and ran down the court without him, while he stood under the basket, ready to inbound the ball.
An opportunity to run the primary break squandered, Leaky set the offense up with Kerwin Walton and Platek set up on opposite corners. Leaky took a screen from Day’Ron Sharpe, but couldn’t commit two defenders when he drove to the paint. His pass to Platek, I’ll assume, was meant for him to catch and shoot, but since Wong was not sucked into the paint to block penetration, that shot was not the right one to take. Instead, Platek meandered down the baseline and made a contested floater over two defenders.
You know. Normal stuff.