Skip to content

Can North Carolina turn things around before it’s too late?

Jan 11, 2013, 12:24 PM EDT

Miami v North Carolina Getty Images

There was no doubt that North Carolina would go through an adjustment period given how much talent left Chapel Hill after last season. Losing Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Kendall Marshall and Tyler Zeller from last season’s Elite 8 team isn’t something that a program can simply get over, regardless of how well it recruits.

But after their 78-69 home loss to Miami last night, dropping Roy Williams’ team to 10-5 overall and 0-2 in ACC play, how much trouble is North Carolina in with a trip to Tallahassee next on the slate?

The last time North Carolina began ACC play 0-2 was during the 2008-09 season, a run that ended with a national championship. Two of the differences between that team and this one: a true star in Tyler Hansbrough and an experienced point guard in Ty Lawson.

Unless Barnes were to stun the masses and return to school this group was destined to be without a star player, regardless of the preseason hype bestowed upon sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo. Having an experienced hand at the point can help alleviate some of those issues, and upon first glance Marshall was to be that guy.

But when you’re a projected lottery pick (Marshall was picked 13th by the Phoenix Suns) it’s tough to return to school, and few (if any) will blame Marshall for making that decision. A glimpse of what North Carolina was without Marshall was seen during the NCAA tournament when he suffered a broken wrist in the Tar Heels’ win over Creighton, as one of the nation’s best offensive teams had a tougher time scoring.

Without Marshall a team capable of winning a national title ultimately fell to Kansas in the Elite 8, and that was with players like Barnes, Henson and Zeller at coach Williams’ disposal. With Kendall Marshall gone UNC handed the reins of the offense to freshman Marcus Paige, and while the scoring hasn’t dropped off much the Tar Heels are turning the ball over at a higher rate (18.6% turnover percentage; 16.4% in 2011-12 per statsheet.com).

Although McAdoo might be the only star-level player on the squad, players such as Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston do have significant ability and likely would have flourished with an elite playmaker such as Marshall running the attack.

Players such as McAdoo, Paige, Hairston and Bullock certainly don’t lack for talent, but which of the players in the rotation have the ability to step up and be the feature option for North Carolina? Which player (or players) has the ability to step up and be the leader this young group needs?

Bullock attempted to take that step, calling a players-only meeting after their loss at Virginia, and as one of their most consistent players it makes some sense that Bullock would be the one to do so. Another player UNC needs to step up and lead is senior guard Dexter Strickland, who has scored just four points (2-of-8 FG) over the last two games.

By January most teams that become factors in March have their roles well-defined and that’s yet to happen with North Carolina. The Tar Heels need to solve that issue before its too late.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Latest Posts
  1. Pangos All-American Camp Day 1: Mustapha Heron dominates; Terrance Ferguson shows glimpses of greatness

    May 30, 2015, 2:31 PM EDT

    Scott Phillips/NBC Sports Scott Phillips/NBC Sports

    Here’s a rundown of everything that happened at the Pangos All-American Camp on Friday.

  2. Report: Arizona coach Sean Miller up for contract extension

    May 30, 2015, 11:44 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    The extension would go through the 2019-20 season.

  3. Report: Iowa State commit updates status with Fred Hoiberg rumors swirling

    May 29, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT

    (Jon Lopez/Nike) (Jon Lopez/Nike)

    Will Iowa State’s lone 2015 high school commit stay put if Fred Hoiberg leaves?

  4. Oklahoma State lands graduate transfer big man

    May 29, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    chris olivier

    Oklahoma State badly needed another big man and might have found some help.

  5. Duke commit Luke Kennard named Parade National Player of the Year

    May 29, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Duke is getting another Parade National Player of the Year.

  6. Amidst Iowa State rumors, Jeff Hornacek discusses commitment to Phoenix Suns

    May 29, 2015, 4:03 PM EDT

    PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 05:  Head coach Jeff Hornacek of the Phoenix Suns reacts during the NBA game against the Memphis Grizzlies at US Airways Center on November 5, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Grizzlies defeated the Suns 102-91. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Getty Images

    With Fred Hoiberg being tabbed the frontrunner for the Bulls job, Hornacek’s name has come up as a possible replacement in Ames.

  7. San Diego, San Diego State to play December 5 at Petco Park

    May 29, 2015, 2:01 PM EDT

    Steve Fisher AP

    The last time these two teams met at a neutral site was back in 1992.

  8. Former Ole Miss center to visit Kansas this weekend

    May 29, 2015, 12:54 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Kansas also has plans to host former Providence center Paschal Chukwu in early June.

  9. Former Vanderbilt player Dai-Jon Parker dies in boating accident

    May 29, 2015, 9:36 AM EDT

    Chris Denson, Dai-Jon Parker AP

    Dai-Jon Parker played this past season at the University of Indianapolis.

  10. Former Michigan forward Max Bielfeldt holding off on school decision

    May 28, 2015, 9:02 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Fred Hoiberg’s status has impacted recruiting in multiple cases for Iowa State this spring.

  11. Big 12 Tournament to remain in Kansas City through 2020

    May 28, 2015, 7:43 PM EDT

    Bob Bowlsby, Fred Hoiberg Bob Bowlsby, Fred Hoiberg

    Big 12 tournaments held at the Sprint Center have averaged more than 18,000 fans per session.

  12. SEC announces new men’s basketball scheduling format

    May 28, 2015, 6:41 PM EDT

    SEClogo

    Each team will have three “permanent” opponents they’re guaranteed to play twice every season.

  13. Misdemeanor charges against VCU’s Mo Alie-Cox dropped

    May 28, 2015, 5:46 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Video surfaced showing that Alie-Cox wasn’t involved in the incident, contradicting a woman’s claim that he punched her in the face.

  14. Former VCU forward transferring to UConn

    May 28, 2015, 4:04 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    UConn’s now added three transfers to the program this spring, two of whom will be eligible immediately as graduate students.

  15. Former Clemson coach Bill Foster dies at 79

    May 28, 2015, 3:24 PM EDT

    ClemsonTigers.com ClemsonTigers.com

    Foster led Clemson to their only Elite 8 appearance in program history.

  16. North Carolina to visit Northern Iowa in homecoming game for Marcus Paige

    May 28, 2015, 2:07 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Paige went to high school an hour from UNI’s campus.