Carolina/Dook Round 2

I had to take a little break from basketball analysis due to work, illness, school, etc. But I’m back, because there’s another big game tomorrow night. While all the hoopla centers on whether Zion will play or not play let’s take a look at the numbers!

First, an update on the KenPom ratings graphic. Since we were last here two weeks ago Carolina has improved in efficiency margin by about 1 total point and Dook has come crashing back to earth losing about 5 points (!) in Zion’s absence. As always you can view my full interactive chart on Plot.ly. But here’s a snapshot:

Rather than being 9 points apart the teams are now only 4 points apart, but trending in opposite directions. So let’s take a look at that hoop-math.com data. It would appear that, as expected, most of Zion’s usage has been split between Reddish and Barrett with Tre Jones seeing a slight bump. Jack White and Marques Bolden haven’t really benefited much offensively from Zion’s extended rest.

NameFGA Before 2/20Usage Before 2/20FGA TotalTotal Usage
Barrett, RJ46228.45%56029.08%
Reddish, Cam29217.98%36218.80%
Williamson, Zion31919.64%31916.56%
Jones, Tre18511.39%23111.90%
White, Jack986.03%1216.28%
Bolden, Marques895.48%1065.50%

Meanwhile the Heels continue to be a very balanced offense. The numbers overall are nearly identical to what they were heading into the game on Feb. 20.

NameFGA before 2/20Usage before 2/20FGA TotalUsage Total
Maye, Luke29517.79%36818.45%
White, Coby28717.31%35517.79%
Johnson, Cameron27116.34%34117.09%
Williams, Kenny18411.10%22011.03%
Little, Nassir17810.74%21810.93%
Brooks, Garrison1519.11%1778.87%

If we take a look at the two teams effective field goal percentage one thing jumps out.

NameeFG%NameeFG%
Barrett, RJ51.40%Maye, Luke48.10%
Reddish, Cam46.70%White, Coby53.70%
Williamson, Zion70.50%Johnson, Cameron63.50%
Jones, Tre44.80%Williams, Kenny48.00%
White, Jack49.20%Little, Nassir49.30%
Bolden, Marques60.40%Brooks, Garrison56.50%
O’Connell, Alex61.20%

Barrett and Reddish perhaps should be dishing the ball a bit more to Bolden and O’Connell. But if they do realize that, hopefully, they’ll wait until after tomorrow night. The Heels eFG% just goes to show how many ways they can hurt you. It’s a good sign that they can score in the post, on the drive, or on the perimeter with a variety of players.

A lot of others have made note of Tre Jones’s shooting woes – and they are correct. That eFG% is pulled up by shots at the rim (59%) and killed by his jumpers – 35.8% 2’s and 25.4% 3’s. All that is to say, Jones will probably hit six 3’s against the Heels tomorrow night because that’s the way these things usually go.

One last chart for the two teams. Let’s see if you can guess which team belongs on which chart. This is how other teams score against the defense:

Shot Type% of ShotsFG%% of Shots BlockedUnblocked FG%
At Rim27.4%65.7%7.8%71.3%
2pt Jumpers30.2%30.6%10.3%34.1%
3pt Shots42.4%33.5%0.9%33.8%
Shot Type% of ShotsFG%% of Shots BlockedUnblocked FG%
At Rim37.9%55.9%16.0%66.6%
2pt Jumpers27.8%30.3%13.0%34.8%
3pt Shots34.3%28.7%2.6%29.5%

Did you guess? That the Heels on top and Dook on the bottom. This really goes to show that the Heels absolutely OWN the paint. Which may sound odd given that their opponents are making nearly 68% of their shots at the rim, but they’re only taking 27% of their shots at the rim. The Heels are making up for their lack of shot blockers this year by denying other teams from even getting the ball in the paint.

Dook on the other gives up a lot of shots at the rim – more than even 3’s.
And, it seems that no one shoots the 3 well against Dook. Also, the numbers you see above are for the full season, so the shot blocking belongs mostly to Zion before the injury. I didn’t catch these stats back in February, but if I had, I’d have probably been more confident about the Heels chances heading into to the game. It would seem that Dook’s particular weaknesses play right into the hands of the Heels strengths – they like to play fast, they give up a lot of shots at the rim (Heels offensive rebounding is stellar) and Dook turns it over at a higher rate with Zion out.

All this is really to say that I think the keys to the game are nearly identical to the last game whether Zion plays or not. 1) Don’t turn the ball over and keep Dook in the half-court, 2) lay off Jones and help out on Barrett and Reddish forcing them to take contested jumpers rather than get to the rim. 3) POUND THE BALL INSIDE ON OFFENSE – even if Zion plays take the ball to him and force him into fouls.

Years of this rivalry have taught me that I should never feel comfortable going into a Carolina/Dook game. This one is no different. Despite the result from two weeks ago, despite the numbers looking to be in the Heels favor, despite being at home on senior night…I just have the uneasy feeling that Dook could pull this one out in excruciating fashion. I sure hope not.

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