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Former UNC Basketball star Michael Jordan has reached the Final Four in ESPN’s greatest players bracket It’s been just over two weeks since we have had live sports to watch during this COVID-19 pandemic and it doesn’t look like they are returning any time soon. While people have their own ways of passing time through […]
We continue our UNC basketball player season in review series with one of the newest members of the program, freshman Cole Anthony Justin Pierce | Jeremiah Francis | Anthony Harris | Brandon Huffman | Andrew Platek | Christian Keeling | Leaky Black | Armando Bacot Five star recruit Cole Anthony pledged his commitment to North Carolina back in April of 2019 and did so as […]
We’ll be live on our Instagram page with your head coach around 4:30 pm to chat during the 2nd half of the NC State game.
Watch the game on @accnetwork at 3 pm and join us for a conversation at 4:30.
As the number of coronavirus cases across Europe rose last month, surging in Italy, Spain and her native Germany, Feline Guenther watched from afar, aware of what was going on but unable to fully grasp the outbreak's severity.
A UNC Basketball commit earned some big honors earlier in the week when he was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Georgia Class of 2020 center Walker Kessler is one of five recruits in North Carolina’s impressive class that is ranked No. 3 overall. The five-star recruit is one of […]
We continue our UNC basketball player season in review series with one of the newest members of the program, freshman big man Armando Bacot. Justin Pierce | Jeremiah Francis | Anthony Harris | Brandon Huffman | Andrew Platek | Christian Keeling | Leaky Black Armando Bacot joined the North Carolina basketball program as a 5-star recruit out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. A 6-foot-10, […]
Is it safe to make plans for the college football season? Despite the wide disparity in projections about how long the coronavirus will change our lives, and with the end of winter sports and all spring and summer games being at least postponed, a big question is if the air will come out of the balloon that […]
Cindy Parlow wasn’t looking for the job; watch out now that she has it. One of the most decorated UNC women soccer players had such a successful career after she left Chapel Hill that when Carlos Cordeiro was forced out as President of the U.S. Soccer Federation, Parlow was the obvious choice to step in […]
Brandon Robinson wasn’t going to lose on Tuesday night.
Not on the first day of the postseason. Not after all of the painful second-half collapses and all of the excruciating last-second losses. Not after what he’d personally gone through this year.
“Coming into today, I didn’t want this day to be my last day putting on this jersey,” he said.
And, if anything, he — along with fellow upperclassman Garrison Brooks — certainly played like it.
Spearheaded by two phenomenal showings from Robinson (17 points, 5-6 threes, 2 blocks) and Brooks (20 points, 8-10 free throws), No. 14 North Carolina sent No. 11 Virginia Tech packing with a 78-56 beatdown victory, sending the Heels to the next round of the ACC Tournament.
Carolina’s path to the NCAA Tournament is, in a sense, improbable. For the pessimist, it would be more reasonable to simply render a five-game clean-sweep of the ACC Tournament field as impossible.
But for Robinson, Brooks, and a desperate Carolina squad, Tuesday’s win was an accomplishment in itself. For a team looking to capture lightning in a bottle and knock off five-straight, it left them with an updated reality:
One down, four to go.
For as long as the Tar Heels are fighting in the postseason, Argyle will bring daily Film Room’s until there’s nothing left to write. Carolina’s season could end any day now, so there’s no reason for us not to look at the positives while they last.
ROBINSON DOING THE LITTLE THINGS
Before diving into Robinson’s electric night from the perimeter, his other contributions on offense and defense shouldn’t be ignored nor minimized. His playmaking on the defensive end prevented a pair of Virginia Tech baskets, and his passing into the interior was as stellar as always.
Unlike anyone else on the team, Robinson’s skill level as an entry passer — from the pace he gets on his passes to the tight windows he somehow fits passes through — is outstanding and unparalleled. Few things on a basketball court that are as beautiful as an entry from Robinson.
Likewise, his pocket passes out of the pick-and-roll are just as impressive. He feeds Brooks with a gorgeous bounce pass, only for Brooks to turn it over with a bad pass. Not to let such an error hurt his team, Robinson erased the mistake, trailing Jalen Cone and blocking him from behind.
And later in the game, while following his man away from the ball, Robinson turned his head and quickly rotated over to Wabissa Bede’s drive, swatting the shot mercilessly.
ROBINSON HOT FROM DOWNTOWN
Robinson caught fire early from beyond the arc, being the driving force for a second-half blitzkrieg that was unequivocally a nail in the Virginia Tech’s coffin. B-Rob — or 3-Rob, as some would say — found the bottom of the basket in a number of ways, finishing the night 5-6 from the perimeter with his teammates doing their best to create open looks.
Early in the game, a quick cross-corner skip from Cole Anthony found Robinson on the left baseline, where Robinson would calmly rise up over PJ Horne without flinching.
Curling off of the dribble hand-off with Leaky Black, it only took one dribble for Robinson to get free and fire away.
Nothing short of a back-breaking make, Robinson hopped into an effortless off-movement triple out of the screen-the-screener action, with Brooks moving over to screen for Robinson after running a pick-and-roll with Christian Keeling.
Robinson even found magic off the bounce, shaking and breaking Nahiem Alleyne, creating a valley of space for his stepback trey. Afterward, he let everyone know he was there, too.
Robinson’s three-point prowess against the Hokies wasn’t an isolated incident. Although his talents as a shooter manifested in a barrage of long-range bombs, he himself wasn’t the lone factor that played into this outburst. And this play, which led to his fourth triple of the night, leads us to the next point — Brooks’ passing from the post was phenomenal.
BROOKS THE FACILITATOR
Brooks ascendance this season has been well-chronicled and well-respected. Carolina’s primary scoring threat from the post, Brooks earned his ACC Most Improved Player and All-ACC Second Team honors through averaging 18.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game in conference play. His leap as a post scorer has been both surprising and necessary, as he went from an average post-up option (1.000 PPP, 49 possessions, 61st percentile, 46.9 FG%) to a great one (1.052 PPP, 134 possessions, 72nd percentile, 51.5 FG%).
Such a boom in scoring leads to expected adjustments from opposing defenses. Notably, attention. Opposing teams are throwing multiple defenders at him when he’s parked in the post, knowing that if he’s isolated on the block, he’s liable to terrorize lesser ACC-caliber defenders with ease:
Premier scoring threats demand extra defensive attention, which generally comes in the form of double- and triple-teams. For post players, this increases the importance of passing out of dangerous situations without turning it over. For Brooks, though, he uses these double-teams to pick apart the cracks in opposing defenses, making opponents pay for helping off of his teammates.
His patience in the post this year, as a scorer and passer, has been a development whose value cannot be understated. Likewise, his vision and skill as a post facilitator have improved, while already being a good interior passer as a sophomore. He makes passes that many bigs are incapable of making, a testament to his natural talent and his hard work at becoming one of the conference’s best passing big men.
Isolated on the block, Virginia Tech sends Horne over to double Brooks as he spins into the lane, a tactic that Carolina successfully used on Vernon Carey in the second half of its home game against Duke back in February. While Carey struggled to operate as a passer, Brooks excelled, making the seamless drop-off to Bacot in the dunker spot:
After receiving an impeccable pocket pass — seriously, look at the window Cole Anthony fit that through — on the baseline, Brooks didn’t even have to take a dribble before getting met with a hard trap from three Hokie defenders. Although Bacot was alone in the dunker spot, the rotation from Bede made a dump-off far too difficult to attempt. Brooks processes this instantaneously, shifting his eyes to an open Leaky Black on the wing:
The hi-lo connection between Brooks and Bacot has been turbulent this season, but has noticeably improved as the year has gone on. As Horne gambles on Bacot’s tough entry pass and shifts over to Brooks, Bacot cuts to the basket and Brooks hits him with the quick drop-off, culminating in a beautifully executed hi-lo set:
Brooks made guard defenders pay, too. Hunter Cattoor vacates the corner in an effort to sneak up on Brooks, wishing to trap him in the event that he turns over his left shoulder, but Brooks kicks the ball out to an open Robinson on the wing. The defense scrambles, overcorrecting and leaving Anthony alone in the corner, a mere pass away:
The cross-corner skip pass is one of the toughest reads to make as a passer, let alone for a big man. For Brooks, though, it’s just another tool in his arsenal, unleashing a skip to Keeling in the corner as he’s met with another double in the post:
And whenever Virginia Tech caught on to the pick-and-roll set with the dummy B3 action…
...and adjusted by doubling Brooks on the roll, he surveyed the floor and whipped a one-handed bullet to Andrew Platek in the opposite corner.
Tuesday’s win over Virginia Tech couldn’t have been done without the offensive firepower from Brandon Robinson and the brilliant playmaking from Garrison Brooks. Both upperclassmen were integral to Carolina’s success on the offensive end, contributing to continuous ball movement and momentous shots whenever the offense badly needed it.
Their importance to this team goes without saying. They are leaders, on and off the court, and these very well could be the last few days that they get to play together in Carolina uniforms. A late-night matchup with No. 6 Syracuse is up next on Wednesday, and although the Heels thrashed them just over a week ago, this is no regular-season game.
The end is near, but for Robinson and Brooks, they’ll do whatever they can to prolong the journey.
One down, four to go.
Header photo by Mary McCall Leland
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