Oct 8, 2012, 12:57 PM EDT
Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.
Last Season: 32-6, 15-3 ACC (1st); Lost to Kansas in the Elite 8
Head Coach: Roy Williams
Newcomers: Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Joel James, JP Tokoto, Luke Davis
- G: Marcus Paige, Fr.
- G: Dexter Strickland, Sr.
- G: Reggie Bullock, Jr.
- F: Brice Johnson, Fr.
- C: James Michael McAdoo, So.
- Bench: Leslie McDonald, Jr.; PJ Hairston, So.; JP Tokoto, Fr.; Joel James, Fr.; Desmond Hubert, So.
Outlook: Roy Williams has been here before.
After he won the national title in 2005, Williams watched Ray Felton, Sean May, Rashad McCants and Marvin Williams all make their way to the NBA, leaving him with an unproven and youthful roster to work with the following year. That team, led by freshman All-American Tyler Hansbrough, had some ups-and-downs that first season, but eventually grew into a national champion four years later. That 2009 title team lost quite a bit of talent as well, with Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson and Danny Green joining Hansbrough in the NBA.
Williams didn’t win a national title in 2012, but that wasn’t due to a lack of talent on his roster. Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Kendall Marshall are all making seven figures this season as first round NBA Draft picks, meaning that, once again, the Tar Heels are going to be heading into a season having to reload.
While there is some talent on this roster, including a potential lottery pick in sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo, there are a couple of question marks as well, the biggest being the smallest guy on the roster — Marcus Paige.
Paige, a freshman from Iowa, is the heir-apparent to Marshall at the point guard spot. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again quite a few times before the season starts, but I believe that Marshall is one of the two most difficult players to replace this season (the other being Anthony Davis, for obvious reasons). North Carolina’s system thrives on point guard play, and what made Marshall so valuable wasn’t only his unreal playmaking ability (he averaged almost 10 assists per game) but how good he was at hitting ahead in transition. He made the Heels’ fast break just that much more deadly, and there’s certainly no questioning how much better he made his teammates — specifically Barnes — simply by being on the floor. Remember what UNC looked like before he took over for Larry Drew in 2010-2011? Remember what they looked like when he was injured in last season’s tournament?
The bottom-line is this: that role is going to fall into the hands of a freshman — a talented one, but still a freshman — who will be backed up by a transfer from Gardner-Webb, Luke Davis, and a senior combo-guard, Dexter Strickland, coming off of a torn ACL. With so much youth and inexperience on this roster, how Paige handles the pressure at the point could end up making or breaking North Carolina’s season.
The good news is that Paige will have plenty of perimeter talent surrounding him. Strickland, a senior that doubles as UNC’s best perimeter defender, should be back to 100% by the time the season starts. Leslie McDonald should be as well; he tore his ACL before last season even began. One of the more interesting subplots of UNC’s season will be seeing how Williams divvies up minutes on the wings. Strickland and McDonald are the vets that have earned their playing time, but both PJ Hairston — a sophomore — and Reggie Bullock — a junior — are bigger and more talented scorers, and that’s before JP Tokoto, a talented freshman, is factored into the equation.
McAdoo will be UNC’s anchor up front. A top ten recruit coming out of high school, McAdoo spent much of last season watching Zeller and Henson from the bench. He averaged just 6.1 points and 3.9 boards in less than 16 minutes as a freshman, but some impressive play during the postseason — McAdoo averaged 10.6 points and 4.8 boards in the final seven games after Henson hurt his wrist, including a 15 point performance against Kansas and Thomas Robinson in the Elite 8 — combined with his size, strength and athleticism has many predicting McAdoo to become an all-american candidate.
The question is who joins him up front? Will it be athletic-but-slender freshman Brice Johnson? Will it be burly freshman Joel James? Or seldom-used sophomore Desmond Hubert? Will Williams be willing to use a four-guard attack given the size of Bullock, Tokoto and Hairston?
Predictions?: UNC unquestionably has talent on their roster, as always. But there are also question marks. How good is Paige? How good is McAdoo? What happens in the front court? Who makes the leap from role player to secondary scorer? The Heels will still make the tournament and should finish in the top three in the ACC — and they could be even better than that — but given the youth, the inexperience and all the new faces in new roles, this is a tough group to project.
May 21, 2013, 3:16 PM EDT
The field for the Legends Classic has been announced. Pittsburgh highlights the field and will be joined by Stanford, Houston and Texas Tech. Each of the four teams will host a pair on games on campus prior to going to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the semifinals and the finals. The final two rounds…
May 21, 2013, 1:32 PM EDT
Montana announced on Tuesday that Washington transfer Martin Breunig would be transferring into the program. “We are very excited about signing Martin Breunig at the University of Montana,” head coach Wayne Tinkle said in a statement. “He’s a strong, athletic post player, and he really adds good size and strength to our front line.” “We…
May 21, 2013, 12:40 PM EDT
Kevin Stallings isn’t too happy about Sheldon Jeter’s decision to transfer. According to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Vanderbilt head coach has blocked his former player from transferring to Pitt next season. Jeter is a graduate of Beaver Falls HS and announced over the weekend that he would be leaving the Commodores to…
May 21, 2013, 11:56 AM EDT
Jim Boeheim is a curmudgeon. He’s a grumpy old man that couldn’t possibly care any less about what anyone thinks of him, whether it be a media member, an opposing coach or an NBA team. He will, quite literally, say whatever he wants about whoever he wants whenever he wants. And I love it. In…
May 21, 2013, 11:09 AM EDT
Around two years ago, Bruce Pearl was fired as the University of Tennessee’s head coach stemming from lies that he told NCAA investigators that were looking into relatively minor infractions. Pearl had hosted Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft at his house for a barbecue during a recruiting visit and a picture of him was…
May 21, 2013, 10:25 AM EDT
There are not many coaches out there that have it as good as Rick Barnes. He’s the head coach of the men’s basketball team for the most recognizable university in the state of Texas which just so happens to have one of the richest athletic departments in the country. And that athletic department also doesn’t…
May 20, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT
With Marcus Smart making the decision to come back for his sophomore season, paired with other key players and a solid recruiting class, Oklahoma State is threatening to be one of the favorites for a Final Four berth next season. Memphis loses studs like Tarik Black and Adonis Thomas, but return Joe Jackson and bring…
May 20, 2013, 8:30 PM EDT
Looks like Juan Anderson had second thoughts about leaving Marquette, because he’s headed back to the Golden Eagles’ program. Anderson had announced he was leaving the program last week. The junior-to-be has played sparingly in his two seasons on campus, and originally wanted to transfer to be closer to home. Turns out he would rather…
May 20, 2013, 7:28 PM EDT
Mike Rice lost his job at Rutgers by repeatedly physically and mentally abusing his players. And it looks like he’s trying to get help with it. A report from ESPN.com’s Andy Katz said that Rice has spent the past two weeks with former NBA guard John Lucas at his rehabilitation center in Houston getting counseled…
May 20, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
Bill Self might be challenging Rick Pitino for the title of “best college basketball offseason”. At least from a coaching perspective. Less than a week after top prep player Andrew Wiggins committed to the Jayhawks, Self got another big commitment, this one of a different one-year variety, as former Memphis forward Tarik Black has committed…
May 20, 2013, 6:15 PM EDT
Justin Tuoyo’s next stop is with a familiar face. The sophomore-to-be will be transferring to Chattanooga, where he will be reunited with Will Wade, who took over for with the Mocs after spending the past four seasons on Shaka Smart’s staff at VCU. The 6-9 Tuoyo averaged 1.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in his lone…
May 20, 2013, 5:35 PM EDT
Recently, the big trend has been to redesign a team’s home court with a cool graphic. Florida International recently pulled it off with a beach theme, Long Beach State did the same a few years ago. Oregon seemed to be one of the originators (as Oregon can be with this sort of stuff). Add George…
May 20, 2013, 4:50 PM EDT
A big announcement came today for Sacred Heart and Conference hoops as a whole as word came out that Dave Bike will retire as head coach after 35 years at the helm. His replacement has apparently already been found in assistant coach Anthony Latina. A news conference is expected sometime next week. Bike took over…
May 20, 2013, 4:15 PM EDT
There may not be a rivalry in all of college basketball more unique than the Battle of the Boulevard, which pits Belmont against Lipscomb, two schools that are located all of 2.7 miles apart on Belmont Boulevard in Nashville, TN. It dates back to 1953, and over the course of the last 60 years, the two…
May 20, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT
Dominic Woodson no longer plans to attend Baylor in the fall, according to multiple reports. Woodson was rated as the No. 80 recruit in the country, and the No. 9 center in the Class of 2013, by Rivals. But with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson both opting to return to school, and with Rico Gathers…
May 20, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT
Frank Haith has added yet another transfer to his program, as former Baylor wing Deuce Bello will finish up his playing career at Missouri. The news was first reported by Gabe DeArmond of PowerMizzou.com. “I have decided to play for Mizzou,” Bello told DeArmond. “We played them three times while I was at Baylor. I…
May 20, 2013, 12:16 PM EDT
We’ve known that Long Beach State was heading towards some roster upheaval for a few weeks now, but the news will soon become official: five players from last year’s team will not be on the roster next season. The three biggest names: Keala King, Tony Freeland and Deng Deng. They’re 49er careers are caput. A…
May 20, 2013, 11:44 AM EDT
When Steve Alford was hired at UCLA almost two months ago, my initial reaction was one of optimism. Alford had turned New Mexico into the dominant program in a very good Mountain West. Regardless of the post season flameouts that he’s had — he hasn’t made it out of the first weekend of the NCAA…
May 20, 2013, 10:23 AM EDT
Last Tuesday, Andrew Wiggins ended one of the most intriguing recruitments that college hoops has ever seen. Let’s get past the fact that Wiggins is the kind of talent that can change the course of a team’s season. We’re talking about a guy that’s talented enough to do what Kevin Durant did for Texas in…
May 20, 2013, 9:17 AM EDT
It’s official now: Zay Jackson will be returning to the Murray State basketball team next season. That’s according to Andy Katz, who reported on Monday morning that Jackson had practiced with the Racers and earned a 2.75 GPA after spending 49 days in jail. If you’ve forgotten, Jackson was locked up for an incident in…
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