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  • admin 11:26 am on November 19, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Tar Heels in the NBA: John Henson dunks on Carmelo Anthony 

    How’s John Henson only play 12 minutes a game? Watch him throw down a nasty dunk on Carmelo Anthony and tell me it’s not time to LET THE BIG SMILE FLOURISH!

    john henson unc carmelo anthony

     
  • admin 3:40 pm on November 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Roy Williams Tie Tracker: Robert Morris 

    One thing all UNC fans have come to know, love and expect of Roy Williams is his fashionable selection of ties, most often courtesy of Chapel Hill outfitter Alexander Julian. The same man who put the argyle on the side of the basketball uniform is still turning heads with what he’s putting around Ol’ Roy’s neck. So, here at The Rafters we decided to pay homage to the best accessory in college hoops, if not the entire sporting world, and document every Roy Williams tie this season.

    roy williams tie unc robert morris 2

    We’d be fine if Roy wore the dinner jacket for every game.

    roy williams tie unc robert morris

    The Tie Breakdown:

    NCCU, W 76-60 – Light blue tie, no pocket square, white shirt, pinstriped suit.

    Robert Morris, W 103-59 – Light blue tie with diamond pattern, white pocket square, white shirt, dinner jacket.

     

     
  • shwineka 2:17 pm on November 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Our long national nightmare is over and college… 

    Our long, national nightmare is over, and college basketball has returned. This past weekend brought us the first two glimpses of the new-look Heels, and NOW WE CAN TALK ABOUT THEM!



    UNC 76, NC Central 60
    Box Score

    UNC 103, Robert Morris 59
    Box Score

    After months of speculation, and the enduring academic saga, it’s nice to finally have some games to digest. We heard all summer how the Heels were going to be back to playing a traditional Roy Williams scheme: the offense running at a fast pace with two, true bigs as the first scoring option. Would this alleviate last year’s scoring woes? Is someone ready to step up as another perimeter threat to unburden Marcus Paige? Is Paige going to be the national player of the year?

     

    Takeaways

    • Kennedy Meeks is not playing more minutes. A big storyline this offseason was how Meeks’ dramatic weight loss would allow him to play more minutes and contribute heavily. Well, after averaging 16 mpg last season, Meeks has played 17 minutes in each game so far this year. Granted these were overmatched opponents, and he wasn’t needed for significant time(even Marcus Paige only played 23 minutes against Robert Morris), but is this a sign that he’s still out of shape or just a product of the games?
    • Scoring is more balanced, but still dismal from deep. The scoring load so far has been taken off of Paige’s shoulders, but it’s largely due to more emphasis on the low post and not because of another perimeter threat. Paige is the only starter to have hit a three so far (Justin Jackson is 0-3 and neither Tokoto nor Pinson has hit one yet) and, as a team, Carolina shot 18 percent from deep against Central and 25 percent against Robert Morris. That being said, both Brice Johnson and Meeks put up more than 20 against Robert Morris, and Meeks added 12 boards to Johnson’s 8. Meeks and Johnson (as well as Tokoto) led the team in scoring against Central as well. This is all great until the Heels run into a team with more difficult (read: bigger) defenders on the block. Someone needs to emerge as an outside threat for this offense to really hum.
    • The freshmen are good. Justin Jackson has started both games and chipped in 9 and 13 pts in those efforts. Pinson started the first game and has been chipping in rebounds, assists (9 so far!) and steals. Berry has been playing about the same amount of minutes as Nate Britt, and both are contributing similarly, with Berry leading the two in assists 4-1.
    • Kentucky, kenshmucky. Much as been made of Kentucky’s platoon system this offseason. UNC is right up there with them as far as depth. Ten players are averaging more than 12 mpg. This harkens back to those mid-2000s teams that would run until the other team was ready to puke and pull away in the second half. As long as they’re productive minutes, this is a great sign.
    • Marcus Paige hasn’t been asked to do much. Will this hurt his national POY campaign? Regardless, it’s helping the team. Paige’s numbers might dip a bit from last year, but as long as the team is doing well, he’s still its best player. He’s done nothing wrong this year, it’s just his surrounding pieces are all much improved. Just wait until the Heels are in a close game for the sparks to fly.
    • Joel James is easily the crowd favorite. This needs no explanation and cannot be denied.

     
  • bwineka 11:43 am on November 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Roy Williams Tie Tracker: NCCU 

    One thing all UNC fans have come to know, love and expect of Roy Williams is his fashionable selection of ties, most often courtesy of Chapel Hill outfitter Alexander Julian. The same man who put the argyle on the side of the basketball uniform is still turning heads with what he’s putting around Ol’ Roy’s neck. So, here at The Rafters we decided to pay homage to the best accessory in college hoops, if not the entire sporting world, and document every Roy Williams tie this season.

    roy williams tie nccu

    Coach kept it simple with a light blue tie. Slight texture but nothing of note. We’ve seen this guy before. Nice suit though.

    roy williams tie nccu 2

    The Tie Breakdown:

    NCCU, W 76-60 – Light blue tie, no pocket square, white shirt, pinstriped suit.

     
  • bwineka 12:59 pm on November 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    VIDEO: Big Demond Hubert Follow Slam vs. Robert Morris 

     

    Throw down, big fella. This was Desmond Hubert’s only FG. HE MADE IT COUNT THO.

    desmond hubert unc robert morris dunk

     
  • shwineka 12:47 pm on November 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Bonus Points: Joel James 

    Before the season, we told you Joel James was the best thing to happen to the Tar Heels’ bench since Greg Little. Against Robert Morris on Sunday, he did not disappoint.

     

     

     

    Here you go, send yours to @TheRafters.

    Joel Mug 

     
  • bwineka 12:43 pm on November 17, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Highlights: UNC overpowers Robert Morris 103-59 

    North Carolina Tar Heels 103, Randolph Robert Morris Colonials 59

    Box Score

    Most Outstanding Player: Kennedy Meeks (21 pts,12 rebs, 1 ast, 14 FT attempts)

    Off the Bench: Isaiah Hicks (6 pts, 4 rebs, 3 blks)

    What We Need To See: More bench production

    brice johnson marcus paige unc robert morris

     
  • bwineka 2:38 pm on November 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Highlights: Tar Heels too much for Eagles 

     

    North Carolina Tar Heels 76, North Carolina Central Eagles 60

    Box Score

    Most Outstanding Player: Brice Johnson (12 pts, 8 rebs, 2 blks, 1 stl)

    Off the Bench: JP Tokoto (10 pts, 5 rebs, 4 asts, 1 blk, 1 stl)

    What We Need To See: Better shooting, more assists

    kennedy meeks unc tar heels sophomore

     
  • shwineka 1:38 pm on November 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    Great Expectations 

    With nearly the entire roster back from a team that went 24-10 (13-5 ACC) and a preseason national player of the year candidate at point guard, expectations in Chapel Hill this year are on a “Chapel Hill level.” Despite the early departure of James Michael McAdoo, which depending on who you ask could be a good thing, all indications are that last season’s good team is a year older, wiser and better. Add an influx of blue-chippers from the high school ranks and you have full-blown FINAL FOUR SPECULATION!

    A few different outlets, see UNC as a contender, and on paper, we agree. But college basketball doesn’t work like that. There’s a full range of scenarios that could befall this team on the road to Indy. Let’s try and take a level-headed look at this team and come up with some possible outcomes.

    First off, this team doesn’t feel like 2009 or 2012. It’s not going to dominate every opponent and hit triple digits in scoring in a routine ACC game. In fact, as weird as it sounds for a Roy Williams team, scoring could potentially be the biggest weakness for Carolina this year.

    Take outside shooting. Marcus Paige hit 86 3-pointers last year. The entire team hit 146, of which the departed senior Leslie McDonald hit 43. Of the 17 other treys made by a Tar Heel last year, five were from walk-ons. That leaves Nate Britt’s three, J.P. Tokoto’s eight and Isaiah Hicks’ – yes, Isaiah Hicks – one as the only other returning outside shots not made by Paige. There’s a big hole that needs to be filled there. You could actually argue that, while a significant portion of Carolina’s threes as a team, McDonald’s contribution (which he hit at a 31 percent clip) wasn’t enough LAST YEAR. So the gap is actually much bigger.

    On the inside Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson are expected to carry the load. Meeks has more of a post-up game than Johnson, who is great in transition and set plays. Both are active offensive rebounders, but do either of those players project as a go-to guy down low? They both played limited minutes last year, so that leaves a big question mark.

    Now that I’ve laid out some of the bad, let’s talk about some of the good. Just because the offense doesn’t hum like some previous contenders doesn’t mean the end of the world. On the defensive side of the ball, last year’s squad actually stacked up just as well as the 2009 title team, with both rating 21st in adjusted defense according to kenpom.com. Last year’s emphasis on D will be the perfect groundwork for a leap in offensive efficiency.

    Who will make the leap, you ask? Well, this part might be more speculative, but I think there’s reason to be optimistic — for reasons I’ll explain later.

    POTENTIAL LEAPERS

    • Brice Johnson: This year it’s finally time to #freeBrice. Johnson averaged over 10 ppg while playing less than 20 minutes per game last season. In a larger role, the ultra efficient forward is practically a lock to improve his scoring output. At 30 minutes per game, that would project him to drop 15 per game. If you up his rebounding by the same theory, he’d be at 9 rbg, or nearly averaging a double-double.
    • Kennedy Meeks: Meeks is slimmer and in better shape. He’ll be the beneficiary of the the freshman-to-sophomore leap that has repeatedly represented the largest jump in skill shown by college players. Oh, and he was already efficient. He was barely second to Johnson in FG percentage last year. With more PT, expect Kennedy to round out the box score instead of rounding out his 6’8″ frame. (See what I did there?)
    • Isaiah Hicks: Hicks was the most highly touted freshman in last year’s class, which included Meeks and Nate Britt, who both played significantly more minutes than Hicks. Much like John Henson during his freshman year, Hicks was forced to play out of position on the wing where he was outside his comfort zone and unable to contribute in a meaningful way. Hicks is back down low this year, and will likely be spelling Johnson and Meeks continuously. He could easily match Johnson and Meeks offensively and defensively.
    • The Freshmen: This year’s #3 ranked recruiting class is the best UNC has had in quite a while. It’s probably the best since the 2010 class, which brought in Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall. All three of those guys are now on NBA rosters in case you were wondering. This class give us three potential leaps in Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson and Joel Berry, any of who could be the scoring machine Carolina needs to unburden Marcus Paige – although as we know, if anyone is equipped for that burden, it’s Paige.

    So back to the optimism. This is the part where the level-headed look at the team goes out the window. If you were keeping count, that’s six potential players poised to make huge leaps this season and push UNC over the top to being a national title contender. The ideal scenario would obviously be all of them making said leap, but even if half of them do, that’s still going to produce a dang fine team. We talked about this on the podcast – which you should totally listen to – and the general consensus was that anything less than an Elite 8 appearance will be a disappointment.

    We all know that anything can (and does) happen in the tournament, but this year the Final Four potential feels real. When the Heels are heading to Indianapolis in March, just know that we totally called it. Enjoy the game tonight.

     
  • bwineka 11:01 pm on November 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    The Rafters Podcast s03e01 

    the rafters unc basketball podcast s03e01

    First episode of season 3 of the best UNC basketball podcast you can stream/download/ignore. And we pay homage to the best podcast going, Serial Podcast (brought to you by Mail Chimp).

    The Starting Five

    1. Academic SCANDAL!

    2. Coaching changes in the ACC

    3. Player updates

    4. Starters

    5. Expectations for the year

    Next week on The Rafters podcast…game recaps…excitement…drama…no resolution…

     
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