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Thoughts from the Other Shade: Another Duke Perspective on What's Bothering UNC

Thoughts From the Other Shade is a regular feature here on Blue vs. Blue where, when we get a chance, we analyze the performance of the Rivalry’s other team and see what we can take away. To read all “Thoughts from the Other Shade” posts, click here.

While Alex did a nice job examining several of UNC’s coaching issues earlier this week, I thought I’d weigh in on issues I saw with Carolina’s personnel and why they aren’t getting the job done. Here’s my take on the 3 biggest issues behind UNC’s struggles: 


  1.  Lack of leadership on the floor. In Marcus Ginyard’s first two years he was, in my opinion, pretty close to a shut-down type defender (or at least moving in that direction) with good athleticism, but not much game offensively. Now, as a fifth year senior and as the result of a number of nagging injuries, he’s an average defender with little offensive game and, perhaps most importantly, no discernable presence as a leader on the floor. Everyone knew UNC was going to be ridiculously loaded in the front court, and the assumption was that Ginyard would be the upperclass glue to hold together an otherwise fragile backcourt. It hasn’t happened. Deon Thompson has contributed decent numbers, but hasn’t shown any of the senior leadership that a young team like this needs to succeed in: a) the parity heavy ACC; and b) close games. In short, this team has plenty of talent, but little mental toughness (not surprising for a team this young), which is what these upperclassmen are supposed to provide. Sobering thought for UNC fans: If lack of upperclass leadership (or leadership in general) is an issue this year, where do you think it’s going to come from next year? Will Graves?
  2. Bad Defense and Turnovers. No one has ever accused Roy Williams’ fast-break-happy teams of being defensively minded, and this team is no different. These guys are at the bottom of the league in scoring  defense (just like last year) and are holding opponents to only 42% shooting (only 1 percent worse than last year). Of course, last year, they put up 90 pts. a game, which definitely takes the pressure off of a sub-par defense. This year, despite being first in the league in assists (just like last year), they are averaging 10 fewer points per game (and fewer than that in ACC play). The reason, other than losing 5 players to the draft? Turnover margin. They are DFL with a  -1.52 per game margin. That’s a whole lotta giveaways without the takeaways to make up for it.
  3. Lack of Outside Shooting. They lead the league in offensive rebounding. This is because: a) their bigs are good rebounders; and b) they are getting lots of opportunities due to poor shooting. Will Graves is really their only consistent threat from outside (38%). Drew is decent (43%) , but doesn’t really shoot that often. Ginyard has been terrible, especially in ACC games.

While Alex talked about this some in his post, it bears repeating: I’ll say in closing (and I’ll say it many times before his career is through) that I feel like Roy Williams, while a lights-out recruiter, is really a very average strategist, in-game coach and motivator. He’s got a strong system and it good at teaching it, but has very little ability to work in the moment to change the course of a game. I hope I’m proved right tonight.