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UNC vs Northern Iowa: Film review

Breaking down all things Kenny Williams

NCAA Basketball: Northern Iowa at North Carolina Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

In our Three Things Learned article, we praised Kenny Williams’ efforts against Northern Iowa. Today we’ll break down some of the film (in GIF form) and re-visit just a few of his highlights.

As the season goes on, we look to make these film reviews a regular occurrence. Who knows, one day we may even graduate to actual video editing programs?

Kenny the Playmaker

The most encouraging element of Williams’ game was his aggression and assertiveness. Coming off two knee surgeries in 2017, there were legitimate questions about how quickly he would return to full strength. On Friday, he gave everyone legitimate answers.

Behind the back assist to Luke Maye

Most people will remember the quick flick of his wrist to deliver a behind-the-back assist to Luke Maye. The more important part of the play took place at the top of the key. Theo Pinson delivers the entry pass and Kenny moves to replace Pinson on the wing. (“Pass and replace” is a common action, called by various names).

Once Williams “replaces” Pinson, Maye kicks the ball back out. Sometimes a guard will hold onto the ball and wait for the post player to regain positions or move out of the paint. Not Kenny. Instead, Kenny takes the ball and immediately attacks before the defense can respond. It exploited an opening in the UNI zone defense.

Williams assist to Brooks

This time, Williams catches the ball in transition on the left wing. If you watch closely, you’ll see he moved to the wing because Garrison Brooks ran right down the middle of the floor—exactly like the UNC coaching staff teaches.

Pinson finds him wide open and skips the ball over the defense. Last year, Kenny would’ve launched a three or waited for the trail man to reach the top of the key before he reversed the ball. This time, he catches the ball and immediately drives baseline. Brooks’ defender helps along the baseline, and Williams drops a dime to Brooks for the dunk.

Williams assist to Huffman

Later in the game, Kenny replicates his earlier assist to Brooks. This time, it’s Huffman who jams it through the rim. Williams receives the reverse pass from Maye, sees his defender is standing straight up, and blows by him on the baseline. (Hint: There’s a theme developing)

Kenny the Aggressor

When Kenny wasn’t dropping dimes, he was looking to attack the rim and score. Throughout the game he displayed impressive awareness and basketball IQ in knowing when to shoot and when to pass.

Williams drives, Brooks scores

Again in transition, Williams attacks the rim. This time he’s looking for his own bucket. He brings the ball up court after Felton pitches the ball ahead (not shown here), and moves to the middle of the court to increase his options. He creates a gap down the left side of the paint, hits the accelerator...and runs into a UNI defender who maintains his position. Fortunately Brooks is there to clean up the miss and score two more points.

It’s easy to ask why Kenny didn’t pull-up, take one more dribble, or pull the ball out. That’s nit-picking and focusing on the wrong details. This wasn’t a bad play by Williams, as he still got a high-percentage shot close to the rim. The history of UNC basketball tells us that this is an acceptable decision. Considering everything he did well on that possession, this is a positive development.

Williams drives and scores

Alright. By now it’s clear that Kenny Williams likes to drive baseline. This is the third time in this game that he has done so from the left side of the court. On this play, he changes a couple of things.

First, he sells an excellent shot fake to get his defender in the air. Seriously, look at that pump fake. It wasn’t just a half-hearted head movement. He squats down, goes through his entire shooting motion, and brings the ball all the way above his head. If you are a coach or have a kid who plays, show them this shot fake.

Second, yet again, he does not hesitate or waste any movement. In two dribbles, he is in the air, floating past the defender who was late to rotate. Solid body control and a little hang time leads to a harder-than-it-looked lay-up. An eternal optimist would even say that he was already applying lessons learned from the previous highlight. (Note: I’m an eternal optimist).

Kenny the Shooter

Our last highlights consists of Kenny doing what Kenny has long been known for — shooting three pointers.

Williams for three

The first three pointer was against man-to-man defense. In this line-up, Pinson was playing the “4”. Brandon Robinson comes off a ball screen from Huffman, and Williams runs off a flare screen from Pinson.

The simultaneous movement forces Williams’ defender to stay at the top of the key to deter Robinson from driving. Theo’s defender below the free throw line knowing that if he gets too high, Pinson can slip down the lane behind the defense.

That leaves Williams open. He does not hesitate. Catch. Shoot. Swish. Williams stands in place like a statue, follow-through extended, as the ball goes through the net. That’s the sign of a confident player.

Williams for three. Again.

Nothing fancy here. The UNI defender is slow to rotate. Williams knocks it down.

Overall, it could not have been a better return to action for KWill. All of these clips addressed the offensive end, but his defense was just as impressive. The common theme throughout was his desire to be decisive, aggressive, and assertive. There was not a single instance that I could find of him hesitating or being cautious. That mindset is contagious and will be invaluable as the newcomers, all seven of them, learn how to play at the college level.

Bring on Bucknell.