Exclusive excerpt: Davis makes technical adjustments

From TOGETHER: THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF THE 2021-2022 CAROLINA BASKETBALL SEASON by adam luke, Steve KirschnerY Matt Bowers. preface by Hubert Davis. Copyright © 2022 by Tobacco Road Media, Inc. Published by the University of North Carolina Athletic Department and distributed by UNC Press. Used with permission of the publisher.

The books are available to pre-order now using this link at a 40 percent discount; shipping should start at the end of this month.


Carolina’s turnaround this season wasn’t just team meetings and motivation.

The secondary break has been a staple of Tar Heel basketball since the Dean Smith era. The big man behind the shooting line has frustrated opponents for decades, just as a rear screen for an alley-oop dunk worked for Michael Jordan just as perfectly as it did for Vince Carter. Roy Williams remained fully committed to the high school throughout his tenure at Chapel Hill.

That philosophy continued, with some tweaking, in the early weeks of the Hubert Davis era. “We had modified it to fit our staff,” Davis said. “We didn’t have Tony Bradley there or Kennedy Meeks, where you just hit the post. We didn’t even have the 2021 team, where we had four bigs. So we had already tweaked the way we ran in the secondary.” .”

However, even more changes in personnel caused a much more significant change. When the short-handed Tar Heels attacked Boston College and Notre Dame, driving to the basket and creating better scoring opportunities, Carolina’s coaching staff realized the team was much more efficient playing a playful style. different. This was not a small adjustment. Basically, Tom Osborne got rid of the wishbone mid-season to install a run-and-gun attack.

“The secondary just wasn’t working out,” Davis said. “We weren’t getting anything out of it and we were losing 10 or 15 seconds off the shot clock. We went to play Boston College and we had three guys down, so I said just run 2K. We put two guys in the corner, two guys in the wings, and all five guys put up ball screens and rolled to the basket. And when we did, I thought, ‘Hey, this looks pretty good.'”

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The Tar Heels demolished Boston College with that offense and used it on occasion in a road loss at Notre Dame. The real test, however, came against standout defensive giant Virginia, when the Tar Heels decimated the Cavaliers, a program that had dominated Carolina head-to-head in recent seasons, 74–58 with a newly efficient offensive attack.

“If it can work against them, it can work against anybody,” Davis told aides. “And at the end of the year, we had no high school at all.”

It was an unprecedented switch to juggling the main offense midway through the season. But the Carolina players relied on their coach’s experience. “At the end of the day, Coach Davis has played 12 years in the league and succeeded.” caleb love said. “We had no choice but to trust him. He’s accomplished more than us. And he told us that we weren’t getting anything out of the secondary, that it wasn’t benefiting this year’s team. It could benefit next year’s team or team of the year.” past, but it just wasn’t for us. For me, making that change and adjusting the whole offense was amazing to me. The way that he and this staff can make certain plays on the fly and make them work right away is crazy. We were a sinking team. And he fixed it.”

Titular Guards Love and rj davis they were very excited about a change that would put the ball in their hands more often, creating driving opportunities and allowing them to make decisions. It was a more difficult proposition for arming bacotCarolina’s star, whose game was based on receiving the ball near the rim.

“I knew secondary was my bread and butter,” Bacot said. “I wasn’t used to putting up screens and rolling. I knew that meant I was going to have to change my game a little bit. There were times when I didn’t get the ball when I was used to getting it, and I was in my feelings a little bit. I had to look at myself in the mirror and realizing that was not in the best interest of the team. This was going to force me to change my game, to do screen reads and roll, in a way that was going to help me to the next level. And it was going to help our team. Coach Davis revolutionized our offense in the middle of the season.”

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It was a high-risk strategy. Voluntarily removing Bacot from the low block seemed to weaken Carolina’s strongest offensive asset. Neither Love nor Davis had yet shown they had the distribution mentality of a point guard. Sending six foot nine brady manek away from the basket was a move that went against much of Carolina’s basketball tradition, which was based on big men scoring a high percentage of shots near the rim.

Hubert Davis was not worried.

“I wasn’t scared, because the changes we were making weren’t unknown to me,” the head coach said. “We were using our guys the wrong way. We were throwing the ball to Brady and telling him to get on the post and hold his position. That’s not him. He can finish around the basket, but he has to be moving. He has to be moving.” setting up a screen and rolling or receiving the ball on a pick and pop.

“I know this sounds weird, but that’s how I played when I was the JV coach. That’s the way I love to play. I love to score points in the paint. But my time with ESPN, my time in the NBA and my time the JV coach showed me there are other ways to get points in the paint there are other ways to get fouled and get to the free throw line we don’t have any bigs on the JV team so that’s the way we I played. I knew what we were doing. And I knew it would work.”

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