TOC: The Good and the Bad

In a matter of 24 hours, the North Carolina Tar Heels experienced going from another new low to an incredible high and in the process may have discovered basketball can be fun again.

The Heels were embarrassed by The College of Charleston in nearly every facet on Friday night, falling to the underdog Cougars, 66-60. On Saturday, in the consolation game of the Hardee's Tournament of Champions, Carolina rebounded to play perhaps its best game since the 18-game winning streak last season.

The following is a look at the good and the bad of the Tournament of Champions:

GOOD

Jason Capel – Capel's consistent level of effort is his greatest attribute. He does all of the little things very well and works as hard as any Heel ever! He isn't shooting well and commits too many turnovers (three walks against SJU), but his rebounding (26 for the weekend), unselfishness (seven assists) and ability to eventually putt he ball in the hole (35 points) were part of what he did well. UNC fans need to appreciate what he provides the team more.

Will Johnson – Johnson, with 14 points, was a major reason why the Heels had a chance to beat COC even though being thoroughly outplayed. His floor game the next night was solid as it always is.

Jawad Williams – Williams still plays too soft but his natural skills are impressive, especially the gorgeous release on his jumpshot. He made a beautiful drop-step for a layup and aggressively took the ball to the hole for a slam on Saturday. The freshman tallied six and eight points and played 57 minutes on the weekend.

Brian Morrison – Morrison was 1-9 from the floor on Friday but hit seven of 10 shots (3-4 3s) and scored 19 points on Saturday. He also snared seven rebounds and handed out five assists against the Hawks. If he can reduce his turnovers by tempering his game and consistently playing near his potential, the Heels will be a dramatically different team. Want proof: UNC's only quality wins were when Morrison scored 21 and 19 points.

Brian Bersticker – Bersticker's sweet baseline jumper was working against St. Joseph's. For the tournament he scored 14 points (12 on Saturday), grabbed four rebounds, had two steals and altered at least five shots in 24 minutes of playing time. He started the SJU game because Kris Lang was out with ligament damage to his right knee.

Rare contributions – Adam Boone played his best game of the year on Saturday on both ends of the floor, registering four assists and a 3 in eight minutes. Orlando Melendez helped fire up the team by nailing a 3 and played extremely well on defense. His denial and on the ball defense was exceptional and he had a steal and a blocked shot in a surprising 11 minutes of action against the Hawks.

Matt Doherty – Credit Doherty for relaxing his club for Saturday night's must win contest. He told the kids to play "pick-up" ball and to have fun. There was a great deal of strategy and control, but the Heels clearly hadn't been this loose since early last February. It was the right approach.

3-point shooting – The Heels shot 33% (9-27) from beyond the arc on Friday and heated up to nail 50% (10-20) on Saturday. If the Heels can knock down around 38% from 3-point range they will win some of the close games they are losing now.

Attitude – The players' attitudes couldn't have been better. The locker room after Friday's loss was like a morgue. Saturday, it was jovial and confident. The Heels were so relaxed that Manuel and Williams were more interested in playing a hand tapping game with each other than answering a particular reporters' questions! Good for them.

BAD

Rebounding – Carolina was outrebounded 85-73 for the tournament. COC, however, manhandled the Heels on the glass, 54-37, especially on the offensive end. The Cougars snagged an astonishing 23 offensive boards resulting in 16 points. Many of the putbacks were on the third offensive snare.

Turnovers – Even in victory, UNC committed 19 turnovers against the Hawks. On Friday, however, the Heels gave the ball away just 11 times but weren't nearly as aggressive as on Saturday, which makes Saturday's TO's more tolerable.

Zone offense – St. Joe's is a man-to-man team but COC threw all kinds of looks at the Heels. UNC struggled against facing a zone as they connected on just 19 of 58 (32.8%) field goals. UNC lacks movement away from the ball against zones and rarely sets quality picks, even though screening against a zone is necessary for flow and execution. The wing players don't pop out from the paint enough, whether freelancing or be design. Morrison does this more than the others, which makes one winder if it is part of the offense. There is too much dribbling, which was painfully obvious on Friday.

Free Throws – If the Heels are such a quality shooting team, as they and Doherty say they are, they sure don't display it at the charity stripe. Friday night they made 13 of 22 (59.1%) attempts and hit 14 of 24 (58.3%) on Saturday.

Interior defense – One reason COC got so many offensive boards was because the Heels defended well around the basket. Against St. Joe's, however, UNC allowed way too many easy looks inside. SJU was 23-37 from within the arc converting mostly layups and short jumpers.

Melvin Scott - Scott plays with poise and isn't afraid to take tough shots, especially when the shot clock is winding down. For the weekend, he had just four assists but seven turnovers, six on Saturday night. He must improve his assists-to-turnover ratio for the Heels to be competitive in the ACC.

UP NEXT

The Tar Heels return to action on Thursday night when they host N.C. A&T at the Dean Dome at 7:30 p.m. The Aggies are coached by Curtis Hunter, a former Tar Heel and teammate of UNC head coach Matt Doherty Curtis Hunter.

Andrew Jones is in his sixth year covering football and basketball for Inside Carolina. He is also in his fourth year as a copy editor and staff writer for the Wilmington Star-News and hosts a nightly radio show on WAAV-AM980 in Wilmington. He has also written for ACCNews and once published The College Game and the former Total Sports. He can be reached via e-mail at: AJWAAV@aol.com.


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