North Carolina v Indiana

North Carolina’s loss was much, much worse than simply a blowout


This was more than just a loss for No. 14 North Carolina.

The 83-59 mollywhopping they took at the hands of No. 1 Indiana on Tuesday night is a legitimate cause for alarm for the folks in Chapel Hill.


I thought you’d never ask.

Marcus Paige is not a point guard. He’s not Kendall Marshall, not even close. What made Marshall so great was his ability to create shots for the other three first round picks on the floor with him. Paige doesn’t have that kind of talent around him, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a score-first point guard. That won’t work within Roy Williams’ system.

James Michael McAdoo is not Tyler Hansbrough. He doesn’t have a back-to-the-basket game, he can be forced into taking the shots the defense wants him to take, and at this point, he looks soft. He got pushed around by Indiana just like he got pushed around by Butler. In fact, this can be attributed to the entire UNC front line. They don’t have a low-post scorer, and while the point guards have gotten much of the credit for UNC’s success over the years, the success of Williams’ secondary break offense hinges on having a player in the pivot that demands a double-team. Sean May. Hansbrough. Tyler Zeller. When UNC relied on Ed Davis in 2009-2010, what happened?

Perhaps more alarming is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a leader or a go-to guy on this team. This is the second time this season that UNC has been blitzed and had no response. Everyone makes runs in college basketball, but which Tar Heel do you see being the guy that says, “Enough of this garbage, give me the dang ball, we need a bucket”? I’m coming up empty.

But the biggest concern I have is with the simplest of mistakes.

Jordy Hulls should never, ever get an open look from beyond the arc. Never. He was 3-5 on Tuesday, with a couple of wide-open looks. He was also standing by himself a couple of times waiting to receive a pass as Indiana simply got an easier look at the rim.

Or what about the missed box-outs? The poor defensive rotations? The poor defensive effort, period?

Or how about this: after watching Tyler Zeller run the floor as well as anyone in the country for four seasons, how is it possible that North Carolina can so consistently get beaten down the floor for easy baskets by Cody Zeller? He did it at least four times in the first 25 minutes, and he wasn’t the only one that got easy layups in transition.

This will not be the last time that Indiana blows out a ranked team at Assembly Hall.

But this isn’t the first time that North Carolina has gotten smacked around this season.

Be very concerned, Tar Heel fans.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Battle 4 Atlantis title proves Syracuse will be relevant this season

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Michael Gbinije scored 20 points and Trevor Cooney added 15 points and five assists as Syracuse left the Bahamas with a title, beating No. 25 Texas A&M 74-67 in the finals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

I guess it’s time to start taking the Orange seriously.

There’s a lot to like about this group. Gbinije and Cooney are both fifth-year seniors that not only understand how to operate at the top of the 2-3 zone that Jim Boeheim runs, but they both have developed into versatile offensive weapons. Cooney was known as nothing more than a jump-shooter when he arrived up north, but he’s now averaging 3.5 assists on the season.

And Gbinije?

He has been one of the best players in the country through the first two weeks of the season. Through six games, he’s averaged 19.7 points, 4.2 assists, 3.0 boards and 2.8 steals while shooting 51.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Freshman Malachi Richardson, who had 16 points in the win over A&M, has scored double-figures in all six games this season while another freshman, Tyler Lydon, was against terrific on Friday, finishing with 13 points and eight boards. He’s now shooting 58.8 percent from beyond the arc this season.

And that’s where this team is going to do the majority of their damage this season.

Through six games, they’re shooting 41.1 percent from beyond the arc. In the three wins in the Bahamas, the Orange knocked were 34-for-73 from beyond the arc, a 46.5 percent clip. The question isn’t whether or not that rate can continue — four of the six players that saw action on Friday are dangerous three-point shooters while the other two, Tyler Roberson  and DaJuan Coleman, aren’t going to be shooting threes — but what happens on the nights where the threes aren’t going down.

There are going to be nights where they shoot 5-for-25 instead of 11-for-25. Will they have enough firepower then? Will their defense be good enough? Will guys like Roberson and Coleman be able to supply a scoring punch? Will Cooney, Gbinije and Richardson attack the paint instead of settling for jumpers?

Because at the very least, these three games in the Bahamas have proven that the Orange are going to be relevant this season, even in the loaded ACC. Whether that means they’re going to push for a top four finish or simply end the year as a tournament team remains to be seen, but this much is clear: Jim Boeheim has himself a squad Upstate.

No. 10 Gonzaga outlasts No. 18 UConn despite late offensive struggles

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No. 10 Gonzaga survived a furious rally from No. 18 UConn to win the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 73-70.

The Zags were up by as much as 21 points early in the second half, leading 48-27, but UConn slowly chipped away at the lead. Kyle Wiltjer led four players in double-figures with 17 points while Eric McClellan added 15 points, making a number of key plays in the second half when it looked like the Zags were in danger of giving away the lead.

As good as Gonzaga looked in the first 22 minutes of this game — and they looked really, really good — the second half exposed the concerns that many had with this group entering the season. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., who both shot around 40 percent from beyond the arc and started for four years, graduated, meaning that Gonzaga’s point guard situation is, more or less, Josh Perkins.

Perkins was terrific in the second half of a loss to Texas A&M on Thursday. He played 17 foul-plagued minutes against UConn. When UConn’s defense ratcheted up during the second half, Gonzaga struggled finding a way to consistently get good shots on the offensive end. Part of that was due to ineffective point guard play and part of it was a result of not really having anyone on the offensive end that can create a look on their own. As skilled as Wiltjer is, his impact can be limited when pick-and-pop actions aren’t working and he’s getting doubled in the post.

Perkins is talented, but this is essentially his first season of college basketball; he was a medical redshirt last season after breaking his jaw last November. There are going to be ups-and-downs, and that’s problematic on a team where he is essentially the only point guard on the roster.

The good news?

Gonzaga beat a good UConn team on a day when their best players struggled in crunch-time. It was McClellan and Kyle Dranginis that made the big plays down the stretch, not the big names on the Gonzaga roster.