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ACC Roundup - How Does UNC Deal With The Loss Of Cole Anthony?

It doesn’t look good at the moment.

Wofford v North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 15: Leaky Black #1 of the North Carolina Tar Heels and Cole Anthony #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels look on from the sideline during their game at Carmichael Arena on December 15, 2019 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The main news of the day is that Cole Anthony has had arthroscopic surgery and is out for 4-6 weeks. The consensus around the hooposphere seems to be that UNC is essentially done. They weren’t killing it before he was out and he was their most productive - at times only productive - player on offense.

Is that right? Does that doom the Heels?

Well it won't help for sure. This Carolina team has had a terrible time scoring and that was with Anthony.

However, we’d like to remind you of one of Chairman Dean’s sayings (well he is treated with that kind of reverence in Chapel Hill): when you lose a key player you’re going to hurt in the long run. But other guys may get fired up and carry the team for the short term, for a game or two or a bit more.

Okay, that’s not verbatim from Chairman Dean’s Little Blue Book but that’s the essence of it. Which is why we think there’s a chance that UNC plays way above its normal level and knocks off Gonzaga Wednesday night.

If our math is right, and that’s usually an adventure, Anthony should be back around the time UNC plays BC on February 1st.

So here are the games he would miss:

  1. Gonzaga
  2. UCLA
  3. Georgia Tech
  4. Pitt
  5. Clemson
  6. Pitt
  7. Virginia Tech
  8. Miami
  9. NC State

People are saying that’s UNC’s easy stretch and it’s true that after that three out of four games are against FSU, Duke and Virginia.

But hang on a second. UNC has had trouble scoring this season and every team on this list is either coached by a guy who is really focused on defense or someone who really knows how to use three pointers to rev up his offense and inside game.

We say UNC has a chance against Gonzaga because of emotion. It won’t be easy but it’s conceivable.

But who coaches UCLA now? Mick Cronin. And what is Mick Cronin famous for? Slow offense and grinding defense. Georgia Tech, which will have Jose Alvarado back by then? Defense.

Pitt two out of three games? Grinding defense is becoming the calling card.

Clemson between the Pitt games? Clemson is a potent defensive program year in and year out. And they have a shot at finally breaking the losing streak in Chapel Hill. Talk about motivation.

Virginia Tech? A wide open offense that UNC will have to keep up with. And that one’s in Cassell.

Miami? Okay...but what if the ‘Canes start raining threes? Which they might. How does UNC answer?

And you know NC State will be ready to destroy UNC as thoroughly as possible.

The thing about the ACC is that if the other teams sense weakness there’s no mercy. No one sees you as an off night, especially if you’re Duke or UNC. 1995 was like that for the Blue Devils. Other teams took out their frustrations on Duke in major ways. When UNC fell apart under Matt Doherty everyone lined up to bust the UNC piñata and everyone was gleeful about it.

Roy Williams knows that. He’d like to avoid it obviously so we’re sure he’s busy figuring out what to do. And the best thing to do may be simply to run more.

Why not? They can’t shoot outside but the Tar Heels are a superb rebounding team that’s reasonably athletic. Why not just try winning on layups? Your chances of missing are lesser and the players will enjoy it. Depth might limit that option though.

Alternatively, he could choose to emulate Virginia, frustrate everyone and win low-scoring games.

That’s just not his nature though. Rapid Roy’s a running boy, he's too much to believe and we’re pretty sure he’s got something he’ll pull out of his Nike sleeve.

It might be a subpar season but UNC will still compete.

Back to that in a bit.

In actual competition Tuesday, both Florida schools were in action and both won although Miami just barely.

Temple, now coached by Aaron McKie (Fran Dunphy retired last season) so we’re not sure what to expect from the Owls as he begins to build his own program.

Miami was ahead for a good bit of the game, but never by much. The biggest lead was nine.

It came down to free throws in the end: Chris Lykes hit a pair with :04 left to give Miami the final lead.

Miami put five guys in double figures, led by Lykes with 17.

Florida State had an easier time with an easier opponent. Their big men, grad transfer Dominik Olejniczak and freshman Balsa Koprivica combined for 26 points and six rebounds (you can’t have everything).

Koprivica is an interesting prospect. He could end up being pretty good. He’s also filled out a lot faster than we expected - he’s listed at 260 now. He was really agile in the videos.

On Wednesday we see Stony Brook at Virginia as the Seawolves hope to top 40 points. That’s life in the slow lane.

Ball State plays Georgia Tech in Hawaii in the Diamond Head Classic, Miami of Ohio takes on Louisville and of course Gonzaga hosts UNC.

You’d think the Yellow Jackets would beat Ball State and we’d be shocked if Louisville lost.

About Gonzaga.

The Zags are clearly the best team on the West Coast and one of the best in the nation. They’re playing UNC at home and UNC can’t shoot. That should be enough, right?

Well, maybe.

If we were betting we’d bet on Gonzaga. Everything lines up for them.

We keep thinking about what Smith said though and over the years we’ve seen it proved many times. There’s a reasonable chance that UNC goes into that game defiant and highly emotional and really takes it to Gonzaga.

We’re not saying you should bet on it. But don't rule it out either.

Wednesday’s ACC Action

  • Stony Brook @ Virginia || 6:30 || ACCN
  • Ball State vs. Georgia Tech || 7:00 || ACCNX
  • Oakland @ Syracuse || 8:00 || ESPNU
  • Miami (OH) Louisville || 8:30 || ACCN
  • UNC @ Gonzaga || 9:00 || ESPN2

Tuesday’s Results

  • Florida State 98 North Florida 81
  • Miami 78 Temple 77

ACC Standings