For the first time under Hubert Davis, we got to see what Carolina Basketball will look like this year, and moving forward as they defeated Elizabeth City State in their final exhibition of the preseason 83-55. Previously, Carolina competed against Florida in a secret scrimmage, to use one of their two scrimmages permitted by the NCAA before the regular season starts.
It was an up and down first 20 minutes for Carolina, which saw the visiting Vikings within single digits deep into the first half. A 9-4 spurt to end the first half, gave Carolina a 43-32 halftime margin, and the lead would never be less than that the rest of the way. UNC shot just 43% for the game, but they shot 39% from behind the arc, and an even better 80% from the foul line. The Tar Heels outrebounded Elizabeth City State 49-28, including grabbing 19 offensive rebounds, converting those into 19 points. Defensively, UNC was able to overwhelm the overmatched Division II opponent, holding them to 37% from the field, 35% from behind the arc, and forcing 17 turnovers.
All summer long, Hubert Davis maintained that he wasn’t going to change the foundation of Carolina Basketball, he was just going to make a few adjustments. Well, he didn’t lie, as Carolina still looked to play on the open floor, valued rebounding the basketball, etc. The changes he did make weren’t so subtle, as Carolina has never had the plethora of post players that not only could step out behind the arc and take a three-point shot, but make a three-point shot. UNC also defended the pick-and-roll differently, and after tonight it’s obvious they still have to work out the kinks. Carolina also slipped into a 2-3 zone from time to time, something we can expect more of this season. Here are our takeaways from tonight’s exhibition:
Starting 5/Rotation: In his press availability on Wednesday, Hubert Davis said his rotation was going to be fluid entering the season, and beyond. Tonight he started with Caleb Love, RJ Davis, Kerwin Walton, Dawson Garcia, and Armando Bacot. In the first half, Davis only played 8 players, with Brady Manek, Justin McKoy, and Leaky Black seeing first-half action. Anthony Harris made his way onto the court in the second half, as did the freshmen, and the Blue Squad reserves. Nobody played more than 28 minutes, but Davis won’t be shy to play a more minor rotation in the non-conference season if the first half is any indication.
Caleb Love & RJ Davis: The change in philosophy is believed to benefit the guards the most, noticeably Caleb Love and RJ Davis. Davis looked the most comfortable, scoring 12 points on 5-8 shooting, and handed out 5 assists. Carolina was plus 30 with Davis on the court. As for Love, he struggled from the field shooting just 2-7, but was 2-4 from behind the arc, as he scored 10 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, and dished out 5 assists.
Transfer Trio: Our first look at the incoming transfers Dawson Garcia, Brady Manek, and Justin McKoy didn’t disappoint. There were times that Garcia appeared to be the best player on the floor, as he scored a team's best 17 points, and grabbed 5 rebounds. Brady Manek did a little bit of everything on both ends, scoring 16 points off the bench, grabbing 4 rebounds, blocking 3 shots, and drawing a charge. While McKoy didn’t make a field goal, he did make both foul shots and grabbed 6 rebounds. Carolina needs all three of them to be contributors and they all seem ready to contribute.
Up Next: Carolina will tip off their 2021-22 season on Tuesday against Loyola at 7 PM on the ACC Network.
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