Updated: Nov 30, 2019
Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Michigan Wolverines produced what many are hoping was the typical November game that this Tar Heel team seems to fall victim to every year. Last season, it was the road loss to the same opponent that they faced on Thursday, as they were demolished 84-67 and the Tar Heels came out fast, looking motivated to prove last year was in the past.However, a 1-15 start from the field in the second half opened the door for a 19-0 Michigan run that allowed the Wolverines to stretch their lead to as large as 24 before the Tar Heels were able to mount a comeback that allowed them to get as close as eight before the Wolverines would put away the Tar Heels 73-64.
The most concerning part of this Tar Heel team remains their half court offense, an area where the Tar Heels really struggled after the under 12 timeout of the first half. The movement without the basketball is one of the main issues for this team right now and one of the reasons this team has settled for way too many low percentage looks, especially outside of the paint. The Tar Heels shot just 2-13 from 3-point range, which is an extension of the lack of 3-point shooting all season. On a day where the paint looks weren’t falling the team’s jump shot problems were made very evident. As Dick Vitale said during the broadcast on Thursday afternoon, the Tar Heels need to find that guy that can knock down shots consistently, something they’re lacking right now.
It wasn’t just a rough day on the offensive end, though. The Tar Heels made it far too easy for the Wolverines to get to basket early on and that correlated with Michigan’s 11 made 3-point field goals to get them in a rhythm late in the first half and early in the second half. They were also caught not getting back defensively a couple of times during that run early in the second half, something that frustrates Roy about as much as anything. The Tar Heels responded after the timeout call from Roy with 11:15 to go in the game.
Roy has said this a lot so far early in the season: this team is a work in progress. Thursday showed that that statement couldn’t be anymore true. This team is far from what they will be in March, but improving to the standards that the program has set for themselves is going to take one of, if not Roy’s best coaching job ever.
-Thursday was a tough day finishing at the rim for the Tar Heels, as they finished just 6-16 on layups on day. With all of the struggles the team has had outside of the paint, this is an area that hasn’t been focused on that much, but the team is converting just 48% of their layup attempts. One of the main gripes for Roy early in the season has been the fact that the big men aren’t going up strong with the basketball and Wednesday was another display of those struggles. The team will have to do a better job of finishing these opportunities if they want to improve offensively.
-Cole Anthony and Garrison Brooks were the only real bright spots offensively and even they had their moments where they were simply trying to do too much themselves. Anthony finished with 22 points on 8-17 from the field, while Brooks added 13 on 6-13 shooting. No other Tar Heel finish with double-digits.
-The Tar Heels‘ struggles from the free throw line continued on Thursday. As a team, the Tar Heels were just 10-20 from the charity stripe. Every player who shot free throws on Wednesday outside of Andrew Platek missed at least one free throw. Not good to say the least.
-The struggles of the two transfers continue. The two combined to score just four points on 1-6 shooting and three rebounds in 33 combined minutes. So far this season, the two have been relatively ineffective on the offensive end, combining to shoot just 35.9% overall and 24.2% from beyond the arc.