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Heel Tough Blog: Brown Preview

After dispatching Loyola 83-67 on Tuesday to start the 2021-22 season, Carolina now turns its attention to Brown, who will visit the Dean Dome tonight. Carolina got a balanced scoring effort in the opener, led by Caleb Love and his 22 points, in Hubert Davis’ new look offense. Defensively, the Tar Heels started the game with an intensity we haven’t seen in some time, but the challenge is now to sustain it for as close to 40 minutes as possible. UNC wasn’t perfect the other night, but they showed flashes of the potential of the type of team they hope to be later this season.

Due to the global pandemic last year, the Ivy League didn’t participate in winter sports, meaning before Brown’s opener on Tuesday, they hadn’t played a meaningful game since March of 2020. That didn’t seem to bother the Bears all that much, as they made quick work of Division III Salve Regina 89-59. Brown does return Tamenang Choh, Jaylain Gainey, Dan Friday, and David Mitchell, among others as Mike Martin utilized the transfer portal to fill out his roster for this season.

The other night, Hubert Davis shifted his lineup from the exhibition, starting Caleb Love, R.J. Davis, Leaky Black, Brady Manek, and Armando Bacot. Additionally, he only played Dawson Garcia, Kerwin Walton, and Anthony Harris extensive minutes, as Justin McKoy’s role will evolve during the season. Davis said before the season that his rotations would be fluid, it’ll be interesting to see how they shake out tonight.

While Carolina left something to be desired during their win over Loyola, they did look a lot crisper on the offensive end, which is impressive considering the change in philosophy. They shot 53% from the field, including 38% from behind the arc in their new modern offense. Brown is going to try to make life hard on the offensive end, as they hang their hat on playing great defense and rebounding the basketball. Here is tonight’s key to a Tar Heel victory:

  1. Maintaining Defensive Intensity: It’s impossible to play with intensity for 40 minutes, but if Carolina can get close to it, they are going to be tough to beat. If you look back at the first 7-8 minutes of Tuesday’s win, Carolina’s offense was beneficial because of their effort on the defensive end. Brown isn’t an offensive powerhouse by any means, but now is the time in the season, where you build good habits. They took a step in the opener on the defensive end, tonight it's about building off of that performance.

  2. Play Through Armando Bacot: Armando only had 8 points and 6 rebounds Tuesday night, and while Carolina was able to win comfortably, the Tar Heels need to play through their best player. Last season there were simply too many times that Bacot wasn’t involved in the offense, and had a hard time playing with a consistent rhythm. Brown only has one player 6-10 or taller (Jaylen Gailey), so he will have a size advantage all night long. The guards need to reward him for when he gains position on the block, and let the offense flow through him.

  3. Dominate the Glass: In the opener, UNC managed only a 37-30 rebounding margin, against a team they had a decisive size advantage against. Of those 37 rebounds, only 6 of them were offensive, which is not what we’re used to seeing in Chapel Hill. Brown is going to value rebounding the basketball on both ends, as their best offense is their second chance offense. This means Carolina needs to show up more committed to rebounding the basketball at a high level. The rebounding was spaced out rather well in the Loyola game, but you’d like to see the bigs establish an inside presence.


UNC - 46th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 109.0 (29th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 93.3 (70th)

Brown - 250th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 92.2 (303rd) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.8 (168th)

TV Info: Tonight’s game will start at 9 PM, on the ACC Network.

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