Film Review: UNC's Reasons To Celebrate Against Louisville
Let's be honest, Saturday's 99-54 destruction of Louisville was unlike anything we have seen for awhile. At the 9:34 mark of the first half, the score was actually tied at eighteen. From there, North Carolina outscored the Cardinals an unfathomable 81-36. There were reasons that we will go through, but it was not a typical game.
Our film review will not follow the status quo either. When we are talking about that type of a mismatch against that type of elite program there are going to be a lot of good things to pinpoint. Time will not allow, so we went with a few that stood out. In fact, one could stop the DVR just about anywhere in the final 30 minutes and pick out the next play.
Anyway, UNC fans should enjoy the win and the film.
Kerwin Walton was a standout of standouts Saturday. The freshman sharp-shooter had 19 points on the day, but he was huge in putting the Tar Heels on top with his early daggers. He is now 42 of 90 for the season from the perimeter for an impressive 46.7 percent. Certainly his 5 of 7 showing against the Cardinals didn't hurt his cause.
Louisville is not a zone team. But the recent extensive quarantine hindered its conditioning. The Cardinals also didn't the bigs to slow down North Carolina inside, so Chris Mack opted for the 2-3. As expected, the Tar Heels attacked it beautifully. They countered with a 1-3-1 in which they ran the point guard through, screened in the wing defenders with the high post, and replaced the two inside players on every ball reversal. This was a beautiful possession which involved six passes against only one dribble. All of the movement and quick ball movement bothered the rotations as two Cardinal guards were forced to defend three Tar Heels on top. The extra pass found the open Walton on the right wing.
Day'Ron Sharpe might have something to say about who was Saturday's most outstanding player. He had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and absolutely took over once Carolina began extending the lead. In other words, as Sharpe went, so went the Heels. Offensive rebounding was a huge part of the game. They had 14 points off 16 offensive boards. Sharpe had eight of the rebounds.
Louisville comes back out in a 2-3 zone on the next possession. Carolina attacks with the same type of action. This time the ball is reversed too R.J. Davis on the right wing who misses the three-pointer, and once again it was on the sixth pass. Sharpe is boxed out, but simply discards his man. Then he goes over another poor Cardinal at the rim for the finish. Could you imagine if it was 1981, and he stayed three or four years? It wouldn't be fair. Even as a freshman, at times Sharpe is a man playing with boys.
Here is the intriguing thing about Saturday's game. In a 45-point victory, they didn't get out of character. The things they normally do well they did against Louisville. They just did a lot of it. if there was one outlier I had to pick it would be that UNC did the best job of running it has done all year long. There were 26 points scored via the fast break.
Even after Louisville scores, Carolina pulled the ball out of the net and ran. Leaky Black pushes the ball and hits a streaking Sharpe for the layup. I was very impressed with the way the bigs ran the floor. These are not thin, rangy players. These are grown men of the 250-pound variety who beat everyone down the floor. Sharpe sprints back on the Louisville break, then runs to the other end. As soon as he scores he is back to the races to play defense. That's over 90 straight yards of running without stopping to rest.
This play did Louisville in. They have an end-out and are going to lift their post to the elbow for the lob. Garrison Brooks does a good job of never losing contact. He gets the deflection, and Caleb Love is there to clean it up. The freshman guard takes it to the other end to finish on a dunk just before the buzzer sounds.
This play reminded me of his hammer early in the Duke game two week ago. When he gets out in transition, he finishes with authority. I could tell from my living room that play stole Louisville's soul. This was two more of Carolina's fast break points. They also had the same number off Louisville turnovers. North Carolina simply ran Louisville into the ground.
Once again, UNC’s interior passing was too good to ignore. They start in continuity ball screen action. When the hand off is denied they go hi-lo. Bacot dives to the rim on the double. Great vision by Garrison Brooks. @HeelIllustrated pic.twitter.com/9iryHuiI8L— David Sisk (@CoachDavidSisk) February 22, 2021
North Carolina is as good a post-to-post passing team as thee is in the country. As I kept looking at at the replay, that part of their game kept standing out. They carved Louisville up with it. That is a big reason I say they never got out of character in the convincing win.
The Heels go to their ball-screen continuity in which there is a side ball-screen and roll on one side while the opposite post flashes to the foul line area. He will either look for the hi-low feed, reverse the ball and ball-screen behind it, or dribble to the opposite wing and hand the ball off. Garrison Brooks looks to reverse the ball with the hand-off, but the route is jumped. Armando Bacot counters by flashing to the high post for the reversal. Brooks dives to the post after the pass. Bacot hits him with the bounce pass and cuts down the lane. His man goes to double Brooks, and he hits Bacot with the beautiful feed at the rim.
I don't believe there is a better paint passer in the country than Garrison Brooks. Carolina had 29 assists on 42 makes for the game. That is an astronomical number. What is more noteworthy is that is came across the board. No Tar Heel had more than four assists. Seven of those dimes were made by post players. There can be no better example of unselfish team play.
If there is something Anerica may not know about this North Carolina team, it might be Walker Kessler’s ability to run the floor. This is a 94-foot sprint. On three occasions he finished after he beat everybody down the floor. @HeelIllustrated pic.twitter.com/0pzy9kRSdi— David Sisk (@CoachDavidSisk) February 22, 2021
Here is my take on Walker Kessler. He does not have the physical presence of the other three bigs, but he is going to have an outstanding college career as his body develops and he gains experience. For now, he does some good things when he gets the right kind of matchup. He had that on Saturday. In 12 minutes of play, he had 10 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots.
When he is on the court, he gives it everything he has. He also runs the floor in the Day'Ron Sharpe mode. In fact, he is probably faster. Kessler doesn't have quickness, but he has baseline-to-baseline speed. He had three run outs in which he beat everyone down the floor. He had another finish on a two-on-one fast break in which he filled behind the ball.
Just watch the tape. He starts on the low block and absolutely blows by everyone else on the full court sprint. If I'm doing a scouting report on him, the first thing I am telling my team is that he is a rim-runner and our post players better bring their track shoes.
Outstanding defensive possession by North Carolina Saturday. Pressure on the ball screen, rotation on the baseline drift, belly up on the drive, blocked shot, deflection, Walker Kessler on the floor. Watch the team run to help him up after the time out. @HeelIllustrated pic.twitter.com/50SZTvo8V6— David Sisk (@CoachDavidSisk) February 22, 2021
I am a bigger fan of North Carolina's offense than its defense, but they did a number on Louisville. The Cardinals simply did not have sustainable numbers. It shot just 32.8 percent from the field, and only made one trifecta in 16 attempts. The Cards only got to the foul line 12 times, and had twice as many turnovers and assists.
Here was an outstanding defensive possession. Caleb Love ices the ball-screen and keeps the ball on the sideline. As usual, Kessler shows on the screen and helps put pressure on the ball-handler. Off the baseline drift and skip to the corner, the rotations are spot on. Walton sprints to the corner and Sharpe does the same to take away the extra pass. Love bodies up the drive from the top and Kessler blocks the shot. There is nothing there.
Louisville retrieves the loose ball, drive middle, and looks to kick to the opposite wing. Anthony Harris deflects the ball, and Kessler makes the all-floor burn team going after the loose ball. He calls time out and North Carolina gains possession. Watch his teammates sprint to him to help hm up. Effort like that is contagious.
This set was for R.J. Davis to get a three no matter what. He can’t get a look for him on the first stagger, so they come right back to him for a three on another. He hit a pair of 3’s vs Louisville. Carolina was 8-18 for the game. @HeelIllustrated pic.twitter.com/TCn2PeuCVr— David Sisk (@CoachDavidSisk) February 22, 2021
North Carolina was 8-for-18 from three-point territory for 44.4 percent. Walton hit five, R.J. Davis made two, and Love added another one. On the season they are just 31.6 ercent, but the Louisville outburst was not an outlier to me. This is a much better outside shooting team since Kerwin Walton was inserted into the starting lineup and is getting more playing time.
This play was drawn up for a three, and for Davis to specifically get the look. Roy Williams has run the slice cut off the diagonal screen all year. That is an old reliable. But he has started using the wrinkle in which they ball-screen the wing entry on one side while setting the stagger screen of the three-point shooter on the other side.
As Kessler screens and rolls with Love, Davis comes off the stagger. Louisville guards it well. So the ball is reversed to the top, Davis cuts to the corner, and the stagger screen is reset. He knocks down the three. I've seen this run a couple of times this year, but I don't remember the re-screen. Once again, Carolina's continuity to keep moving once the first option doesn't work is a strength. Most teams pull the ball out, reset, and let the defense recover.