Nothing like one of the marquee games of the season being a rock fight.
Duke and UNC played a lot like both teams were unranked — both squads couldn’t break 40% shooting, the score ended in a 63-57 score that seemed antithetical to how the squads had played over the last couple of seasons, and the referees decided to allow a lot of physicality overall. Only 25 fouls total were called in the whole game.
In the end, the Blue Devils finally won against Carolina in Cameron for the first time in three years, and while it likely will never make up for the losses they sustained last year, at least they’ll get to celebrate that Jon Scheyer’s first game against Carolina was a win.
So what did we learn from that loss?
Carolina can’t forget about Armando Bacot
If there’s a theme that has developed in Carolina’s losses over the season, it’s that when Armando Bacot isn’t a factor in the game, Carolina is going to lose. Bacot was bothered a lot down low by Dereck Lively, and only registered 14 points on 6-12 shooting and two total free throws. That doesn’t tell the whole story, though, because the touches Bacot had by the end of the game were minimal at best. Instead, Carolina tried to use the guys that were open — Pete Nance and Leaky Black — to, um, mixed results.
It’s hard to fully blame Bacot for this. It’s one thing if he missed every shot, but when you don’t even give him a chance you’re doing half of the work of the Duke defense for them. Giving up on Bacot having any sort of touch allows the defense to stay spread out, concentrate on the other offensive threats in RJ Davis and Caleb Love, and also puts Duke in prime rebounding position which, they used a lot.
It’s also a big reason why the Tar Heels lost on Wednesday, and a huge reason why Carolina only shot three free throws the entire night. Even if Bacot isn’t shooting, getting it to him down low forces the defense to adjust and opens up options, something that was seen time and time again. Carolina failing to do that was maddening, and they aren’t doing him any favors in the ACC Player of the Year race.
Pete Nance needs to sit more
That part about the mixed success? Leaky Black went 3-4 from three in the second half, finishing the game with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and was the biggest reason Carolina was still in the game late.
The other part? Look at the stat line for Pete Nance: 1-10 overall, 0-5 from three, only five rebounds, and two turnovers. He handled the ball for a shot on three straight possessions, hitting a basket, making a bad drive and getting bailed out with a foul, and then missing wildly. When Carolina needed a big basket late out of a timeout, he had an open look for three and just whiffed on the shot.
It’s not to try and pick at Nance, it’s clear he's not playing at 100% as he's been dealing with back issues for a while. But that’s the very reason why it may be time for him to be sitting until he gets right. He still played 30 minutes, only Puff Johnson played double-digit minutes with 16 outside of the starters. It should have been easy to see he just didn’t have it, and that the team played faster when Puff Johnson was on the floor.
Nance is clearly putting pressure on himself to live up to the shoes of Brady Manek from last year, and he’s just not the same player. It’s time to adjust the offense to use him how he’s meant to be used, maybe closer to the basket instead of trying to hoist threes, and passing the ball out instead of driving to the basket. Last year’s Duke loss was the inflection point where Hubert Davis realized what he had and adjusted the style of play to match. Is he going to do the same this season?
Duke Administration is apparently OK with doxxing now
The Cameron Crazies ceased to be funny a while ago. They had been trying to live up to the legacy of older generations that could get away with a lot of stuff, and didn’t have printed out sheets with instructions on what to do. They just...did it.
There have been multiple stories out about the lengths that the students go to at these campouts, the power hungry nature of the line monitors, and of course, now their not-so-clever cheers get exposed on the internet because they have to actually print them out for everyone to see so they can coordinate. They’ve gotten so concerned with these sheets they clearly don’t care about how it looks for a group of Carolina students to actually invade College GameDay on their campus.
.@CollegeGameDay takeover in Cameron: Success ✅ pic.twitter.com/sgIyoWmTYk— Carolina Fever (@carolinafever) February 4, 2023
So what were they working on so hard to where they let this happen and then had to explain away by insulting the folks at College GameDay? Apparently digging up personal information on Armando Bacot, Leaky Black, and the father of Will Shaver and publishing it on said cheer sheet.
The sheet, with the numbers included, circulated around Twitter — as it generally does before a game — from various UNC media members before the inclusion of the phone numbers was realized.
By the way, thanks for the clicks.
Here’s the thing: there’s a grand tradition of rival students finding out the number of a star player and getting it circulated to where they crash their phones. Anyone who chose to play for UNC had to know it was a possibility. The problem here isn’t that it was just circulated amongst students, but that it was actually printed out thousands of times and distributed to media members as well, to the point where it was published many times over on the internet. It’s blatant doxxing and it speaks to the level of control that Duke actually exerts over these kids. The fact that this information was printed and distributed this widely without any sort of intervention on the part of the Duke athletic department or the administration is, frankly, dangerous.
The thing is, we don’t know the fullest extent of the damage this will do yet because of the way these were distributed. The powers that be at Duke — not the basketball team or staff because on the day of a game they actually have to, you know, worry about playing a game — owes those three people an apology, and need to take steps to police these “cheer sheets” a hell of a lot more than they have. I sincerely hope we don’t hear of racism or stalking messages or voicemails that Armando or Leaky received because of this.
But all in good fun, right?