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Sport New North Carolina coach Hubert Davis has made changes in Chapel Hill, faces first big test vs. Purdue

06:20  20 november  2021
06:20  20 november  2021 Source:   cbssports.com

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CHARLESTON, South Carolina -- An assistant coach who gets promoted to the position of head coach only moves on the sideline about 18 inches, from one chair to the next. In terms of length, there's not much difference.

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 09: Head Coach Hubert Davis of the North Carolina Tar Heels directs his team against the Loyola Greyhounds during the second half of their game at the Dean E. Smith Center on November 09, 2021 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) © Provided by CBS Sports

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 09: Head Coach Hubert Davis of the North Carolina Tar Heels directs his team against the Loyola Greyhounds during the second half of their game at the Dean E. Smith Center on November 09, 2021 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

But ...

"It's a big difference," acknowledged North Carolina's Hubert Davis, who replaced Naismith Memorial Hall of Famer Roy Williams after last season and is now 3-0 as the Tar Heels' first-year head coach following Tuesday night's win at College of Charleston. "A lot of people ask me, 'What's the difference between being an assistant coach and being a head coach?' As an assistant coach, you know, all day, you're just making suggestions. But as a head coach, you're all day making decisions. And that's the biggest difference."

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Hubert Davis will spend Saturday coaching his first game against a nationally ranked opponent when his No. 18 Tar Heels play No. 6 Purdue in the Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic at Mohegan Sun. Tip is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET. If you watch, you should notice quickly that Davis has already made decisions to change UNC.

Unlike in years past, the Tar Heels are not playing two traditional bigs together, instead opting for more versatile lineups with shooting. The best way to demonstrate this is to highlight how Brady Manek is starting at power forward and attempting five 3-pointers per game. Last season, Garrison Brooks started at power forward and attempted eight 3-pointers all season. This season, UNC is shooting 38.7% from 3-point range on 20.7 attempts per game. Last season, the Tar Heels shot 31.7% from beyond the arc  on 17.1 attempts per game.

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None of this is an accident.

It's all very deliberate.

"I want guys who are able to shoot," Davis said. "A lot of people talk about spacing and balance and movement. Well, it's real easy to get that if you have guys who can shoot. … We have six or seven guys on our team who can go for 20 points on any given night. They can really shoot the basketball, and it's really opened up our offense and given us the ability to attack the basket in many different ways."

Offensively, things are different but good. UNC is ranked 17th in adjusted offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. But it's another deal on the other end of the court, where the Tar Heels allowed Brown to shoot 50.7% from the field in the Game 2 of the season, then let Charleston score 83 points in Game 3. The byproduct of that has North Carolina ranked 105th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. That could prove problematic against an undefeated Purdue team that's ranked second in adjusted offensive efficiency and averaging 94.7 points per game.

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"As an assistant coach, you know, all day, you're just making suggestions. But as a head coach, you're all day making decisions."
UNC coach Hubert Davis

Either way, Game 4 of the Hubert Davis Era is now just hours away, a high-profile non-league game that'll lead to a Sunday game against either No. 5 Villanova or No. 17 Tennessee. The former Tar Heel player turned Tar Heel assistant turned Tar Heel head coach has already adjusted the way the program operates on the court to more accurately reflect the way he wants his team to play. Yes, in a traditional sense, he understands replacing a legend like Williams is a challenge -- but Davis insists he doesn't view it that way.

He doesn't feel pressure as much as he feels appreciative that he was trusted enough to be handed the keys to a blue blood program in the state where he was born, on the campus where he played. Perhaps that perspective will change someday; this profession is hard and can take a toll. But for now, Davis is still in a place where he rejects the idea that coaching at the tip-top of the sport is a "challenge."

"People always ask, 'Is this a challenge -- being the head coach at the University of North Carolina?' and I say, 'Absolutely not,'" Davis said. "To have an opportunity every day to be around these kids and to help them and encourage them and teach them and coach them, to be able to do it in a game I've loved my entire life at an institution and program that I've always wanted to be a part of my entire life, it's not work. It's missionary work. It's an act of service to give back to these kids everything that Coach [Dean] Smith and Coach [Bill] Guthridge gave to me, and it's an honor and a privilege to be able to do that every day."

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