After a week-long search for the answer of how to win without Kendall Marshall, coach Roy Williams thinks he found the answer — and it might be simpler than he first thought.
“I think it puts an emphasis on every other part of the game,” Williams said. “We’ve got to step our level up in every area. We have to defend better, we have to rebound better. If we are not going to get as many easy baskets because Kendall is not out there, then we’ve got to get some more that we have to earn.”
It’s simple in theory, and it isn’t that far off from what the Tar Heels did against Creighton.
Alongside the Tar Heels’ accustomed good defense and tough post play, North Carolina shot an impressive 8-for-16 from behind the arc to seize control of the game.
As usual, strong post play will be UNC’s lifeblood without Marshall, especially against an Ohio team with only one player taller than 6-foot-8.
But 3-point shooting could make the difference, just like it did against Creighton.
“It varies from game-to-game,” UNC forward John Henson said. “However, if we’re hitting 3’s, it just opens up for everyone else. I think we’re a much better team when we’re shooting 3’s.”
It’s true, and it’s not just the obvious advantage that shots are dropping.
When the Tar Heels are connecting from long range, it puts pressure on their opponent’s defense to close out on shooters. That gives UNC’s shooters a chance to create a simpler, unguarded shot. That movement, in turn, can lure another defender away, opening up one of the shooter’s teammates.