Week 9 went as well as you could hope for UNC. The Tar Heels traveled to Pitt and Clemson and came back with two double-digit (and hopefully by the end of the season) Quad 1 wins. They exorcised some of last season’s demons against the Panthers and showed that Clemson may have feasted on too many cupcakes instead of playing a legit schedule the way Carolina did.
Some of the play in both games was ugly as they were both scrappy affairs. UNC held both teams under 60 points, but struggled offensively. They’re showing character in these wins, though. Let’s look at how the players’ stock performed during a fantastic week 9 stretch.
Harrison Ingram: Single-digit scoring in both games? 50% free-throw shooting over that stretch? Doesn’t matter. Harrison Ingram is showing that he is the heartbeat of this team by doing something UNC fans haven’t seen in a while — positively affecting the game without scoring.
Against Pitt, Ingram led the team with 15 rebounds (5 offensive). Against Clemson, he played tough defense against a taller front line and pulled Ian Schieffelin away from the basket to give Armando Bacot more room to operate. Ingram also continued to be a playmaker, dropping three dimes in both games.
These two games raised the floor on what our expectations should be for Ingram. Imagine the ceiling when he’s hitting his shots at a healthier clip.
Armando Bacot: Armando’s starting to cook!
Two double-doubles. Five blocks in two games. 8-10 from the free throw line (6-6 at Pitt!). These are the types of performances that will give Carolina its foundation to build quality wins. If UNC can count on this type of solid, steady production, it’s just a matter of how well our perimeter shooting and team defense shows out on a given night.
The knock on Bacot has been that he struggles against size. Well, he handled two teams that had a lot of size to contend with, and an elite competitor in PJ Hall. All Bacot went and did was foul Hall out with just 10 points and 5 rebounds, a pittance output compared to the Carolina talisman, which should put him on the fast track for All-ACC honors.
Armando Bacot has outrebounded PJ Hall 40-11 in four career matchups.— Bryan Ives (@awaytoworthy) January 6, 2024
Seth Trimble: Different types of performances for two different types of games, both valuable.
Trimble continued his scoring boon from the Charleston Southern game at Pitt, scoring 10 points against the Panthers in a tightly contested first half, including this beauty of a lob that Carolina fans haven’t seen that much of since the late 90’s:
Against Clemson, Trimble didn’t have the statistical output that caught the eye, but his defense was key to keeping the Tar Heels afloat when Elliot Cadeau got tagged with two early first-half fouls. Trimble plays tight, physical defense without fouling (he only had one at Clemson).
Trimble subbed in with 13:54 left in the second half and didn’t leave the floor after that. Hubert Davis isn’t starting him, but he’s certainly treating him like a closer.
Elliot Cadeau: This is a small hit this week, but one to pay attention to.
I personally believe that Elliot Cadeau has improved his defense as Carolina moves into conference play, but for some reason he keeps getting ticky-tack fouls called on him. Four fouls restricted him to only 15 minutes against Pitt. Two fouls in the first four minutes of the Clemson game limited him to just 18 minutes.
So if the whistles don’t change, he needs to adjust. A reach-in foul 16 seconds into the game when Bacot was bodying up PJ Hall is not intelligent play. Keeping your hands straight up and sliding your feet while a Tiger jumps into your chest? That’s just poor officiating, but Cadeau isn’t getting the benefit of the doubt.
The second issue is that he’s starting to get scouted as a non-threat on offense. Against Clemson, Brad Brownell was visibly waving his players off of Cadeau in half-court sets. The Tigers feared his passing more than his shooting and driving. In fairness, Cadeau’s best attacks tend to be in the open court, and there were zero fast break points for either team in that ugly Saturday nooner.
If Cadeau can find ways to score either on the bounce or from some spot-up shooting (which he has shown he can do), it will force teams to guard him more closely, and open up his full repertoire of skills.
It’s another big week for Carolina, as they cap off their three-game road trip against NC State at the Carolina Hurricanes’ arena, followed by a return to the Dean Dome against Syracuse. Who do you think has made improvements in their stock leading up to these two tough ACC tests? Let us know in the comments!