North Carolina‘s loss to the University of Alabama-Birmingham on Sunday was based on one obvious strategy: if teams slow down sophomore guard Marcus Paige, the Tar Heels are lost.
Paige could not get any easy looks, was forced into double- and sometimes triple-teams, and was given little help on offense. He is an extremely talented player, but the Tar Heels need someone else. This is where junior James Michael McAdoo needs to step up. North Carolina’s struggles against UAB and in the loss to Belmont earlier this season happened because there is no apparent scheme on offense.
So far, it looks like the offensive plan is get the ball to Paige anywhere on the court and hope he can make something happen. Paige was able to do this in the upset victory over Louisville when he tallied 32 points, but with defenses keying in on him now, McAdoo must offer something so Carolina can orchestrate an organized and distinct offense.
McAdoo only had six points against the Blazers, shot 3-of-13 from the field and for whatever reason, took a trio of 3-pointers. McAdoo is a great athlete and occasionally shows flashes of brilliance on the offensive end with an array of moves in the box and a solid mid-range jumper. None of this was evident against UAB, and McAdoo actually did more harm than good.
He must be a solid second option, or he immediately becomes a liability. McAdoo can become disinterested on offense, and it shows. It seems that when he is not the main focus on offense or when he misses a few shots, he also becomes lackadaisical on defense. He should be nearing 20 points in every game, but is only averaging 13.8.
In fact, McAdoo has scored below 10 points in three straight games. Even if he can get his scoring up two or three more points, defenders will have to respect his game. As of right now, defenses have no reason to do more than single him up and allow him to take low-percentage shots. McAdoo is shooting a pitiful 41 percent from the field mostly as an inside threat. He has regressed from the 44 percent he shot last season.
Carolina will not get any breaks against no. 1 Michigan State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday. If coach Roy Williams does not figure out a way to change the offense, UNC will be blown out by the Spartans.