Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tar Heels may not be ACC favorites

North Carolina may be the victim of impossibly high expectations in basketball.

Though the Tar Heels are 10-0 and remain the nation’s top-ranked team, there are rumblings that they’re not as good as they should be. Some of the dissatisfaction comes straight from the top with coach Roy Williams, who vowed that ragged defense in Wednesday’s 88-78 win over Nicholls State would cause him to run the Tar Heels ragged during practice Thursday.

In fairness to the Tar Heels, they are doing some things well:

  • Tyler Hansbrough, who’s averaging 21.8 points and 9.9 rebounds, is living up to his billing as the best center in the nation.
  • After his shooting was streaky at best last season, sophomore guard Wayne Ellington has made 43.8 percent of his 3-point attempts.
  • Junior Danny Green, who’s averaging 13.3 points is emerging as the best sixth man in the ACC.
But that’s not enough for a team that expects to challenge for the NCAA title. The Tar Heels haven’t corrected one of their most glaring problems from last season – defending on the perimeter. Opponents are shooting 34.7 percent from 3-point range against North Carolina, which ranks near the bottom of the ACC in that statistic.

Sophomore point guard Ty Lawson appears to have regressed and is averaging 1.8 assists for every turnover, far lower than last season’s average of 2.6 assists per turnover. And the combination of Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson at the post position opposite Hansbrough has made little impact on offense or defense.

There is plenty of time for North Carolina to get these problems straightened out, and Williams will take advantage of extra practice time the next few days to get his point across. But without improvement, it would be a stretch to cast the Tar Heels as a prohibitive favorite to get to the Final Four or even finish first in the ACC in the regular season.

– Ken Tysiac


Irongo said...

UCSB is #2 in the nation in 3pt shooting percentage, altough the quality of their competition hasn't been so good.

Why is it that UNC is having trouble defending the 3? Should we be concerned about Saturday?

Anonymous said...

They just better hope somebody else knocks Georgetown out of the NCAA tourney before the Heels have to face them.

Anonymous said...

This is a misleading article. UNC ranks 7th in the ACC for 3pt shooting defense. 7 out of 12. That's "near the bottom"?

Anonymous said...

UNC's defense stresses creating turnovers and getting steals. To do this, they clog the lane when a player drives, hoping to get a steal/block and a fast break. This leaves players open on the perimeter to shoot open 3's, but a lot of the time it leads to turnovers which lead to fast break points. As a whole, UNC's defense is advantageous to their style of play, and it's working - they're 10-0 for a reason, even with teams shooting lights out from beyond the arc.

Anonymous said...

Out of 12 teams, ranking #7 is closer to the bottom than the top, no?

Pull Dean's Finger said...

UNC has always had an issue with defending the 3 since they still play the way Dean Smith taught them. He NEVER believed in defending the 3. When you pad your schedule you will pay when you actually play good teams. They won't be number 1 by the end of January.

Anonymous said...

guessing this was written by a Duke fan. Its early, they should have played better against Nicholis.. but this dude is writing them off already. heh

Anonymous said...

Am I missing something? This is still the same team that finished up a 6 game road trip... and came out alive (by road trip I mean at Ohio St. and Kentucky, agianst BYU and Old Dominion in the Vegas Invitational) Granted OSU and UK are not the teams they were last year but at least the Heels 1)got on a plane, 2)played in opposing venues and 3)were on national tv. No team in the nation has played a tougher non conference schedule, especially away games like that. Carolina will roll through the ACC and it will be quiet as hell around here once everyone realizes only UCLA and Memphis can play anywhere close to their level.

Anonymous said...

Comparing statistics between ACC teams at this point in time is pointless in that there is no common frame of reference in terms of opponents. Check back in late January and then the numbers mean something. My question is, if UNC isn't going to win the ACC regular season, who is?

Anonymous said...

To the poster who said "No team in the nation has played a tougher non conference schedule, especially away games like that."

According to the formulas for calculating strength of schedule, there are 114 other teams in the country that have played tougher schedules.

**Note: I'm not a Duke fan.**

Anonymous said...

As for Duke they showed their true colors Thursday night. If the heels aren't No. 1 who is?

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