Carolina got hot towards the end of last season when Hubert Davis leaned into the Iron Five and played his starters heavy minutes, famously not subbing any of them during the second half of the Duke game in Cameron. When starters were unavailable, either through injury or horseshit ejections, the balance of the system got thrown off, and UNC suffered.
For Carolina to take the final step towards a national championship next season, Hubert Davis will need to be able to go deeper in his bench to 1.) protect his starters and 2.) show variance in play style. That style was due to change with the graduation of Brady Manek at the stretch four position.
Conventional wisdom seemed to dictate that Puff Johnson would slide into Manek’s vacant spot in the starting lineup. Puff is a bit smaller, not as accomplished a shooter, but more athletic and bouncy than Manek. Puff’s emergence would dictate a tweak to Davis’ system, presuming he still wanted to give Armando Bacot as much room in the paint as he had last season.
Enter Pete Nance. The 6’10” 225 lbs power forward/center can fill in Manek’s old spot. He could start at the four position and see if his career-high 45.2% 3P% holds up with more volume and allow four of the Iron Five to essentially play exactly how they did in the NCAA Tournament. There’s hope that Nance could experience a “Carolina bump” the way Manek did:
For #UNC fans...— Brendan Marks (@BrendanRMarks) June 18, 2022
Brady Manek career averages pre-UNC: 12 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.7 apg, 37.4% 3PT shooter
Pete Nance career averages pre-UNC: 9.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.8 apg, 35.6% 3PT shooter
Not a one-for-one replacement (no one could be), but pretty freaking close. Big-time addition.
OR - he can backup Bacot in the five spot so he doesn’t have to log 31.6 mpg anymore, and allow Puff and Dontrez Styles to share power forward minutes, leaving UNC’s frontcourt a bit undersized but hellaciously athletic.
OR - he can continue spacing the floor, but provide rebounding surety (he averaged 6.5 rpg last season, good enough for second on UNC compared to Manek’s 6.1 rpg) while freshmen Jalen Washington and Will Shaver steal minutes to gain precious experience.
OR - he can become a primary pick-and-roll partner to RJ Davis, as he has shown great ability to grab passes and drop step defenders in the roll, or take bigs off the dribble from the top of the key when given space to drive.
The fact that we don’t know what the offense will look like next year is great news for Hubert Davis and bad news for opponents. They’ll need to scout more. Prepare more. Execute more. All because Pete Nance gives Hubert Davis and Carolina more... “or.”