Three Things: NC State 91, UNC 83

By Adam Lucas | 10 Comment(s) | Posted

1. Roy Williams said early in the preseason, and often during the season, that this Carolina team has the chance to be a very good defensive club. His reasoning is obvious: look at the pieces involved. Dexter Strickland has been a consistently good defender during his Tar Heel career. The Tar Heels have athleticism and versatility in the post (although it’s spread across a quartet of players, rather than in just one player). There is length and quickness on the wings.

So, on paper, it makes sense. But to really become the kind of defensive team Williams thinks his squad can be, they have to eliminate some of the mental lapses that don’t show up on paper. There’s no better illustration than the highlight reel play from Saturday’s loss, when C.J. Leslie threw down a one-hand dunk on Jackson Simmons. It was a spectacular play…and it wasn’t Simmons’s fault. James Michael McAdoo was actually supposed to be guarding Leslie. But with State in transition, McAdoo let Leslie run freely to the basket, either miscommunicating with Strickland or not communicating at all about a switch. The result? Leslie had a clear path to the basket, Simmons had to help, and Simmons got dunked on.

2. Let’s preface this with the usual “no must wins in January,” “every team can play its way in during the ACC Tournament,” etc. That being said: Carolina needs to win the next three games. Tomorrow’s trip to Boston College, plus home dates with Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, are winnable games.

That would take the Tar Heels to 6-3 in the ACC in advance of a two-game road stretch at Miami and at Duke. It would also mean Carolina would need to win just four of its final nine league games in order to have a 10-8 conference record, which seems like a reasonable goal for legitimate NCAA Tournament candidacy. Dropping even one of the three next games would mean the Tar Heels would need a home sweep over Duke, FSU, NC State and Virginia (two of those teams already own wins over the Tar Heels), plus a road win at either Miami, Duke, Georgia Tech, Clemson or Maryland just to get to 10 wins.

3. It was a minor storyline from Saturday’s loss, but has anyone noticed how well J.P. Tokoto has played lately? The freshman played 17 minutes against State. In addition to the intangibles, where he didn’t look scared in a hostile environment, he also had a great stat line: he shot 5-of-7 from the field, handed out three assists, and grabbed two rebounds. In 35 minutes over the past two games, he’s 9-of-16, with six rebounds and five assists. Over his last 11 games, he’s shooting 24-of-38 (63.2%).

Tokoto’s solid play brings up an interesting question. Leslie McDonald is due to return from a three-game suspension this weekend against the Hokies. There aren’t enough minutes to go around for McDonald and Tokoto to both be major players in the Carolina rotation. It could be that they’ll be deployed based on need; if the Tar Heels need perimeter scoring, that’s probably a call for McDonald, but if they need defense and slashing, that’s more likely to be Tokoto.

Regardless, the Wisconsin rookie has shown himself to be a player with the potential to be a major contributor, both this year and certainly over the remainder of his Tar Heel career. 

Comments

  1. Kenny's avatar
    Kenny
    | Permalink
    I think another potential storyline is that Joel James has had a couple of solid performances in a row IMO as well.
  2. Adam Lucas's avatar
    Adam Lucas
    | Permalink
    Great point: James hasn't committed a turnover since the UVA game, and is 7-12 from the field in his last three games.
  3. Paul's avatar
    Paul
    | Permalink
    PJ's lack of minutes when he's been playing well is frustrating. Why would he not get at least 25 min a game?
  4. Adam Lucas's avatar
    Adam Lucas
    | Permalink
    Roy Williams was asked that question on today's teleconference and pointed to a few things:

    1. Foul trouble in the GT game
    2. The emergence of Tokoto.
    3. Specifically, failure to hustle after a loose ball at State, which cost PJ some minutes he would've otherwise gotten in the second half.
  5. Mike's avatar
    Mike
    | Permalink
    PJ leaves early enters draft. I am a tarheel for life, but PJ is not being properly utilized as Roy watches brick after brick being put up... Oh yeah Brice will enter and Joel will probably transfer due to lack of playing time.
  6. ken Jones's avatar
    ken Jones
    | Permalink
    I think the same about Joel James. He should have been starting from the start. Had he gotten the playing time he would have been settled down and established. Brice Johnson with his fire should be starting as well. He came out with lots of energy and now he's just a regular player. That energy should have been built upon. He's the type of player that pumps the team up. He's a leader. Hairston is the best offensive player on the team by far! Why isn't he starting? I hope all of this talent don't go to waste. And, SIT STRICKLAND DOWN!!!
  7. Ken Jones's avatar
    Ken Jones
    | Permalink
    Tokoto, have you seen the movie "The replacements." Gene Hackman told Falco the winners always want the ball at the end. When you are out there make you poo-ups faster. Be thirsty for the ball. You got to want it to win it. You pass up about 3 alleyopps every game. Tell them where you want it and go and get it. You are the most talented player on the team. Your versatility can not be matched by anyone. But you have to want the ball. You have to go out on the limb.
  8. Ken Jones's avatar
    Ken Jones
    | Permalink
    Paige, unfortunately you don't have a lot to work with. As talented as you are you do not have a talented supporting cast as starters. Focus on the form of your jump shot. It is not balanced enough. You should be shooting atleast 100 jump shots or more a day in pre-practice warm-up and 100 or more after practice. Also, give more instruction in the games. Control you offense. It's your ball to do what you want. It all starts with the point guard. The foundation of the team is based on you and your versatility. All friendships aside!!! win the game!!! Pull the quality out of your team mates. Demand!!!
  9. Ken Jones's avatar
    Ken Jones
    | Permalink
    JOEL JAMES, I AM PUTTING THESE IN CAPS BECAUSE THAT IS HOW YOU HAVE TO PLAY TO STAY ON THE FLOOR.
    DEMAND THE BALL!!! DEMAND THE BALL!!! DEMAND THE BALL!!! DEMAND THE BALL!!! PUT YOUR HAND OUT AND TELL THEM WHERE YOU WANT THE BALL!!! ESTABLISH YOUR POSITION AND HOLD IT. IF YOU DON'T GET IT TELL WHOMEVER "NEXT TIME GIVE ME THE BALL." AND WHEN YOU DO GET IT, GO HARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  10. ken Jones's avatar
    ken Jones
    | Permalink
    Brice Johnson, don't let know one take you out of your game. The fire you came in with is not as fiery anymore. I don't know what happen to make it go down but you are not playing the way you played in the first 4 games of the season. Pump you team up. Get their adrenaline flowing. you should be the alleyop king. Be hard and go hard. You four freshman could possibly be the best four ever at NC. Write your ticket with explosiveness. That's what drives a team and its fans. It will most certainly intimidate your opponent.

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