As the No. 9 team in the country, everyone knows that North Carolina is a force in the ACC. However there are skeptics that UNC can really beat great teams, especially come tournament time. This is due to their lack of experienced big man depth, but from their 95-to-49 slaughtering of Mississippi State, there are many positives for the Tar Heels moving forward.
Reggie Bullock drained his first three shots from behind the arc, and ended the game making five of his six attempts showing NBA range. He should be one of the top 3-point shooters in the NCAA all season long. His shot has consistency in his point of release and the angle at which he shoots the ball.
Bullock isn’t the only deep threat on UNC though, both P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald also displayed accuracy from downtown. Hairston made a shot at the half-time buzzer from the opposite 3-point line, and made it look easy, not that he will do this often. He finished the game going 4-for-7 while McDonald sank six out of 10 from 3-point land. Overall North Carolina made 15 out of 31 from deep.
Dexter Strickland is showing great passing, especially on entry passes to James McAdoo in the post. Strickland uses his athleticism to attract attention, and he succeeds in setting up his teammates more often than not.
He also has a high basketball IQ drawing contact on fast breaks with regularity, and on one in particular he forced the defender into his back, then controlled his body for an easy lay-up giving himself a chance to score three points the old fashion way. Defensively, Strickland is a constant threat to steal the ball with his quick, active hands, and he had six thefts on the night.
McAdoo is exhibiting some long 2-point range, and shows great feel around the basket. His feet are outstanding for a power forward, which will translate well to the NBA, as he will be able to play both small and power forward. He will need to protect the ball better as the season progresses, he had all four of his turnovers in the first half.
Marcus Paige is improving his floater, which he can make with either his right or left hand consistently. He is normally a righty, but makes it difficult for defenders to predict his shooting hand when he drives the lane since he is confident with his left. His consistency around the basket needs work, at times he looks spastic trying to finish.
Roy Williams is lacking depth for options in the post. McAdoo is really the Tar Heels only established scoring option down low. Freshman forwards Joel James and Brice Johnson could develop into important scoring options in the paint, but it is too early in the season to tell. They both recorded two blocked shots and combined for 15 rebounds in the victory.
North Carolina will be manhandled in the post by bigger teams if James and Johnson can’t continue to step up.