Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Terps buried by perimeter barrage

I had an analogy to First World War barrage strategy rattling around in my head when I was watching North Carolina hit 3-point shot after 3-point shot last night. I'll spare you the full comparison though. The Tar Heels eleven 3-point baskets accounted for the majority of their 16 point lead at halftime. Maryland was being far too aggressive in their low post help defense and left North Carolina's shooters wide open too many times. Wayne Ellington isn't much more than a jump shooter and Maryland let him do his best Jimmy Chitwood imitation in going 12/15 from the floor with seven 3-point baskets. Ty Lawson and Danny Green were also bombing threes for most of the game as they found wide open wings on Maryland's defense. It was probably most disappointing that the Terps didn't make North Carolina work for their points. The Tar Heels hardly had to run many screens or have their shooters move without the ball. It was too easy. For the game UNC shot 51% from the floor and a staggering 64% from 3-point range. It is worth noting that Maryland has given up 10+ three point baskets four times in eight ACC games so far this year. Much of that has to do with a weak post defense that requires Maryland to use guards as help defenders and leaving open shooters on the perimeter. It isn't going out on a limb to say the defensive effort was pretty awful. It resembled some high school all-star game with neither team bothering to play much defense, content to just run up and down the floor. North Carolina's transition defense was laughably bad and Maryland repeatedly scored easy transition baskets as Tar Heel players loafed down court.

The interesting thing is that Maryland actually played worse in the 2nd half even though they scored more points. The shooting dropped to 41% from 50% in the 1st half and the team turned the ball over 10 times compared to six in the 1st half. Sean Mosley and Cliff Tucker did have good 2nd half performances but most of their points came in garbage time when Maryland was trailing by twenty. Their performances are encouraging, especially Mosley's, but it will be worth waiting until they play a team that bothers with defense before reading too much into their performances in this game. Adrian Bowie and Landon Milbourne didn't have great games but they also were not involved in the offense much and were marginalized by the strategy to push the ball up the floor at every opportunity. It is worth noting that Vasquez only played 12 minutes in the 2nd half after the game turned into a rout. I think Gary Williams was saving him for a very critical game against Georgia Tech.

I think Williams will continue to use Jin Soo Kim more even though he didn't do much scoring he grabbed 5 rebounds in limited minutes. Dino Gregory and Dave Neal will continue to split minutes in the low post.

For a team that came in scoring about 67 points per game in ACC play I think you have to chalk this up to the utter lack of defense played by UNC in this contest. The offense has improved slightly in the last few games but we'll have to see how Maryland fares against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech before we can come to any conclusions about the offense. The effort was fairly good throughout the game even when the margin got to be over twenty points. Even though North Carolina scored 108 points I'd hardly feel good about surrendering 91 to a moribund Maryland offense if I were Roy Williams. Then again defense has never been a priority for Roy and it will be the reason North Carolina will fail to win a national title again this season.

1 comment:

terpsfan said...

I actually thought this team played better than it has in recent games. I guess you can chalk it up to no defense on the North Carolina side, but their half court offense, and transition offense was much improved. There's nothing they can do about their lack of size. They had to play zone to prevent Hansbrough from scoring 50, but that just opened up some open 3's. Credit UNC for hitting at such a high rate, because most college teams wouldn't be able to take as much advantage.