Tar Heels tidbits

November 1, 2012 

Points returning: 29.5 - The Tar Heels averaged 81.3 points per game last season, and return just 36.3 percent of their scoring. But that just means there are plenty of opportunities for others to emerge. Even amid player losses, the Heels likely will start four McDonald’s All-Americans and bring another off the bench.

Go-to guy: Reggie Bullock. Sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo will need to be a reliable, go-to player as well, but Bullock has been waiting two years for this – to be the focal point of the Heels’ fast-paced offense. He offers the best combination of outside shooting and the ability to penetrate defenses. Bullock is likely the guy coach Roy Williams would want taking a final shot. Now Bullock just needs to fulfill his potential and play up to the expectations.

Impact rookie: Marcus Paige. Joel James, J.P. Tokoto and Brice Johnson will have a chance to make an impact, but Paige is clearly their most important freshman. He should start at point guard from day one, and how he handles that responsibility will help determine what kind of team the Tar Heels are this season.

Best case: Paige matches – or exceeds the expectations – Bullock emerges to become the dependable go-to player he’s capable of being, McAdoo picks up where he left off last season and the Tar Heels surprise some by winning the ACC’s regular season. If all that happens, nobody would be surprised by another deep NCAA tournament run.

Worst case: Paige struggles, Bullock and McAdoo both fall short of expectations and chemistry issues, like they did during the 2009-10 season, combine to send the Tar Heels to the NCAA tournament bubble in early March. Nobody can prepare for injuries, but the Heels can’t afford any of those, either – especially to McAdoo or Paige, both of whom are virtually irreplaceable.

X-factor: P.J. Hairston. After a fast start, Hairston struggled through much of his freshman season – especially as a perimeter shooter. But he spent all summer trying to improve his shooting mechanics. If he found the solution, he will be a dangerous sixth man – or even a starter, possibly – and could make UNC that much more dangerous offensively.

Where to attack: Outside of freshman Joel James, who is 6-foot-10 and 260 pounds, UNC lacks interior size – height and mass. And size, with the likes of John Henson and Tyler Zeller, had been a given in recent seasons. The Tar Heels will be vulnerable against the more imposing frontcourts they face.

Magic number: 35 - Four of UNC’s six loss last season came when they allowed opponents to shoot 35 percent – or better – from behind the 3-point line. UNC was 11-4 when that happened, but three of those wins were against Appalachian State, Monmouth and Tennessee State. Given the Heels’ lack of size, it will be interesting to see if opponents use the 3-point shot as an equalizer as much as they have in the past.

Andrew Carter

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service