UNC Basketball: 5 Critical Stats the Tar Heels Need to Improve in 2014-15
North Carolina has the talent and depth to have an outstanding 2014-15 basketball campaign.
Head coach Roy Williams not only welcomes back five of the team's top seven scorers from last season, but also adds a fantastic freshman class that will contribute immediately.
Even still, the Tar Heels definitely need to shore up some important areas if they are going to exceed last year's 24-10 (13-5 ACC) record.
Here are five critical statistical areas that UNC needs to improve as it prepares for next season.
Opponents' Offensive Rebounds
For a team that has so much size up front, you would think that North Carolina would rule the glass on both ends of the court.
But, in the 2013-14 season, the Tar Heels' opponents averaged 9.9 offensive rebounds per game, good for No. 269 in the nation.
This put UNC statistically right between Longwood and Florida International. Not exactly the place head coach Roy Williams wants his squad to occupy for anything.
Looking toward this coming season, starting center Kennedy Meeks needs to take it personally when his opponents retrieve their missed shots.
Goal for 2014-15: Opponents get no more than seven offensive rebounds per game.
Fouls Committed/Opponents' Free-Throw Attempts
Carolina committed way too many fouls (20.3 per game, No. 264 in the nation), and its opponents attempted way too many free throws (23.7 per game, No. 243) last year.
Sure, because Roy Williams had a deep bench in the 2013-14 season, he could play a lot of players who could split up those fouls.
But, when you put good teams on the line, they will knock down their freebies and make the Heels pay.
Goals for 2014-15: Commit no more than 17 fouls per game, and opponents attempt no more than 19 free throws per game.
Opponents' 3-Point Rate
North Carolina's opponents' three-point rate in 2013-14 was 34.1 percent (No. 223 in the nation). Though this stat is not atrociously high, it puts the Heels in a tough place in terms of shutting other teams down.
For the sake of comparison, Duke's opponents' three-point rate last year was 24.1 percent (No. 4 in the nation).
Some of the best defensive teams in the country focus on reducing their opponents' long-distance looks and challenging as many three-point attempts as possible. Wisconsin's Bo Ryan annually attempts to take away the three-point line. Sean Miller's Arizona Wildcats use the Pack-Line to close out on beyond-the-arc shooters.
Carolina's perimeter players have the athleticism to make life miserable for their opponents' marksmen. J.P. Tokoto is one of the best defenders in the ACC. His length and leaping ability could be leveraged to lead a Tar Heels assault on anyone pulling up from downtown.
Goal for 2014-15: Opponents' three-point rate not to exceed 30 percent.
3-Point Field-Goal Point Percentage
Carolina only scored 16.8 percent of their points from beyond the arc in the 2013-14 season (No. 348 in the nation, per StatSheet.com). Only Cal State Northridge, Lamar and South Florida tallied less of their points from distance.
The Heels put up a measly 12.8 three-pointers per game (No. 345 in the nation) and made 4.3 treys (No. 343). Wow! That is horrible.
Leading scorer Marcus Paige is not to blame. He did his part last year by hitting 86 of UNC's 146 total three-point shots. Senior guard Leslie McDonald made 43 shots from downtown. The rest of Roy's squad only hit 17 three-point shots the entire season.
If there is not improvement in this area, UNC's opponents can clog the lane and make it tougher for everyone to score in the paint.
Everybody better be putting up a ton of shots in the offseason.
Goal for 2014-15: Score at least 27 percent of their points from beyond the arc.
If you are a Carolina fan, you had to know this was coming.
The Tar Heels were one of the worst free-throw-shooting teams in the country last year (62.6 percent). They were No. 343 out of 351 Division I programs.
I'm sorry, but that free-throw percentage is inexcusable.
Last year, Carolina missed 330 free throws over its 34 games, almost 10 per game.
At least when we looked at how UNC did from beyond the arc, its opponents could game-plan and focus on shutting down the Heels in that area.
The free-throw line is just that...free points. All Carolina has to do is make its freebies.
For all of the times that he takes it to the basket, Tokoto needs to be able to do better than make 50 percent of his free throws (like he did in 2013-14). Meeks will get to the line regularly as a sophomore. He needs to do better than 58.6 percent.
Goal for 2014-15: Make 72 percent of their free throws.