James Michael McAdoo shoots the ball in UNC’s first-round Maui Invitational victory against Mississippi State in Nov. 2012.
LAHAINA, Hawaii — Upon completion of a four-game road trip Wednesday that culminated in a 112-70 victory for North Carolina against Division II Chaminade in the EA Sports Maui Invitational, coach Roy Williams admitted he and the Tar Heels learned a few things about his young team.
He learned his team could forge a nearly successful comeback, as his Tar Heels chipped away at Butler’s 29-point second-half lead in Tuesday’s semifinal game. He learned that, sometimes, going with a smaller lineup can lead to some good things offensively for his squad.
“(The guys) learned that I can explode,” Williams said. “My first explosion of the year was last night at the first timeout.”
James Michael McAdoo nodded in agreement.
“Rest in peace to that clipboard,” he said.
But even though the Tar Heels (5-1) have played six games this season, the true character of the young squad is still unknown.
UNC hadn’t faced much adversity before beginning the Maui Invitational, and it didn’t find any in a 46-point win against an injury-depleted Mississippi State. North Carolina cowered at the first sight of it against Butler the next day before showing glimpses of a team that could overcome it.
Against Chaminade, a team that was 6-76 in the Maui Invitational before upsetting Texas on Monday, the Tar Heels again had little trouble asserting itself.
UNC found immediate success with 3-point shooting, finishing 9-for-12 in the first half from long-range. North Carolina had 24 fast-break points against the Silverswords, who allowed the Tar Heels to beat them in transition time and time again.
“They’ve been famous for it,” Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said about UNC’s transition game. “When their big guys get out and run and their wings run lanes and they go in several different sets out in transition, they’re tough to guard.
UNC, which shot 62 percent from the field, saw double-digit scoring from five different Tar Heels. James Michael McAdoo recorded his first double-double of the tournament, putting up a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds against the tournament’s host team.
How UNC responds to more evenly matched opponents might still be a mystery, but it doesn’t have long before the next test — perhaps its biggest of the season — rears its head.
The Tar Heels will take Thanksgiving Day and Friday off before preparing to take on No. 1-ranked Indiana in Bloomington, Ind., on Tuesday night. Williams concedes his team likely won’t know just what to expect from the Hoosiers until it gets there.
Until then, Williams and the rest of the Tar Heels will have their inconsistent Maui Invitational showing on which to reflect. A much-happier Williams was pleased, of course, to see his team finish with such a dramatic victory — UNC’s first 100-point game since Jan. 1.
But as he sat next to a table of Maui tournament trophies, none of which his team would be taking back to Chapel Hill, Williams couldn’t help but let out a sigh of disappointment.
“(The win) does make you feel better, but you also have that hurt that you know you didn’t play as well as you wanted to play all three days,” Williams said.
“We didn’t get what we wanted out of the tournament because we wanted to win the championship. We didn’t get what we wanted out of the tournament because we wanted to get better every day. We didn’t do that.”
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