Monday, November 22, 2010

Tudor's Take: Poor shooting haunts Heels, Pack

Shoot or get shot.

The adage may be as old as basketball itself, but it's one worth bringing up again after weekend tournament setbacks for North Carolina and N.C. State.

In losses to Minnesota (72-67) and Vanderbilt (72-65) this weekend in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the Tar Heels shot a combined 38.6 percent -- 46-for-119.

Those percentages are in line with UNC's shooting stats in its 11 regular-season ACC losses last season.

In only three of those losses -- at Clemson, at Virginia Tech and against Florida State in Chapel Hill -- did North Carolina shoot above 40 percent and then barely.

Meanwhile, the Wolfpack, in an 82-67 loss to Georgetown on Sunday in the title game of the Charleston (S.C.) Classic, shot just 39.7 percent. That, too, virtually mirrors the Wolfpack's combined 37.8 percent mark in 12 ACC losses last season.

So it's not going to be terribly complicated for UNC coach Roy Williams and N.C. State's Sidney Lowe when they sort through the improvements that need to be made before both begin league games on Jan. 8.

Obviously, there are other areas that will have to be addressed and in State's case, the health of Tracy Smith (right knee surgery on Friday) could be more important than anything that happened on the court against Georgetown.

But errant shooting is the one aspect of competition that most frequently separates good teams from average teams in college play.

Against reasonably talented opponents, it's almost impossible to win with a shooting performance in the sub 40-percent range. There's plenty of time to develop, but the Pack and Heels proved that point again during the weekend.

-- Caulton Tudor