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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC Looks for Patience In Face of Virginia Press

The distinction is an important one to Matt Doherty, though. North Carolina's coach doesn't seem to worry about his offense creating open looks at the basket. Those have come.

But good shots won't satisfy Doherty when No. 5 UNC takes on No. 13 Virginia today at 7 p.m. at the Smith Center. He wants an offense that stays patient, one that ignores the temptation of a good shot and waits for an even better one.

"Breaking the press and getting an open 3-pointer is not necessarily a great shot for us," Doherty said. "It might be a great shot for another team in our league, but when we have a 7-footer and a 6-11 kid, we want to get the ball inside. If we do that and kick it out, then it's a great shot.

"I don't want just good shots; I want great shots."

That's not an unattainable goal to have against Virginia (13-3, 2-3 in the ACC). In league games, the Cavaliers have allowed their opponents to shoot 55 percent from the field, a by-product of the easy baskets their press sometimes allows.

That press has helped UVa. force 19.6 turnovers a game this season. The Cavaliers throw a full-court, man-to-man press at teams or trap after one pass. Virginia can attack with two different three-quarter court presses. Once an offense crosses halfcourt, the Cavaliers might trap the first pass. Or the first dribble. They might even trap a screen on the ball.

"They throw a lot of things at you that maybe other teams don't," Doherty said. "Where maybe another team shows you one or two things, they'll show you maybe six things."

The Tar Heels (15-2, 5-0) have encountered the press on several occasions this season. UCLA erased an

18-point deficit in the second half by guarding the ball for 94 feet. UNC fared much better when it later faced pressure from Georgia Tech and Maryland.

The Tar Heels built a 19-point second-half lead against Maryland by breaking the press, working the ball into the post and kicking back out to an open 3-point shooter. UNC also attacked the glass anytime it misfired from the outside.

Virginia coach Pete Gillen is concerned that the Tar Heels could do the same thing against the Cavaliers.

"We're creating turnovers, but when teams break our press they're getting good shots," Gillen said. "They're getting some second-shot opportunities, some offensive boards because we're not real big."

The Tar Heels undoubtedly are. UNC began Saturday's game against Florida State with the clear intention of getting the ball inside to 7-footer Brendan Haywood and 6-11 Kris Lang.

Haywood and Lang hoisted a few shots, but UNC again built a lead by having its post players pass out of double teams to open shooters on the perimeter.

North Carolina's offensive plan against Virginia should really be quite simple, then. Feed Haywood and Lang in the post, where they have a sizable height advantage. If a shot isn't available, pass the ball out to Joseph Forte, Jason Capel or Ronald Curry for the open 3-pointer.

The Tar Heels, by Doherty's definition, should get plenty of great shots if they break Virginia's press.

"Our strength is our size inside, and they don't want us to get to that point," Doherty said. "So, if we're patient and don't just try to take the first available shot and try to go inside, hopefully that will be to our advantage."

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