basketball Edit

This Time, 'Pick And Pop' Didn't Work

Coby White's last-second 3-point attempt never should have been, as he explained after UNC's loss to Duke.
Coby White's last-second 3-point attempt never should have been, as he explained after UNC's loss to Duke. (Jenna Miller, THI)

CHARLOTTE – The play is simply called “pick and pop.”

North Carolina fans have seen it before. Just last month with the Tar Heels needing a 3-pointer to take Miami into overtime they ran “pick and pop” and it worked.

On Friday, in the ACC Tournament semifinals versus Duke, the Heels set out to run the same play again, only this time for the win, but it never quite materialized.

Coby White ended up lofting an off-balance 3-pointer that missed, and the tip by Nassir Little didn’t convert either. Duke 74, UNC 73.

To set the stage: Duke’s R.J. Barrett missed a free throw with 12.4 seconds remaining that was pulled down by Little. White got the ball and ran up the court before the play broke down leading to his errant shot attempt.

“When we got the ball, there was 12 (seconds left) but then (Duke guard) Tre (Jones) was denying me so I had to get open and that wasted about five seconds,” White explained retracing that final sequence.

“We came down, we didn’t have that much time to really get it to where we wanted to get it, to get the screen where we wanted to get the screen because of time. And then, we set the screen, they played it, they read it and Nas (tip) went in and out.”

"Pick and pop" worked last month against Miami.
"Pick and pop" worked last month against Miami. (Jenna Miller, THI)

The screen that never rally came to fruition is the key component to the pick and pop. The design is for Luke Maye to set a high screen for White and then immediately peel off, step back and have White pass him the ball where Maye should be open for a jumper.

The Heels ran this play against Miami and it worked, sending the game into overtime where UNC eventually won. But because of the lost time by White simply trying to get free from Jones in the backcourt, the whole set was rushed, thus it only partially attempted.

It also didn’t help that White lost his balance as he appeared to slip just before attempting the shot from just outside the arc. Without the slip, he may have gotten a better look.

“Yeah,” White said, noting he slipped some. “Because I was trying to drive, but I slipped and then I had to throw something up and it didn’t fall.”

The hand wringing over whether or not UNC should have called timeout commenced immediately after, but that was the play the Tar Heels were going to run anyway and it could be the play they run the next time in that situation.

So the benefit in having tried it in this game is the experience in running one of the most important sets in their repertoire, even though it didn't work this time, as White noted.

"That’s just the way it falls.”

Coby White Postgame Interview