Jordan Rogers

Roy Going All In On Small Ball

Tuesday night in Atlanta cemented the fact that Coach Williams has fully embraced the small ball lineup. And even though all three games since making the switch haven’t resulted in wins, it can’t be denied that UNC’s season is finally looking up after a solid month of NIT talk. Point being: the new offensive philosophy isn’t going anywhere; not this season at least. As one might expect, the smaller Tar Heels were outrebounded by the Yellow Jackets—a problem that will last all season if UNC maintains this lineup—but the final score (70-58) shows what the change can do for their offense. Georgia Tech isn’t a great team by any means, but they hadn’t given up 70 points in eight games. Those are usually the types of stats you see coming out of Charlottesville. To Roy’s credit, the change wasn’t just made for change’s sake — small ball almost perfectly fits his 2013 squad. The system needs three things to be successful: mobile big men that can shoot, three-point shooters, and athletic wings that can drive and rebound. For UNC: check, check, and check. The system is much like the spread offense run by Larry Fedora in Kenan Stadium — using quicker players and lots of movement to clear out the lane (and the other team’s bigger post men) to create one-on-one opportunities for their perimeter players. It isn’t hard...

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After Duke, March Is Coming Fast

Carolina fans don’t know exactly how to feel after last night. The Tar Heels lost to their sworn enemy, but also took the nation’s second ranked team right down to the wire on their home court. And out of nowhere Roy Williams essentially became the anti-Roy by switching his offense up and starting PJ Hairston. It was only a few years ago in ’08 at Cameron that Roy duped Coach K by having his team switch on screens late in the game, prompting the Devils to not score a bucket over the final 5 minutes. And again Wednesday night the famed coach who famously “can’t coach” dumbfounded the Blue Devils for the majority of the game. And if it hadn’t been for The Duke Run at the 16 minute mark (11 points in just two minutes), this one might have had the same outcome as Hansbrough’s boys. Though to be fair, that game was more about Danny Green’s 18-8-7-1 than Hansbrough. But I digress. Duke had no response for UNC’s small-ball lineup. Though, just calling it “small-ball” doesn’t do justice. What the lineup allowed was for the Heels to go big on Duke’s guards. Williams cleared out the paint with McAdoo’s movement and sent his wings (Hairston, Bullock and McDonald) to post-up on Duke’s smaller perimeter players on the weak side.   Coach K had no answer. It wasn’t...

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The Ed Davis Offensive

Davis has never had much of a face-up game — though that term is a bit of a misnomer. Ed certainly plays facing the basket; just not in the sense that he’s going to beat someone off the dribble or consistently step into jumpers. Luckily for him, this reputation often leads to this: Defenses and scouts still haven’t caught up with how athletic and skilled he is. The lane seems to open up like that all the time because no one expects him to attack it. Players in the post relax because Ed isn’t known as “that” type of player that’s going to make them pay. But Davis can explode towards the basket with finesse from 12-15 feet out like few guys with his length can — even if he isn’t going to get confused for Kevin Durant any time soon. Ed has quietly been dominant at times while Toronto. So much so that he attempted to screw with the cosmos when he dropped 24 & 12 on the Nets on 12/12/12 last December. Even in Chapel Hill Ed always had the ‘go-to’ move that’s the mark of an eventual long-time pro, but just in the last few months has his game fully fleshed-out and proven to be ridiculously polished at times for what would be his rookie season had Eazy E been in college four years. Davis was...

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The Nature Of The Game

Whenever Blue Steel is set to enter a ball game — especially in ACC play — it’s safe to assume things have been going well for the Heels. Roy’s jump shooters caught fire midway through the first half and ran away with a game that was never really a contest to begin with. Now much of that has to do with the fact that Wake Forest looks like a JV squad as soon as they leave the Winston-Salem city limits. And by the second half Tuesday night they were as disinterested as a team could possibly be. But Tim...

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The Ballad Of PJ Hairston

This piece was originally published on TheBlackFalcon.net (w/ footnotes). There’s an inherent attachment to the idea that numbers are objective, scientific — more intellectual than the ‘eye-test’ used by the layman. But at least in respect to raw averages, this is rarely the case. The key is to use the right numbers, that can account for whatever variables there may be. A stat for which this is crucial is per minute, which fans often use to compare players with different playing time. ‘Per minute’ usually fails for two reasons. First, players who don’t play much are going to be...

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Tech-nically Looking Better, A Showdown Looms

Look at how things were going on Tobacco Road just a few weeks ago. Duke was undefeated and sitting atop the college basketball world at #1. NC State was ranked with only a couple losses, and just days away from their biggest ACC win in a few seasons (or at least since the last time they beat Duke). And the Tar Heels (in complete contrast to the other Triangle teams) were floundering, having dropped their opening two ACC games for five losses on the season. Things couldn’t have been going better for Duke. And even though the Pack haven’t...

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John Henson Per His PER

John Henson is averaging a relatively pedestrian six points and four rebounds per game for the Milwaukee Bucks. But that’s only one side of the story. Henson’s PER is just under 18 — good enough to be in the company of Kevin Love and OJ Mayo. PER is a detailed measure of a player’s statistical impact on the game in each minute played, so playing time isn’t a factor. John’s rating is in the top 15% in the NBA, and—while he’s on the court—Henson has been ridiculously productive for the Bucks. Henson is simply falling victim to what happens to 95% of rookies in The League: coaches and GMs are protecting their investments. These guys have never experienced anything remotely similar to 82 games in six months, and in Henson’s case with recent injuries at UNC and over the summer, his GM is going to be even more conservative. What’s key to measuring a rookie’s progress is not necessarily raw averages or playing time but looking at how he plays when he does play. Henson’s outrageously high PER for a rookie is one thing, but he’s also had games of 19 & 6, 11 & 15, 20 & 9 and 17 & 18 (the last being against the defending champs). Henson fits into Milwaukee’s needs almost perfectly, and as their rotation evolves he should settle into a pretty serious...

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Antawn Jamison: From Charlotte to LA

Jay Caspian Kang recently wrote a long-overdue feature on Antawn Jamison. You should read the piece (Kang is scary talented), but the basic summary is that Jamison’s signing by the Lakers might give him the opportunity to finally cement the legacy he deserves. And while that may not happen with LA’s recent struggles, Kang essentially covered what always needed to be said, that Jamison may be the most underrated NBA player… ever. Just let that set in for a moment, because it might be true. On this front, the Grantland article was spot on, listing Jamison’s numbers, his bad luck with teams, his unwillingness to ever make anything about himself, and just a general “less-flashy-ness” that was actually celebrated in Chapel Hill while he was making sure no one else ever wore his number again in baby blue. Jamison has secretly been one of the world’s greatest basketball players for over a decade, yet no doubt if you asked even an avid basketball fan the last four players to score back-to-back 50 point games, they’d probably guess Jordan, Iverson and Kobe long beforeAntawn. Maybe that matters. Maybe it doesn’t. Kang clearly thinks it does, as that is what his piece is mostly about. And, that makes sense. No one should be surprised that an interview with Antawn Jamison would focus on his legacy or lack thereof in respect to...

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Tar Heels Finally Showing Some Fight

Roy Williams has received plenty of different criticisms for his coaching this season, but limiting PJ Hairston’s playing time may not be one of them much longer. Whether by design or because Hairston was on fire, the sophomore played extended minutes and almost single-handedly shot (or dunked) the Tar Heels to the win on Saturday. Hairston recorded a career-high 23 points in 28 minutes, shot over 60% and accounted for nearly a third of his team’s total scoring in what might have been their biggest win of the year. At least it felt that way. The Heels have been...

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Harrison Barnes The Professional

The narrative on Barnes coming out of college was that he was too calculated and meticulous — never showcasing any explosiveness. But in many ways that’s exactly why he’s been successful in the first few months of his rookie season. With the three-point shooting and spacing of the NBA game, Barnes has much more room to execute the premeditated moves that he was so famous for coming out of High School. The Warriors have been putting him in spots to be successful as Barnes isn’t asked to create offense at the rim off the dribble. Harrison was criticized for...

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