Last night Carolina learned they can overcome slow starts, and find ways to win. They learned that they can not play their best, turn the ball over immensely, miss foul shots and still win. In their two games at the relocated Maui Invitational, the Tar Heels have found different ways to win basketball games. Stanford proved to be the type of the team we thought they could be in the preseason, and pushed Carolina as well as any team Jerrod Haase had had while at Stanford.
The Tar Heels put all 5 starters in double figures scoring, led by freshman Caleb Love and his team best 16 points. While you want him to shoot better than 6-18, and turn it over so much, you have to love the intensity and toughness he played with, especially in the second half. It wasn’t always pretty for Carolina, as they only shot 46% from the field, and 33% from behind the three point line. Like Monday night, they dominated the rebounding margin, out-rebounding the Cardinal 43-23. These types of wins can carry over, and Carolina can use what they learned for the next time they are in a close, physical game.
We learned a lot about the Tar Heels in their first two wins of the season, but not as much as they learned about themselves last night:
Carolina committed 24 errors against the Cardinal, the most of the young 2020-21 season. While it’s somewhat expected because of how inexperienced this team is, they can’t afford to turn the ball over like that at a consistent rate. Stanford’s pressure was too much for Love to handle at times, which is why Davis switched over at certain junctures to settle things down. Carolina will only have 24 hours to prepare for a Texas team that’ll apply the same amount of pressure today, if not more than what they saw tonight.
Stanford brought a level of physicality on the defensive end, and the Tar Heels matched it. While they committed 22 personal fouls, they played tough defense at times without fouling. They also held the Cardinal to just 39% shooting from the floor, including just 25% from behind the arc. It appears that Carolina is committed to playing harder on the defensive end. That allowed Roy Williams to be more aggressive with their traps, and they’ve even worked in some full court press. If this young team can stay committed on the defensive end of the floor, it’ll pay dividends come ACC season.
There’s a reason why they are called “free”. 15-24 just won’t cut it for a team that is still struggling to find their offensive identity. Garrison Brooks has continued his struggles from the charity stripe, as he’s seeking overall consistent play.
The numbers weren’t pretty, but his impact was felt on both ends of the floor, which is what matters for Black. He was a force on the defensive end, using his length to disrupt passing lanes and alter shots from all over the floor. He made a layup to make it a 66-63 game, and that wasn’t a play he would’ve made his first two seasons on campus. It’s apparent that he is a more confident player, which makes him more effective, and this team needs him to be a big part of the success they hope to enjoy.