January 7, 2014

Three Must Haves: Miami

After coming off a 73-67 loss in Winston Salem, the Tar Heels have to go back to the drawing board this week to regain their confidence and to find what they must do against the Miami Hurricanes, as they do battle Wednesday night in Chapel Hill.

In this new segment, Tar Heel Illustrated will break down the three "Must Haves" that the Tar Heels will need to get the win against the Hurricanes Wednesday night. Both teams are winless in the ACC, so neither team wants to stay winless after Wednesday night, as the Tar Heels look to get back on track and even their conference record.

Win the Bench Battle

There is no doubt that Roy Williams loves to have players come off the bench and proved positive minutes for his team, especially on the score board. With Joel James coming back, players such as Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Leslie McDonald, Isaiah Hicks, etc., the Tar Heels hold a huge advantage in that area against the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes are not a deep team at all, going about nine players in the rotation. Last week against Syracuse, Miami scored 13 bench points in the five point loss, which is about their average. With a team that is limited in scoring; only averaging 64 points a game, the Tar Heels have to limit and win this battle pretty handedly.

The Size of the Hurricanes

The starting five for the Hurricanes have size, as there is no one that is less than 6'6. At times, the Tar Heels have struggled with bigger teams such as Miami, such as Kentucky and Texas. Even at times, the Demon Deacons were able to use size against the Tar Heels to really battle down low, even though the Tar Heels won the rebounding advantage pretty handedly.

The guards for North Carolina will have trouble at times against the size but the Tar Heels will have to battle on the boards and convert on their second chances, something they didn't do against Wake Forest Sunday night.

Last week for the Hurricanes, they were able to limit what the Orangemen usually can do against most opponents, as Syracuse only held a 29-27 advantage in rebounding. The starting five for the Hurricanes secured 23 of those rebounds and were able to use their size to help them in that narrow loss.

Getting to the line

Before Sunday night, the Tar Heels were one of the top teams to get to the free throw line, even if they have struggled all year long to hit most of them. However, last week, the Tar Heels went 7-of-11 from the free throw line and only went 2-of-3 from the line in the second half.

The Deacons only had 14 fouls total in that game, compared to 23 for the Tar Heels, as Wake Forest had 22 more attempts than the Tar Heels (19-of-33). The Tar Heels have to attack the Hurricanes, forcing them to either make a play on the ball or to foul, something they can't afford with the limited players they have.

If North Carolina can get back to physical play, especially down low with their big men, the Tar Heels will hold a huge advantage in several ways against Miami.

Williams even talked about his frustration with his team Monday night.

"It was a frustrating game. They shoot 33 free throws, we shoot 11. We get eight million offensive rebounds and can't finish the play around the basket. It was just a frustrating game in so many different ways but the bottom line is Wake Forest played better (basketball) than North Carolina," said Williams.

There are several factors that the Tar Heels could focus on coming into Wednesday's night game, but if North Carolina can attack these certain areas, it should certainly give them a huge advantage in the game, as the Tar Heels look to get back on track.

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