Where Has Wayne Ellington Gone?

Looking for answers concerning #22.

So with a little under five seconds left and the Heels trailing by two Ty Lawson took the inbounds, drew the attention of three Clemson defenders and found Wayne Ellington who drilled the game winning three in OT to knock off the Tigers. It was a seminal game for Ellington in many ways and on this blog I readily declared that the missed three versus Georgetown, which could have sent UNC to a Final Four, had finally been redeemed. The 36 point performance at Littlejohn was an exclamation point on what most considered to be Ellington living up to expectations during the first two months of the season. Gone were the questions which swirled around Ellington in 2007 and the various doubts which were fodder for blog and message board alike largely disappeared along with Clemson’s hope of beating the #1 Heels.

With the 3-14 shooting performance versus Duke this week, Ellington is once again facing those questions thought to be buried at Clemson. And while the doubts seemed to come to life with the spotlight on him versus Duke, the pattern of poor shooting had been there for several games. So far UNC has been able to get by with the exception of the Maryland game and now Duke where the lack of offensive production from Ellington in both games was a significant factor in UNC losing. The frustrating aspect about all of this, and for him it is probably to the point of wanting to pull hair out, is how the shooting just went south after the Clemson game. This was exactly the opposite of what most of us thought would happen. Everyone assumed the 36 point outburst would give him confidence and be the spark that would make him one of the most dangerous shooters in the ACC. For whatever reason that has not been the case as the stats have shown.

  Games PPG FG% 3P% FT% TOPG
Before Clemson 14 16.7 47.2% 40.3% 86.8% 1.14
After Clemson 8 11.8 38.7% 27.7% 86.6% 1.8

As odd as this might sound, the Clemson game seems to have had some kind of negative impact on Ellington’s offensive game.  The most logical explanation is UNC opponents began keying on Ellington more following the outburst at Cemson which in turn lead to a serious reduction in offensive efficiency.  Even beyond that I wonder to what extent the success at Clemson robbed Ellington of his primary motivation and that is redemption for the Georgetown miss.   Ellington, as much as any other Tar Heel, took the failure in the regional final on a personal level.  With the success against Clemson, Ellington lost the Georgetown game as a motivation since it was accepted he had finally found redemption for the loss.  Obviously this is completely impossible to prove and something Ellington himself can answer.  Increased defensive scrutiny is the more plausible reason but I personally think some of the fire sparked by the loss to Georgetown was doused a bit with the performance at Clemson. And it is also possible, Ellington is also hurt by the loss of Bobby Frasor who was there to push Ellington and spell him with solid defense.  Without Frasor, Ellington finds himself playing more minutes but also giving more focus to his defense, which on one level is great, but also might be impacting his offense.

The question is: What can be done?  The answer: Not much.  Sitting Ellington does not really work since there is no one who can step up and play his slot without shifting other players around in the lineup.  If Frasor were healthy, Roy could play him more beside Lawson until Ellington finds his shot.  Then again, it is not like Ellington has a bad attitude or is slacking on the court.  I think he is giving it all he has but the shots are not falling and against Duke, his shooting was beyond dreadful.  Some of what happened against the Devils had to do with shot selection and an off night.  Resolving the former might go a little ways towards solving the latter.

I have heard it said that a shooter in a slump just needs to shoot his way out of it.  Maybe the Duke game was rock bottom and Ellington will start warming up in response to this extensive multiple game slump.  Unlike last season where clear options were available with the personnel to reduce Ellington’s minutes in favor of more productive players, this season that is not on the table. Personally, I think his body of work in the first 15 games of the season illustrates an ability to be that shooter from the outside UNC needs.  In light of that, he may have earned a little grace to work it out.  In the end the lack of personnel and the fact we know what he can do means this is something UNC has to ride out.  The one great hope is  when the time comes, Ellington will be more Donald than Shammond with the season is on the line.

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22 Responses to Where Has Wayne Ellington Gone?

  1. MinnyTarHeelFan says:

    After re-watching the Dook game and focusing on Wayne, I think he’s basically just forcing things. He definitely is a bit unlucky in missing some open looks, but I think he’s in too much of a hurry and puts the ball on the floor a bit too much, trying to create something that doesn’t exist. The real downside here is that if he’s not scoring, he’s not great at anything else. I would rate him below average at defense, rebounding and passing. If he can’t score, he’s not doing much else. If we’re really going to make a Final Four run, we need Wayne to be on his game.

  2. Howard says:

    Read an interview with Ginyard in today’s Durham paper, and it led me to think something that no one on this Blog wants to hear. But I’m going to say it anyway – Maybe Roy Williams isn’t the coach the Heels need or should have. Oh my – blasphemy!
    Everyone, like today’s post here, keeps wondering what’s wrong the this player or that player. But maybe it’s something else.
    The Durham Sun writer started off with – “It’s hard to fathom, North Carolina not giving its all against Duke.” That certainly sums up the problem.
    The article goes on noting that Ginyard “doesn’t have an explanation for why it happened.” In the interview, he seemed frustrated. But Roy Williams wasn’t. Here’s what he said in the article: “If you’re going to have good shots and you’re going to be a good shooter, you’ve got to shoot the frickin’ ball on game day,” UNC coach Roy Williams said after the defeat. “It doesn’t do you any damn good to shoot the ball through the week or anything. You’ve got to shoot the ball well on gameday or you’re not as good a shooter as everybody says you are.”
    As I read that, I wondered what kind of effect this attitude of blame would have on me, on the players, on anyone. And immediately I realize it would only be a negative effect. The coach likes to motivate by anger and fear and blame.
    To me, this just might now be the way to go. With all the talent on the team, it certainly is a puzzle why they fall apart like they do. As earlier posts have noted, it seems to be that they just don’t act as a team, don’t feel that unity. And I have to point to the coach as the reason for that, not to the individual players.
    Maybe Roy isn’t the “all” that everyone felt at first.
    It wasn’t too long ago that the Heels had a coach that seemed to motivate by anger. His talented team rebelled, and the coach left. And everyone sighed. I wonder if this isn’t happening again.
    OK. Blast me. I know this post is blasphemy. But I just had to say it.

  3. 52BigGameJames says:

    Everyone has a right to their own opinion, but you might consider a reality-check—until your name comes up for the next HOF ballot, you’re merely a keyboard critic-that goes for the writers too. Better yet, go coach a youth team, and see where you rate in the minors.
    Roy’s “team-signature” if you know his coaching history, are teams that leave it on the court, so this is either a work-in-progress, or an aberration–the season’s not over yet.

    Wayne will be fine. He just doesn’t have enough offensive help right now. He’s not (yet) the shooter that many were hoping he would be. Actually, defense, rebounding, and passing are the better aspects of his game right now, and those alone earn him a starting spot imo. I’ll add that he’s become quite good at each! My biggest frustration with Roy, is he’s apparently decided he won’t push Ginyard to become more of an offensive threat. I posed that question to AL, and in the pre-game, he and Montross said that “some players” just aren’t comfortable in that role. Bollocks…sez I! We need more offense from Green too.

    The gestalt thingy is legit,and is probably THE biggest problem right now, but I’m sorry–pinning it on Roy just doesn’t stick. If that were his coaching MO through the years, I’d buy in, but I like to review the evidence when I’m making the prosecution.

  4. jackiemanuel says:

    Wow. After winning 4 of 5 against Dook, we lose one game and there is a crisis? Nothing is wrong with North Carolina. We are 21-2 for f8cks sake….get a grip. The expectations for this team are unreal. Clearly we are very talented, but not as talented as many of the fan base feel. I don’t think we have a NBA lottery player. Perhaps Tywon, but his size makes him borderline. Many assume this team would be better than last year, which seems a bit silly considering we lost Brandan and Reyshawn. Roy is trying to get the team to work harder and that’s what he should do, but why can’t we enjoy this team and worry about the national title later.

  5. Silent Sam says:

    Howard — you’re a troll, right?

  6. MinnyTarHeelFan says:

    Couldn’t disagree more with Howard’s assessment on Roy. Being a college coach myself, I know that motivating players is by far the toughest job a coach has. I think Roy has tried a myriad of ways to “push the buttons” this year. He’s coddled, cajoled, heaped praise, and now he’s trying the tough love approach. The bottom line is that every guy on the roster needs to do things a little better. Yes, expectations are sky high for this group, but my guess would be the guys in the locker room share those expectations. That’s why they chose to attend school and play ball in Chapel Hill and not somewhere else. For whatever reason, I don’t think this group has gelled (or I don’t think they did last year, either). Sometimes I wonder if Marcus’s frankness in the media is a bad thing. I also think asking him to take on more of an offensive role is incorrect. That’s not his strength as a player and we have lots more gifted offensive players, they just need to perform. The guys need to relax a bit, but focus a bit, but above all trust each other’s abilities. I don’t think I see that all the time. Of course, all this falls under the “easy to say, hard to do” category. Hopefully they’ll take a step forward this evening.

  7. 52BigGameJames says:

    interesting read in today’s N & O for any who missed it–bombshell type stuff if it’s true.

    http://www.newsobserver.com/sports/college/unc/story/935083.html

    Minny–respect your experience, but I meant “encourage” Marcus’ role as a scorer, not “throw it on him”. I think he’s been pigeon-holed…by himself, the media, and the coaching staff. Ellington and Ginyard could take a page out of Hubert Davis’ book–he literally willed himself to become a scorer…but granted, the will has to be there.

  8. Russell says:

    Wow. There is some b-ball savvy apparent among the posters to this blog. A bit of the truth in each to go along with the contradictions. My 2¢ on a couple of posts:

    I don’t quite get, “…the coach the Heels need or should have,” Howard, but that Roy Williams ain’t the greatest college coach that ever was – or is – is not blasphemy, it’s critical thinking. (I was hoping for Larry Brown myself.) Others have noted on this blog that William’s penchant for blame/fear/ridicule as motivators is especially highlighted when an opposing coach is seen orchestrating as an equal member of the team, using empathy, encouragement, and a grounded demeanor ILO tantrum smacking of adolescence. Images of Wooden on the sidelines come up. Ever the emblem of control for his players. Dean, of course, also. Even Ratface saves it for the refs.

    Roy (was reported to have) qualified this year’s squad pre-season as 1) a gifted shooting team (as in, we’ll be all right in that dept.) that 2) could be a great defensive team (’cause I’m going to make them one). Neither has come to be demonstrated to date against stiff competition. I emphasise, TO DATE. I agree with outside commentators that he has over-rated this bunch and that his installation of the fast break as the primary offensive set does not match the necessary defensive skills of his players, except for Lawson in the point. The “donut team” analogy remains sticky. (Sorry) I believe with jackiemanuel that observers who continue to lay blame on the players or a player are not being realistic, are succumbing to their over-estimation and perhaps expectation. I was securely on that bus pre-season. (“He who expects nothing shall not be deceived.”) It is more clarifying to use the term, “responsibility,” instead of “blame.” The team reflects the coach as surely as the product reflects the process. Garbage in, garbage out. Ungroundedness in, ungroundedness out. Sound harsh? Sorry, I like my Heels to win.

    Unfortunately, we’re talking changing stripes on tigers here. Given his “MO,” as 52 characterized it, for me the evidence IS there: there will be groupings of players that Roy will not reach, that will never achieve Team.

    I don’t see Ginyard as needing to think offense more. I see him as repeatedly unable to finish shots when he does go to the hole. He’s jittery-quick – great for defense but a liability composing around the basket. When Bobby went out (rue the day), Roy said that you need 3 point guards (referencing Dean’s example). So I expect Ginyard to see more practice and game time in that spot.

    Now, just in case I’ve missed offending someone, I’ll quote Rumsfeld and apply it to this squad and to this coach: “You go to war with the army you have, not the one you wish you had.” Go Heels! Beat the living shi, er, stuff out of clems.

    Zoomba.

  9. 52BigGameJames says:

    well, I mean no offense either, but I’ve learned to have more faith in coaches who have HOF numbers, than in keyboard prognosticators. to wit: one Marty Shottenheimer, or “choken-heimer” to his brilliant detractors. Good points about Ginyard, but if a snapshot were the finished product, I’m sure the fans in Durham would’ve switched point guards prematurely.

  10. Josh Bowling says:

    I know that Carolina is a great college to play for an would attract good young ballers out there regardless of a coach. But, I am not sure high school kids would want to play for a Larry Brown, Rick Pitino, or anyone else who was on the block when we got Roy. Roy is fastly heading up the charts to being one of the all-time winningest coaches in the game. In addition to that, he gets the best of college players and coaches teams into elite 8’s and final 4’s. I have very few criticism’s of Roy. I would have many if it were anyone else. Should we go back to the way we had it when Guthridge/Daugherty were trying to be the player’s buddy? I want a coach (like Roy) who lays down the law and has expectations. He expected a lot out of an 8-20 team, and he got a lot in return. This slump, if you can arrogantly call it that, will pass. Remember we are 20-2! In spite of missing on of our best defensive players, and oh, the best pg in the ACC.

  11. jackiemanuel says:

    Anyone who thinks anyone other than Roy should running the show is not to be taken seriously. It is state fan nation absurd to look only at Roy’s few weaknesses and ignore the overwhelming positives he brings to the program.

  12. TxTarheel says:

    Roy is the man for UNC, no questions need be asked. I would expect a better overall performance this afternoon…hopefully UNC gets the lead-out & really mashes Clemson to the wall.

  13. 52BigGameJames says:

    lol–“SFN Absurd” that’s new-Wiki entry material jackie!

  14. Chris says:

    Several comments on the original question about Ellington. Where has he gone? I think at the college level he has never been there. His high school reputation was huge, but he has proven to be only a mediocre college player. He would be about number 9 on the rotation on the duke team. If you didn’t know the guy from anyone else, you’ld wonder why he was on the court. You can tell the real thing by watching only one or two ball games. Anyone watching the duke game from the NBA would have been excited about Tyler, Singler, Henderson and Nelson. Ellington wouldn’t have been noticed. I went to the BC/duke game Saturday, and Tyrese Rice is definitely the real NBA thing, and you could figure that out in about 2 minutes. Ellington just doesn’t have the talent to play college ball that we all thought he would. And that’s OK. But let’s recognize it and put Green and Ginyard out there more together, and even Graves to get him up to speed with more minutes.

  15. TxTarheel says:

    I’ll take a hit on whatever it is you happen to be smoking…even JJ Red-neck-ick had occasional off-nights for those Dookies (most notably in late-game NCAA events). And i thought i could be hyper-criticial. I will enjoy this afternoon’s game and be taking a chill-pill to go with it.

    When he is on-target, Ellington is a smooth shooter. I hope he blows up for 25 today

  16. nick says:

    Ellington #9 in the Duke rotation? C’mon, he’s our 3rd best offensive player–look, eg, at ken pommeroy’s stats….sure, if you think he’s only as good as his last 8 games, he’s not so good; but thos first 14, guess what? they counted too…..

    here’s what I don’t get: we have a damn big, strong front line, and we are allowing other teams to shoot 47.5% from 2point range against us–good for a lofty 133rd in the country….wtf?

  17. 52BigGameJames says:

    He’s baaack!

  18. Chris says:

    I’ll talk to you all when the NBA draft occurs……………you won’t see Ellington anywhere in the first 2 rounds……….the test is when they play real competition and Ellington doesn’t produce……being the third best offensive player for Carolina doesn’t mean squat if he can’t do anything else…………..that’s why he would be number 9 on duke’s bench and why duke is better than us. Watch the tapes of the games…..he’s part of the reason that we trail the Durham squad…………….duke will never have to go double overtime at home to beat Clemson. And that’s OK, let’s just call it as it is.

  19. 52BigGameJames says:

    I’m gonna start calling you “Packer”.

  20. C. Michael says:

    I’d go with. “delusional.”

  21. C. Michael says:

    BTW, what pro scouts think of Ellington:

    http://nbadraft.net/index.asp?content=mock2009

  22. 52BigGameJames says:

    save it for a “pro-blog”. despite my protestations of the kid last year, I am extremely pleased with his progress.

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