We’re 10 games into a season that optimistic Tar Heel fans hope will go the full 40 (31 regular season games + 3 ACCT + 6 NCAAT). Through the season’s opening quarter, Carolina’s adjusted defensive efficiency places 11th in the country– a slight drop from last year’s final ranking of 6th. This post will try to shine some light on which UNC defenders are already in mid-season form, and which ones are still trying to shake off that early-season rust.
|2012 (1st 10 games)
|Pts. All. / 40
|Deflections / 40
|Forced TOs /40
|Off. Fouls Drawn / 40
|Denies / 40
Marshall, now firmly entrenched as a starter, is being game-planned against and attacked like one. Teams are challenging him more on the defensive end, hoping to exploit his relative lack of lateral quickness. After being involved (from a defensive charting perspective) in 15.5% of defensive possessions while on the court last season, that number has jumped to 17.5% this year. That, in conjunction with a drop in Stop% from 58.9 to 53.8, has resulted in Marshall allowing 14.6 points / 40– up from 10.7 as a freshman. Part of the reason for Marshall’s lower Stop% might involve some tactical decisions by Roy Williams. Marshall saw significant defensive minutes against both Jordan Taylor and Casper Ware– the types of assignments that might be increasingly handled by Strickland as the games get more and more important.
New readers –
This is launch week on Tobacco Road Blues, the new site dedicated to Duke and UNC sports. This afternoon's post comes from Adrian Atkinson, a contributing writer. He'll be covering UNC sports, and basketball in particular. If you're interested in writing for TRB, follow the contact link to the right. Enjoy.
A Quantitative Look at Defensive Development in the Carolina System
Conventional wisdom declares that experience matters in college basketball, especially on the defensive end of the court. While effective defense is a function of myriad physical traits—lateral quickness, length/wingspan, and strength, to name three—it is also heavily dependent on a player’s mental attributes. The ability to communicate with teammates, to make crisp and timely help rotations, and to execute the nuances of a complicated defensive scheme are all things that can be mastered irrespective of a player’s level of athleticism. But they can rarely be mastered without a healthy dose of experience. Shared court time with teammates—both on the practice floor and in game situations—is essential for developing the type of defensive IQ and chemistry that all championship-caliber teams have.
Moreover, there is an interaction effect between a player’s experience and his physical traits. By reacting instinctively rather than thinking, a defender can gain a half-step of quickness that might be the difference between a successful help rotation and an unsuccessful one. On the other hand, a player who is not yet acclimated with a defensive scheme can often look paralyzed with indecision on the court. This lack of experience and defensive understanding can erroneously manifest itself as a lack of quickness or effort.