Thursday, February 9, 2012

UNC's weaknesses exposed in loss to Duke

About 12 hours after one of the wildest finishes in the history of the Duke-North Carolina rivalry left the Blue Devils with an 85-84 victory, some thoughts from a UNC perspective …

First …

The Tar Heels haven’t yet developed a consistent killer instinct. It’s one of the oldest clich├ęs in sports, this notion of having a “killer instinct.” And yet it’s so important, too. The best teams put opponents away when they have the opportunity.

And UNC on Wednesday night had plenty of opportunities to put Duke away. The Heels led by 13 with 15:08 to play, by 12 with 7:20 to play, by 11 with 4:59 to play, by 10 with 2:38 to play. And then that’s when Duke began a 13-2 run it used to close the game and steal the victory.

Against lesser opponents, UNC has at times this season played well down the stretch. Once the Heels opened up a double-digit lead against N.C. State, for instance, that game was over. And in the final minutes at Maryland on Saturday, UNC made some clutch plays and pulled away.

Against Duke, the Heels had so many chances to put the game away. But they let the Blue Devils hang around, and hang around, and hang around. Credit goes to Duke, too, of course. The Devils were at their best in the final couple of minutes. They made improbable shots. They forced turnovers.

Even so, UNC had this game in its grasp. And let it slip away.

Second …

UNC’s weaknesses were exposed, again. As good as the Tar Heels have been defensively for much of the season, perimeter defense has remained a concern. As has suspect free-throw shooting. And bench production.

All three of those things hurt UNC on Wednesday night. It was no secret that Duke was going to shoot a lot of 3’s and, still, the Heels often left Duke open on the perimeter. The shot that Austin Rivers made to win it at the buzzer was contested (by Tyler Zeller, who switched to guarding Rivers after Duke set a screen for him), but several of the Devils’ other 36 3-point attempts weren’t.

Then there was the free-throw shooting. UNC has been the worst free-throw shooting team in the ACC this season, yet the Heels were 13 of 15 from the line during the first half. The law of averages caught up, though, and UNC made only 8 of its 15 free throws during the second half. Two of the misses came from Zeller in the final minute.

And then there was bench production. The Heels bench combined to produce 6 points and four rebounds. Reserves not named James Michael McAdoo produced zero points and one rebound.

Third …

The Tar Heels failed to play to their strengths. Neither of these teams matched up particularly well with the other. Duke entered the game as a strong perimeter shooting team that wasn’t known for rebounding or defense.

UNC, meanwhile, entered as one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country – and as one of the best transition teams in the country. The Tar Heels wanted to score as quickly as possible, and also wanted to take advantage of second-chance opportunities.

But they did neither. UNC forced 10 Duke turnovers but the Tar Heels had just six fast-break points. After missed shots and turnovers, both, the Heels rarely generated easy scoring opportunities. They also failed to turn offensive rebounds into points.

UNC had 15 offensive rebounds, but scored just 12 points off of those. Duke had fewer offensive rebounds (12) but turned those into more points (17).

So to put this another way, Duke was better at maximizing its strength (3-point shooting) and hiding its weakness (rebounding and defense) than UNC was at maximizing its strengths. The Heels needed to score in transition and they needed to take advantage of second-chance opportunities, but they couldn’t – or didn’t.

-- Andrew Carter


Anonymous said...

UNC-CHeat was served! Go Duke!

Anonymous said...

Worst Duke team in years steals one at the last sweet it is.

Anonymous said...

Boeheim 880
Dean 879

Duke 85
UNC 84

Duke Women 94
UNC Women 54

NCAA Ruling pending

Rough stretch in Chapel Hill to say the least.

Anonymous said...

The winner of these games go back and forth but thank goodness that we are permanently in Chapel Hill and not in Durham or Raleigh.

Anonymous said...

Nice article from the normally brown nosed Carolina beat writer.The Tar Heels would be well served in future to refrain from swallowing whole the media hype surrounding their supposed lack of weaknesses.

Anonymous said...

#1 weakness is Roy Williams.

The dude has brain damage from being in the tanning bed too much.

coach your team the last two minutes next time Roy and you won't be crying postgame. That was inexcusable.

Anonymous said...


Boeheim 302
Dean 254

Knight 371
K 288

Anonymous said...

Dirty Diapers

Boeheim 0
Dean 1127

Anonymous said...

Nice diaper post! Did you examine and count them personally or did some other pervert help you? How did you get Boeheim to agree to that? What other weird fetishes do you have?

Anonymous said...

Roy's coaching ability (rather the lack of it)in tight games was exposed yet again. Two minutes with a 10 point lead, I'm using every time out I have to stop the other team's momentum. Roy's idea of coaching is "run, run run." And if Zeller gets closer to Rivers instead of playing a zone defense, that shot doesn't clear. But Duke, you still....

pay per head call center said...

you wrote it down so well my friend, I could not agree more on this, all the weaknesses that you talked about on here are correct and so true