UNC Basketball played it’s first road game on Friday (sorry that this recap is so late) and the team played like the talented, but young, squad team they are. When it was over #11 North Carolina (3-0) took care of Long Beach State (1-2) by the final of 78 to 63, which was pretty close to my 75 to 65 prediction in my preview. This game definitely fits into the “tales of two halves” category, where in the first one the team was learning how to play on the road and in the second those same players were showing why they are ranked so high in the polls.
My keys to the game were:
Feed it inside! In the first half the Tar Heels did not do this. And in part due to the lack of an inside game UNC went to intermission only leading by one point against a team that is not scared to play against big time programs. In the second half Carolina went back to feeding the bigs a lot more and that is where the scoring gap became bigger and bigger. In the second twenty minutes the ball went down to James McAdoo and he played did good things when he got it, avoiding the double team that almost always came when he touched the ball. And while the sophomore forward did not get his third double double in as many games, his 18 points and 8 rebounds were just fine.
D to Duece. The Heels defense is coming around and it was once again a lot better in the second part of the game, as was the team as a whole for the most part. Make no mistake, in this campaign playing good defense cane be the difference between a good and a great team.
The Point. Floor general Marcus Paige is looking more and more comfortable handling the ball and leading the squad. He definitely is not at the peak of where he can be, but that is just good news for UNC and bad news for its opponents as he improves each game. Between Paige and Dexter Strickland the point guard position is going to be in a, no pun intended, good hands this season. By all means let’s not compare them to the seasons with Felton/Lawson/Marshall, but it will be a better time than when LD II was leading the team.
Free throw shooting. The Tar Heels went 8 for 11 (72.7%) from the free throw line, which I would take that any game of the season, especially when thinking of the first two games of the year. As far as the shooting from outside the squad went 10 for 26 (38.5%) and that is not bad, but in my opinion need to elevate some more with this type of team going forward.
In the end this game was par for a young and talented squad, but the one thing that I need to point out is that the best part of the game might have been when the best player for the Heels, James McAdoo, was on the bench. For a team that is going to go up against good competition being able to play well with the power forward on the bench can only be a positive.
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