CHAPEL HILL — Any coach who prepares his team for a game against Virginia Tech understands the importance of defending Erick Green, the Hokies senior guard who leads the nation in scoring. Yet time after time, defenses have failed to slow Green, let alone stop him.
North Carolina coach Roy Williams, whose Tar Heels are facing the unenviable challenge of playing against Green, offered a simple theory on Friday as to why Green has had his way on offense more often than not.
Because hes really freaking good, Williams said. We had Tyler Hansbrough here for four years and everybody tried to stop him but nobody succeeded. I still say that Brad Daugherty will never be listed as one of the top five players to ever play at North Carolina, but he was one of the top five most efficient players.
Because everybody tried to stop him and his senior year he led the nation in field goal percentage.
The two players Williams referenced, Hansbrough and Daugherty, were forwards who did most of their work close to the basket. Their high field-goal percentages made sense. Green, though, is a 6-foot-3 guard, and his 49.8 shooting percentage is a rarity for players his size.
Green will enter the Smith Center on Saturday ranked 12th in the ACC in field-goal percentage. Marylands Dezmine Wells is the only other guard ahead of Green, but he has attempted nearly 150 fewer shots than Green.
Before Fridays practice, the Tar Heels hadnt yet studied Green on film. But James Michael McAdoo did a bit of his own research.
Anybody having that many points, shooting over 50 percent from the field, is doing something right, he said.
Green, who is averaging 25.5 points per game, hasnt scored fewer than 22 points in any of the Hokies seven ACC games. He has scored 21 or more in all of Virginia Techs games except for its 97-71 loss on Dec. 29 against BYU, which held Green to 12 points on 4-for-17 shooting.
Asked to identify the player he will assign to guard Green, Williams cracked a joke.
Everybody on our team, he said. Were thinking about playing a box and one four guys on him and one guy in the middle of the lane. But thats not giving his other guys credit. Erick is the head of the snake, theres no question about that. But if you ignore those other guys, they can get 24 (points) for them also.
Jarell Eddie, a 6-foot-7 forward who averages more than 14 points per game, is the only other Virginia Tech player with a double-figure scoring average. But Green has remained, by far, the Hokies most statistically dominant player. He has accounted for 32.7 percent of the Hokies made shots from the field, 34.4 percent of their points, 37.6 percent of their assists and 31 percent of their steals. Its no secret that Green will attempt to score often. Yet no team, outside of BYU, has limited him.
Im a big guy so I dont really have to worry about him, McAdoo said. But Reggie (Bullock) and them, theyre going to have their hands full.
Carter: 919-829-8944 Twitter: @_andrewcarter