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Jackson & Berry: Best-Shooting UNC Duo Ever?

Jackson & Berry: Best-Shooting UNC Duo Ever?

Justin Jackson and Joel Berry combined to make 6-of-11 3-pointers in the big home win over Florida State. That’s nothing new, though—that combo is shooting 41.5% (88-212) from behind the arc this season on a healthy 11.8 attempts per game (accounting for the two games that Berry missed). So how does that compare to the greatest Carolina 3-point shooting tandems of all-time?

To answer that question, let’s use Points Above Replacement Shooter (PARS), a metric that combines shooting efficiency and shooting volume. It assumes a replacement-level 3-point shooter makes 30.0% of his shots and, unlike here where we used PARS/1,000 minutes, we’ll use PARS / game for this analysis. All 3-point attempts per game are pace-adjusted.

As seen in the table, Berry and Jackson are currently third on UNC’s all-time list for combined PARS / game for a pair of teammates. While it will be difficult to maintain their lofty percentages as the schedule continues to intensify, it’s a safe bet that this duo will remain in the top 5 on this list all season. We’ll keep an eye on this leaderboard as the season progresses, but it’s safe to say that the Berry/Jackson combo has exceeded even the most optimistic Tar Heel fan’s expectations in terms of 3-point shooting.

I’m charting the exciting win over the Seminoles this evening, and will be posting a game story at some point this weekend. So stay tuned for that.

Justin Jackson’s Development as a Shooter

Justin Jackson’s Development as a Shooter

After making just 1.17 3-pointers / 40 minutes at a rate of 29.7% through his first two collegiate campaigns, Justin Jackson has improved those numbers to 3.17 and 38.7% after 17 games of his junior season. Both his 3-point volume (per-40) and efficiency have significantly increased season-over-season—a testament to the feedback he received from NBA scouts, and the hard work he put in all summer. But just how rare is it for a Tar Heel to make the type of perimeter improvement that Jackson has this year? Let’s dig deeper into the data to answer that question.

For the sake of this analysis, we’ll look at two primary numbers: 1.) 3-point percentage (efficiency) and 2.) pace-adjusted 3-point attempts per 40 minutes (usage/volume). In Jackson’s case, his season-by-season marks in these metrics are:

Using these two concepts of 3-point proficiency, we can create a metric called Points Above Replacement Shooter per 1,000 Minutes—or PARS/1000. Since 2002, the national average has hovered between 33.9% and 35.1%. The average for those seasons in 34.5%. For the sake of this analysis, we’ll consider a “replacement-level” shooter to be one who connects on 30% of his 3s. While that number is somewhat arbitrary, it doesn’t make a difference for the sake of the rankings/ordering. Alternatively, we could use the concept of an average shooter here rather than a replacement-level one, too. 1,000 minutes is used because a.) it’s a round number, and b.) it’s about the number of minutes an average collegiate starter will play in a season (35 games at 26.6 MPG).

Jackson’s PARS/1000 this season can be computed as follows:

  • 7.62 3-pointers per 40 minutes –> 190.5 3-pointers per 1,000 minutes
  • a replacement-level shooter would score 171.5 points on those attempts (190.5 * 0.300 * 3)
  • Jackson would score 221.2 points on those attempts (190.5 * 0.387 * 3)
  • thus, Jackson has a PARS/1000 of 49.7 (221.2 – 171.5)

As a sophomore, Jackson’s PARS/1000 was actually negative (since he fell slightly below the 30% mark) at -2.5. Thus, his season-over-season change in this metric was (49.7 – (-2.5)) = +52.2. So how does that mark compare historically to other UNC shooters? Let’s take a look at the table below:

The major assumption used here is that a player must log at least 10 minutes/game in each of the seasons for which the PARS/1000 change is being measured. This will ensure that we’re only including players who were in the rotation in both years of the comparison. It excludes the freshman-to-sophomore leaps of some memorable UNC shooters like Hubert Davis, Donald Williams, Shammond Williams (and Kenny Williams this season), as well as Wes Miller’s sophomore-to-junior jump and Pearce Landry’s junior-to-senior one. If we were to raise the minutes/game threshold to 15, Jackson would actually climb to No. 2 on the list behind Okulaja (Hairston and Curry played 13.0 MPG as freshmen, McDonald played 10.3, and Graves (prior to his suspension) played 11.2 as a sophomore).

The players on this list can be split into three primary buckets:

  1. Those who improved both their 3-point volume and efficiency significantly. This includes (at least to date) Jackson and Berry this season. It also includes Britt’s jump between his freshman and sophomore seasons (a time period in which—stop me if you’ve heard this one—he actually changed shooting hands!). Others on this list include McDonald, Okulaja, Graves, Stackhouse, Cota, Paige, and Jawad Williams.
  2. Those who improve their 3-point efficiency significantly. This group includes Hairston, Curry, Felton, Calabria, Bullock (twice!), Davis, Boone, Green, Lawson, and Donald Williams. For some on this list (notably, Curry, Calabria, and FR-to-SO Bullock), 3-point volume actually went down (as part of a volume-efficiency trade-off). For some (Felton, Boone, Green, D. Williams) it went up slightly. For some (Hairston, SO-to-JR Bullock, Davis, Lawson), it stayed nearly the same. In all cases, it was the increase in 3Pt% rather than an increase in the volume that was driving the improvement.
  3. Those who increase their 3-point volume significantly while maintaining a high percentage. This is the rarest type on the list, including just Fox, Bucknall, Scott, and Noel. Scott moved from point guard as a freshman to off the ball (alongside Felton) as a sophomore. Noel’s volume increased to help compensate for the losses of Felton, McCants, Scott, and Jawad/Marvin Williams from the ’05 champs. Fox and Bucknall likewise stepped up as upperclassmen to help fill perimeter voids (the loss of Ranzino Smith in Bucknall’s case, and the losses of Lebo/Bucknall in Fox’s).

In the offseason, I’ll play around a little more with this data (career PARS/1000 leaders, categorizing UNC’s historical 3-point shooters into buckets by career shooting progression, etc.). For the remainder of this season, the ability of Jackson and Berry to maintain their places on this list will help to determine just how special Carolina’s season ends up being. The Heels will need both to continue being high-volume, high-efficiency options from behind the arc.

An interesting aside about Jackson’s 3-point shooting in 2017: he continues to be significantly more effective from the left side of the floor than the right side from the perimeter (and as a penetrator too, actually; his floater percentage from the left paint is much better than from the right paint). Here are his 3-point splits by shot location:

  • right corner: 25.0% (2-8)
  • right wing: 20.0% (6-30)
  • top of the key: 44.4% (8-18)
  • left wing: 51.3% (20-39)
  • left corner: 45.5% (5-11)

Or, summing those up: 21.1% from the right side (on 38 attempts) and 50.0% from the left side (on 50 attempts). The top of the key was right about in the middle percentage-wise (and, you know, shooting-wise) until Jackson hit 2-of-2 there against NC State to bump that percentage until the mid-40s. Just something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.


The Understated Elegance of Justin Jackson

The Understated Elegance of Justin Jackson

Justin Jackson’s game has never been flashy. Rather than explosive leaping ability or a lightning-quick first step, he relies on quick-release, odd-angle craftiness to score in the paint. Instead of blowing by or powering through to get to the rim, he’s more likely to use a subtle cut or baseline flash to receive a pass for a close score.

That said, as Jackson continues to add legitimate 3-point range to his scoring arsenal, he’s now too good offensively to fly under the radar. He’s developed into a legitimate alpha scorer, but the rarest of alphas who can dominate a game without dominating the ball. Let’s break down Jackson’s 28-point, 5-assist masterpiece against Monmouth to see how he’s creating his opportunities.

These are listed chronologically—video would be great here, of course, and hopefully I can go back (when I have more time) and edit some of these posts to include video clips.

1st Half: 6-9 FGs, 5-7 3Pt, 0-0 FTs, 17 points, 3:0 A:TO

  • Missed 2-pointer: With the Heels focusing on pounding the paint early, Jackson didn’t get his first look until UNC’s seventh possession. A contested catch-and-shoot 18-footer from the left-elbow extended, it came in the freelance passing game after he set a back-screen for Isaiah Hicks, then curled to receive a pass from Kenny Williams. Jackson was falling away a bit on this shot, and mid-range jumpers (of the non-floater variety) remain the one glaring weakness of his offensive game. He’s now 0-of-3 on catch-and-shoot mid-range jumpers, and 0-for-7 on off-the-dribble mid-range jumpers. Overall, Jackson’s just 1-13 (7.7%) from between 10 and 20 feet this season.
  • Assist: Jackson’s first assist came on a secondary break lob to Kennedy Meeks, who received a Nate Britt back-screen after reversing the ball to Jackson on the left wing. Good Britt screen, and a typically well-delivered pass by Jackson.
  • Made 3-pointer: It took five minutes of game time for Jackson to crack the scoring column, but he did so by hitting a secondary break 3 from the left wing (his sweet spot—now 16-31 (51.6%) on left-wing 3s this year). This one was set up by a Meeks ball screen, and Jackson knocked it down off the bounce (he’s now 4-of-5 on off-the-dribble 3s this year). The ability to hit 3s off the dribble when defenders go under ball screens is a big addition to his offensive repertoire. Jackson passed Brian Reese for 63rd on UNC’s all-time scoring list with this hoop.
  • Made 3-pointer: Two possessions later, Jackson hit another 3—this time after receiving an inside-out diagonal pass from Luke Maye in UNC’s freelance motion. Britt threw the entry pass to Maye on the left block to earn the hockey assist. Jackson’s now just 6-22 (28.6%) on right-wing 3s this year. Monmouth didn’t double the post, but Jackson’s man sagged/over-helped on the weak-side to allow the diagonal pass when Maye looked opposite. Over-helping in the paint at the expense of defending the 3: must have been something that King Rice picked up in his Carolina days (just kidding… kind of).
  • Assist: Following a BLOB ball reversal, Jackson hit Tony Bradley (who created a strong seal in the post) with a tough-angle, bounce-pass entry. This was a really good (and subtly tricky) post delivery, and led to an “and-1” when Bradley hit a contested jump-hook. Jackson’s been UNC’s best post entry passer all season (8.9 entries / 40 with a Success:Failure of 1.68 entering the Monmouth game), and this pass was a terrific example of why.
  • Made 3-pointer: This entire defense-to-offense sequence showed the value of Jackson. After making a good help-the-helper rotation (after Bradley helped when Hicks allowed dribble penetration) to force a steal, Jackson pushed the break himself. After hitting Bradley (the trailing big) in secondary, Jackson immediately received a handoff and knocked down a deep (24′ or so) top-of-the-key 3. He’s now 5-13 (38.5%) this season on 3s from this location. For those keeping track, within a 5-possession span, Jackson hit: a 3-pointer from the left wing, the right wing, and the top of the key. He also hit one off the dribble, one off a handoff, and one following an inside-out pass.
  • Missed 3-pointer: After resting for a couple minutes, Jackson immediately launched a 3 in his first possession back on the floor. Cory Alexander correctly identified this one as a “heat check,” and it was created via a routine BLOB entry by Berry to the right corner. This one was well-contested, and Jackson was again leaning back/falling away a bit on the release. He’s shooting 2-7 (28.6%) on right-corner 3s this year.
  • Made 2-pointer: As the small-ball 4 against a zone defense, Jackson was working the baseline/low post with Meeks operating in the high post. As he does so well, a cutting Jackson found an opening near the rim to receive a right-block entry from Berry for an easy 4-footer. A good Carolina possession against the zone defense.
  • Made 3-pointer: On the very next possession (still as a 4), Jackson created a Berry 3-pointer with a drive-and-kick pass. After the Berry miss, Williams tipped out the rebound which was saved by a Britt hustle play on the floor. As the loose-ball scramble was won by Britt, Jackson re-located to his favorite spot (the left wing) and hit a 3-pointer following a Berry pass. Jackson moved by John Henson for 62nd on UNC’s career scoring list with this basket. He also passed Ed Cota into 28th place with his 94th career 3-pointer.
  • Made 3-pointer: On the next possession (still as a 4), Jackson, the trailing big, received a simple secondary break reversal pass from Britt and drilled a clean top-of-the-key 3. This is why Jackson is such a dangerous offensive weapon as a small-ball 4. He can hit that 3 when trailing, or get to the rim off the dribble if an opposing 4 closes out on him to deny it. The three possessions just described were literally the only ones in which Jackson played the 4 versus Monmouth. And he scored eight points on them! The 8-0 Jackson run stretched UNC’s lead to 19 at 41-22. On the season, Jackson has now scored 65 points (including 9-21 on 3s) in 78.9 minutes as a small-ball 4—that’s an incredible 33.0 points / 40 minutes. With this basket, he moved past Jeff McInnis on the career scoring list.
  • Assist: In his first possession back at the 3 after a quick stint on the bench, Jackson found a screen-slipping Hicks for an open dunk. This slip-screen action has been a staple of Carolina’s secondary break for decades, and several of Jackson’s team-high seven assisted dunks have come on this very option.
  • Missed 3-pointer: Monmouth was back in its zone on this possession, and Jackson received a pass on the right wing from Hicks during the secondary ball reversal. After shot-faking to get the defender to fly by, Jackson created a clean 3 with one hard dribble to the left but was unable to knock it down (his first missed 3 off the dribble of the season).

2nd Half: 3-5 FGs, 1-2 3Pt, 4-4 FTs, 11 points, 2:2 A:TO

  • Made 2-pointer: Jackson’s only floater of the game, this one was created following BLOB freelance action. He curled off a Meeks screen to receive a Williams pass, then took two hard dribbles with his left hand before hitting a righty floater from about 8 feet. It was attempted from the left side of the court, an area where Jackson’s made 10 of 15 shots this year (almost all of them floaters). From the analogous location on the right side, Jackson’s made only 5 of 13. Overall, he’s connected on 46.7% (14-30) of his patented floaters on the season.
  • Made 3-pointer: Following a missed Meeks foul shot, Hicks tapped out the rebound and Berry found Jackson open in the left corner against a scrambled defense. He’s now 4-8 (50.0%) on left-corner 3s this year. Jackson had now attempted around-the-horn 3s (both corners, both wings, and the top of the key) against Monmouth, hitting one from each spot except the right corner. This basket capped off a 6-point possession (2 Berry FTs on the technical, followed by a Meeks FT, then the Jackson 3 on the tip-out). After a defensive stop, UNC scored 5 points (4 Berry FTs, plus a Meeks FT) on its very next possession. This rapidly extended a 10-point Carolina lead (56-46) to 21 points (67-46), effectively ending Monmouth’s upset bid. Jackson tied Wes Miller for 27th in UNC history with his 96th career made 3-pointer.
  • Missed 3-pointer: After a Hicks high-post touch against Monmouth’s zone, Seventh Woods whipped a perimeter pass to Jackson in the right corner. Jackson tried a jab step to create space, but it was well-guarded as the defender didn’t bite on the fake. This led to a contested corner 3. But even Jackson’s misses were turning out well on this night, as Williams crashed from the weak-side for an easy tip-in. Zone the Heels at your peril; even if you get initial stops, the offensive rebounds will kill you.
  • Assist: Jackson threw a simple secondary break entry pass from the right corner to Meeks on the right block, who finished strong with a power dribble through contact. This type of entry is as routine as it gets in Carolina’s system, but Jackson’s ability to consistently execute these plays perfectly (and quickly—rarely being a ball-stopper) is a big part of why the Heels are so offensively efficient.
  • Made free throws: In UNC’s halfcourt freelance passing game, Jackson capitalized on an opportunity created when a Monmouth defender over-played a passing lane/took a poor angle around a Hicks screen. Jackson recognized this advantage immediately, and drew the foul on the rotating help-side big upon entering the paint.
  • Assist: Another secondary break set, another assist for Jackson. This time, after throwing the reversal pass to Jackson on the wing, Hicks set a ball screen and rolled to the rim. Jackson lobbed it in to Hicks for an easy layup. This play wasn’t really open (or executed well—the spacing on the back-screen from Williams was poor), but the Heels were able to take advantage of a smaller defender on Hicks. This type of pass won’t work against many ACC-caliber opponents, but luckily Jackson is too smart to attempt it in those situations. To summarize, Jackson had four secondary break assists out of four different actions (slip to trailing big, lob to trailing big after back screen, lob to trailing big after pick-and-roll, and routine entry pass to non-trailing big). All five of his assists were to Carolina bigs (2 to Hicks, 2 to Meeks, and 1 to Bradley). They resulted in a dunk, three layups, and an “and-1” hook in the paint.
  • Turnover: After getting trapped immediately upon crossing halfcourt, Jackson threw the ball out of bounds when attempting a skip pass to Berry. He needs to be stronger with the ball here, but even this could have been much worse (i.e., a live-ball turnover).
  • Missed 2-pointer: With the shot clock down to single digits, Jackson attempted to create his own offense off the bounce. His mid-range jumper from the short left corner was blocked; as mentioned earlier, the (non-floater) mid-range remains Jackson’s biggest offensive weakness right now.
  • Made 2-pointer: An immediate BLOB lob (Bob Loblaw?) entry from Berry to Jackson resulted in a quick and easy layup. With a smaller defender on Jackson, this was good awareness/communication/chemistry from the Berry-Jackson duo to recognize and capitalize on the opportunity.
  • Turnover: After a Williams hit-ahead pass in transition, Jackson tried to hit a cutting Meeks at the rim. The pass was too high and hard (although it probably would have worked if thrown to either Hicks or Bradley), sailing out of bounds. Although a poorly-executed pass, this is the type of turnover that Roy Williams can live. It’s the cost of doing business in Carolina’s high-octane, up-tempo system.
  • Made free throws: Jackson received a right-wing ball screen from Bradley in UNC’s freelance motion, using it to get a right-elbow jumper on which he was fouled. The official scorer mistakenly credited Jackson with both a missed field goal and two made free throws here. It should have only been the free throws (and, thus, I had Jackson at 9-14 from the field rather than 9-15).

So UNC didn’t run a single set to get Jackson involved against Monmouth. Much of his offense flowed naturally out of the secondary break, and he also took advantage of some routine freelance passing game options. Throw in a couple of 3s following offensive rebound-related defensive chaos, plus a BLOB chance or two, and it adds up to 28 easy points for Jackson. He won’t always hit 6-of-9 threes, but he will usually be able to get these types of scoring opportunities in Carolina’s offense.

Jackson, Berry, and Guarding Ball Screens

Jackson, Berry, and Guarding Ball Screens

Since my first attempt at breaking down the epic Carolina-Kentucky game ended up being nothing more than a “Defending Malik Monk” piece, I thought I’d take another crack at it. I think this will actually be a 3-part series: Part 3 will focus on Carolina’s transition defense, its late-game decision-making, and some other final thoughts on the UK game. Then, in the immortal words of Bill Belichick, it’ll be “on to Northern Iowa.”

Jackson and Berry:

  • In addition to teaming up for a hyper-efficient 57 points on 32 FGAs, Jackson and Berry also combined for 10 of UNC’s 25 defensive rebounds, an A:TO of 10-to-3, and five (of the team’s six) FT assists (passes leading directly to shooting fouls). The Heels scored 100 points on 78 possessions (oRtg of 128.2) against Kentucky’s top-10 defense (still 6th in adjusted defensive efficiency, even after yesterday’s rough showing), largely due to how effectively the Jackson/Berry duo performed. Here’s a closer look at how they got their points.
  • Jackson:
    • 4 3-pointers: 1.) an inside-out one (great cross-court pass from Bradley after a post entry from Berry); 2.) a secondary break pick-and-pop one while Jackson was playing small-ball 4 (one of Maye’s 3s also resulted from pick-and-pop action); 3.) a tough, step-back 3 off the dribble after curling off a screen; and 4.) coming off a screen in UNC’s “elevator doors” set to hit the huge 3 that gave the Heels a 98-95 lead
    • 2-of-5 on floaters (he’s now 11-27, or 40.7%, on floaters this season), including his first lefty floater of the year
    • 3-of-4 on close attempts, including as a cutter (for the key late-game “and-1”) and both off-the-dribble and receiving a pass in transition
    • a turnaround jumper over Briscoe after backing him down off the dribble (looked like Harrison Barnes circa 2012 on this one)
    • 10-of-15 from the line, drawing the fouls by a combination of attacking the hoop off the dribble and running the court in transition (plus a loose-ball foul he drew while corralling a defensive board)
    • There were plenty of encouraging “alpha scorer” signs from Jackson in this one— most notably drawing the 15 FTAs, of course, many by just lowering his shoulder and bulling his way to the rim (he had a couple bad misses (with no fouls called) using this approach, too, but that’s an acceptable trade-off for getting this version of Justin Jackson). The back-down of Briscoe, plus the step-back 3-pointer off the bounce also stood out as big-time offensive moves.
  • Berry:
    • 3 3-pointers, all of which I’d classify as “vintage Berry”– 1.) a deep, contested dagger after a routine perimeter pass from Williams that cut UK’s largest lead (38-26) back down to single digits; 2.) with the shot clock winding down, Berry used a ball screen by Maye to hit a 3 off the bounce over Willis (after a switch) and cut the lead back down to 4 (74-70, answering a Monk transition 3); 3.) a top-of-the-key 3 off the dribble after UK switched a ball screen (again by Maye), putting Adebayo (who actually defended this well) on Berry; this one cut the Heels’ deficit to 93-91
    • a floater
    • a pair of FTs after attacking the front of the rim with reckless abandon
    • 5-of-7 on close attempts, including his first two lefty finishes of the season; entering this game, Berry was just 10-of-19 in close attempts through his first nine games—he was clearly much more aggressive getting to the rim against UK (dare I say, nearly Lawson-esque in a couple cases?)
    • He did miss his only two mid-range attempts of the game, but is still knocking down over half of his shots from 10-20′ this season (11-21).
    • Berry, at his best, combines Felton’s quick-release, deep daggers off the dribble with Lawson’s physical, body-searching finishes in the paint. It’s too bad he missed his late-game drive, but there’s no question that he wants the ball in his hands in big possessions (or expiring shot clocks). Hard not to love this dude.

Ball Screen Defense:

  • Kentucky ran 21 ball screens, virtually all of them for lightning-quick freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox. UK scored or drew fouls on 12 of them, while missing seven shots and resetting the offense twice following high-screen action.
  • Despite Monk’s hot hand, Kentucky ran four straight ball screens at a key point in the game (right after Maye’s second 3 cut the UNC deficit to 84-80), scoring on each of them. In every case, UK ran its high screen as the very first movement in its offense (always within the first seven seconds of the clock)—always with the 4 (both Gabriel and Willis) setting the screen with Adebayo positioned on the weak-side block to await a lob pass. Briscoe and Monk were spread to the deep corners. Pretty basic stuff, but Calipari (who, regardless of how you feel about him as a recruiter/program figurehead, is a fantastic gameday coach, in my opinion) went back to it again and again down the stretch.
    • At the 6:45 mark, Britt-Maye were engaged in the first of the aforementioned streak of ball screens. Britt was blown up by Gabriel’s pick, leaving Maye to try to keep Fox out of the paint. Although Fox missed the lay-up, Bradley’s help rotation freed Adebayo up for a follow dunk (that he almost blew after easily overpowering a rotating Jackson for the offensive board).
    • After a wave of substitutions (Berry, Hicks, and Meeks back in), UK again ran a ball screen at the 6:20 mark—this time against the combo of Berry and Hicks. Like Maye on the previous screen, Hicks defended with a soft hedge designed to keep the ball-handler out of the paint. Fox’s hesitation dribble froze Hicks, however, allowing the cat-quick rookie to blow by for an easy lay-up before a late-rotating Meeks could arrive to contest.
    • At 5:55, Kentucky went back to the well, again engaging Berry-Hicks in a ball screen. After two unsuccessful soft hedges, Carolina decided to switch this one. Hicks gave Fox a huge cushion, though, allowing him to knock down a clean elbow jumper.
    • Finally, with 5:30 left in the game, Berry-Hicks were again tasked with defending a ball screen. This time, Hicks pressed up on the screener (Derek Willis, who had replaced Gabriel), ostensibly to prevent a pick-and-pop opportunity. With no one even threatening to slow Fox on this one, he easily blew into the paint and forced Meeks into an early (mid-paint) help situation. This set up the lob to Adebayo, which was thwarted only by a Meeks foul, his fourth of the game. Fox split a pair of free throws, a moral victory for UNC’s ball screen defense.
    • On the next UK possession, perhaps recognizing that both Tar Heel bigs now had four fouls, the Wildcats ran a quick set to enter the ball to Adebayo on the left block (with Hicks switched on to him following Meeks’s foul on the last trip). He easily drop-stepped for a dunk against a tentative Hicks.
    • After Meeks fouled out on UNC’s subsequent offensive possession, Kentucky went back to its quick-hitting high-screen action at the 4:10 mark. It necessitated another Berry-Hicks switch, with Isaiah doing a better job of with his defensive spacing. Fox, unable to blow by or create space for a mid-range jumper, settled for a contested floater in the paint (with good help from Bradley). After this stop, UK abandoned its ball-screen offense for the final four minutes, opting to go back to a refreshed Monk (who had been primarily hanging out in the corner) with some staggered screen/iso action.
  • So what’s the take-home message from the above ball-screen failures? UNC did mix up its defense during this sequence, trying three different techniques (soft hedge, switch, and pressing up on the screener). It might have been nice to blitz Fox with a trap to force the ball out of his hands. But having Monk or Briscoe possibly attacking in a 4-on-3 is no recipe for great defensive results either. Even a quick zone possession might have helped, although that was certainly no panacea against UK. This is a clear example of where a healthy Theo Pinson would have been huge. The ability to go small (without needing to bring Britt or Robinson onto the court) with Pinson at the 4 would have enabled Carolina to easily switch all high screens and roll the dice with Theo on Fox.