- This team struggles to score off the bench. Granted, everything went wrong against the Cavaliers, sure. But even in UNC’s worst game, you have to expect that more than nine points will come from the bench. That sounds bad on its face, but looking close it gets even worse. Only two Tar Heels bench players scored: Sterling Manley contributed 4 points off of 4 free throws, and Cameron Johnson added 5. Johnson was the only bench player to score from the field, and those two were the only bench players to hit double-digit minutes (23 for Johnson, 12 for Manley). This bench may well be excellent in two years. Now, they’re going through some growing pains.
- Ball control is definitely the Achilles heel for the Heels. The Heels crashing the boards as they did against the Cavaliers is usually a recipe for success. A +12 margin overall and 19 offensive boards usually spells a Tar Heel victory, but instead they mustered only 49 points. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened: the Heels treated the basketball like a hot potato. They turned the ball over more times (19) than they ended a possession with a field goal (16). Perhaps even worse than the turnovers was the lack of ball movement overall. Only 7 of those 16 field goals came off assists. Maybe the Heels miss Seventh Woods more than we let on?
- All that said, it’s still far too early to slam the panic button. A 1-2 conference record isn’t glamorous, but the Heels opened their ACC slate with a veritable gauntlet. After the opener against Wake, they had back-to-back road games against ranked opponents and lost to them by a combined 13 points. The next five games? Home for Boston College, a road game against a Notre Dame team that just lost Bonzie Colson to injury, home for Clemson and an opportunity to keep The Streak up, home for Georgia Tech, and a road game against Virginia Tech. It’s definitely an opportunity to right the ship, and maybe figure out how to distribute the minutes a little bit better...
There are some issues with ball control and bench scoring, but don’t panic.