Hubert Davis suggests you’ll see more Trimble, trapping on defense

By R.L. Bynum

The last 10 minutes of the Virginia Tech loss could be a snapshot of a more aggressive defensive approach — and player usage — in upcoming games as North Carolina tries to shake itself out of a funk that has led to four consecutive losses.

When Carolina (5–4, 0–1 ACC) rallied from an 18-point deficit to make a game of it, the Tar Heels did it by creating steals with full-court and half-court traps.

“That’s something that we’re going to not only do in the second half or late-game situations, that’s something we’re going to do throughout the game, because I think it’s good for us,” UNC coach Hubert Davis said ahead of Saturday’s 3:15 home game against 6–3 Georgia Tech (ESPN). “I think it generates more opportunities for us to score. And I think this team is deep enough and talented and athletic enough to be able to do it.”

He said that a number of players came to him this week to tell him that liked applying more pressure and would like to do it more. During those last 10 minutes against the Hokies, Davis played three guards with freshman Seth Trimble joining Caleb Love and RJ Davis but said that it can be effective without playing three guards.

“I don’t think it has to have those three out there,” said Coach Davis, who also had his team apply pressure against Alabama. “I think an effective trap, being able to get steals and deflections, it’s all about activity. I just felt like that group, for whatever reason, was working. And that’s why I kept them on the floor pretty much the remainder of the game.”

Love is all for extended the defense after the results he saw against Alabama and late in the game against the Hokies.

“I feel like nice it gives us a spark of energy,” Love said of the trapping defense. “Just extending that pressure, getting steals, getting turnovers, it kind of gives us a spark and gives us that life that we need throughout the whole game. I feel like it definitely worked in the Alabama game and Virginia Tech game. You could see it light a fire; even the bench was getting fired up.”

The other positive that Davis found from the last 10 minutes of the 80–72 loss in Blacksburg, Va., was the production he got with Trimble and fellow freshman Tyler Nickel in the lineup.

“I learned how tough Seth Trimble and Tyler Nickel are,” Davis said. “To put them in a situation the first road ACC game, and the way that they competed on both ends of the floor was very encouraging.”

Davis said that he’s constantly imploring Trimble to drive aggressively to the basket.

“I just don’t think anybody can stay in front of them,” Davis said. “And when he gets the ball into the paint to the basket, he has a really good understanding of when to shoot and when to pass and create, not only for himself, but for others and I just love that he’s here. He’s a great kid and a great player.”

Playing three guards with Trimble in the game instead of Leaky Black produced good results. Black is, of course, Carolina’s lockdown defender, but Trimble has shown that he can be a menace on defense as well.

“All three of them out there on the floor, having multiple ball handlers, multiple guys that can create and get into the lane,” Coach Davis said. “Seth is gifted athletically. He can really defend, but also, he’s one of the fastest guys I’ve ever seen with the basketball. I think it’s always good to be able to have multiple creators out there on the offensive end, and having those three out there really helps us, I think, on both ends of the floor.”


Coach Davis also noted that Trimble is a good offensive rebounder and liked how he attacked the boards.

A work in progress is figuring out how Carolina’s guards can penetrate the lane to create offense, and that’s because Coach Davis said that teams are changing the way they defend Love and RJ Davis.

“Last year, we were able to, whether off of ball screens and different types of actions, get them downhill into the paint,” Coach Davis said. “And, for the first nine games, teams have consistently trapped them. It’s stopping their momentum and stopping them from being able to be in positions where they can create.”

Love said that getting penetration is all about being tougher than UNC’s opponent.

“I feel like being physical and being the aggressor is gonna help us because we’re not getting pushed around or nothing,” Love said. “We all get what we want on the offensive end, whether that’s getting open or getting into a spot when we drive. Once we’re the aggressor, I feel like we can’t be stopped on the offensive end.”

Coach Davis said that the guards need to learn to make the extra pass, which is one of the foundational pieces of Carolina basketball.

“There were a number of opportunities, specifically against Virginia Tech, where we had a good shot and we took the good shot,” Coach Davis said. “But, if we made an extra pass, we would have had a great shot. And that’s something that we’ll show them again on tape that we need to get better at making the extra pass. And I really believe that that’s going to be a huge factor in getting our team assists where I want it to be.”

UNC is 248th out of 352 in the country in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.93 with 97 assists and against 104 turnovers). The only ACC team with a lower ratio is Louisville (0–8), which is 352nd at 0.42.

UNC statistics

(current ranking)
28FridayW, 101–40Johnson C. Smith HomeExhibition
7MondayW, 69–56UNCWHome1–0
11FridayW, 102–86College of CharlestonHome2–0
15TuesdayW, 72–66Gardner-WebbHome3–0
20SundayW, 80–64James MadisonHome4–0
Phil Knight Invitational
24ThursdayW, 89–81First round: PortlandPortland5–0
25FridayL, 70–65Semifinals:
No. 11
Iowa State
27SundayL, 103–101,
4 OTs
No. 3 Alabama
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
30WednesdayL, 77–65 No. 18 IndianaBloomington, Ind.5–3
4SundayL, 80–72 Virginia TechBlacksburg, Va.5–4,
0–1 ACC
10SaturdayW, 75–59Georgia TechHome6–4,
1–1 ACC
13TuesdayW, 100–67The CitadelHome7–4
CBS Sports Classic
17SaturdayW, 89–84, OTOhio StateNew York8–4
Jumpman Invitational
21WednesdayW, 80–76MichiganCharlotte9–4
30 Friday L, 76–74PittsburghPittsburgh9–5,
1–2 ACC
4WednesdayW, 88–79Wake ForestHome10–5,
2–2 ACC
7SaturdayW, 81–64Notre DameHome11–5,
3–2 ACC
10TuesdayL, 65–58No. 8 VirginiaCharlottesville11–6,
3–3 ACC
14SaturdayW, 80–59LouisvilleLouisville, Ky.12–6,
4–3 ACC
17TuesdayW, 72–64Boston CollegeHome13–6,
5–3 ACC
21SaturdayW, 80–69No. 22 N.C. StateHome14–6,
6–3 ACC
24TuesdayW, 72–68SyracuseSyracuse, N.Y.15–6,
7–3 ACC
1WednesdayL, 65–64PittsburghHome15–7,
7–4 ACC
4SaturdayL, 63–57 DukeDurham15–8,
7–5 ACC
7Tuesday7 p.m.Wake ForestWinston-SalemESPN
11Saturday2 p.m.ClemsonHome ESPN2
13Monday7 p.m.No. 19 MiamiHomeESPN
19Sunday1 p.m.No. 22 N.C. StateRaleighESPN
22Wednesday9 p.m.Notre DameSouth Bend, Ind.ESPN or ESPN2
25Saturday6 or 8No. 8 VirginiaHomeESPN
27Monday7 p.m.Florida StateTallahassee, Fla.ESPN
ACC Tournament
If tickets for home games are available, you can purchase them here.
ACCN means the game airs on ACC Network.

Photo via @UNC_Basketball

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