On Friday night, UNC basketball fans got their first look at the men’s and women’s teams, both on and off the court. You can’t make any real judgments based on a scrimmage game with music blasting and a much lower sense of competition than an actual game, but I’m going to try and analyze them anyways, because overanalyzing stuff is what we do as sports fans. First, the women’s game:
Jamie Cherry led the Blue team with 10 points, while first-year player Taylor Koenen hit two three-pointers to lead the white team with 10 points as well.
- At 27 and 45 seconds, Cherry just blows by the defense. I know it’s a scrimmage and nobody plays defense in scrimmages, but personally, I like my players to take pride in defense. At the same time, Cherry does exhibit good body control on her drives, as does Stephanie Watts when she takes it in from about the three-point line at 15 seconds.
- I do love confident freshmen, and Koenen leading her team in scoring is a really good sign. Both of her three-point baskets were difficult shots, one from a foot behind the line (8 seconds) and another as she was moving sideways (35 seconds). That she put them up with no fear is an indication of good things to come from her.
- Remember what I said about taking pride in defense? Freshman Emily Sullivan’s play at the end of the game is a good example of that. She comes off her mark to block the shot, and, realizing that the play isn’t over, recovers and contests the second attempt and watches it go wide. I want that commitment throughout the clock. Hopefully Coach Hatchell brings it.
Now, the men’s:
Justin Jackson led all scorers and rebounders with 13 points and 5 boards for the White team, while Isaiah Hicks went 5-5 from the field to finish with 12 points and chipped in 4 rebounds for the Blue squad.
- The first play of the game happens to also be my favorite. Hicks goes aggressive with the tip instead of going back to his point guard, and Brandon Robinson whips a pass to Tony Bradley, who flushes it down in the air. Sweet, sweet, freshman-to-freshman action. Robinson played a lot of point guard growing up, and it shows in this play. This also means Roy gets to tinker with his lineups more; Robinson could be used as a ballhandler in a jumbo lineup or just give the Heels the option to use 2 PG-type looks with a typical 1-2-3-4-5 lineup. Combo guards are so much fun.
- Theo Pinson’s shooting form (1:25 and 2:00) looks completely different from how it looked last year, and it’s definitely an improvement. His elevation is more vertical and less “rug pulled out from under him,” and his shoulders are much more relaxed when he’s shooting than in years past. He’s talked about putting work into fixing his form over the summer, and early indications are that it’s paid off.
- Kennedy Meeks has a good back-to-the-basket assist at 2:07 to Justin Jackson. Bradley, on the defensive end, needs to have more active hands and offer up more resistance on the block, though. He’s hunched over while guarding the ball. Bradley was late defending walk-on Kanler Coker on a drive as well (53 seconds)
- Joel Berry looks fearless. The video shows him hitting a transition three while barely stopping to breathe, and another three-pointer about a yard behind the line. Carolina’s tradition of excellent point guard play looks primed to continue into this year, with Berry hopefully picking up right where he left off last year.
Again, take these all with a tablespoon of salt, because you can’t tell much about a squad when the music’s pumping and the overall attitude is pretty casual, with a dance-off, skills contest, and general merriment preceding the scrimmage. You can see clips from that part of LNWR at UNC Athletics’ Youtube page.
Share your thoughts and impressions below!