Merry Christmas from Tar Heel Blog!
Carolina has made it through the toughest portion of their non-conference schedule. There are no bad losses and some impressive wins, and we’re starting to see what this team can look like against a variety of opponents. The starting line-up is now written in pen rather than pencil, but Hubert Davis seems to be more willing to go to the bench than last season, which means the players have a realistic shot of improving their position on the team.
Let’s dive into the final stock report of 2023!
Cormac Ryan: Ryan’s stock has vacillated depending on his shooting percentage all season. There have been times like against UConn when he was 0-6 from three that really hurt UNC’s chances. Against Oklahoma, Ryan shot just 1-5 from three, but there was so much more that he offered the team.
Cormac Ryan stymied the Sooners with the energy and intensity of a steroids/cocaine-fueled Ultimate Warrior. He was initially targeted on defense, but proved to be a nuisance to Oklahoma players driving towards the rim. He had two of Carolina’s ten steals, which helped the Heels make up for a negative rebounding margin.
And speaking of rebounding, despite being a little undersized at their positions, Cormac Ryan and Harrison Ingram both chipped in seven rebounds each, tied for second on the team behind Armando Bacot’s eight. If Ryan rebounds like that going forward, it’ll go a long way to getting Carolina back in positive rebounding margin.
Armando Bacot: Armando had a tall task against Oklahoma. Literally!
Bacot went hard against Oklahoma’s trees and came out on top. His defense was excellent, limiting Sam Godwin to two points and back-up posts Luke Northweather and John Hugley to zero. Additionally, Godwin fouled out and Hugley had three fouls compared to Bacot’s one and a beautiful 5-7 shooting performance from the line—a fantastic trade-off!
And of course, there was that clutch corner-3.
His statistics didn’t pop, but the effect of his work was noticeable. He led all players in +/- rating with +15. Bacot seems to have some tailwind heading into 2024.
Zayden High: The freshman post’s minutes had dried up recently as UNC got into the more difficult portion of its non-conference schedule. He played two minutes against Villanova, Tennessee, and Florida State, one minute against Kentucky, and none against Arkansas.
But Hubert Davis dusted High off and played him extended minutes against Oklahoma. He played 12 minutes against the Sooners, matching his season-high against Lehigh. High’s energy is a bit like Scrappy Doo—he has no problem sticking his nose into a scuffle—but he might need someone on Mystery Incorporated to grab his shoulders and point him in the right direction every now and then.
Three big rebounds when UNC needed help on the boards and more than twice the minutes of Jalen Washington (who was sneaky efficient on offense) shows that High is giving Hubert Davis what he’s asking for. Let’s see if he capitalizes on this show of faith from the head coach.
It’s Christmas! No coal in Tar Heel stockings today.
And at this point of the season last year, UNC already had four losses (in a row!) and was a Pete Nance prayer away from five losses. Zero complaints and good vibes ahead as the Heels spend the holidays with their families before returning home to hopefully splatter Charleston Southern before going into another rough stretch of three straight ACC road games.
Who do you think improved their stock in the win over Oklahoma? Do you see any bench players earning more minutes with their play? Let us know in the comments, and have a safe and Merry Christmas!