The Preview: Oakland at North Carolina
Tomorrow night at the Dean Dome, tip off at 9:00 p.m. EST, #11/#12 North Carolina will begin their basketball season as they host Oakland. And while there is still uncertainty, both from the NCAA and their ruling on P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald and on the line up with who will be the starting center, many believe this will be a better season than last.
This is the first game for both the Tar Heels and the Golden Grizzlies, and as it is a lot of times with the first games of the season, it’s a lot less about the opposition and a lot more about what head coach Roy Williams’ squad can do.
The back court is a lot more shakier for Carolina than the front court at this point. With the absence of the two above mentioned players, it’s going to be freshman Nate Britt at the point and Marcus Paige moving from the floor general slot to the off guard. It is going to be very interesting how the duo will do in real game situation. Their overall chemistry will be key for this team to do well this campaign. Many have said that the first year player can contribute from the get go. If that is the case it’s one less problem for UNC this season, if not, with the shortage of perimeter players, it’s going to be another headache to deal with until the NCAA allows Hairston and McDonald back on the court.
In the front court things are a bit easier for the coaching staff, or at least they should be, as there is plenty of bodies to go around, as well as plenty of talent, not to mention plenty of height. But when it’s all said and done the one player that all will be focusing on this year when it comes to the bigs is James McAdoo. This year the questions for the junior are two… can he be the presence on the floor most believe he can be, and where will he play on this squad.
With the squad being thin at the wing you will see the 6’9″ at the three plenty of times, and while this is something not many are used to, the reality is that if McAdoo is going to make it at the next level, he need to be able to play that position. The key will be how coach Williams will mix and match him between the perimeter and inside at the four. For those fans that hate to see many different line ups, I would not be watching the first games of the season, cause you will see tons of them, especially in the front court.
If the forward can hit enough outside shots, play decent defense, the big line up that North Carolina could have this season would probably give problems to most everyone in the Atlantic Coast Conference and many in the out of conference schedule. In the end, when it comes to McAdoo, the one thing that is key is this… whatever spot he is at he needs to be a factor when on the court, especially until the duo come off the sanctions.
North Carolina’s out of conference schedule
Coach Williams has said the only two players right now that have a starting position are Paige and McAdoo. How interesting/ironic that they are both entering the year having to play in new spots than last year. For these two leaders, being able to fill their role while helping the rest of the team develop is going to be what is needed if this squad wants to achieve the goals that they have. The development of the three freshmen will be something that I will focus on as the season moves along, as this squad will need them in order to fill their goals.
The competition in the middle will be the other thing the coaching staff will probably focus on. You would have to figure that with Oakland, Holy Cross, Belmont and Richmond before the Heels might have to face Louisville, the coaching staff will have four games to mix and match until they find who is going to fit best in the middle. Or maybe better said, who will work best with McAdoo when he is at the four.
With programs like Louisville, Kentucky, Texas and Michigan State in the out of conference part of the season North Carolina has its work cut out for them. But if this squad can weather that part of the slate it is going to be battle tested when the ACC games come along. Of course much might depend on how all ends up with the two guards and when they come back, but as far as I am concerned, this should be a heck of a season. Sure, with some bumps, but definitely with a lot of satisfaction as well.