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Taking at look at UNC and Duke’s men’s basketball thus far

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold
The Truth Network Radio
January 16, 2024 3:56 pm

Taking at look at UNC and Duke’s men’s basketball thus far

The Adam Gold Show / Adam Gold

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January 16, 2024 3:56 pm

Brendan Marks, The Athletic, on UNC and Duke’s men’s basketball teams and how they’ve been performing thus far in the season.

Is UNC more defense first now compared to how they’re usually set up? What is the catalyst to that defense? How can UNC improve this season? What is Duke doing right now that’s pretty much the inverse of what UNC is doing? If Brendan had to pick UNC or Duke to make the final four right now, who would he go with? Is Filipowski even guardable?


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I am trying to sell this. I am trying to make this happen. I want people to start talking about North Carolina as a defense dominant team. The offense to me, second, the defense is where they make their bones. And let's start there with Brendan Marks from The Athletic, who covers the Carolina Tar Heels, also covers Duke.

We can kill two birds or two ACC basketball teams with one basketball here. Am I wrong or is it just a run of their defense right now? No, you are not wrong.

You are completely correct. And, you know, North Carolina's defense right now, it's not just that this is a defensive first team over North Carolina's last six games. It is first in the country in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency, better than Houston, better than Iowa State, better than anybody else.

And it's pretty staggering now for the season. UNC is a top five defensive team, which especially considering the last two years when they finished outside of the top 35 is a huge improvement. This is easily the best defense Hubert Davis has had. And it's the reason why North Carolina is winning games in this six game winning streak. They've held every single opponent under their season long points scored. They've held their opponents under their season long field goal percentage. And for the most part, they've held their opponents, especially the last four games under their season long three point percentage. So yeah, definitely defense first and at times defense only. And that's been more than good enough to win games. Yeah. And that's look, it's college basketball.

If you're only going to have one element, maybe that's the better one to have because you can figure out a way to get other points. Cause I thought against NC State, I thought, especially in the second half, their offense was not pretty, but they managed to get points, either get into the free throw line or in transition there, they didn't do a ton in the half court. And I was, I was very impressed with the way they played. I thought state also kind of rushed a little bit, but I also think that their defense forces you into that. So what is the, what is the catalyst for that defense and the change we've seen over the last couple of years? Well, funny enough, I'm going to direct you to the tomorrow morning.

We'll have a story breaking it all down. The cliff, the cliff notes version is this after UNC lost the Kentucky, that's a game where the coaching staff and the players all kind of agreed that UNC had gotten bullied. And so they kind of went back to the defensive drawing board since then, Pat Sullivan, who, uh, played on, you know, a couple of different UNC final four teams was a long time NBA assistant.

He is UNC defacto defensive coordinator. And so there are a couple of changes UNC has made. Number one, they stopped doing as much switching. So if you are watching any, you know, random UNC possession this year, you will still see some switching, especially, you know, UNC did a nice job of it at times against Syracuse, but by and large, especially off the ball, you're going to see UNC players sticking to one man specifically that is intentional. Um, UNC does start to six foot guards and RG Davis and Elliot Cadeau, right?

If you are constantly switching those guys, teams are going to hunt them as mismatches, which they were doing and exploit that. Um, and then the other big thing is defensive rebounding. UNC has been much better defensive rebounding.

And as you saw firsthand against NC state Harrison Ingram has been a big, big reason why I thought it was interesting. After the Syracuse game on Saturday, he was explaining, this is the first time in his career he's ever played power forward. He's usually been a three before and lower levels of basketball. And so rebounding from a four, when you're really mucking it up with big guys in the paint is a lot different than just flying in from the perimeter as a three, trying to grab a loose board. So his improvement has been huge for UNC. And those are two of the big ways that Tar Heels has improved. I'm going to overlook the fact that you just called Stanford a lower level of basketball.

That's fine. Uh, Brendan marks from the athletic is joining us here on the, I don't know why that caught my ear, but it did. Um, it's interesting. You say Caroline is not switching if I, and I want to get back to Carolina in a, in a second here, but Duke changed their defense by switching, right? Didn't they?

Yeah. Well, Duke is doing a couple of things right now. It's actually kind of the inverse of last season, which is wild. I mean, last year, when we thought about Duke, we thought about, you know, this long balling defensive team. And this year Duke, quite frankly, their defense has been fine, but it hasn't been anything exceptional.

Has it been anything to write home about? They're basically about where UNC has been the last two years. It's been Duke offensively where they've been so good. Some of that kind of forced through a couple of different injuries, but, um, again, similarly, what we've seen is a big improvement in terms of defensive rebounding at Duke, especially from a guy like Jared McCain, who at six foot three is one of the better pound for pound rebounders, you know, that Duke has. Um, so in that respect, yes, there is some overlap between the two.

It is interesting. All right, real quick, back to, back to North Carolina. And this is also, I guess, about Duke because I heard, uh, so Rob Doster on, uh, Field to 68, uh, the, uh, the, basically it's a daily podcast about college hoops, Jeff Goodman runs and all that. And he actually thought that Duke might have a higher ceiling than North Carolina based on what Duke's potential is.

I don't know. I think North Carolina's defense is good enough. Like I would put their defense right now in the same way. We would talk about Virginia's defense, um, in terms of we can shut you down.

And I think our offense can be better that I think that they are final for good. The pack therapy podcast is in session. Tim Donnelly here, host of the drive in your guide for pack therapy. Every episode is your chance to score inside information on the pack. We set you up for Wolfpack games all season long, and we break down the ACC competition. What to watch for as we roll towards the tournament madness, plus special guests to keep your Wolfpack hope alive.

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No purchase necessary. I agree with you. I think, you know, I, right now, based on where both teams are, I think that, you know, both Duke and North Carolina are top 10 teams in the country. Um, but I would agree with you right now, if I had to pick only one of the two to have a better chance of making it to the final four, I probably would pick North Carolina right now because they have had this defensive turnaround. I think the thing that's been so impressive is like, they are playing against teams who maybe you're not the best three point shooting teams.

And then Dave was just one example of that. Like that is true, but they are running guys off the three point line and their ball screen coverages have been awesome. And the thing that I think gives UNC a better ability to survive in a single elimination format than Duke potentially is because there are teams that Duke is going to inherently struggle with because of its roster construction. You know, with Mark Mitchell out on Saturday, Duke started four guards. This is a team that has struggled at various points this season when it has played against athletic longer teams, Georgia tech, maybe not the best team in the world, but they're the top 25 in terms of size for their average starter.

So they have length, they have athleticism. We saw that Kwasi Reeves dunk, and that's a team that has consistently given Duke problems just because they don't have many guys in that mold. John Shire has intentionally built his roster this year where it's predicated on the three guards. And now at times four guards with Mark Mitchell out and ball movement and three point shooting and pace, and that's fine. And that's won a lot of games and two clubs awesome right now. But in the NCAA tournament, I find it more likely that Duke is going to come up against the team that has, you know, the inherent makeup against them problems versus North Carolina has now shut down a variety of different teams in a variety of different ways. And even in the games that it lost, especially to Villanova and to Kentucky, where it played pretty badly, quite honestly, it still had an opportunity to win those games.

Those were both two possession games. So I just really like North Carolina ceiling. RJ Davis looks like an all American. Armando Baycott is finally getting back to some of the garbage man work that he used to do two seasons ago. There is a lot to like about this UNC team.

All right. You mentioned RJ Davis, so we don't have to get into that. He's one of the best players in the country.

He would be the front runner for the ACC player of the year had Kyle Philipowski not also been in the ACC. I mean, if like, I don't expect flip to be a 44% three point shooter or, or, or higher or whatever he's been the last couple of games. But if he shoots 40% from three point range, is he guardable? He's not really.

And to be honest with you. So he's now hit four threes in both of Duke's last two games. And he's done that despite some roster continuity issues around him, right? Even if he suddenly misses his next 10 threes in a row, which it doesn't look like is going to be the case. What he's now done is on the scouting report when teams are looking at how do we defend Duke?

It says you have to close out on Kyle Philipowski with a sense of urgency. And when you do that, he's not the fastest guy in the world, but he is a good enough ball handler. And he is crafty enough that he can sidestep those closeouts. He can get into the lane, he can get downhill, he can get to the free throw line. And that's how he ends up having a career high, like he did on Saturday with 30 points. So even the three point shooting is obviously awesome. I like you expected to come back down to earth a little bit, but he has shown enough now that the scouting report on him has to change.

And that in itself is inherently valuable. And then again, when he is making those shots, like, no, I don't know how you guard him. Because when he gets in the post, he's showing he can pass out of it.

He can score one on one, he can score in transition, he's good at the free throw line. When he's knocking down threes to just like, good luck, you have to make somebody else on Duke beach. And but real real quick, the injuries to Mitchell and Roach. What's the latest on that? Yeah, it sounds like it's probably going to be a bit of a longer recovery for Mark Mitchell than Jeremy Roach.

This is now a recurring issue for Mark Mitchell. He missed some time for the obviously missed the Tennessee game Duke season ending loss last year with a knee injury. Miss some time earlier this year with a knee injury was away from the team a little bit this summer getting some treatment for the knee injury, and now he's back with a knee injury.

So this is one that's been a couple it's popped up a couple of different times. And so I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up missing a couple of games. Jeremy Roach, on the other hand, you know, he played through turf toe last year has shown to have a high pain tolerance throughout his career. John Shire said on the ACC teleconference that he's basically day to day sounds like there's a chance that he could play this weekend. But I'm not expecting his injury to be as lengthy as Mark Mitchell's for sure. But Duke's going to need Mark Mitchell back soon. Clemson comes to town next weekend, and that's a big game. No question about that.

Brendan Marks from The Athletic. I appreciate your time, my man. We appreciate you having me. We'll check out the piece on Carolina's defense on The Athletic. We've done that a couple of times. I've asked you a question about a piece that I didn't even know you had written and you had written it.

Maybe we think alike. That's awesome. I appreciate your time, man. I appreciate you.

What I'm hearing is that I'm too slow a writer but carry out. Oh, man. Let's see. We were we're reading into things at Brendan R Marks on Twitter. All right, real quick. I want to get to before we get to Dan Wieder.

I do want to get to the what we saw this weekend. And it shocked me that Georgia Tech was eight Nate. Now, sometimes you get to you just have somebody's number and you look at that team and you go, oh, we're going to be fine. And I really thought Georgia Tech was going to be fine in that game. The way that the way that was it was being played out. It was absolutely amazing how Duke could not stop them. Now, they also hit some shots that were kind of are you serious? That went in a bang three, a bunch of contested long twos that went.

So it was just one of those days. But I also do think that Brendan makes a really good point about Georgia Tech's length. I think Arkansas had similar length to against Duke, although Mark Mitchell was playing in that game.

But it'll be interesting to see if Duke's defense can improve. Hello, it is Ryan and we could all use an extra bright spot in our day, couldn't we? Just to make up for things like sitting in traffic, doing the dishes, counting your steps, you know, all the mundane stuff. That is why I'm such a big fan of Chumba Casino. Chumba Casino has all your favorite social casino style games that you can play for free anytime, anywhere with daily bonuses. That should brighten your day low, actually a lot. So sign up now at That's
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-16 19:25:08 / 2024-01-16 19:31:40 / 7

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