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TMA: Barnes grades himself a low B

12/22/2011

The Morning After: Thoughts, notes and anything else that didn’t quite make this space after North Carolina’s latest game (in this case, the No. 5/6 Tar Heels’ 82-63 win over Texas on Wednesday night).

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes said he hadn’t seen the blog (HoopSpeakU.com) that has gone so far as to analyze his efficiency by number of dribbles used.

But told the basics of it, the sophomore wasn’t exactly shocked.

“I just think after last year, nothing surprises me,’’ Barnes said, referring to all of the press he got after his slow start his freshman season. “… I learned that very quickly; the media can be your best friend, and they can have some strong opinions about you. It’s all a part of the process, and you’ve got to focus on what your team does.

“You don’t want to let outside influences influence your game, in the sense of, ‘Oh, this is what someone says, I need to go compensate for that,’ because it’s going to take you out of your team’s offense, and what your team is trying to do.”

Plus, Barnes acknowledges, no one picks apart Barnes’ game more than Barnes, himself.

Wednesday night, for instance, he was fairly pleased with his 26-point, 10-rebound performance against Texas, but said he must play better defense.

“There were at least three open looks I saw on 3s that were just effort plays,’’ he said. “Getting over screens, fighting through those, and that can change them going on a run, which they did, or us going up from 17 to 26.”

And his overall performance so far this season? He’s averaging a team-leading 16.8 points, plus 4.8 rebounds, but he’d grade himself a low B.

“Thirteen games in, I would like to rebound more and have higher assists; those are the biggest things that jump out to me,’’ said Barnes, who is averaging fewer than 1 assist per game. “You can’t really control points; points ... depends on the game. But rebounding is simply effort. If you put forth that effort -- the ball is going to come off of the rim. Are you going to have enough determination to get the ball or not?

“And assists ... are about making the smarter play. You can make the easy play; you don’t always have to make the home run play. Just a simple basic pass, and that will improve your assist to turnover ratio.”

The key, he said, is to be more than a shooter (no matter how many dribbles you take).

“You’ve got to be able to do everything,’’ he said. "You don’t want to have flaws in your game. You don’t want to be, ‘Oh, he’s just a gunner; every time he gets the ball, he’s just looking to score’ because that puts a lot of pressure on the defense to say, ‘OK, load up on him.’”

REWIND THAT DUNK: There were a lot of transition dunks during Wednesday night’s win. But forward John Henson’s favorite? Freshman P.J. Hairston’s drive from the wing in the first half that left Texas freshman Julien Lewis flat on his back after he unsuccessfully tried to take a charge.

“It was unexpected to say the least,’’ Henson said.

Why?

“Usually people in practice don’t really stand there and take charges on fast breaks, because we don’t want to hurt each other and things of that nature,’’ Henson said. “... It was a great dunk, and I’m going to go and watch it on youtube a few more times.”

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.