CHAPEL HILL, NC -- There's being in shape, and there's actually having the cardiovascular fortitude to get up and down a basketball court the way North Carolina coach Roy Williams wants his Tar Heels running.
As good as UNC point guard Joel Berry II has been for the Tar Heels, and as nice of a player as rookie set-up man Seventh Woods could be in baby blue, neither one will get an A+ when Williams hands out grades for running the fast break. The coach has an impossible standard, and not even Ty Lawson, who's in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings, measured up when he played for UNC.
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world. Lawson during his best days with a basketball in his hands would have given Bolt a run for all of his gold medals. Yet, Lawson couldn't get the Tar Heels in transition fast enough for Williams, who has described himself as being a little wacko.
Last season, UNC was No. 19 out of 351 Division I teams when it came to possessing the ball for the shortest amount of time. That's a nod toward playing fast, and the Tar Heels had an average length of possession of 15.5 seconds, according to kenpom.com, a trusted source for college basketball statistics. That means the Tar Heels were getting off shots in about half the time allotted by the 30-second shot clock. It means they were running at a pretty good clip.
Green Bay, out of the Horizon League, had the shortest possession time in the country at 13.4 seconds, according to kenpom.com.
The Tar Heels start practicing for the upcoming season on Monday. Williams used the summer to get his freshmen to understand that they absolutely have to get in better shape, because fast-break basketball is part of the so-called Carolina way, and a guy has to have great lungs in order to play with the freneticism with which he insists.
Together We Grind pic.twitter.com/ezFX8uhZW8— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) September 20, 2016
Of course, there is this concept called defense that opposing teams use to stifle UNC's fast breaks, getting enough guys properly positioned to negate numerical mismatches. But that's when the Tar Heels go into their secondary fast break. Williams said he also uses summer sessions to show his rookies how it's done.
Think of UNC's secondary break as a pre-planned scoring attack that allows the Tar Heels to keep running in order to create mismatches when the primary option at the rim isn't there. It's about keeping things moving.
This article was written by John McCann from The Herald-Sun, Durham, N.C. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.