If you had to find something to describe #19 North Carolina basketball team (10-3) going into conference play the number three could be right on the mark.
Carolina has had three outstanding wins against top notch squads so far this season, beating Louisville on a neutral court in the Hall of Fame Tipoff Tournament, Michigan State on the road as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and Kentucky at the Dean Dome. Which, if we are going to really nitpick, the Heels beat three high ranked squads on three different venues and in three different setting (tourny, challenge and regular season).
UNC also has had three losses against weaker squads that well, with just a bucket here, a free throw there, could have been wins, but nonetheless, they were losses. Coincidentally, the first of the losses, against Belmont at the Dean Dome, was due to senior J.J. Mann hitting three three’s to close out the game after going 2 for 11 to start the game.
Continuing with the number three, we can say that head coach Roy Williams‘ squad has had to deal with three players coming back into the fold. As we know senior shooting guard Leslie McDonald is back with the team, junior shooting guard P.J. Hairston is not going to be coming back into the fold, and sophomore point guard Stillman White‘s future is still up in the air.
On the other hand, on the court three’s, or the lack of, have been an issue when it comes to the Heels’ offense. For now it’s been all sophomore shooting guard Marcus Paige doing the job hitting the trifecta, along with the return of McDonald, who has hit more three’s in the few games since being reinstated than the rest of the team (minus Paige). And yes, to keep going with that number, there are only three players on the team to have hit more than one trifecta… sophomore J.P. Tokoto (4), McDonald (9) and Paige (31).
On the blocks, coach Williams has started three different players in the middle. Beginning with sophomore Joel James, then going to sophomore Brice Johnson when Joel got hurt, and finally, in the last game it was Kennedy Meeks who got the nod.
On the charity stripe North Carolina only has three players that are hitting over 65% of their free throws, Nate Britt (68.4%), James (70.0%) and Paige (92.8%).
As stated above, with two players having been one for quite some time, one not coming back, the small forward, or three spot, on the court has been played by James McAdoo, who would have not been there if Hairston and McDonald had been on the squad from the get go.
Also, the three freshmen, have been contributing. Meeks, who wears three for his jersey number, has been playing pretty well for most of the season, Britt has been falling into his role before a rough patch at the beginning, and now, even the last of the trio, forward Isaiah Nicks is beginning to get into the zone.
Continuing with the number’s game, this year’s schedule has included three games against players with connections to either UNC or coach Williams… with Wes Miller (UNC-G), Jerod Haase (UAB) and Buzz Peterson (NC-Wilmington). I guess, with a play on words, that is just not a trio of former players, but it’s also a coaching tree that coach Williams played against.
In the media poll before the beginning of the season North Carolina was slotted to come in third in the conference, behind Syracuse and arch rival Duke.
Lastly, if the Tar Heels can play to their potential, end the ACC season as the third best team of the conference, they could be a three seed in the NCAA Tournament.
And let’s close it out with this… guess how many Atlantic Coast Conference programs are ranked in the AP or Coaches’ Polls? You got it… three!!!
What does all of this mean? Nothing, I guess, but it is something that if you are bored at work and the water cooler is looking for some conversation take
two three minutes and tell them about all of this when it comes to North Carolina.