NCAA Basketball ACC BasketballMarch MadnessNorth Carolina Tar Heels

Calm Down, North Carolina Fans, You’ll Be In The NCAA Tournament

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

I was just browsing around the web this morning and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Mayans? Nah, that’s yesterday’s news. Just some talk about the North Carolina Tar Heels missing the NCAA Tournament. On second thought? That might just be the Mayans after all.

I’m being chartible when I say North Carolina has been a disappointment this season. This was a team ranked in the top 10 preseason that was going to be led by “star” James Michael McAdoo. His NCAA tournament success last season was just a harbinger of things to come and newcomer Marcus Paige was going to make Carolina fans forget about the Larry Drew disaster. Oops.

While that obviously has been anything but, I’m not going to hit the panic button just yet. Right now in college basketball there are a lot of bad teams. Don’t give me that “parody” BS, a lot of bad basketball is being played. Night in and night out check the scoreboard. You’ll see some directional school keeping it close with the big boys until the final couple minutes when talent takes over. Teams are still evolving, good or bad, and a lot of basketball is still to be played.

The biggest issue for me with McAdoo is what really is his game. To me he’s just an athlete whose shown a few flashes of a mid range jumper. His interior post game is almost non existent. When you review why he’s struggling I go back to footwork. This is a relatively easy fix in the big picture. Why doesn’t he work with some one like radio color guy Eric Montross on just a couple of simple moves with his back to the basket? You don’t need to have a variety of moves to survive in college. One go to move will do you just fine.

Overall, the Carolina offense has little flow in the half court. They rely heavily on second chance points and sheer athleticism. Maybe you even increase Dexter Strickland‘s minutes at the point guard spot. As a senior, you’d expect him to give you more of a veteran influence on the floor. Today, we expect freshman to come in and light the world on fire. It just doesn’t happen like that all the time. The stars are few and far between.

Defense is a whole different issue for Carolina since it, frankly, is non existent at times. What makes it even more frustrating is it just isn’t a tactical or strategic issue. Too many times I’ve seen players loafing it down the court in transition and giving up easy buckets. That is a simply an effort problem.

In the half court, I see too many guys reaching for steals and trying to make the big play. That itself is risky but when you don’t really have a shot blocker like in year’s past with Brandan Wright or John Henson, it’s a disaster.

I’d like to see Roy Williams experiment a bit with zone tomorrow against McNeese State. A simple 2-3 could allow North Carolina’s length to really shine. It also would keep them in their “spots” and not give the opposition free lanes to the basket. I know it would be strange for Carolina fans to see but that’s irrelevant  The Illinois Fighting Illini have finally implemented some zone this year after year’s of solely man under Bruce Weber. Even when it didn’t work, he wouldn’t change. That hardheaded approach is likely to have you sitting at home come “Selection Sunday”.

The Tar Heels don’t need a major overhaul. This year’s team isn’t going to go down as an all-time great but reaching the Sweet 16 is still possible. A decent run would allow you to built towards next season when you have the number two center in the country headed to Chapel Hill. A Paige-Kennedy Meeks combination sounds like a damn formidable force come 2013-2014. Just show some patience the rest of this season, please.

Like my article? Hate it? Let me know on Twitter (@tmichaelcronin). I look forward to your thoughts.