The current San Antonio Spur knocked down 184 3-pointers during his Tar Heel career, connecting at a 37.5 percent clip. Green was a senior on the 2008-09 national title squad that Roy Williams described on Thursday as maybe the best 3-point shooting team that he’s coached.
Statistically speaking, Williams’s comment is incorrect. Stats don’t tell the full story, however. Green and his teammates had a knack for knocking down crucial 3-pointers when the outcome of a game was in question.
So Green’s words to McDonald and Hairston were not about form or technique. His message was about confidence and how he could tell watching from the stands that they weren't confident in their shots.
The results backed Green’s comments up. Hairston and McDonald combined to shoot 3-of-19 from the floor, including a 1-of-8 effort from beyond the arc. The Tar Heels shot 3-of-19 from 3-point territory for the game, which provides further evidence that while UNC has shown a capability to hit treys against lesser opponents, the same is not true against legitimate tests.
North Carolina has played – and lost – to three top-100 opponents, according to kenpom.com. In those three games against Butler, Indiana and Texas, the Tar Heels have shot 22.4 percent (11-of-49) from 3-point territory.
UNC has connected on 40 percent (72-of-180) of its 3-pointers in its other eight games, all wins.
As North Carolina’s struggles in the post persist, opponents will key on locking down its perimeter scorers as Texas did on Wednesday.
“We’ve just got to get set and be able to knock those shots down,” junior wing Reggie Bullock told reporters following the game. “Shots come to us, but I felt like they were running us off the 3-point line. They knew that me, P.J. and Leslie are 3-point shooters and they were doing a great job of trying to get up in us and making us put the ball on the floor… They definitely ran us off the line.”
The key to combating that approach, according to Bullock, is for the Tar Heels to do a better job of using their screens and coming off those picks ready to attack.
“The biggest threat is the screener himself,” McDonald said. “So if you can get someone else open, then they can get you open a lot. If you screen for somebody, you’re probably going to be open.”
If that doesn’t work, capitalize on the extended defense by finding a seam to the basket. Dexter Strickland and Bullock had varying degrees of success in working around their defenders in getting into the lane, which helped create some space for their teammates on the perimeter. Those shots still didn’t fall.
“It’s all concentration,” McDonald said. “We’ve just got to be able to get on stage and knock down the open shots. Just concentrate on your shots and do whatever routine you normally do. Do that and know that your shot is going in.”
McDonald’s comments sounded very similar to what Green had told him just moments before.
“He’s been in this program and he’s a sharpshooter in the league, so getting his advice of being confident in your shot and being confident in what you do, we take heed of that,” McDonald said of Green. “We’re listening to him.”
All that remains is to put those words into action against quality competition.
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