Since the beginning of the season I wasn’t sold on UNC being a complete team to compete for a national title, but as the weeks have gone by and the more they meshed, I might be wrong. Luke May and Kenny Williams were pictured to be the heroes of this UNC team for their senior season, but I didn’t expect how vital a healthy Cam Johnson would be. Cam has exhibited everything you, the fan, and head coach Roy Williams would want in a leader on this young team. Johnson has averaged 16 points and 6 rebounds for the Tar Heels and has given every bit of himself on the court – leading this team in double figures in all 5 games. But shockingly, Johnson stated that everything you’re seeing isn’t anything new,
“Same as I always been. A little wiser, older and healthier. Experience goes a long way in this game. I feel like I’m the same just a little bit healthier.”
Coach Williams talked about Johnson’s importance to the team.
“Cam has had a good year, won defensive player of the week a few days ago. He’s been a great leader for us and I think making shots has him more enthused. He’s a complete player.”
But despite the win and hustle in play, Coach Williams was not impressed with the team defensively and their turnovers.
“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. The discouraging thing to me, we put them on free throw line too many times; in the first half alone, they had 16 to our 5. That’s not our game. Shot too many threes and didn’t make enough of them, but I do believe we will be a great three-point shooting team. The biggest frustration for me is the turnovers and putting them on the free throw line.
But what does coach see when turnovers happen?
“Not listening and not learning. Coach Smith always said turnovers are either, selfishness and carelessness and ours were half of both. If you want to be good, don’t turn the sucker over.”
One person he didn’t have to worry about missing many shots was freshman Nassir Little. Little coming off the bench has to be appreciated for what it is. His energy is unmatched and needed for this team. Throughout the game UNC can go through spurts where they look tired and seemingly sloppy, but when Little comes in the team and fans sit up straight. In the first half alone, Little had over half of the bench points with 9 – including a monstrous dunk with an assist from Kenny Williams that made the Dean Dome roar. Little finished the night with 19 and 7 while only missing one shot. Talk about a wild card. It seemed like Coach Williams liked the aggression he was seeing from Little, despite shortening his minutes. Coach Williams stated that Little was extremely active during the second half stretch, which was vital to the team maintaining their lead.
While it seems like the team is adjusted to each other and starting off the season strong, players and Coach Williams see major details to fix before this team can call themselves championship caliber, but as a fan, you have to be excited about what’s to come. Coach Williams is using an 11-man rotation – probably the most he’s ever used. He stated he likes to play a lot of guys to build depth, play them early and see what they’re capable of. And the way this bench is dropping points, Coach can’t be disappointed.
Up next UNC heads to Las Vegas for the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational to face off with Texas, Thursday Nov. 22 @ 7:30pm.