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UNC’s Kacie Harvey was selected alongside Virginia’s Natasha Subhash on Tuesday as the ACC Women’s Tennis Co-Freshmen of the Week, Harvey had three singles wins and one doubles win this past weekend at the Freeman Memorial Championship in Las Vegas. The highlight of her week was a straight sets victory over No. 16 ranked Lisa Marie Rioux […]
The post Kacie Harvey Chosen as ACC Women’s Tennis Co-Freshman of the Week appeared first on Chapelboro.com.
Inside Lacrosse magazine released its annual men’s Preseason All-American teams on Tuesday, with a pair of Tar Heels finding their names on the list. Junior attackman Chris Gray and sophomore goalkeeper Caton Johnson were each selected. Gray was a First Team selection and Johnson earned a spot among the honorable mentions. Gray spent his first […]
The post Men’s Lacrosse: Two Tar Heels Named Preseason All-Americans appeared first on Chapelboro.com.
The UNC basketball program is still without injured star freshman Cole Anthony. When will he make his return to the Tar Heels’ lineup? University of North Carolina freshman point guard Cole Anthony has been away from the basketball court for more than a month. He underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in […]
Assistants from the UNC Basketball program will be on the road Tuesday night to watch a four-star recruiting target in the 2020 class The North Carolina Tar Heels currently have a five-man 2020 recruiting class that is ranked No. 3 in the nation. Roy Williams and his staff have pretty much filled out their class […]
Roy Williams, UNC basketball program extend scholarship offer to top-35 prospect Trevor Keels just one day after watching him play at the Hoophall Classic Just one day after attending his game at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams extended a scholarship offer to Trevor Keels. Keels is a 6-foot-5, 210-pound […]
Class of 2020 UNC basketball commit R.J. Davis is scoring at will, and becoming a star in the process North Carolina basketball fans should familiarize themselves with the name R.J. Davis, if they haven’t already. The 5-foot-11, 164-pound combo guard out of Archbishop Stepinac is scoring at will this season, and becoming a star right […]
Danny Talbott, a two-sport athlete at the University of North Carolina and member of the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 75. Media outlets report that Talbott died Sunday morning at his home in Rocky Mount. Talbott played varsity baseball and football for the Tar […]
Is this a good year or bad year for Carolina to have a down year? That’s a pretty good question. It is clear by now that the Tar Heels are on their way to finishing closer to last in the ACC than first. They are 1-5, 8-9 overall, with no game left on the schedule […]
That’s what the game came down to. That’s when the pressure was at its peak.
That’s how long it took for North Carolina to crumble and let a historic win — what would’ve given UNC a perfect 60-0 home record against Clemson and Roy Williams his 880th career victory — slip into an eventual 79-76 overtime loss.
Those two minutes were full of everything that UNC didn’t want. Anxiety throughout the Smith Center, panicked decision-making from ball handlers, porous defense on the perimeter and in the paint, a lid over Carolina’s basket, and a disastrous 12-2 run for the Tigers.
Let’s go through what transpired over the final 128 seconds of regulation, step-by-step, to see exactly things fell apart for the 8-8 Tar Heels:
2:08 — Freshman center Armando Bacot makes his sixth and seventh free throws of the game, giving him 17 points and extending UNC’s lead to 68-58. They have momentum.
2:03-1:54 — Carolina does a great job of preventing all of Clemson’s attempted actions, digging on the initial drive and closing out on the shooter, but as the Tigers’ Hunter Tyson moves to the other side of the floor, he puts Garrison Brooks in a suboptimal position. Defending from the nail, he digs on John Newman’s drive, thus momentarily leaving Tyson alone. Newman, recognizing this, hits Tyson, who drills the three over Brooks’ contest. The lead is cut to seven.
Seconds later… Roy Williams doesn’t seem particularly happy.
1:45 — The pressure rises. Clemson, in desperation mode and looking to make things interesting, initiates a full-court press, something that it would stick with to end regulation. As Bacot inbounds the ball to Brooks, Newman denies and pokes the ball loose. Carolina recovers the ball … for now.
1:40-1:28 — It begins. As Robinson approaches the Roy Williams Court logo with the ball in his hands, Clemson’s Aamir Simms and Clyde Trapp jump into action, double-teaming him and forcing a dribble pickup. Robinson panics and immediately releases a dangerous pass in the direction of Bacot (with Andrew Platek open on the right side of the court). Like a cornerback, Newman intercepts it cleanly, and, needing another bucket, doesn’t hesitate to initiate the offense. He penetrates the defense, sees that Bacot has yet to cover Simms under the basket, and Simms gets an uncontested layup. The lead shrinks to five.
1:26-1:12 — Brooks inbounds it to Leaky Black, who came to the corner to receive it. Newman and Simms, once more, initiate the immediate trap, and in blind desperation, Black throws the ball … to nobody. Curran Scott recovers it and dishes it to Newman in the corner. Robinson cuts off Newman’s baseline drive, but Black, who’s responsible for defending Simms in the post, steps away from his assignment in a poor attempt to strip the ball. Simms is left open and Robinson must foul him to prevent the easy layup. He goes 1-for-2 at the line. The lead is cut to four.
1:05-0:44 — Carolina successfully beats the press, but Clemson blows up everything that they try to do, defending well beyond the three-point line to fluster Carolina’s ball handlers. Robinson’s late-clock triple clangs off the back rim and Clemson retains possession.
0:36 — Simms … doesn’t miss.
0:22 — Robinson calls a timeout after getting pressured at halfcourt. This leaves Carolina with one timeout left.
0:22 — Black inbounds the ball … and throws it directly to Simms. Sealing off Brooks in the post, Sims redirects it to Trapp, who drives to the basket and is fouled by Brooks. Trapp, a 55.6% free throw shooter heading into the game, misses both.
0:12 — Robinson hauls in the defensive board and is subsequently fouled, heading to the line to shoot and one-and-one. But as he steps toward the line, coach Williams wants a timeout, to tell him this was his time, that he’d make those two free throws, and that they would be running ‘22’ defense (i.e., switching ball screens) from then on. (What he didn’t tell the players? Well, we know.) He makes both, putting UNC up 70-67. One more play, one more stop, that’s all they need…
0:09-0:00 — …but they don’t get it. There’s no foul, nor a feeble attempt at one, and Clemson head coach Brad Brownell reaches into his coaching bag with a squeeze play to free up Simms on the wing for a three-pointer that no one is even close to. He sinks it, Robinson’s last-second heave is no good, and a 10-point lead is erased. Just like that.
Brownell’s final play of regulation was nothing short of spectacular, a masterclass of how to get your best player open in a way that completely picks on the opposing defense’s weaknesses. Simms and Tyson stagger for a curling Scott, looking as if he’s going to spot-up for three. The initial action is similar to Carolina’s ‘B3’, which typically uses stagger screens to get a perimeter player an open jumper. Plausibly, they recognized the similarity, and Platek trails Scott in order to cut that play off.
But that’s what Clemson wants.
Scott then shifts his trajectory to the basket, curling into the paint and setting a downscreen on Bacot — with Platek, despite being in a ‘22’ scheme (meaning switch!), doesn’t switch off. This allows Simms, also aided by a rescreen from Tyson, to float out to the wing, untouched, to receive a pass that would ultimately lead to his game-tying three.
This defensive collapse falls on everyone’s shoulders. Fouling up three would prevent them from even sniffing a three-point attempt and a shot at tying the game, but the coaches and players failed to communicate the plan to foul. This means that UNC must defend this final possession to completion, selling out to prevent a three-pointer. Where things go wrong is in everyone’s situational awareness.
Clemson needs a three. Not a two. A three.
Carolina’s primary concern in these final seconds should be to sell out to prevent any looks from beyond the arc, even if that means letting Clemson’s counters produce shots at the basket. For UNC, you can give up a two, but you can’t give up a three.
But the team fails to do this. Platek, inexplicably, is hellbent on locking and trailing Scott without stopping. The issue? If he switches onto Simms or simply stunts toward the passer (i.e., jut out into the passing lane to delay or prevent a pass to Simms), the action fails, and Trapp is left with the ball in his hands with seven seconds left to think on the fly. Switching off of Scott wouldn’t even have been detrimental to UNC, because Bacot was already positioned in the paint, ready to contain a drive. If Scott got the ball in this action, he would’ve immediately been cut off by a 6-foot-10 center.
Such poor communication and execution on the defensive end is, unfortunately, nothing new for a Carolina team whose adjusted defensive efficiency of 95.9 ranks 91st in the nation per Ken Pomeroy’s online rankings.
Although it would be easy to say that things could get better and that the collapse against Clemson was an outlier performance, that would be dishonest. There is still time to turn things around, with the return of Cole Anthony and Jeremiah Francis leaving some room for optimism. After all, Anthony brings value on both ends of the floor, and Francis’ playmaking is unrivaled.
But their returns won’t hide the issues that have plagued Carolina throughout the first half of the regular season.
The Clemson game was simply more of the same — and that has to change.
Header photo by Smith Hardy.
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