The Dadgum Dispatch: 012

Two wins, concerning and encouraging tidbits, road games, plus news and notes.

North Carolina is 2-0 and 1-0 in league play one week into the season. In this edition of The Dadgum Dispatch, we’ll play a game with small sample sizes. Doom and gloom.

What is concerning about the season thus far?

And what is encouraging about the season thus far?

Plus, some random news and notes.

Doom and Gloom

Two-point concerns

Carolina has made just 36 of its 86 two-point shots in two games. That’s 41.9 percent.

Obviously, this should progress to the mean because Carolina’s worst two-shooting percentage over the last 16 seasons is 46.3 percent in the 2012-13 season.

The Tar Heels have made 40.9 percent from three-point range, and attempted 34.4 percent of its shots from three-point land.

Bart Torvik’s data shows that only 25.8 percent of Carolina’s two-point attempts are from close range.

UNC made only 19 of 47 two-point attempts at UNC-Wilmington. In the Roy Williams Era or over the last 588 games, Carolina has made 40 percent or worse from two-point land 61 times.

The Tar Heels are 28-33 in those games. One of the 28 wins was at UNC-Wilmington last week.

Say something nice about free throws

While UNC has made 26 of 47 free throws, and that is alarming, it’s also encouraging in a strange way. An important piece of Carolina’s offense is simply getting to the line.

Carolina’s 35.3 free throw rate is the highest its been since the 2014-15 season. Of course, this will likely stabilize considering only two games have been played.

The Tar Heels made 16 free throws and the Seahawks attempted only 11 free throws last Friday. UNC made 10 free throws against Notre Dame, and the Irish attempted 14.

Small sample size alert. Free throw attempts per game for Garrison Brooks:

  • Freshman: 1.7

  • Sophomore: 3.2

  • Junior: 6.5

After making 61.6 percent of his foul shots his first two collegiate seasons, Brooks has made 10 of 13 attempts thus far in his third season.

Coming Up Short on Continuity

It’s no mystery that the Roy Williams likes to play nine to 10 players early in the season. Fans are usually up in arms about curious lineup combinations.

Right now, starters have played nearly 80 percent of minutes. Seven players have played 50 percent or more of available minutes. The rotations are thin.

Minutes continuity measures the percentage of minutes played by the same players from the previous season. Carolina's minutes continuity is 18.6 percent after two games. Over the last 16 seasons, UNC's average minutes continuity 55.6 percent.

Brandon Robinson’s injury in a scrimmage, plus Armando Bacot’s scary hit to the head are two reasons why the continuity is low.

Christian Keeling is still working to get acclimated to a brand new offensive system, while Justin Pierce has looked a bit more comfortable.

This is a chief concern moving forward because of fear of the unknown. In many ways, Carolina doesn’t know what it has yet as a complete team, and might not know for quite some time.

Looming Leaps

A few weeks ago we wrote about leap years or how the majority of college basketball players play more than one year and often improve season to season.

The three obvious candidates for this season were Garrison Brooks, Leaky Black, and Brandon Robinson. While Robinson is out because of an injury, Andrew Platek has shown encouraging play along with Brooks and Black thus far.

🚨Hot take alert 🚨

Garrison Brooks is starting to give George Lynch vibes. The best defender on the court and a knack for stick backs on the offensive glass.

🚨End hot take alert 🚨

Brooks now has his first career double-double under his belt. And note in the clip below how many passes are from Platek. His classmate is continuing to show his aptitude on the floor given the opportunity for more minutes. Platek recorded a career best four assists in Wilmington.

Leaky Black doesn’t have the offense numbers that jump off the page yet, however, it’s hard to describe the importance to his team thus far.

In the three clips below, Black showcases the following:

  • a solid screen to get Brooks an easy bucket

  • defensive rebound grab-and-go assist to Cole Anthony

  • great defense to force an empty Notre Dame possession

Can’t go as fast?

Carolina’s average possession length after two games is 16 seconds. Using Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, this ranks 112th in the country. The Tar Heels lowest ranking since the 2009-10 season is 25th.

Does this mean Carolina is playing slower?

We need more information or games. The Tar Heels average possession length against Notre Dame was almost 18.5 seconds. There were several buckets late in the shot clock.

UNC played faster against UNC-Wilmington, however, the shot selection wasn’t always the best. We know Roy Williams wants to play fast, while still attempting good shots.

A concern moving forward is how this version of the Tar Heels balances the need for speed with its shot selection.

Cole greater than the sum of its parts

Cole Anthony is going to set records in his only collegiate season. A lot of those records will be due to his high usage rate and time on the floor.

It’s encouraging that the head coach has no problem with Anthony being the focal point of the team. Roy Williams has forgot more basketball than most of us know, so it feels like he knows the identity of this season’s team starts and ends with Cole Anthony.

From now until April, people will compare Cole Anthony to past players from different eras and different teams. This is a fun exercise. That doesn’t mean it’s the right comparison to make though.

The best player to compare Cole Anthony to this season is . . . Cole Anthony.

How does he improve game to game?

How does he adjust to better opponents or defenses?

How does he involve his teammates?

Cole Anthony is the thermostat, not the thermometer. He doesn’t show the temperature. He sets it.

On the road in the Carolinas

Since 2003-04, the Tar Heels have played on the road in the Carolinas against UNCW, Elon, Wofford, UNCG, UNCA, College of Charleston, and Davidson.

More big name schools should do too, like Auburn did last night. And it’s not because it would help with their resume for the NCAA Tournament.

It’s because the atmosphere at places like Trask Coliseum last week. C.B. McGrath said the following after the game:

I appreciate him [Roy Williams] coming down, and bringing the Tar Heels to Trask. A lot of other coaches wouldn’t do that. He knew it would be important for our program, university, and community. And I appreciate that.

Random News + Notes

The Tar Heels are back in action Friday at 9 p.m. hosting Gardner-Webb.

As always, thanks for reading this far.

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