By The Numbers: UNC's New Rotation

By Adam Lucas | 3 Comment(s) | Posted

Everyone seems to agree that Carolina's new rotation--it's more than just a new starting lineup, it's also a dramatically shortened rotation--has worked. In general, it just looks like the Tar Heels are playing more effectively. The spacing is better, the shots look better, and the scores are higher.

But what do the numbers say? We put together the following table comparing a few key stats with the season broken into three distinct parts: the 23 games before the lineup switch, the 10 ACC games before the lineup switch and the three games since the lineup switch. A few thoughts after the table.

CategoryAll games (old lineup)ACC games (old lineup)New lineup
Games 23 10 3
PPG 78.3 71.4 77.0
FG% .445 .443 .414
3PFG% .367 .361 .364
DFG% .410 .443 .473
D3PFG% .352 .380 .448
Reb. margin +4.7 +2.7 +3.0
FTA/game 18.3 16.9 23.3
Steals/game 8.1 6.2 11.0
A/game 18.0 16.0 15.0
TO/game 13.4 12.3 9.7
Off. Reb. % .367 .331 .347
Def. Reb. % .701 .734 .713


A few thoughts on what the chart does (and doesn't) show:

1. Carolina's overall field goal percentage has dropped...but at the same time they're taking more three-pointers--and shooting them just as efficiently. So the field goal percentage isn't really that much of a concern.

2. Carolina's defensive field goal percentage has declined quite a bit. Virginia bears a healthy responsibility for that. It will be interesting to see how that stat changes as the Tar Heels face some bigger teams (like NC State) that try to get lots of high percentage shots.

3. The free throw attempts per game might be the biggest story on the list. The Tar Heels are getting over six more charity tosses per game in ACC play than they were attempting with the old lineup. Now, the question becomes whether they're going to make those shots. P.J. Hairston, one of the team's best free throw shooters, has shown a knack for slashing to the rim and getting on the offensive boards, which should result in continued free throw opportunities.

4. Rebounding margin can sometimes be deceptive, which is why rebounding percentage can be very helpful--it measures the actual rebounding opportunities. Based on that stat, Carolina is actually rebounding better on the offensive glass than they were in the previous 10 confererence games. The defensive rebounding is down slightly, but it's probably not enough to offset the increased offense.

5. If you're wondering why it's felt like the Tar Heels have played at a faster tempo lately, just look at the steals and turnovers category. Carolina has nearly doubled its steals--lots of athletic, active hands in the passing lanes--while decreasing its turnovers.


  1. Theo's avatar
    | Permalink
    Adam, the stats seem to indicate, except for steals and turnovers, that UNC has regressed a little but, in actuality, it seems they've really grown. Are turnover and steal stats really that impactful? And was there a reason you left out Points Per Game? Is it not relevant/misleading?
  2. Adam Lucas's avatar
    Adam Lucas
    | Permalink
    I've added PPG. I don't think it's as relevant as the other stats, but it's nice to at least have it on the chart. I also added A/game, keeping in mind it's skewed by the Duke game, because their defense almost demands that you play one-on-one to beat them.

    I don't know if TOs and steals are really that important, but I do think free throw attempts are important. It's pretty simple: when Carolina is good under Roy Williams (and Dean Smith, for that matter), they shoot a lot of free throws. That's gone up markedly since the lineup change and I think that's part of what we're perceiving as "improved offense." Same with turnovers...that's leading to more transition opportunities and less standing around in the halfcourt.

    It'll be interesting to see how this changes as the new lineup gets more games. We'll revisit this again near the end of the regular season.
  3. Theo's avatar
    | Permalink
    thanks for adding PPG. you're doesn't add any new info. but since we're talking...what about "empty" possessions? i would think the TO, steals, and FT would result in higher amt of possessions where it doesn't result in a shot. i would imagine that has gone up for opponents. and to clarify: does an offensive rebound lead to a second possession or is it still considerd 1 possession until the ball changes hands?

Leave a Comment