Against Maryland the Heels got off to an amazing start, scoring 19 points in their first 13 possessions. It was a 5:33 period where the Heels made 9 of their first 11 shots and found themselves up 19-3. Fatigue set in and the expected substitution pattern began, and the night almost completely fell apart. While the Heels did end up with the win, this bad offensive team ended up only slightly better than their history-making season average. In fact, after that hot start, the team only scored 56 points in their remaining 70 possessions (0.80 points per possession).
Breaking the play down by lines we see the following (in reverse order of effectiveness):
Positions 1-5, (possessions), Points/possession
Paige, McDonald, Tokoto, Simmons, Johnson (7) 1.57
Paige, McDonald, Tokoto, McAdoo, Meeks (29) 1.10
Britt, Paige, Tokoto, McAdoo, Hubert (4) 1.00
—–Offensive goal of 0.95——-
Paige, McDonald, Tokoto, McAdoo, Johnson (18)0.83
Britt, Paige, Tokoto, Johnson, James (7) 0.43
Paige, McDonald, Tokoto, Johnson, Meeks (7) 0.43
Paige, McDonald, Tokoto, McAdoo, Simmons (4) 0.00
Britt McDonald Hicks McAdoo Johnson (2) 1.00
Paige McDonald Tokoto McAdoo Hubert (2) 1.00
Britt McDonald Tokoto Johnson James (2) 0.50
Britt McDonald Hicks Johnson James (1) 0.00
Paige McDonald Hicks McAdoo Johnson (1) 0.00
(number of possessions in parentheses)
Simmons (11) 1.00
Hubert (6) 1.00
Meeks (36) 0.97
McAdoo (60) 0.92
McDonald (73) 0.90
Tokoto (80) 0.89
Paige (79) 0.89
Johnson (45) 0.78
Britt (16) 0.63
Hicks (4) 0.50
James (10) 0.40
Paige as 1 (68) 0.93
Britt as 1 (16) 0.63
First, I’ll reiterated what I’ve said before: this team does not have defensive problems. This team’s problems are purely on offense. Maryland scored 0.78 points per possession, and this team wasn’t able to put them away until the final minute of play.
We saw the starters play a larger proportion of possessions than in any game this season. They got 29 of the 83 possessions, 35%, and they were stellar. For seven possessions at the end of the first half, the starting backcourt with Johnson and Simmons up front played well for 7 possessions, where Paige and Johnson went on tears.
Good things happen when certain players are on the court, especially Paige, McAdoo, Meeks, and Hubert. When Hicks and Johnson come on, all offensive momentum vanishes from the building. I don’t even know what the coaches are telling Hicks, because all I ever see him do is jack up ugly 3-point shots. While Brice Johnson scored a lot of points, his possessions outside of those in the first half’s final two minutes were just bad possessions. This team doesn’t flow well with him on the court.
The white elephant here is Simmons. When he was in the game the team scored efficiently, right? Well most of his good periods are when he was along for the ride when Paige and Johnson were scoring at will at the end of the first half. I’m not about to say that this evaluation proves that Hubert is the answer just as I’m not going to say this proves that Simmons is the answer.
The bottom line is that this team has a good backcourt rotation now, and it desperately needs one in the front court. McAdoo and Meeks went out of the game with 14:27 left in the first, and were wholesale substituted for Johnson and James, who were awful. From 12:31-9:02 there were 6 lineup changes. 5 of those lineups got one possession. During the 6-minute period where starters did not play, UNC scored 3 points and Maryland scored 10.
I think the front court can maintain more consistency if Meeks comes out first, at about 16:00, then is replaced by James or Johnson, then McAdoo should come out at 14:00. Meeks should replace James as soon as possible after that, then McAdoo should come back in with 10:00 remaining. In all honesty the front court needs to be pared down to a 3-man rotation. The minutes that Meeks and McAdoo play together are great, but the minutes Meeks plays with Johnson are some of the worst we have. The important thing to remember is that while Brice Johnson had a few good minutes at the end of the first half, his presence on the court does not make this a very efficient scoring machine, and that will cost the team in the long run.
Against Maryland, Nate Britt was particularly ineffective. He is a terrible shooter and doesn’t get the ball up the court fast enough on live ball changes. However while Paige plays well at PG, we still need Britt to be the primary SG. This four-man rotation of Britt, Paige, McAdoo, and Tokoto is getting many minutes together, and that’s why there is more consistency in the backcourt than the front court. Time for the coaches to make some tough decisions.