Remember all those good feelings after beating Kentucky a few weeks ago? All those feelings are gone as Carolina is now 0-2 in the ACC, and just 5-4 overall, their worst 9 game start to a season since the 8-20 campaign. Despite holding a double digit lead in the first half, and a 8 point lead deep in the second half, Carolina lost last night 72-67 at Georgia Tech, the second straight season they’ve lost to the Yellow Jackets. As has been the case all season long even when they’ve won, they didn’t protect the basketball, didn’t make their foul shots, and didn’t guard the perimeter well enough to win. Armando Bacot led the team with 14 points on 5-8 shooting. The only other player in double figures scoring was Leaky Black, who added 10 on 5-7 from the field. Georgia Tech had their way with the Tar Heels defense, shooting 53% from the floor overall, including 45% from behind the arc, on 10 made attempts. Carolina out-rebounded the Jackets, 37-25, but when you commit 18 turnovers that negates the rebounding margin in a lot of ways. The loss at NC State wasn’t a “bad loss”, but make no mistake, this one was.
Roy Williams: While he made massive changes to the startling lineup after a bad defensive outing at NC State, that’s not enough for this team. He’s not getting the most out of this team, and he’d tell you that himself. Last year he was handicapped by injuries, and an overall lack of talent. This group doesn’t lack the talent, they lack the sense of urgency they need to win at this level. While you can put some of the blame on the players, that starts with coaching. Roy Williams isn’t the type of coach to hold his teams’ hand and guide them through the challenges basketball presents, but he’s going to have to with this team. If not, don’t expect a massive turnaround this season.
Lineup Changes: Who knows what the starters will look like when Carolina plays at Miami next week, but the benching of Caleb Love, Leaky Black and Garrison Brooks was warranted, and didn’t cost Carolina the game by no means. While Kerwin Walton did his damage in the second half, and Andrew Platek wasn’t great, they kept Carolina afloat and even helped build a double digit lead in the first half. With Roy Williams searching for answers, don’t be surprised to see more changes moving forward.
3 Point Defense: I was dumb enough to think that Carolina could be a good defensive team, it appears that I was wrong. The effort in the two ACC games simply isn’t good enough. They aren’t good enough to win without giving 100% effort on the defensive end of the court. It’s hard to win games when you allow your opponent to shoot 45% from deep in their own gym.
Kerwin Walton: He continues to impress when he’s given the opportunity to do so. He had a stretch of making three, 3’s in less than 3 minutes before being taken off the floor in the closing minutes. He gives Carolina a consistent threat from behind the arc, which they desperately need. While he needs to improve as a defender, Carolina needs his shooting ability on the floor as much as possible.
Offensive Rebounding/Second Chance Points: Carolina only had 10 offensive rebounds, which converted into just 7 second chance points. For a team that prides itself on their ability to grab their own misses, and convert, that’s not good enough. Add in that Georgia Tech was in a zone look defensively, Carolina should’ve had much more success rebounding the basketball on the offensive end.
Closing: Like in all the losses this season, Carolina didn’t make the plays you have to make to win games. Last night they finished the game 1-7, while allowing Georgia Tech to close out the game going 6-7. After going up 61-53, they were outscored 19-6 the rest of the way. Carolina has played 9 games this season, and doesn’t know who to start, and doesn’t know who to finish with. Until they figure that out, expect the results to be the same.