North Carolina’s strengths could come in various fashions this season. Depth might be one of those for the No. 19 Tar Heels, and there’s a chance much of that will be on display when North Carolina welcomes Lehigh for Sunday afternoon’s game in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Fresh off an opening victory against Radford, the Tar Heels (1-0) will want to see how their rotations might develop.
“We’ve got 11 starters,” coach Hubert Davis said. “Guys can come in at any time and contribute and not only can contribute but can make impactful plays on both ends of the floor to give us a chance to be the best team that we can possibly become.”
If North Carolina comes at Lehigh (0-2) in waves, that could spell trouble for the Mountain Hawks. They suffered an 84-78 home loss to Cornell in their opener Monday night and then fell 74-65 at Penn State on Friday night. So this is a quick turnaround with a 2 p.m. ET tip-off Sunday.
“I’m sure they’re going to be a little depleted as far as their energy,” Lehigh coach Brett Reed said of his players. “But we’re also playing more guys, so there’s more options to potentially throw out on the floor.”
North Carolina will be looking to build off that first game. The second half was much better than the first half vs. Radford.
“We took care of the ball. I know in the first half we allowed a lot of turnovers, a lot of silly ones,” Tar Heels guard RJ Davis said. “We just learned from our defense as well. Just talking early on the ball screen and being in rotation got better in the second half. We are going to grow as a team and we have a lot of experience, maturity, and a lot of talented players.”
One of those players is fifth-year senior Armando Bacot, who posted 25 points and 13 rebounds in the opener. And for Cormac Ryan, a transfer from Notre Dame, it was nice to be on the same side as Bacot instead of being an opponent.
“That’s what he does,” Ryan said of the production. “Armando Bacot is the best big in the country, I don’t think that’s a crazy hot take. I think that’s pretty well known. He’s our guy. We are going to keep feeding him, especially against teams that are undersized. That’s a great weapon for us.”
Yet the Tar Heels want to see perimeter scoring as well to help alleviate some of the attention on Bacot in the lane. Coach Davis said there should be more sources of long-range shooting than the Tar Heels had last season.
“We have guys that can consistently make shots from the outside and what that does is it gives us spacing to be able to throw the ball into the post,” Davis said. “It gives us spacing to be able to penetrate and get to the basket.”
Lehigh made improvements from the first game to the second game.
“I thought our team really established itself, particularly in the first half,” Reed said of the Penn State game.
This will be the first meeting between Lehigh and North Carolina since the 1940-41 season.
–Field Level Media
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