A few things stood out more than others during North Carolina’s 97-73 victory at N.C. State on Wednesday. There was the Tar Heels’ dominance on the interior, the 60 points in the paint. There was the Wolfpack’s listlessness.
And, more than once, there was Theo Pinson, the UNC junior wing forward, driving toward the basket, going up for a half-layup, half-running jumper and gently tossing a shot off the backboard and through the rim. For lack of a better way to put it, Pinson in those moments looked like the cagey old man at the YMCA.
You know the type: The guy with the uncanny ability to use the backboard, at all angles, to his advantage. That was Pinson on Wednesday night at PNC Arena. Sometimes he went high off the backboard. Sometimes he used one side of it, or the other.
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Pinson scored 12 points at N.C. State. At least half of them came on shots that met their final resting place after first bouncing off of the backboard. And so how did Pinson develop this skill? How’d he become so adept at using the glass?
It didn’t take him long to tell the origin story on Wednesday.
“My dad’s always preached to me about using the backboard,” Pinson said. “So when I was at a young age – he’s a really bad basketball player -- but, like, he could just throw the ball at the basket but he hits the backboard every time, and it goes in. So he’s a Tim Duncan-type guy.
“He’s taught me that my whole life. So I guess it’s just something I just took from him.”
Pinson’s dad is also named Theo. Father and son had themselves what Pinson described as “a bootleg backboard.” And the ball, Pinson said, just so happened to “bounce off really soft.”
Pinson doesn’t deny that one old-man-at-the-Y aspect of his game. He embraces it. And on Wednesday, after an easy victory at N.C. State, he sounded happy that he’d inherited from his father his affinity for using the backboard.
“He’s going to be so happy that I gave him a shout out, too,” Pinson said.
Virginia at UNC
When: 8:20 p.m. Saturday
Where: Smith Center, Chapel Hill