Thursday, February 4, 2010

Where We Are Right Now

This is a post about UNC Men's Basketball. This might be a little bleak. You probably already knew that. I'm going to reiterate something that I have stated before and then try to add a little nuance. In the past two games, we have one a game and we have lost a game. What's been the difference: Will Graves.

That's right. It's back: The Will Graves Theory. For those unfamiliar with the concept, the Will Graves Theory basically states that UNC will struggle when Will Graves tries to takes the most shots on the team and that UNC will do better when Will plays within the flow of the offense and concentrates on just shooting open threes when they are available. This theory is based on the basic idea of efficient scoring. In short, Will Graves isn't nearly as efficient at scoring points as Ed Davis (amongst others). If UNC leans heavily on its more efficient options and less on its less efficient options it will win games. The past two games illustrate this.

In the games against NC State and Virgina, we took 56 and 57 shots, and won by 15 and lost by 15 respectively. Excuse me if I steal the punchline, but you can see it coming anyway, so here we go: The reason we were so successful in one and not the other has to do with the distribution of the shots (and obviously other things like defense, but stick with me on this, okay?). Our most efficient option is easily Ed Davis. In the NC State game, he took eight shots; in the Virginia game, he took three shots. How does our best offensive player only get three shots? Let's talk about WIll Graves now. In the NC State game, Will Graves shot the ball seven times; in the Virginia game, Will Graves shot the ball 15 times-- he made roughly 30% of his shots in both outings. Will Graves, the worst shooting starter on our team, shot the ball five more times than our best shooting player, Ed Davis. Ladies and gentlemen, we can't win this way.

Will Graves is a fine player and an excellent complement in our offense. There is simply no way we can win when he is taking that many shots at the expense of our bread and butter scoring of Ed Davis. So please, everyone on the North Carolina Tar Heels, please, for the love of Dean Smith, get that ball to the low post! And Will Graves: Use better shot selection!

What constitutes better shot selection you say, Will? Well, the answer might make you happy: I'd like you to only concentrate on open threes. You know, those shots you effortlessly swish and take so much gusto in shooting, those shots that make the crowd lose its collective shit?

Excuse me, Will, let me explain for the audience.

Will Graves can shoot threes. He's been totally reliable at hitting the three over the past few games. In the NC State game, he shot three and made two. In the Virginia game, shot nine and made four. He's shooting 50% from the three point line in the past two games. That is beyond excellent. That makes a Will Graves three one of the most efficient shots available to the entire team. The problem is not Will Graves shooting too many threes. The problem is every other shot in his repertoire.

Outside of threes, Will Graves has shot 10% from the field in the past two games. He has made one shot in ten. You read that correctly. This is not just recently, either. On the season Will Graves shoots 32.8% on two-pointers and 40% on three-pointers. Because three-pointers are worth (as you might expect, you math whiz, you) more than two-pointers the difference is magnified. Effectively, you are looking at the choice between a 32.8% shot and a 60% shot. So, Will Graves, here is the secret to your own and to team success: cut the two-pointers out. Make it a three or look for a better shot.

It's not just Will Graves either: Larry Drew, you are honestly pretty great, but you need to either work on your drives or have more confidence in your long-bombs. Drew II shot made four out of eight three-pointers in the Virginia game and just one out of five two-pointers. Have I ever mentioned that UNC, in general. needs to take more threes? Oh, wait.

These guys can hit the three. If they can't drive or shoot mid-range jumpers, why wouldn't they shoot the three? Don't get me wrong, inside to Ed Davis should still be option one, but if we can't get it inside: Bombs, away.

Except for you, Marcus. Fun fact: Marcus Ginyard, a starter for your North Carolina Tar Heels has made exactly zero baskets over the past two games, and is two of 17 over the last three.

Sorry to throw in that last bit of bleakness there. I know things are bad now, but I really do believe that adjusting who gets the shots on our team will help us in a big way. I hope so at least. There is only so much yelling at the heavens I can do when I see Will chuck up contested mid-ranger jumper after contested mid-range jumper.

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