UNC: More focused on UVA offense than on the Pack-Line?

storylogo2A reporter tried to get a sense of what UNC coach Roy Williams and guard Marcus Paige felt about what the 19th-ranked Tar Heels need to do to attack #3 UVA’s vaunted Pack-Line defense.

The answers from Williams and Paige after Carolina’s ACC Tournament quarterfinal win over #13 Louisville show you that the Heels are just as impressed with what Virginia can do offensively.

“We learned you’ve got to stay disciplined and stay the course against a team like Virginia that’s not going to beat themselves. They do a great job getting the shot they want,” said Paige, a 6’1” junior who is averaging 13.6 points and 4.6 assists per game.

“We have to be extremely disciplined tomorrow.  That may be the biggest thing we learned from that game,” Paige said of lessons learned from UNC’s 75-64 loss to UVA in Chapel Hill on Feb. 2.

Virginia isn’t necessarily known for its offense, but in addition to scoring 75 points in the win in the Dean Dome, the Cavs averaged 1.103 points per possession in the game. This Carolina team isn’t one of Williams’ best defensive teams, but it still surrenders just .940 points per possession on the season, and at least for a half on Thursday, it looked like world-beaters.

The Tar Heels D limited Louisville to 8-of-36 shooting and 23 points in the second half of what turned into a 70-60 North Carolina win over the Cardinals.

Rewind back to Feb. 2, and Virginia shot 51.8 percent for the game, and actually outscored UNC in the paint by a 40-34 margin, a rare feat against a Carolina team that normally dominates opponents inside the lane.

UVA did have a fully healthy Justin Anderson score 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field in that one. Anderson, a 6’6” junior guard, went down to injury in Virginia’s next game, on Feb. 7, and just returned yesterday in the Cavs’ ACC Tournament quarterfinal win over Florida State, getting 12 minutes off the bench, not scoring, and shooting 0-for-2 from the field.

UVA went 8-1 in Anderson’s absence, but its offense was not nearly as productive in that stretch, and even in the 58-44 victory over FSU was still below its season average in terms of offensive efficiency, scoring 1.00 points per possession, down from the 1,125 points per possession the Cavs average on the season.

Even with Virginia looking to be below optimum level in terms of offensive efficiency, Williams said after the Louisville game that the “discipline factor” will be key for his team’s chances to slow down the Virginia offense.

“It’s not that they just want to wait until they get the shot they really want,” Williams said. “We’ve got to be disciplined and patient enough to guard and make sure we get a good shot on the other end.”

– Story by Chris Graham

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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.


The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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