Updated: Dec 15, 2019
For the first time since 1986, Carolina will play a home regular season game in a gym that's is not the Smith Center. It was announced over the summer that Carolina, would host Wofford in Carmichael Arena, in part due to graduating ceremonies taking place in the Smith Center. This provides a unique experience for the fans, but also the players. There's a good chance the players on the current roster don't even know the history of the venue that saw Carolina win 170 of 190 games played there, but they will after this game. In Carmichael you saw Dean Smith build the greatest college basketball program in the country. It was home to Phil Ford and the famed 4 Corners offense. In this building erased a 8 point deficit in 17 seconds to beat Duke on Senior Day. It was where Michael Jordan played his collegiate basketball. We can go and on about this special building but understand this: You can't write the story of Carolina Basketball, without mentioning the time played in Carmichael Arena.
The last time Wofford visited Chapel Hill, they upset North Carolina that put the mid-major program on the map. They enter this game with a 6-4 record, having won their last 3 contests. This is a program is transitions, having lost Fletcher McGee to professional basketball, and coach Mike Young to Virginia Tech. The Terriers are led by Nathan Hoover who's averaging over 14 points per game. He's had to work for his points though, as he's shooting 34% from the field, and only 27% from behind the arc. Storm Murphy also gives Wofford over 14 points, while shooting 58% from the field, and 56% from the field. This is a typical mid-major team, as they lack the necessary talent and size to compete consistently against Power 5 teams, but with Evansville & Stephen F Austin already having won in big time atmospheres, anything is possible.
The last 2 times Carolina has taken the floor they've failed to sore 50 points in either game. The last time they failed to score 50 in back to back games was 1948, the Heels hadn't started playing in Carmichael to give you context. The struggles this this team has experienced can't be understated, but it was expected. When you lose as much as they did from a season ago, it's hard to replace that production, especially with so many new faces. With a west coast road trip following the game, and Christmas in less than 2 weeks, it's important for this group to gain confidence before league play kicks in. They can do that with a win. Here are 3 keys to doing so:
1. Cole Anthony Playing Smarter: We've stressed that the youngster needs help for himself and this team to be successful, but he needs to step up his game as well. You never know that a player is going through his learning curve, until you see him struggling on the court. Anthony has the most turnovers by a player through 9 games in 10 years. His field goal percentage is lower than 40%, and he's not hitting at the foul line consistently enough. A lot of his struggles on the offensive end are largely due to not taking the right shots, and when he attacks the rim he doesn't attack it with the intention of finishing through contact. His aggression is wanted and needed, it just needs to be in the context of what's best for the team in the right situation.
2. Defensive Communication: Ohio State exposed Carolina's pick and roll defense in their blowout win in the Smith Center, back in early December. Virginia then did the same thing, as the Heels struggled switching correctly on multiple screen situations. This can easily be chalked up to lack of communication, which is the biggest key to being successful defense. The communication needs to pick up, not only for the transfers or the freshmen, but the veterans on this team. When they've communicated the ability to be a good team on the defensive end has shown up, but when the communication lacks, it's hard for this team to compete altogether.
3. Rebounding: Normally this doesn't show up in these type of games, but here we are. Lost in the last two games was that Carolina was outrebounded in both games. One person who didn't forget was Roy Williams, who happens to be their head coach. In recent memory you''ve seen this team be able to mask all their deficiencies by pounding the glass, to keep them in games while they figure out all the issues. They've got to get back to valuing the rebounding aspect, as they continue to figure it out on both ends of the floor.
Series History: As aforementioned, Wofford won the last time the two tangled in Chapel Hill. Overall, Carolina owns a 4-1 mark against the school from Spartanburg.
UNC: 25th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency- 108.1 ( 38th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency- ( 90.1 ) 27th
Wofford: 140th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency- 106.5 ( 57th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency- 104.9 ( 285th )
TV Info: It's another 4 pm tip time, and ACC Network will bring you all the action from Carmichael.
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