Where is Jason Capel leading the basketball team?

Capel has struggled, hitting only 28.6%

Jason Capel has waited for this opportunity—to be the senior leader of the University of North Carolina basketball team—but things aren't exactly going as planned.

The senior forward is the undisputed leader of this year's Carolina team. In fact, he was vocal about being the team leader on last season's squad as well. And Capel has been the emotional leader through the first three games, as many expected. The problem is that this young team needs him to lead with his scoring, as well, and he has been unable to provide that for his inexperienced teammates. Instead, he has led his team to three straight disappointing defeats by setting the tone with his inability to shoot the basketball.

Unfortunately, the team has mirrored Capels shooting and scoring woes. Through the first three games, the Heels are shooting just 35.3% from the field, with Capel connecting at only a 28.6% rate.. While 33.33% shooting from 3-point range is the scoring equivalent of 50% accuracy from inside the arc, UNC is hittin only 23.3%.. Currently, Capel is part of the problem, sinking just 9% of his shots from downtown. Against Indiana Wednesday night, he was 0-7 from beyond the arc in the 79-66 loss.

"I didn't shoot the ball well again, but I still tried to do a lot of things," Capel said. "I thought I played pretty good defense, but I didn't do enough to help my team win, and that's that."

Capel is playing with heart and intensity, but he's right that has not been enough for this team. Versus the Hoosiers, he was pressing, evidenced by his seven first-half turnovers. "I got a charge called, and I was trying to make things happen," said Capel. "I turned the ball over."

The Heels trailed 40-30 at the break, and they could not get closer than eight in the second half. While fellow senior Kris Lang finally came alive with 27 points and eight rebounds, Capel continued to look out of sync offensively. "He just has to get a rhythm going, plain and simple," Lang said. "I believe he took a step forward tonight, and he'll continue to grow."

A continual scoring contribution from Kris Lang will help Capel grow. If Lang can become the first scoring option, Capel will thrive in more of a secondary scoring role.

Capel was successful last year in large part due to the attention scoring leader Joseph Forte drew from opposing defenses. He was able to float around the perimeter and spot up for some open jump shots. Since Capel has trouble creating his own shot, Matt Doherty needs to find a way to get him some good looks at the basket.

"I just don't think he's had as many open looks as he's had in the past," said Doherty. "When you have Joe and Brendan (Haywood), you're going to get open looks—wide open looks. Now, he's not getting those because he's the lead story in the scouting report, along with Kris. I've got to do some things to get him better looks. I've got to incorporate some plays where he can come off a screen and have an open jump shot. I need to do a better job for him."

Doherty, however, can't go out on the court and drive to the basket, draw the defense, and dish it out to Capel for an open 3-pointer. One of his point guards will have to penetrate and break down opposing defenses for this team to be successful. Freshman Melvin Scott will continue to improve with each game and led UNC with five assists Wednesday, but also had four of the team's 18 turnovers.

"Coach emphasized that despite the loss, we grew up," said Scott. "We're going to watch tape and learn from the mistakes. We knew we turned the ball over too much, but we'll learn from this. We learn from every game."

A big part of growing up as a team is learning how to take care of the basketball. Through three games, UNC has averaged 18 turnovers per game while only dishing out 15 assists a game. Capel leads the team in both categories with 15 turnovers and 10 assists. Again, he needs to lead this young team by example and turn that ratio around.

In fairness Capel, he has looked uncomfortable playing at the power forward position, and his game is better suited for playing more on the wing. "Right now, he's thrown for a little loop because he's banging on the inside and then coming out," said Lang. "He's going to get the feel for that, but right now, he's just not used to that."

The bottom line is that Capel and the Heels have fallen behind early in each game and have not been able to overcome the deficits. They have been outscored 104-85 in the first half of the three contests. Yes, they have just 85 points in three first halves of basketball. They simply need to start knocking down some shots right from the opening tip.

"It's funny- we're hitting them in practice," said Capel. "They're just not going our way in the game. When we start making shots, we're going to be a pretty tough team. Were not going to miss them forever. Shots are going to go in, and when they do, we'll be clicking on all cylinders."

Apparently, it is much easier said than done for this team—at least for now.

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