Three games in three days with a belly full of turkey and stuffing is no easy task. Carolina walked out of the “Imperial Arena” without the tournament trophy, but with a hard-earned victory over Arkansas, ringing still in their ears from the whistles against Villanova, and a candle lit for Cormac Ryan’s ankle(s).
Much was learned, and those lessons need to be applied immediately as Tennessee comes to Chapel Hill on Wednesday night. Let’s dive in to see how our portfolio looks after three games in the Bahamas.
Harrison Ingram: Last week, I had Ingram as a “Hold” with a sound rationale of “He’s doing what we expected him to do.” During the Battle 4 Atlantis, he blew that notion out of the warm, tropical water.
Coach Davis was actively using his bench more in the opening three games of the season (all in the Dean Dome), trying to see what his new cast of characters had to offer. During that stretch, Ingram averaged 27 mpg. In the Bahamas, he averaged 34.7 mpg (including all 40 minutes against Arkansas) and that number would’ve been higher had he not fouled out against Villanova.
Ingram has increased his scoring from the first three home games (12 ppg) to 16.3 ppg, and he’s shot 61.5% from three in the Bahamas. Against Villanova, he was mega-efficient, shooting just eight times from the field while hitting 4/5 from 3-point range. If he maintains this upward trajectory, notions of him being the third scorer behind Bacot and RJ Davis may need to be reexamined.
RJ Davis: Davis is a known quantity, so if he seemed a little inconsistent or down in the first three games of the season (point totals of 13, 22, and 8), his tournament run was closer to his custom vintage. Davis averaged 22 ppg in Atlantis, including 30 huge points against Arkansas.
Davis has been equally pesky in the lane as from the perimeter. He had several tough and-1 calls when bigger defenders could not stay in front of him, and he can always gain the inch of separation he needs on the perimeter with his shifty ball-handling.
His minutes have increased as the competition has gotten tougher, and RJ Davis remains ever-available, shaking off some nasty bumps and falls to stay on the floor. He has also kept his fouls down, something Elliot Cadeau has struggled with. Look for Davis’ number to be called in crunch time against Tennessee and UConn.
Armando Bacot: Bacot got off to a hot start during UNC’s opening home-stand, averaging 22.7 ppg and 13.3 rpg, while shooting 61% from the field. In the Bahamas, those numbers all dipped to 9 ppg, 10 rpg, 37% FG.
The competition got tougher — none tougher than match-up nightmare Eric Dixon from Villanova — and Bacot got whistled for some ticky-tacky nonsense which may have neutered some of his gusto for crashing the boards. After drawing one foul in each of his first three games, Bacot got four against Northern Iowa and Villanova, and three against Arkansas.
Viewers from every school in the Battle 4 Atlantis can join hands and unite over their shared disdain towards the tournament refs, who made calls as if still under the effects of too many Bahama Mamas in the sun, but Bacot will have to quickly recalibrate when he gets home. For Carolina to succeed, they need Bacot to be at his best — a bully on the boards, and a scoring presence at the basket. The better he is at that, the better looks the perimeter players will have from deep, and the more space they’ll have to drive and dish. UNC goes as far as their super-senior talisman goes.
Who do you think improved or dropped their stock during the Battle 4 Atlantis? Let us know in the comments!