Through their first 20 games the North Carolina men’s basketball team has a record of 16-4. Three of the four losses have come against ranked opponents. Their record can be deceiving but the flaws are evident.
Roy Williams has had trouble getting his players to perform as a cohesive unit on a nightly basis. Often times there will be one player who carries the load with the aid of one to two teammates. One underlying issue that fans should be aware of is the play of Luke Maye.
Maye averages 17.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists per game. These are great numbers for any player in college basketball, but the schedule of the Tar Heels should be taken into account when evaluating the true effectiveness of Maye. Against ranked opponents he averages 10.8 points per game on 37% shooting. With this in mind he has performed well below expectations.
His hot start to the season has given the impression that he would perform at a high level for the entire year. Maye currently leads the team in points and rebounds. Joel Berry is having the second best season statistically. Berry has scored in double figures for 17 of the 19 games that he has appeared in. The issue is that he is shooting 38% from the field.
Maye has played well in his first season as a starter but he needs to improve significantly if he wants to help his team defend their title. In the games that he proves to be ineffective it is his shot selection that is questionable. As an undersized forward he will have to rely on his basketball IQ to find ways to score. He has to be smarter than his opponents to do so efficiently. The lack of production from the reserves places more urgency upon the starters to get the job done.
It is imperative that Maye shows up against teams such as the Duke Blue Devils and Miami Hurricanes. The Tar Heels are nearing their final month of regular season play before the ACC tournament begins. They cannot afford to overlook any opponent in the remaining schedule, but the players need to give their best performances against the tougher matchups. This will help the coaching staff properly assess the team. If the program expects to make a deep run in March they will need Luke Maye to help lead the way. The lack of scoring options makes it more important that the leaders of the team carry the load on offense.