Sorry this one’s clocking in a little late; it was a rough end to the week, y’all. Not that you need much of a recap of a 98-28 decimation, anyway. Carolina absolutely owned SC State’s Lady Bulldogs from the opening tip on both ends, including a smothering defensive effort which peaked in holding the opposition to just three total points in the second frame. Three. 3. Tres. Trois. Frankly, the Heels could have easily topped out at 120 points or more on the other end if they hadn’t basically taken their collective foot off the gas in the fourth quarter.
All five starters (Lu, Janelle, Deja, KTW, and Petra) finished in double figures scoring. Kelly’s team-high 16 came via ludicrous shooting splits of 0.86/0.75/1.00 in just 14 minutes of floor time, including 3/4 from behind the arc. Imagine trying to defend UNC this season if she and Petra can both shoot 40%+ from deep and you have to keep defenders on their hips on the perimeter at all times … yeesh. Yeah, have fun doing that while also finding ways to stop Janelle and Lu down low.
Lu had 11 with two rebounds, Janelle tossed up a 15-9-1 with a block, and Petra had 13 with seven dimes, two boards, two steals and a block to boot. And shouts to Anya Poole coming off the bench and pulling down 11 monster rebounds with two points and two blocks.
The game, however, belonged to freshman Kennedy Todd-Williams. KTW racked up a 14-10-9 with four steals, a line which left her one assist short of the program’s first ever triple-double. Yes, you read that correctly; no player in UNC Women’s Hoops history has ever notched a trip-dub in a game. That seems ridiculous, but it’s the truth. (By the way, she absolutely hits that mark if Coach Bang plays her a few more minutes or Carolina doesn’t slow the offense waaaayyy down in the final period.) To be clear, she did log the most minutes of any Tar Heel in the game at 21, and with the brutal run of conference play right around the corner, Coach is understandably using the depth to conserve everyone’s legs. Also, she probably felt like this was a bad enough whoopin’ and didn’t want to be needlessly cruel.
One thing I’m still concerned about: turnovers. Certainly a few caveats apply here. This is an extremely young team. Half the roster are true freshmen, and three of the veterans are transfers. Even Steph, who knows a few returning Heels, is coming back after some time away and still not quite back to her former peak after dealing with injuries. They’re going to take some time to cohere. Per Her Hoop Stats , Carolina currently ranks 2nd in all of DI in offensive rating (good), 13th defensively (take out the trash 1Q of the High Point game and this looks way better, I bet), and 4th in net rating. All of this is fine, and this team will obviously tighten things up as the season goes on. But 10.5 turnovers a game (15th in the country) is concerning. We’ve been playing cupcakes so far; teams with vastly inferior talent who don’t have the capability or athleticism to force that many cough-ups without a considerable amount of mistakes by the Heels themselves.
Again, this is all perfectly normal for a young/unfamiliar group of teammates still learning to communicate and intuit each other’s tendencies, but … they have one more tune-up against Charlotte on Sunday (6:00PM ET, on ACC Network) before conference play starts with TWO ROAD GAMES. Wake Forest already showed they’re legit by hanging close with #14 Arkansas and beating #24 Missouri State in the Gulf Coast Showcase to open their season. And right after that, Carolina has to head to (currently) #5 Louisville, who just put a 116-75 beat down on #25 DePaul. I am particularly worried about the turnovers because I still have PTSD from sitting in Carmichael last year when we hosted the Cardinals, and watched a team averaging 11.4 turnovers a game cough up 12 to the opposition in the first half alone. It was probably the difference in what wound up a close 67-74 loss, and this year’s Cards might be better than what we faced last season.
I suppose there’s plenty of time to fret over this stuff later, I just can’t help looking ahead. *Shifts back to optimistic mindset* – beating anyone by 70 is good, and it could’ve been a bigger margin had Carolina wanted to make it so. This team is good, young, electrifying to watch, and might be brewing something special. They’ll go against Charlotte tomorrow and will hopefully iron out some of the (admittedly nitpicking) issues in that one. See y’all soon and as always, GO HEELS.