And so it begins, UNC defeats Gardner Webb in season openerAfter waiting for quite sometimes, last night at the Dean Dome the UNC Basketball 2012-13 season tipped off. #11 AP/#12 USA Today North Carolina (1-0) defeated Gardner-Webb (0-1) by the final of 76 to 59, which is pretty close to the 79 to 63 prediction I had in my preview of the game. And as I said in that post, this game is by no means the one that is going to tell us how well the Tar Heels will do this year. However it did give us a glimpse about many, but many things for the near future.
Against the in-state opponents from last night the Tar Heels had some good points, first on that list has to be the play of sophomore power forward James McAdoo, who had a double double with 26 points and 14 rebounds (both career highs), as well as having some not so good, that has to include the 18 turnovers that were committed. The good news is that both for the positives and for the negatives, with practice, there is no reason why the first can’t become even better and the latter disappear.
Along with McAdoo the only other player for head coach Roy Williams to score in double figures was senior guard Dexter Strickland, who had 13 overall playing a so-so first half and then looking a lot better in the second twenty minutes. When it comes to Strickland, as well as Leslie McDonald, the great thing about last night was being able to see them on the court playing after having suffered knee injuries. The rest of the team’s scoring came from eight other players. In all the Heels had ten players in the game for 11 minutes or more, plus one for seven. Overall the team once again struggled in two areas that they had problems with last season: beyond the arc, going 1 for 12 and at the charity stripe, hitting on 9 of 19. That has to be fixed on a team that is going to have to rely on outside shooting this season.
“I’m just going out there and working with the minutes that I get, just trying to help the team win,” McAdoo said. “If I need to score, I’ve got to score. If I need to be a defensive stopper, if I need to get a rebound, just doing what I have to do to be productive out there and helping the team win.”
All of this means that while UNC Basketball might be ranked among the top programs in the nation right now they are working on becoming a team worthy of that status. There were four incoming freshmen playing like they had never stepped on a college court before, because they hadn’t. All of them showing both their flaws and how good they can be down the line, and by that I mean when ACC play comes around and not in two-three years. There were returning young men having to go from role players to main pieces due to having lost four starters to the NBA. They too showed that they are not fully ready for their new status, but also proved that they have what it takes to be ready in a short amount of time.
Coach Williams during the GWU game
This team has plenty of potential and talent, both in the starting five and off the bench. There are things that will be needed to be tweaked, both from the coaching staff, who started sophomore Hubert Davis once again along side McAdoo but then went with freshman Joel James in the second half, and from the players as whole, like the sub par shooting from long range and the turnovers, and as individuals, like no assists from freshman point guard Marcus Paige. On the other hand, if you watched the game, not at any point did this game seemed to be in jeopardy, even when the Bulldogs led by three early in the game, meaning that even playing together for the first time, with the many things to fix, this team has the players to be very good down the line.
“But it’s a learning process; it’s our first game. I think everybody handled it well.”
This is not gloom and doom time by any means. This is just a team that will have to work hard in the next couple of weeks, as they have five more games in the next 11 days, at reaching the next level they want to get to, which is being able to gel more and more with one another. The talent is certainly there, it just has to come out and show itself on a constant basis, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Heels before their opener, they will need to keep gelling all throughout the year
In the end there is win one in the books for the 2012-13 UNC Basketball squad and now the coaching staff and the players need to turn their attention to the next game, which comes up on Sunday, November 11, as they host Florida Atlantic as part of the Maui Invitational, with tip off time being at 2:30 p.m. EST in the Dean Dome. If you love sports and you love North Carolina this is the best time of the year, with the gridiron still going on, the hardwoods just beginning and plenty of former Heels at the next level anywhere you look you will find someone who either wears or used to don the carolina blue in action.
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