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  • The Rafters 9:57 pm on December 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACC, ,   

    Highlights: UNC extends home win steak over Clemson to 58-0 


    Box score

    Will the Clemson Tigers ever beat the North Carolina Tar Heels in Chapel Hill? At least not for another couple years.

    UNC moves to 58-0 at home all-time over Clemson. Marcus Paige had 18 points (AND A DUNK) and Theo Pinson was perfect from the field including 3-3 from beyond the arc.

    Brice Johnson struggled offensively but grabbed 9 rebounds.

    unc clemson home win streak 58-0

  • shwineka 1:38 pm on November 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACC, , , , , , , ,   

    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.


    • 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.

  • The Rafters 11:10 am on January 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACC, , ,   

    Game Preview: Miami 

    miami unc basketball

    How many times this season will we press how important a game is for the Tar Heels? North Carolina is still reeling from that Virginia game and lost any momentum from the UNLV win, if there still can be momentum when there’s a week between games. Reggie Bullock called a players-only meeting early this week and maybe that means Reggie is becoming more of a vocal leader. We’re just looking for someone to take control of this team while it’s on the court. It doesn’t look like Marcus Paige is ready to step into that role yet, and if Dexter Strickland can’t handle both the offense and the leadership role, well, guess it should fall on Reggie. Not sure if the player’s ball is going to work, but it’s a step in the right direction.

    Miami has had its own ups and downs this year. Sound familiar? The Hurricanes knocked off Michigan State in Coral Gables during the ACC-Big Ten Challenge yet lost to Florida Gulf Coast and Indiana State. Reggie Johnson, who’s had trouble staying on the court during his career, is out for this game but The U still comes in with a record just as good as UNC, and ahead of them in the very new ACC standings.

    How do we feel about this game in Chapel Hill? We’re not at liberty to say.

    durand scott miami

    • The ‘Canes may be down a big man but they still have Durand Scott. Scott may as well have gone to Duke, it feels like he’s been playing at Miami for over ten years. The guard is finally a senior but he’s been known to light up UNC. This season he’s leading his team in scoring (14.7 ppg) and coming off a game against Georgia Tech where he was held to single digits. I say this because it means he may use the North Carolina game to bring that average back up. Scott is 6’5″ and loves taking it to the basket. Dexter and P.J. Hairston will be busy.
    • Kenny Kadji hasn’t playing up to his Third Team All-ACC status but he still scares the hell out of us. At 6’11”, the senior is still known to jack it from beyond the arc as often as he does in the block. His FG% is down but he’s still averaging almost 12 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
    • Shane Larkin had a solid freshman year at point guard and continued it into his sophomore season. Second on the team in scoring at 12.8 per, Larkin is shooting 43 percent from three and nabs more than two steals per game. That backcourt of Larkin and Scott is scary. Throw in senior Trey McKinney Jones and UNC has its hands full.
    • Miami’s offense as a whole isn’t particularly potent (68.8 ppg, 152nd in nation), but they have been able to hold opponents under 60.
    • Remember how we were mostly talking about guards up above? The Hurricanes don’t necessarily rebound well. North Carolina pulls down eight more rebounds a contest than does Miami (44-36).

    Benn is recusing himself from making a prediction in this match-up. He will say that this Tar Heels team is built to play at home. It should win this game. We stress should.

  • The Rafters 1:49 pm on January 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACC, ,   

    Preview: UNC vs. Miami 


    After rolling over Boston College in its first ACC contest of the season, UNC faces the ever-annoying Miami Hurricanes in a late game tonight in Chapel Hill. This will conclude the Heels truly-worthy-of-the-distinction epic homestand. UNC has been in Chapel Hill since December 6, and is on the road for its next two games.

    • UNC will have its hands full with Durand Scott, left, and Malcolm Grant, right. This is the third season in which these two have been trolled the backcourt together and one of their favorite opponents is UNC. The Heels have a problem guarding opposing guards, especially explosive ones, and these two can be described as such. They are one and two on the team in scoring, both over 13 ppg. Grant is the better shooter, but Scott is better at getting to the basket, and subsequently, the free throw line. Neither dish the ball particularly well, or rebound for their size, but its obvious that they are dangerous.
    • Big man Reggie Johnson missed action early in the season because of a lingering leg injury, but is back at it now. In five games this season, Johnson is averaging 10 points and 7 rebounds. Johnson will only strengthen and he may see more than the 27 minutes he’s been averaging against the very good UNC team.
    • While we’re on Johnson, it should be mentioned that he is one of four NC natives on the Hurricanes roster. Johnson is from Winston-Salem and fellow big man Julian Gamble, who is sitting out this season with an ACL injury, is from Durham. Both are/were key contributors to the team and you know Johnson loves to play against his home state team. If you remember, Jimmy Graham, yes that Jimmy Graham, is a Goldsboro native and used to play basketball for Miami before switching to football. Last we heard, he was doing ok.
    • In Gamble and Johnson’s early absence, redshirt sophomore Kenny Kadji has been effective. The 6’11” forward is scoring almost 11 a game to go with about 6 rebounds. He also has 24 blocks on the season. That’s 27 less than what John Henson has, but still.
    • Miami is in its first year under head coach Jim Larranaga. Larranaga has been a head coach for almost 30 years and most recently led George Mason to its successes, including that improbable NCAA tourney run a couple years back. So, he’s a pretty good coach.
    • This is how Miami ranks nationally: Scoring, 110th; Rebounds per Game, 202nd; Assists per Game, 268th; Field Goal Percentage, 156th. Out of their five losses, only an overtime loss at Ole Miss can be considered bad. And it wasn’t really that bad. Miami did beat Rutgers early and beat a pesky App State by 30. UNC won over App by about half that at home.
    • This is how UNC ranks nationally: Scoring, 1st; Rebounds per Game, 1st; Assists per Game, 3rd; Field Goal Percentage, 20th.
    Prediction: UNC 84, Miami 72
  • shwineka 5:46 pm on November 22, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACC, , , Ohio Valley Conference, Robert Covington, , ,   

    Preview: Tennessee State 

    Rafters World Headquarters is really busy with the holidays and all, but before we get stuffed on Thursday, there’s time for a quick preview of the Heels second opponent of the week, Tennessee State. We’ll try and wrap-up the first two games of the Las Vegas Invitational tomorrow.

    You’ve never heard of TSU from the Ohio Valley Conference you say? Well, don’t sleep on the Tigers, who just beat South Carolina on the road Sunday night in their opening Las Vegas Invitational game. It was TSU’s first ever win against an SEC opponent. Let’s hope they don’t make it a habit; they’re 0-5 against ACC competition.

    • The Tigers’ main force is forward Robert Covington, who had 16 points and 8 boards against USC. He’s led TSU in scoring in every game this year. At 6’9″, he’ll be mismatched against the taller and longer UNC forwards of Zeller and Henson, who should provide him with his greatest challenge of the year so far. Where he might be able to be a nuisance is from beyond the arc. Covington was 3-7 from three against the Gamecocks, showing that he can make them and also is willing to chuck up quite a few.
    • TSU assistant coach Rick Duckett is a Carolina grad and was a graduate assistant coach at UNC when Roy was there the first time in 1979.
    • Per usual the Heels should be able to capitalize on their size advantage. Covington is the tallest player seeing significant minutes for the Tigers.
    • Jordan Cyphers is a 3-point threat off the bench for TSU and was second in scoring against USC.

    While the Tigers look to have some fight in them, as well as some skill, the Gamecocks they beat are no Tar Heels. USC is picked to finish at or around the bottom of the SEC, which like the ACC is something of a top-heavy league this year. It’s also in Chapel Hill. I’m going with the home team advantage, bigtime.


    UNC 93, Tennessee State 55

  • shwineka 2:43 pm on October 21, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACC, , , ,   

    Friday Goodness 

    While we get our shit together on some more thoughtful stuff, here’s some links:

    • The News & Observer is all over it this week. Here’s one on Harrison Barnes, who says “But it’s not national championship or bust for us.”
    • Ummm, yes it is.
    • N&O has media day pictures here, and a story on media day and how Heels’ players “dominated” the ACC preseason voting. Here’s one on some more general ACC stuff, with a enlightening comment on the Tar Heels. “UNC will win…..a lot.” Insightful stuff, Mr. Giglio.
    • If you’re a Carolina fan, you probably already noticed that UNC will open the season at No. 1 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. Oddly enough, USA Today noticed, TOO! They ran an ass ton of stories on college basketball yesterday! You’ll like this one, and this one and just maybe, this one.
    • This Durham Herald-Sun story is about a week old, but I hadn’t seen it yet! ZOMG! But it is interesting in that it has some of Roy’s take on conference expansion.
    Have a a great weekend. We’ll be back at it on Monday.
  • The Rafters 2:25 pm on February 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACC, , , ,   

    Wrap-up: Heels prove slow and steady doesn’t win games, beat Terps 

    UNC 87, Maryland 76

    Box score

    Sunday was surprisingly stress-free for a UNC-Maryland match-up. The Terps are never easy but the Heels seemed to hold a double-digit lead the entire game. Besides a short scare that was quickly squashed in the second half, the Heels looks all business and didn’t appear to be looking ahead to Wednesday night’s game against Florida State in Tallahassee.


    • It should be no surprise that an opposing guard lit up the Heels. But even Terrell Stoglin’s 28 couldn’t save the Terps. Stud big man Jordan Williams also had a monster game with 16 points and 19 rebounds, but besides those two the highest scoring Maryland player had 8. Not what you call a balanced night for Gary Williams’ squad.
    • UNC on the other hand had four in double figures and two with over 20. The Heels also showed why they are the #1 rebounding team in the nation pulling down 49 last night, including 20 on the offensive end.
    • Tyler Zeller continues to be a beast. He may not get all the attention, but he does his job every night. He leads the team in scoring and did it again with 25 against the Terps. Thing is, you can’t even tell he’s putting up that many points. Know why, because he makes them look so routine. Working around the basket, hitting free throws. It’s not flashy, but it’s effective.
    • Think about where UNC would also be without the game-changing play of John Henson (7 blocks) or Kendall Marshall (10 assists). Actually, let’s not think about that. It’s too scary.


    • Player of the Game: John Henson (10 pts, 15 rebs, 7 blks, 2 asts) – Yeah Harrison, Tyler and Leslie scored more points, but come on. Come on. John should stare in a new TV show: “When Muppets Attack!”
    • Stat Stuffer (aka the Danny Green award): Henson – Come on.
    • Stat of the Game: Henson’s seven blocks? Marshall’s ten assists? I’m going with John’s 4-4 performance at the charity stripe. That also makes six in a row for The Big Smile. Suckas.
    • Play of the Game: Kendall stupidly saving the ball underneath the Heels’ own basket, only to have it go through the legs of Tyler Zeller to Dexter Strickland and starting a fast break that led to two points the other way.
  • The Rafters 9:05 am on February 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACC, , , ,   

    Preview: UNC at NC State 

    Roy Williams said State was playing as well as ever and hinted that he wasn’t really looking forward to the showdown tonight. I’m not sold. Sidney Lowe should be the one scared Wednesday night. Oh wait, never mind. He doesn’t care anymore. He’s too busy trying to sell his house in Raleigh and lobbying his services to that TV network in Bristol, Connecticut because he knows he won’t be roaming the sidelines in a red blazer next year.

    But the Pack has won two of it’s last three. Which for a team that’s 4-8 in the ACC isn’t that bad. So I guess we have to pay them some attention.

    • C.J. Leslie has been playing very well in the past couple contests. Over the last three, the freshman from Holly Springs has put up at last 18 points to go with at least 8 rebounds, including a double-double in a good win over Clemson.
    • It was another freshman, guard Lorenzo Brown, that was about the lone bright spot in UNC’s 20-point win in Chapel Hill. Brown put in 20 off the bench and added seven assists. This isn’t typical Brown though. He does average a shade over nine a game, but he’s only hit double-digits three times in ACC play.
    • Even with the freshman State has, Tracy Smith is still the go-to guy for State. Smith has hit at least ten in 14 of his 16 games this season and scored 20 in the loss to Maryland Sunday. Plus he has a sick beard.
    • As the Heels go, a couple players had a field day back in January. Barnes started his recent hot streak that day with a 25 point outing, including that frenzy that started the game. John Henson also went off with a 16-16 game that also included seven blocks. Mr. Consistent Tyler Zeller put it 14 and fellow big man Justin Knox added ten. As you can tell, the post players had their ways. Hope that continues tonight.
    • UNC is back to leading the nation in rebounding at 42.5 a game; NC State is 61st with 37.5 per. Another nod to UNC’s bigs. UNC also puts in 5.5 more points a game and doles out one more assist. One assist more per game doesn’t sound like a lot, but it does mean UNC ranks 31st in the nation and State comes in at 80.

    UNC should win this game. And even if for some reason they don’t, all UNC fans can rest easy because this may be the last time we ever have to see that f’ing red blazer again.

    Prediction: UNC 74, NC State 64

  • The Rafters 10:44 pm on February 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACC, , , ,   

    Wrap-up: Heels do what Blue Devils couldn’t 

    UNC 89, Florida State 69

    Box Score

    We’re not going to dwell on this game a lot. The box score speaks for itself, and everybody in college basketball is looking forward to the show down on Wednesday. We’ll hit some points though.


    • Kendall Marshall and the rest of the team didn’t seem to be fazed by the behind the scenes action that broke at the end of last week. Picking up where they left off, the Heels won their third straight by a margin of 20 or more points.
    • The backcourt duo of Marshall and Dexter Strickland logged a combined 71 minutes due to the now lack of depth in that position, but also contributed 20 assists to six turnovers. And I’m sure you know 16 of those belonged to Marshall, natch.
    • Four players (John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Strickland, Harrison Barnes) scored 15 points or more and led the barrage of points on the Seminoles. An otherwise stingy defense allowed its most points against this year and Barnes continued his emergence leading the team again in points with 17.
    • The free throw shooting reverted back to early-season lows. The Heels shot just 13-21 for an abysmal 61.9 percent.
    • Justin Watts also saw action for the first time after missing the last several with an ankle sprain. Nice to see him back.


    • Player of the Game: Kendall Marshall (9 pts, 16 asts, 3 stls) – Any game where you set a record means you get POG honors.
    • Stat Stuffer (AKA the Danny Green award): Barnes (17 pts, 10 rebs, 1 ast, 1 blk) – Could have easily gone to Dex, but seeing Harrison pull down 10 rebounds is nice.
    • Play of the game: How about the drive by Marshall to the basket, only to flip the ball over his head all the way out to a wide open Henson? Henson of course knocked down the long J, which was only a foot away from being a three.
  • The Rafters 6:16 pm on February 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ACC, , , ,   

    Wrap-up: Barnes, Bullock and the Boys bully BC 

    UNC 106, Boston College 74

    Box Score

    A Carolina fan can get used to this. After the show the Heels put on in Chapel Hill on Saturday, we were worried they might get a little too complacent. That was obviously not the case. Instead they continued to show the rest of the conference that they mean business. There’s a lot of things that can be said about the shear dominance we saw on display last night, so let’s start the show.


    • Harrison Barnes proved Saturday’s then career best outing was no fluke. For the second straight game he set a high in points (26) and did so while shooting 4-7 from long-range and only committing one turnover (something that has plagued him all year). It has troubled the Rafters all year when people were calling Barnes overrated. The kid was scoring about 13 a game, and as a freshman that’s pretty darn good. Of course he was committing silly turnovers by over-dribbling and taking way too many contested, bad shots. You know why he did that? Because he’s 18. This upswing can be attributed to patience. That and the confidence that comes from watching the ball go through the basket more often and more easily. Wonderful, isn’t it?
    • Frosh Reggie Bullock also had another offensive burst off the bench. Shooting at the same clip as Barnes from behind the arc, Reggie had 16 points in 17 minutes. He also added a steal, assist and block. Not a bad outing for anybody and especially being able to pull that from the second team.
    • The Rafters has never been apart of the anti-Drew movement, and really despised/despises the whole thing, but having Larry come off the bench is the best coaching move Roy has made in years. Look a his line from last night: 0 pts, 2 rebs, 9 asts and 1 TO. Who cares if he didn’t score any points. He assisted on nine made baskets. Kendall was about the same: 7 pts, 3 rebs, 6 asts and 2 TOs in 20 minutes. This is the kind of backcourt production that was missing at the beginning of the season. Plus, isn’t fun to watch Kendall and Larry on the court at the same time? It is.
    • On the topic of turnovers, the team only committed nine as a team.
    • UNC did a magnificent job in shutting down guard Reggie Jackson from BC. Joe Trapani had a career high and Corey Raji put in 16, but the Eagles’ leading and most dynamic scorer was hassled all night by the Heels. Being denied the ball and open looks, Jackson finished 2-10 from the floor and 0-fer from behind to arc for six points. Suck it.
    • It feels like we haven’t talked about him much in the past few games, but Tyler Zeller continues to be a beast in the post. How does he shoot 6-7 from the floor, go perfect from the charity stripe grab six boards and three steals but seem to have a quiet night? That was about the quietest 18 points possible. Let’s hope the scouting reports in the future fail to mention this too.
    • Last night was also the first time since Georgia Tech in 2009 that UNC scored 100 in an ACC game. #therulersback


    • Player of the Game: Barnes (26 pts, 6 rebs, 1 ast, 1 TO) – Is this what Barnes delivers for the rest of the year? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but we can hope.
    • Stat Stuffer (AKA the Danny Green award): John Henson (13 pts, 7 rebs, 1 ast, 2 blks, 1-1 FT) – John seemed to be involved in every play last night. Either having a touch on the offensive end or disrupting shots on the defensive end. John continues to be a game changer.
    • Play of the Game: The Kendall Marshall rebound/outlet pass before hitting the ground to Larry Drew and onto Harrison Barnes with about 6 minutes left in the game. Who cares of Harrison was fouled while trying to finish with a flush, that is the kind of play you get with two point guards on the floor.
    • Blue Steel: The boys on the end of the bench got their due last night. Besides getting a solid 2 minutes of PT a piece, they had the honor of pushing the score past the century mark. We also had the pleasure of watching Daniel Bolick show us what he’s been doing on JV all these years with a couple slick dishes. And Patrick Crouch? He had the pleasure of knocking down an open three and being on the receiving end of one of those Bolick passes under the basket.
    • lulu 6:35 pm on February 2, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Warning: Missing argument 3 for polldaddy_show_rating_comments() in /home/content/t/h/e/therafters/html/wp-content/plugins/polldaddy/rating.php on line 6

      you guys are so accurate–awesome

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