How are things looking for all of the Tar Heels’ stock after their best week of the season?
Culminating a three-game ACC road trip with a resounding win over NC State and then squashing Syracuse into orange juice has all arrows pointing up! UNC went into the weekend ranked #7 before dismantling the Orange while top ten rivals were falling by the wayside. KenPom has UNC as the sixth best team in the country, which feel about right.
With that as our foundation, I’m afraid to say that all stocks are going up as of right now. Let’s take a look at how UNC’s players are riding their stonks straight to the moon!
Elliot Cadeau: The two things that got Cadeau on the bench last week—fouls and attacking on offense—were addressed in spades. Cadeau has gotten better and better each week with his defense, and his penchant for ticky-tack fouls was disgarded. Against NC State Cadeau tallied just one foul, and against Syracuse he had none. This meant his minutes didn’t have to be monitored, and he played 33 and 23 minutes against the Wolfpack and Orange, respectively (and he would have played more against Syracuse if the contest wasn’t already decided).
Cadeau also attacked more on offense. He’s long been a maestro that gets the other players better looks in their favorite spots, but defenses did not play Cadeau as a scoring threat himself. His outside shooting still needs some work, but he’s been attacking the rim with a great deal of success, varying his driving speed like a pitcher with an excellent fastball and deadly change-up.
But make no mistake, the passing is what made you buy your ticket, and he hasn’t disappointed:
Jalen Washington and Jae’Lyn Withers: These two are going up as a combo this week because of what the showed they can do supporting Armando Bacot when he gets in foul trouble.
Bacot got his second foul of the NC State game with 5:48 left in the half. He had already sat four minutes earlier in the half when DJ Burns took a breather, but when he went away for the rest of the half, there was concern that Burns would go off. At that point, Burns had 7 points and PNC Arena was rocking every time he got the ball.
He did not score again in the first half.
Carolina’s biggest team flaw is probably their lack of size. When Bacot goes to the bench, the post gets a lot thinner. But Washington and Withers used their attributes—length and athleticism—to ward off the monstrous Burns with a clever mixture of double-teaming and ball denial.
This tandem probably can’t do this for 40 minutes a game, but if Bacot does get into foul trouble, Hubert Davis doesn’t need to take unnecessary risks with him on the floor.
Cormac Ryan: If Cormac Ryan isn’t hitting his 3’s, then Carolina is in big trouble, right?
Just like Harrison Ingram is showing himself to be an absolute cornerstone for the Tar Heels even when he isn’t scoring in double-figures, Cormac Ryan is proving he can lift the squad when he isn’t piling in 3-pointers.
Last week, he scored just 8 and 9 points against NCSU and Syracuse. But he was an absolute menace on defense, getting floor burns and extra possessions. He ran the floor for easy baskets off steals and from Kennedy Meeks-esque passing from Bacot.
He led the team in +/- against Syracuse with +35!!! in just 24 minutes of game time. The closest Heel after that was Ingram at +29. Against NC State, he was second on the team with +14, behind Bacot at +16, but Bacot played seven less minutes.
Ryan isn’t letting his 3-point stroke dictate his contributions to the team. He’s showing that he can contribute in many different areas, and all of them were super valuable last week.
It’s clear that this team is made of sterner stuff than last season’s, and they are 100% playing for each other. Let’s remember that the Stock Report is not a condemnation of any player, but an accurate (hopefully) reflection on how their play will affect each others’ court time moving forward.
It was an excellent Week 10 from a Carolina basketball purist’s perspective. The Heels put NC State back in their rightful place (in the mud), and they were playing fast, attacking ball against Syracuse. With Hubert Davis playing more bench players significant minutes, and with the variety of tools at his disposal, who do you think stands to gain more playing time moving forward? Let us know in the comments!