Tar Heel Nation is getting a better forecast than the winter weather report the state has reaped the past month. The Heels are finding a rhythm, which could not have come at a better time this season. J.P. Tokoto and Brice Johnson added help to an anemic offense whose success burdened on the shoulders of James Michael McAdoo and Marcus Paige. Coach Roy Williams has released the reigns on his players to allow them to use the their athleticism offsetting their shooting woes by trapping and running. The new trapping and running Heels are having fun.
The Heels climbed from last place to 4th place in the ACC. The major difference I see from the cellar Heels, to the 4th place Heels is the passion on the defensive end. Carolina players are diving on the floor, fighting for the 50 / 50 balls and making an effort to contain penetration by attempting to rotate properly. The Heels currently average 8 steals per game. To make a run in the NCAA Tournament, Carolina needs to play an uptempo defensive scheme. Creating turn-overs will yield easy scoring opportunities.
Although coach Williams plays 11 players, this is not a half court team offensively. Trapping and running takes the pressure off Carolina’s shooting deficiencies. Because of the influence of AAU, basketball players seem to readily buy into a fun and run system. Offensively, Carolina has the length and athleticism but the team lacks the muscle and strength inside, which may be a problem in the NCAA tournament. There’s no real physical presence in the post other than McAdoo. Playing McAdoo inside lessens his effectiveness. He’s a face up power forward who possesses extreme quickness. Kennedy Meeks has great hands, good footwork but lacks the athleticism of McAdoo, Johnson and the other UNC post players. Brad Daugherty and Warren Martin weren’t athletic, but their favorite weapon was the jump hook. The jump hook has been the equalizer for payers like Meeks, who are vertically challenged.
Rebounding will be key down the stretch for Carolina. Although they average over 14 offensive rebounds per game, defensively they have boxout lapses. To challenge Syracuse and Duke, the Heels must maintain a one and done attitude on the defensive boards for its opponents. Teams can’t run if they don’t rebound defensively. McAdoo, Johnson, Meeks, Joel James and Isiah Hicks need help from the guards securing the boards. The long rebounds are the guards responsibilities.
The Heels appear to be gelling on the court. Averaging over 16 assist per game, the Tar Heel chemistry is back again. Although Carolina might not be a top 6 seed in the NCAA, they will be a tough out if they continue to improve on their defensive rotations, make an assertive effort to control the defensive boards and find a way to knock down a couple more three pointers a game. The trapping and running Heels are maturing to make a conference and NCAA run.
* New subscribers benefited from a 3-1 day yesterday on prime plays: (winners – VCU, Oklahoma, Air Force with one loss St. Mary’s)
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February 16, 2014 Selections