North Carolina is going to be starting the season in unfamiliar territory this year as they will start out the year ranked outside the top-10. The main question to start the year all Carolina fans have is how long will P.J. Hairston be suspended? Hairston, Carolina’s leading scorer, is suspended indefinitely and will be a huge factor in UNC’s success this season.
Although the length of his suspension is unknown, what we do know is he will miss at least one game.
With Hairston out, it will be great to see all the different lineups Roy Williams will put on the court. It will also allow for young guards like Nate Britt, and J.P. Tokoto to get more action than normal which will be great experience for two young players.
Everyone is questioning the Tar Heels’ experience and talent this season and no one thinks they can contend for a national championship. What people fail to realize is that this is still North Carolina and there will always be talent on a UNC team.
In fact, this team might be one of the most talented teams in a while for Carolina. Every player, except for the three walk-ons, will see minutes in just about every single game Carolina plays. Not many teams in the country, if any other team, can say that.
Depth is extremely underrated when you are looking at contenders and pretenders. When is the last time a team who played six or seven teams had much success late in the season?
Now guys like Luke Davis and Jackson Simmons might not look like guys you want in the game, but when you actually watch the game you realize how much they mean to the success of this team. Guys like Davis and Simmons are work horses who come in and play maybe five minutes a game, but give it everything they have and limit the mistakes and turnovers.
Last season, the lack of depth at the center position killed Carolina because it forced James Michael McAdoo to play out of position which really hurt his production. This season, by bringing in Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks to go along with the return of Joel James and Desmond Hubert, who have improved drastically from last year, they won’t have the problem they did last year. Now you add McAdoo, Brice Johnson and Simmons at power forward and right there you have seven guys who you can rely on to produce to play two positions.
Some teams don’t even have seven guys they can rely on to play five positions.
Leslie McDonald is likely to start for Carolina at the guard position once he is declared eligible and Hairston will start once he comes back from suspension at the other guard. Then you bring in returning starting point guard Marcus Paige to play the one and you have your three starting guards. Britt, Tokoto and Davis will all come off the bench at least to start the year.
With six guards and seven forwards who are all likely to get playing action, Williams is in his glory. A coach who loves to mix and match lineups and sub in five at a time on occasion has 13 guys he can play.
Williams already began to experiment with his depth by doing things such as having Britt play the one while Paige played the two. He also went with his big lineup by putting an athletic McAdoo at the three.
Depth is the main reason Carolina will be a successful team this season. They have talent, but not the most talent they have ever had and with this many quality players their coach can do what he does best.
If one or two guys are off on a given night, there are plenty of guys who can fill in and give a better performance. No other team will play as many guys as Carolina will this year and that will lead to plenty of success at the end of the year when it all matters.