Kellen Carpenter (@kellenlc) is an RTC correspondent and ACC microsite writer. He filed this report after Saturday’s game between North Carolina and UAB in Chapel Hill.
In North Carolina’s Saturday win over UAB, the difference between this team and Roy Williams’ teams of the past became readily apparent. Gone are the days of dominant interior scoring powered by Sean May, Tyler Hansbrough, Tyler Zeller, and John Henson. For nearly 10 years, North Carolina has followed a simple blueprint for success: an up-tempo, forward-centric offense that draws fouls and scores from the free-throw line. Hansbrough, naturally, was the epitome of this approach, a bruising big man who set the NCAA record for the most made free throws over the course of his collegiate career.
This year’s incarnation of the Tar Heels is distinct from those of the recent past. In the second half of Saturday’s game, North Carolina fueled its separation from UAB with a barrage of threes launched by a small lineup that featured 6’5” P.J. Hairston at the power forward position. The team shot 10-of-23 from the arc, and 18-of-21 from the free throw line. However, of the 18 made free throws, only two of them came from North Carolina’s post players. This team is simply different. By going small and spreading the floor, North Carolina opens up space in the lane for attacks off the dribble while also maintaining the threat of a potentially deadly perimeter game.