This was a disappointing game. It was an 11 point victory against the over-matched Crusaders, but it was a pretty disappointing game because, in short, Carolina didn't look like a top-flight team. They didn't dominate. Now, I know this sounds unfair, but everyone knows the deal, everyone knows that's expected against a team like Valparaiso. This is the point where everyone starts to get nervous about what happens when Carolina plays a competitive team.
In all fairness, everything went right for the Crusaders, and their game plan went down about as well as could be hoped. That said, Carolina is going to be playing teams that are hot or lucky or a combination of both. We need to be ready. Let's break down the game:
What went right: Deon, Cortez, and Zeller know what's up and are legitimately scary. They are getting their blocks and rebounds easy. They are shooting at a great clip, getting to the line, and shooting free throws well (all over 80%!). Drew II seems to be for real: He's making great plays, shooting well, and taking the big step. Marcus is Marcus and that's great. Defensively, we held them to under 35% from the field and below 30% from the 3-point line.
What went wrong: In the second-half, Valpo shot 53% from the field and 70% from the 3-point line. Our defense couldn't stop anything and all of the second-team outside of Zeller seemed hopeless. We couldn't put them away, we couldn't ice it, we couldn't snap their necks and insult their mommas and make them cry on the bus ride back. We just sort of ran up and down the court until we won, or whatever, just leave me alone okay. In any case, the lack of focus was fairly disturbing.
What we know: We have to turn the ball over less. We have to defend the perimeter better. We have to focus.
What we don't know: How will this team defend against legit big men? Every team, UNC has played so far has tried to play outside of the point to avoid the bigger UNC players by the basket. The post-defense of the UNC frontcourt has yet to really be tested. How well will this team play against top-notch competition? Can this team consistently make use of the three? How good are the new guys on the second unit? What do we really know about Strickland, McDonald, Watts, and the Wears?
When we find out these questions, we'll find out a lot about our team.
On the small forward position: We started Will Graves at this spot, but lots of other people have been getting minutes at this spot. Notably, John Henson, Marcus, and the Wears. Frankly, these minutes should be going to Henson. Will Graves has some veteran experience, but he's just not showed a lot of game so far: He's supposed to be the teams designated 3-point shooter but is hitting under 30%. Right now he's a specialist who is sucking at his specialty. Marcus Ginyard is great, but his ball-handling skills (Yeah, I know he had five turnovers tonight...), defense, and touch on this guard poor team mean that he's going to have to spend most of his time at shooting guard and even point guard. Now, let's talk about the Wears and the one thing that really clearly seems to not be working: They aren't small forwards. They can't guard other small forwards on the perimeter and they sure don't seem comfortable trying to play that position on the offense. They seem real happy playing up in the front court, and I know Roy wants to make full use of the bench, but for the most part, Wears to the front. So by now, I bet you've guessed where I'm going with this right? Well, if you haven't, you ain't been paying attention: Henson. Henson is the answer at small forward, and he should probably start and plays should be run for him. He has a great shooting touch, he plays smart and wily, he blocks like a crazy man, he runs the floor, and has amazing passing. Roy needs to read up on "point forward" and give Henson the minutes. I can't help, but think that Roy is trying to hide him like he tried for Ed last year.
So, long story short: Play Henson more at small forward and we'll know a lot more about this team after this week. Gulp.