Chansky’s Notebook: Dumb Basketball in Boston

Even Ol’ Roy could hardly bear to watch.

Carolina’s basketball season has been getting wacky lately, but Tuesday night at Boston College takes the cake. It got so frustrating that Roy Williams gave himself the tired signal and watched the rest of the game from the locker room. Williams has had a type of vertigo for the last 18 years, but he can usually recover from his sudden dizzy spells. This time his TEAM was too unbalanced for him to go on.

There is no other word to describe it, but the Tar Heels played dumb basketball in Boston. Williams shook up his starting frontcourt after losses at Louisville and Notre Dame, and thankfully one of the benched starters did not sulk his way through the game. Justin Jackson, who has been in a daze himself the last month, scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half as the Heels somehow rallied for their coach and gave Williams his 12th 20-win season at UNC.

“I’m alive, still kicking,” Williams said after the improbable comeback, coached by assistants Steve Robinson, C.B. McGrath, Hubert Davis and Brad Frederick. It took them all to get the team to play just a little bit smarter. But here are a few tips for the Tar Heels if they want to keep their coach from passing out again.

Theo Pinson, one of the surprise starters, can drive, dish and defend but NEVER shoot at three-pointer near the end of the shot clock. He was 0-3 outside the arc at BC, 2-2 inside. Brice Johnson should NEVER take a head fake from a slow white center, who left Johnson behind with a high school head bob on the baseline – TWICE. Johnson and Isaiah Hicks each committed two careless fouls in the last five minutes. The Heels missed only three free throws in the game, but all three by two of their best foul shooters in the frustrating final minutes.

Thank goodness for JJ, who came off the bench with a purpose and got stronger as the game went on and the Tar Heels needed him more. He was the most aggressive offensively we’ve seen him in his two seasons, taking the ball to the basket, making 9 of his 11 shots and even draining two three-pointers. The too-unassertive Marcus Paige made a big three-ball from the corner, but it was Jackson who saved Carolina from suffering the biggest upset of the college basketball season to the ACC winless Eagles.

After three road games in eight days, the Tar Heels go home for three tough tests in six days. Hopefully, they won’t make their coach, and us, sick any more.

Remembering Dean Smith One Year Later

Sunday marked one year since the death of legendary Tar Heel basketball coach Dean Smith.

Word began to spread early the morning of Sunday, February 8, 2015, that the Coach Smith had passed away late the night before.

Memorials poured in over the next few days as many people who had varying levels of interaction with Coach Smith remembered the man responsible for so many successes on and off the court.

Chapelboro’s Art Chansky spoke with WCHL’s Blake Hodge to reflect on the one-year anniversary of the passing of a legend.

Ginyard’s Diary: I Love Barcelona!

NANTES, France – In the spring of 2000, I first had my opportunity to travel abroad, ironically, to the place that I now call home. My visit to France as a young teenager was an experience I will never forget. It was absolutely incredible to see and experience a world that I hardly knew existed. Since then I have been extremely fortunate to travel around the world (22 countries in 5 years), coming across many things that have completely changed my life.

Luckily for me, world travel is a part of my job! Each year as a professional basketball player, I have lived in a different country, and during my season in Ukraine I was traveling Eastern Europe for international competitions. It’s a beautiful thing to explore this Earth and increase your understanding of different people and cultures.

Surprisingly, you can learn a lot about yourself when learning about others. One thing that always stands out to me when I come back to Europe is the American pace of life. It seems like we are in such a rush to do everything. In Europe, I feel that the majority of people always take time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.

Marcus Ginyard

With Deon Thompson (left) and Daniel Leiser (middle) at Karlsplatz in Munich. (Photo via Marcus Ginyard)

If I ever find myself with any time off from practice or games, I love to take short vacations. I always trade in my chance to go home around Christmas for a trip to a new place here in Europe. This year I spent a few days in Copenhagen, where I rung in the New Year with fellow Tar Heel and friend Daniel Leiser.

Afterward, we flew to Berlin and cruised south to Munich (cruising speed for us was approximately 135 mph). We went to Munich to visit my former UNC teammate Deon Thompson and watch him play for the German powerhouse Bayern Munich. Interestingly enough, the last time I saw Deon in Europe, we were having Christmas dinner in Berlin back in 2012.

Getting back to work after an awesome vacation like that is never easy, but believe it or not, just two weeks after coming back to France, I found myself with two more days completely off from practice. As it turns out, a direct flight from Nantes to Barcelona is only 90min! I could only stay there for about 36 hours, but it was just enough time to know that Barcelona has an incredible energy and is easily one of the nicest cities I have visited.

I’ll be back to Barcelona, just like I’ll be back to a lot of other places. But it won’t stop me from getting around to the rest of the world in the meantime!

UNC Basketball Still No. 2 in the Nation

The UNC basketball team remained No. 2 in the AP Poll this week.

The Tar Heels are currently on a 12-game winning streak and are 19-2 this season.  UNC basketball is 8-0 so far in the ACC after a Saturday afternoon victory over Boston College.

Oklahoma remained on top of the AP Poll.  The Sooners are 18-2.  Villanova, Maryland, and Iowa round out the top 5.

For the first time in eight years, Duke is unranked in the AP Poll.  The Blue Devils fell to 15-6 after a Monday night loss to Miami.  Duke has lost 4 out of their last 5 games.

That means four ACC teams remain in the Top 25.  Carolina, Virginia at No. 9, Miami at No. 17, and Louisville at No. 19.

The Tar Heels will play No. 19 Louisville on Monday night.  The game starts at 7 PM on 97.9 FM and 1360 AM WCHL.  On Saturday, Carolina will play at Notre Dame.

UNC Basketball

Joel Berry. (Photo via Todd Melet)

Despite the 12-game winning streak, Roy Williams’ team has struggled with consistency.  Against Boston College, the Tar Heels only made 11 of their 22 free throws.

But, on defense, the team forced 23 Boston College turnovers.   Joel Berry and Marcus Paige combined for five of UNC’s 12 steals, which netted the Tar Heels 30 points off of turnovers alone.

Art’s Angle: February From Hell

Marcus Paige

Marcus Paige. (Photo via Todd Melet)

Let’s walk way out on the plank and say the Tar Heels beat winless (in the ACC) Boston College Saturday to go 8-0, which would lengthen by a long three-pointer Roy Williams’ best conference start at UNC. In our collective euphoria over the position of the No. 1- or No. 2-ranked team in the country (depending on which poll), here are a few things to ponder heading into a February from Hell:

  • Beginning with the trip to Louisville Monday night, Carolina plays nine games in the 29 days of leap year February. How can that be? I counted it up three times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. That computes to one game every 3.2 days.
  • Five of those nine games are on the road, and another five of them are against teams currently ranked in the top 25.
  • The Tar Heels have shot a shockingly consistent 38 percent in the last three games, and averaged 18.5 percent from the three-point line in the last four games. Yet they have won them all, shooting like they were wearing oven mitts.
  • Much, but not all, of it is because senior All-American Marcus Paige has fallen into the worst shooting slump of his career, going 5-for- 35 from the floor and 1-22 from the arc. The last time Paige hit a three-pointer was on January 9 at Syracuse.
  • But whatever Paige has is contagious on the perimeter. Justin Jackson has made 3 of his last 26 three-pointers and is hitting 21 percent from downtown for the season. Theo Pinson, who actually had a pretty good start shooting the basketball, is 0 for his last 11 from the arc. Nate Britt is 2 for his last 10.

So, literally, as the schedule heats up, those gloves MUST come off. At Louisville, No. 19 in the AP poll, begins a three-game road trip that follows at No. 24 Notre Dame and ends, mercifully, at Boston College. But, hey, the Eagles have to win a conference game sometime. Currently, they are 0-15 in ACC football and basketball since September.

Mid-month, the Tar Heels return home for three games in seven days in the Dome. But they are against once-ranked Pitt, No. 25 Duke and No. 15 Miami.  They then go to N.C. State, which can save its dismal season by beating the hated blue in PNC Arena, and to 11th-ranked Virginia, which has somehow lost three ACC games and needed a miracle finish at Wake Forest Tuesday night to avoid going 4-4 with basically the same team that has won the regular season for the last two years. Go figure.

Carolina finishes its February from Hell on leap year night at home against Syracuse, which has won at Wake Forest and Duke since Jim Boeheim came back from his nine-game banishment. The Tar Heels wrap up the regular season with its tenth game in 34 days at Duke, where the Blue Devils will have Amile Jefferson back and surely have it all together again by Senior Night in Cameron Indoor.

Why is the schedule so back-loaded for Carolina? It is February sweeps for TV and the networks want the best teams and the best match-ups to boost their ratings – at the expense of some teams’ rankings.

Remember, the New England Patriots won their first 10 games, then lost 5 of their last 8 and missed the Super Bowl they fully expected to make. UNC could face the same scenario regarding the Final Four.

If Carolina beats Boston College Saturday, what will the Tar Heels’ 8-0 record look like after their February from Hell?

Especially if they don’t start shooting the dad-gum basketball better.

UNC Looks To Recapture Shooting Touch

The Tar Heels will try to break out of their shooting slump in Saturday’s game against Boston College.

Despite being in the midst of a 10 game winning streak, UNC head coach Roy Williams said he is concerned about his team’s shooting over the past three games.

“It’s frustrating, it’s disconcerting, it’s questioning what we’re doing,” he said. “I learned under Coach Smith we’ve always wanted to get good shots and have the better shooters take more shots, but right now we’re really struggling trying to put the ball in the basket.”

The Tar Heels have shot under 40 percent from the field in each of the past three games. In the 17 previous games, UNC never shot under 40 percent and made at least 50 percent of their shots 13 times.

“I should say it’s surprising because before these past three games I think we were first or second in the ACC in shooting percentage for the year,” Williams said. “And then all of the sudden we haven’t been able to throw the ball in the ocean.”

The team will have a six day break before the start of the Boston College game. Williams said he is planning on lightening the load to give his players a mental break.

“We’ll get a lot of shots up,” he said. “That’s about all you can do. You can’t get a crystal ball and start humming to it.”

If the Tar Heels want to keep this win streak alive, they’ll have to rediscover their shooting stroke.

After Saturday they will face hostile environments three times in eight days, facing Louisville, Notre Dame and Boston College for a second time.

“You’d better be ready to play every night regardless of who you’re playing and where you play,” Williams said. “I know that’s cliche but that’s the truth.”

Brice Johnson Wins ACC Player of the Week

Brice Johnson, a senior forward for the UNC basketball team, is the ACC Player of the Week.

Johnson averaged 23 points and 14 rebounds against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech.  That included a27 points and 11 rebounds in an 83-68 win over Wake Forest and 19 points and 17 rebounds in UNC’s 75-70 win at Virginia Tech.  He also averaged 2.5 blocks and 3.0 steals in those two games.

The Wake Forest game Johnson’s fourth of the year with at least 25 points and his third 20/10 game. The Virginia Tech game marked his 11th double-double of the season.

For the season, Johnson is averaging 16.8 points and 10.2 rebounds a game.

This is the third ACC Player of the Week Award for Brice Johnson this season.

Johnson was also named to the mid-season watch list for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, which the USBWA awards to the National Player of the Year.  He was one of 20 players in the country named to the watch list.

Johnson and the Tar Heels will return to the court on Saturday.  Boston College will come to the Smith Center for an ACC contest.  Tip off is at 4 PM.  For the second week in a row, Carolina is the No. 2 team in the nation, according to the AP Poll.  The USA Coaches Poll put the Tar Heels at the top of their rankings.

Syracuse’s Malachi Richardson earned the league’s Rookie of the Week recognition.

UNC Winning By Committee

If you ask UNC men’s basketball coach Roy Williams about his team’s identity – he’ll tell you it doesn’t have one.

“The identity of this team is that we have no identity,” he said. “It just changes game to game who we’re going to depend on and who’s going to get it done.”

Through 18 games this season, the Tar Heels have had seven different players lead the team in scoring.

Brice Johnson is the team’s leading scorer overall, averaging 16.1 points per game, but five other players are also averaging double figures.

“If I had to pick one thing I think it is our depth,” Williams said. “So far, and let me knock on wood, we’ve been able to withstand foul trouble or injuries.”

Most recently, it was junior center Kennedy Meeks who led the team with 23 points to beat in-state rival NC State.

The Tar Heels won despite the lack of production from their three leading scorers.

Marcus Paige, Justin Jackson and Brice Johnson combined for 15 points, something Williams said frustrated Paige.

“During the game on Saturday he came to the bench one time and said ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with me,'” Williams said.

Paige finished with three points on 1-9 shooting, but Williams said he was happy that other players stepped up.

“The other guys had to pull them up this time and that’s always good for us,” he said.

Paige will look to get back in form against the reeling Wake Forrest Demon Deacons Wednesday night in Chapel Hill.

Wake has lost four of their last five games, while the Tar Heels look to push their win streak to double digits.

Marcus Paige Nominated For Senior CLASS Award

Marcus Paige is one of the 30 nominees for the men’s basketball Senior CLASS Award, given by the NCAA each year to student-athletes that excel on and off the court.

Paige is a double major in History and Media and Journalism and has made the Academic ACC Honor Roll for the past three seasons, according to his bio on the Senior CLASS Award website.

In February, the 30 nominees will be narrowed down to 10 finalists. The winner will be named during the 2016 NCAA Final Four.

CLASS is an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School.

Also nominated from the ACC was Virginia guard Malcolm Brogdon, Duke forward Amile Jefferson and Pittsburgh guard James Robinson.

UNC Basketball Up to No. 2 in AP Poll

The UNC basketball team launched to No. 2 in the AP Poll on Monday afternoon.

The Tar Heels improved to 16-2 on Saturday afternoon.  Carolina is 5-0 in the ACC for the first time under Roy Williams.

The UNC basketball team defeated the N.C. State Wolfpack by a score of 67-55.

In the Coaches Poll, Carolina is also ranked No. 2.

Previously, Carolina was ranked No 5.  Three of the teams ahead of the Tar Heels in last week’s poll lost which helped the Tar Heels vault to the second spot in the poll.

Oklahoma, last week’s No. 2 team, now sits at No. 1 with a record of 15-1.  Kansas, last week’s No. 1, falls to No 3.  Villanova and Xavier round out the top 5.

In addition to the UNC basketball team, there are four other ACC teams in the Top 25.  Virginia is No. 13, Miami is No. 15, and Louisville is No. 17.  Duke fell from No. 9 to No. 20 after a 2-loss week.

Carolina returns to the court on Wednesday.  Wake Forest comes to the Dean Smith Center for an in-state ACC game.

The week ends for the Tar Heels with a game in Blacksburg, Virginia.  The UNC basketball team will face Virginia Tech on Sunday afternoon.