Here is a look at UNC's third win in as many games.
Jawad Williams – Williams played one of his best offensive games since arriving at UNC, scoring 18 points and handing out four assists. Playing with tremendous confidence, his offensive moves appeared a tad quicker than usual. No banked 3-pointer in Norfolk, this time it was nothing but net. His defense was excellent, limiting ODU's Ricardo Marsh to just 4-16 from the field. Williams also had a pair of blocked shots. However, Matt Doherty felt Williams could have been more effective on the glass. He finished with just four rebounds - just one offensive.
Rashad McCants – The most encouraging sign from McCants' performance on Sunday was his patience on offense. He scored 17 points but took just seven shots (5-7) from the field. He did have four turnovers to go with just a single assist, but with his incredible talent, the quicker McCants is consistently patient, the more rapidly he will approach greatness at this level. He was also 6-6 from the free throw line.
Sean May – "Big Poetry" didn't play as well as he had in the first two games, but still had a nice outing. He totaled 16 points, eight rebounds and three steals (is there a big man in the nation who plays better denial defense away from the basket). He communicated very well on the floor, especially on defense, and as always threw some nice outlet passes.
Will Johnson – Johnson gave the Heels some solid minutes. It's crucial he remains a part of the rotation. He offers a calm, mature hand to the younger Heels, and it appears they respond to his words of encouragement. On Sunday he provided three points, two rebounds, and two assists in 11 minutes.
25-7 run – UNC's 25-7 run was a thing of beauty. The Tar Heels hit their first nine field goals, assisting on eight of them, and ran the open court and filled lanes well. The passing was nearly perfect as all five starters had at least one assist during the run. UNC did lead 25-11 once the spurt ended, and the run was enough to prove as the difference in the game.
Field goal defense – ODU hit just 19 of 65 shots (29.2 percent) mainly because UNC gave up very few open shots. The Monarchs did manage some easy layups, mostly after excellent backdoor cuts, but other than that had trouble getting solid looks.
Protecting the lead – The Tar Heels struggled protecting the lead against Penn State but didn't on Sunday. In fact, the Heels slightly extended the lead once they went into protect mode. Reserve guard Melvin Scott played a key role in the late effort by hitting a huge 3-pointer and with his ballhandling presence. His turnover in the double team was really the responsibility of Raymond Felton, who dragged his man over to Scott, allowing the double team to occur instead of stepping away to give Scott more separation and room so he could get by his man with the dribble. But, as is the case with so many things, a lesson was likely learned. But the Heels did a solid job, save for the shot clock violation.
Matt Doherty – Doherty used his bench well, giving solid time to Johnson, Byron Sanders (nine minutes) and Jonathan Holmes (seven minutes). But it wasn't just the minutes, but how he gave them the minutes. He also gave Melvin Scott 18 minutes, and had him on the floor while UNC was trying to protect its lead. It's likely Scott will play in similar situations more and more. Doherty also did a good job coaching the team through the rough stretches. A year ago he would have stomped his foot constantly in an attempt to get players' attention and would have hollered a lot. He certainly hollered on Sunday, but was very encouraging. Just a hunch, but he appears to enjoying this team very much.
Tough win – Most fans will soon forget this game, but it will rank later in the year as a crucial victory. ODU proved with its performance it was capable of beating the Heels and had many opportunities to do so. But Carolina held off the Monarchs and played with grit toward the end. To learn is always a good thing, but to learn and win is even better, as Doherty made clear after the game. This was a tremendous educational game, as much was learned.
Rebounding – The Tar Heels were abused on the defensive glass. ODU had 24 offensive rebounds and UNC had just 25 defensive boards. Meaning half of the Monarch's missed shots essentially wound up in ODU hands. Old Dominion was often quicker to rebounds that were away from the basket and outfought the Heels much of the time. They also had more big bodies; an issue Carolina will often face this season.
Ballhandling (2nd half) – Carolina had 12 assists to go with 15 field goals and eight turnovers in the first half, but just two assists with 10 FGs and 11 turnovers in the second half. As extremely young teams will, the Heels got careless not just with the ball, but moving without the ball, which made passes more difficult to complete. McCants had one assist but four turnovers, and Jackie Manuel and May had an assist but three turnovers each.
Jackie Manuel – Manuel didn't have a quality statistical game by any measure – zero points on 0-4 shooting, three rebounds, one assist and three turnovers – but was solid on defense. His ballhandling skills are limited and he gets tied up too often when making a move toward the basket. He is an extremely valuable player, but at times will have mediocre performances. But he will improve.
Inside depth – The Tar Heels simply can't afford for Sean May to get in foul trouble, and an injury would be disastrous. Williams can play inside defensively more than offensively, Johnson can only do so much, and Byron Sanders isn't ready just yet. But credit Doherty for giving Sanders minutes because despite his limitations, the Heels need for him to play and develop. If ODU can have so much success against UNC down low, imagine what some other clubs from more power conferences will do.
Second half – UNC committed just four fouls in the first half but 13 in the second. The Heels were also outscored, 33-30, in the final 20 minutes. If it wasn't for solid pressure on Old Dominion's shooters, the Tar Heels may well have lost. But lessons were certainly learned, which will be an ongoing theme all season.
Pre-game intros – If you weren't there and didn't have to endure it, than you just won't understand. If you were in attendance, you will likely agree. OSU's new arena is gorgeous. The concourse is tastefully done and captures ODU's history for both the women and men very well. But the pre-game introductions were terrible. They turned the lights off (done a lot of places) and set off disco lights and blared noise and music from the video board with a countdown from 5 to 1. Okay, not terrible yet…. But then, a rock song played throughout the ODU intros. The public address announcer introduced each players' name in a Chicago Bulls sort of way, and with each Monarch fire works and sparklers were set off inside the arena. Five minutes into the game smoke was still evident inside the arena. It looked like Edison International Field after a Troy Glaus home run. It was a bit extreme to say the least.
The Tar Heels next play Kansas in the semifinals of the Preseason NIT at Madison Square Garden in New York. Game time will be around 9:30 and will be televised by ESPN2.
Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He hosts a late afternoon radio show on ESPN Radio, WMFD AM630 in Wilmington and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.