Updated: Nov 10, 2021
The Tar Heels started the first game of the Hubert Davis Era on a 15-3 run, and never looked back on their way to an 83-67 season-opening win. It wasn’t the most perfect performance from Carolina to start the season, but they took a step in the right direction and left a lot to be desired moving forward. The Tar Heels shot 53% from the field, including 38% from behind the arc, while they held Loyola to 44% shooting, and 28% from deep. UNC put four players in double figures scoring, led by Caleb Love who scored 22 points. Brady Manek added 20 points, while Dawson Garcia added 12 points off the bench, and Kerwin Walton chipped in 11. The areas where they struggled tonight were from the foul line, as they managed to go just 17-28 from the charity stripe. Not only did they struggle from the foul line, they only managed to out-rebound the Greyhounds 37-30. Of those 37 rebounds, only 6 were of the offensive rebound variety, which they converted into 9 second-chance points. Carolina outscored Loyola 25-20 in bench points, 36-26 points in the paint, and 15-10 fast breakpoints.
Carolina started the game with a defensive intensity like we haven’t seen from the Tar Heels in some time, the challenge will be to find a way to maintain that intensity for 40 minutes. Hubert Davis stated all summer long that he wasn’t overhauling the Carolina Basketball program, was just going to add a few tweaks. We saw a few of those tonight, as Carolina had post players taking perimeter shots, some 2-3 zone sprinkled in, and a change in defending ball screens, and containing the dribble drive. For a team that wants to get better on the defensive end of the floor, they’ll be able to view the film from the first half and build off that.
Even though the margin of victory wasn’t as big as the spread entering the (25), Carolina did look seemingly crisper than in years past. Which is a good thing as the schedule heats up starting next weekend, when they will head to Uncasville, Connecticut to compete in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic. Here are a few thoughts on tonight’s win over the Greyhounds:
Big Night for Love: Corey Alexander stated multiple times during tonight’s broadcast that he believes Love is capable of winning the ACC Player of the Year award this season. If he plays like he did tonight, scoring 22 points on 7-13 shooting. He was only 6-10 from the foul line and 2-6 from the three-point line, but Love looked more confident than he did last season.
3 Point Shooting: Many Tar Heels fans believed that with the change in philosophy, that they were going to be bombing away from deep. Carolina didn’t shoot a high volume of triples (21) but connected on 8 of them, many of them coming in the flow in the offense. The 38% shooting clip from deep, should be the targeted number during the season.
Rebounding: Or lack thereof. In no situation ever, should Carolina only out-rebound a Patriot League opponent by just seven, but that was the case tonight. Maybe that was the game plan, but Carolina will need to establish a rebounding presence if they want to be legitimate contenders this season. After seeing this program value offensive rebounding more than any other, seeing the Tar Heels grab just 6 offensive rebounds, and convert them into 9 second-chance points was a surprise.
Rotation: After starting Caleb Love, R.J. Davis, Kerwin Walton, Dawson Garcia, and Armando Bacot in the exhibition, Davis opted for Love, Davis, Black, Manek, and Bacot. Love led the way with 31 minutes, followed by Manek’s 29. Off the bench, Garcia played 29, and Kerwin Walton competed for 27. Davis said his rotations would be fluid, and he didn’t lie.
Up Next: Carolina will be back in action on Friday night in the Smith Center, against Brown. The game will tip at 9 PM on the ACC Network.
The Four Corners Podcast: