Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Championship-caliber D leads Tar Heels past Miami

January 11, 2012 Columns No Comments

If North Carolina can play with the same defensive energy, efficiency and effectiveness that the Tar Heels did in shutting down Miami, there’s little doubt this team will be in New Orleans in April competing for the national championship.

Entering Tuesday night’s game, Miami figured to pose some problems for a North Carolina team that occasionally forgets to play fundamentally sound perimeter defense. With talented shooters like Malcolm Grant, Durand Scott, Shane Larkin, Rion Brown and Trey McKinney Jones, the Hurricanes had plenty of options to use. But North Carolina shut them all down.

The Tar Heels executed a well-orchestrated game plan in which perimeter defenders jumped passing lanes to knock away passes, disrupting the timing of Miami’s offense. Equally important, Tyler Zeller, John Henson and even Justin Watts capably guarded the Canes’ big men, Reggie Johnson — all 300 pounds of him — and Kenny Kadji.

At one point, Watts, a 6’4” guard, was left alone to defend the 6’10” Kadji. The Canes big man didn’t get to touch the ball in the possession, which is partially the fault of Miami’s guards and also a tribute to the intense work Watts put in to maintain good position. And that’s the kind of smart, effective play that North Carolina applied all night to grind out a 73-56 win.

The offense wasn’t always pretty for North Carolina, but the Tar Heels kept possessions alive by grabbing 15 offensive rebounds, including six by Zeller, and avoiding turnovers. Jim Larranaga’s squad was able to slow the Tar Heels down a little bit, keeping the pace to 72 possessions for the game, which is down from North Carolina’s season average of about 75 possessions per game. However, the Tar Heels still got plenty of transition opportunities, which feeds into the strengths of this team.

North Carolina’s high-octane offense gets plenty of opportunities to run because the Tar Heels are among the best in the nation at grabbing rebounds and avoiding fouls. Based on Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency stats, the Tar Heels allow opponents to collect only 27.1 percent of their missed shots, ranking among the top 25 in Division I in defensive rebounding. And North Carolina is tops in D-I when it comes to not fouling opponents, allowing opponents to get one free throw attempt for every six shots from the field.

Critics might argue that the Tar Heels are the beneficiary of referees’ deference to the name on the jersey. We won’t go there. Instead, we’ll focus on what we see in games, namely smart defensive play by guys like Zeller, Henson and Dexter Strickland, who know how to defend their men without fouling. For Henson and Zeller, who rely on their height to deter shots — or swat them into next year, in Henson’s case — precise footwork and timing are critical.

All those skills were on display against Miami, as the Tar Heels finished with only 11 fouls to Miami’s 17 and 44 total rebounds to Miami’s 27. The vaunted Canes’ backcourt made only 3 of 16 3-point attempts, and Scott was the only guard to reach double figures, with 12 points.

Keep that up, and the Tar Heels should be able to fend off the curse of slow-paced, 3-point-happy, upset-minded lower seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Coaching Changes

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 by

In our first podcast in the postseason, we look back one more time on the NCAA Tournament, which was just what we needed at this time. We also look at the NIT, CBI and CIT, as well as important transactions with players leaving early for the NBA Draft and coaching changes.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018 by

The 2018 national championship is in the books, and with it another season of college basketball. We break down the national championship game and some of its implications to wrap up the season.

College Basketball Tonight – April 1, 2018

April 2, 2018 by

Welcome to our Final Four edition of College Basketball Tonight. In this edition, we look ahead to Monday’s national championship game, and bring on two guests – long-time Villanova radio play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Fannon and Radford head coach Mike Jones – to get their thoughts and insights on the game.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we break d own the national semifinals, where one game went back and forth while the other was never really a ballgame thanks to an impressive performance for the ages by the winning team.

College Basketball Tonight – March 26, 2018

March 27, 2018 by

With the Final Four all set, we look back on the regional finals and ahead to the final games of the season. We are joined along the way by veteran writer Ken Davis and Towson head coach Pat Skerry for their insights as well.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.