P.J. Hairston is Excelling in the Starting Role for North Carolina

By Anthony Lenahan
Kelvin Kuo-USA today Sports

I have been saying all year that North Carolina would be a lot better if P.J. Hairston was in the starting line-up.  Roy Williams is a coach not known for changing his starting five in the middle of the season, but when the Tar Heels took on Duke, Williams decided to make the change.

Hairston replace Desmond Hubert in the starting line-up so Carolina could match up better with Duke’s starting five.  Hubert is mainly a defensive player and doesn’t really provide much for the Tar Heels and with Hairston able to play big an physical even as a guard, why not make the switch?

In his first start this season, Hairston was able to tie his career high with 23 points.  He was 8-18 from the field and was just 1-7 from behind the arc, a place where he normally excels.  He out-hustled every player on the court and was making plays that Carolina needed to make.

To go along with the point that Hairston makes hustle plays.  Against Duke he recorded 8 rebounds playing mostly the forward position as a guard, recorded 3 assists, had 2 blocks, and he had a steal.  He also took a couple of charges and saved a few loose balls.  Not only did he have 8 rebounds, but 7 of them were offensive.  That is pure hustle and having a knack for the ball, something you can’t teach.

He made his second start of the year today and just upped his performance from his first start.  A career-high 29 points to go along with another 7 rebounds.  Today he shot like himself and was able to knock down six three’s.

With Hairston in the line-up instead of Hubert, North Carolina has looked so much better.  Their offense is a lot more free-flowing and everyone is moving around.  Also, it opens up the whole paint area for James Michael McAdoo or for the Tar Heels guards to attack the basket.

Hairston has also proven to be the Tar Heels most productive player this year and you just can’t have that type of player coming off the bench.  Roy Williams made the correct move by starting Hairston and Hairston has proved his coach right.

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