Lucas: Making the Adjustments – University of North Carolina Athletics

By Adam Lucas

NEW ORLEANS — Carolina is officially in New Orleans, with the team arriving Wednesday night for a few days of practice and media duties ahead of Saturday’s Final Four showdown with Duke.

Much of the story for the next 48 hours will revolve around the Tar Heels’ midseason turnaround and closing kick that saw Carolina win 12 of the last 14 games and 16 of the last 19. To put that into perspective, the last Tar Heel team to earn a spot in the Final Four, the 2017 National Champions, entered the Final Four with three losses in the last 13 games and four losses in the last 16 games. Carolina is very hot in 2022.

You’ll be hearing a lot from here to Saturday night about how Hubert Davis revolved around the season with patience and positivity. And it’s true, he’s always set the right emotional tone since that blistering loss to Wake Forest.

But describing him as some sort of Ted Lasso wannabe misses a very important point: Davis really, really knows how to coach. Yes, he managed his team well emotionally. But Davis and his team also gave the Tar Heels plenty of technical advice.

Compare the footage from last month’s Carolina game to the first month of the season and you’ll see almost two different teams. The secondary break was a Roy Williams staple but has now been almost completely dropped. Beginning in mid-January, Davis and his coaching staff began to assess what worked best for that particular team’s personnel, and then they did something groundbreaking: they did more.

“Coach Davis is a master,” says Armand Bacot, who benefited from some of the offensive adjustments. “I see teams stealing our sets all the time. I watch a game and I’m like, ‘Dang, they’re running our games.'”

Davis discussed some of the changes as soon as he was hired. He wanted an offense that could spread the ground and a strong attacker who would need defenses to protect him all over the pitch. Not even Davis knew, however, that the perfect person for his offense was currently in Oklahoma.

by Brady Manek Arriving at Chapel Hill gave Davis the shooter he wanted and gave Bacot the room he needed to operate – and demanded that the defenses cover enough ground for Bacot to work against single defenders at the place of double teams. An in-season adjustment to put the ball back in the hands of RD Davis more frequently allowed the Tar Heel offense to use high ball screens and take advantage of what Bacot does best: rolling to the basket and creating an offense moving to the edge.

And it’s not as simple as Manek standing around the three-point line while Bacot dominates in the paint. Davis has shown a willingness to lead the offense through the hot hand, as he did last weekend in Philadelphia when Caleb Love caught fire in the second half against UCLA.

The Tar Heels have always run some of their favorite sets, including a look to get Manek a three-pointer on a timeout. But tied at 64 with less than 90 seconds left, Davis called a set designed to give Love a perimeter look – the second swept a three-pointer and Carolina never trailed again. Not bad for a coach, a national columnist ranked the 16th best coach among Sweet 16 coaches and who received just one vote for ACC Coach of the Year, both of which seem laughable now.

“The speed of things we do, Coach Davis is a master,” Bacot said. “Fans who aren’t in the squad won’t always see it. The plays Coach Davis calls and the things we do at the right time are always perfect.”

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