“We played very well,” head coach Roy Williams told reporters during his postgame press conference. “I felt for [Chaminade head coach] Matt [Mahar] to only have seven guys to play against a team like us that likes to go up and down the court… But I did think that we were extremely unselfish – 26 assists and seven turnovers is something that you like to see.”
Danny Green shattered his career high with 26 points and added seven rebounds, despite playing out of position most of the evening at the No. 4 spot. But when the offensive sets are heavily weighted in the transition variety, the importance of positions greatly diminishes.
North Carolina used an 18-3 spurt in the opening minutes to jump out to an early double-digit lead, and then ended the first half with a 21-6 run to build a 48-25 lead at the break. While the Tar Heels continue to encounter difficulties with their halfcourt offense, due in part to an ever-changing lineup, their pressing defense posted 14 steals and forced 24 turnovers that ultimately resulted in 40 points.
“Basically [we] just formed good traps when we did trap, and rotated well, which we’ve been practicing a lot on,” Lawson said when asked about the effectiveness of the defense. “That’s what forced most of the turnovers, and our ball pressure, which Coach has been telling us that we need to do more of.”
The UNC trio of Lawson, Bobby Frasor and Larry Drew committed just one turnover against 17 assists.
With the turnovers flowing, Lawson was able to work in his element, shifting into that extra gear that no one on Division II Chaminade’s roster – and few nationally – even possess. The junior point guard boosted the tempo to typical Roy Williams-induced levels, zig-zagging his way through the Silverswords' defense.
“I thought Ty was sensational,” Williams said. “Early, in the first five or six minutes of the second half, I think he had a hand in every basket that we made and he had a couple of steals on the defensive end.”
But Lawson denied any change in his approach coming out of halftime, claiming that his goal was to just keep attacking the defense as he had in the opening 20 minutes.
“Just getting in the passing lanes [and] trying to get my hands on the ball,” said Lawson, who dished out his 400th career assist to Green for a 3-pointer that put the Heels up 62-32. “And I was getting my teammates involved, passing it up, and I was looking for my shots.”
Green served as Lawson’s primary benefactor, providing highlights in the form of various fast-break alley oops that will undoubtedly make the evening news.
North Carolina’s size and speed confounded Chaminade, as the Silverswords connected on 41-7 percent (25-of-60) of their field goal attempts, including an 8-of-28 shooting performance in the first half. The Tar Heels knocked down a staggering 60-8 percent (48-of-79) of their shots.
Shane Hanson led the Silverswords with 15 points on five 3-pointers, and four of his teammates joined him in double figures.
Hansbrough’s absence was not unexpected, as Williams expressed concern on Sunday about playing his All-American three consecutive days. But a left ankle sprain suffered in the second half of Friday’s victory over UC Santa Barbara has cast even more doubt on his availability this week.
“I think if it had been for a national championship, I think he would have played,” Williams said. “I made the decision before I left Santa Barbara that I was not going to play him three straight games here anyway, and he tweaked his ankle a little bit against Santa Barbara.
“In fact, that’s the problem right now – it’s not even his shin. So I have no idea if he’s going to be able to play tomorrow or not... I did not plan for him to sit out two games. So if he does sit out, it will be because of his [left] ankle, not his shin.”
UNC’s walk-ons started working their way into the lineup with 5:44 remaining and the Tar Heels leading, 96-50. J.B. Tanner’s 3-pointer with 4:42 left pushed his squad over the century mark, helping North Carolina to its highest-ever point total in the Maui Invitational.
The Tar Heels return to action on Tuesday at 9:30 pm ET against Oregon, which beat Alabama, 92-69, Monday night.