It hasn’t been the best of starts for North Carolina this season, losing to Iowa 60-55 at the Dean Smith Center, making it their second loss to an unranked opponent which might cost them dearly when the next set of rankings come out, unable to make the most of their chances in a game that can only be described as ugly when it comes to its shooting.
Iowa are now 6-2 this season, helping out the Big Ten come away with the win in the cross conference challenge. They shot just 32.7% from the field and allowed the Tar Heels to grab 24 offensive rebounds and yet came away with the win thanks to their defense, a good shooting day for Mike Gesell with 16 points and a perfect performance from the line for Aaron White, hitting all of his 10 attempts to go with 8 rebounds.
North Carolina shot just 27.9% from the field, with Marcus Paige, their best player, limited to just 4-of-16. He wasn’t the only one having an off night, as the bench players combined to shoot just 3-of-20 from the field. With no one from the stars being able to play up to his usual level and nothing coming from the bench, the Tar Heels kept taking bad jump shots, and even with their enormous number of offensive rebounds, couldn’t claw their way back into the game.
Their first loss this season to Butler was because of being beaten up on the boards. Overall, they’ve been one of the best teams this season in offensive rebounds, averaging 15.8 per game. However, they converted just 7-of-21 shots they had following an offensive rebound, doing especially poorly in the second half when it came to second chance points, scoring just five of them despite the misses that didn’t stop coming.
There are those who have criticized Roy Williams in recent years, as North Carolina haven’t been to the Final Four since 2009, which is also the last time they won the national championship. They’ve fallen behind a bit when it comes to the recruiting game, when the thing that talks these days seems to be one and done players. They’re a ‘blue blood’ program, and yet seem to sit further behind Duke, Kentucky and others in their ability to attract the top talent to the nation.
National championships aren’t won just with one-and-done star Freshman, but it doesn’t hurt. North Carolina should have an experienced team that blends young talent and a bit more maturity quite well. So far this season, it hasn’t shown, and the rankings will obviously tell that to them. These problems better not follow them into ACC play, or the calls to move on from Williams will be a lot harder to ignore.