5 Items on North Carolina Tar Heels’ Christmas Wish List
Top 5 Items on the North Carolina Tar Heels' Christmas Wish List
The North Carolina Tar Heels are just two games away from their ACC schedule, and it is apparent that improvement must be made in all aspects of their game in order to be successful. Instead of toys or clothes wrapped up under the Christmas tree, the Tar Heels have other items on their wish list that will hopefully be unwrapped under the Dean E. Smith Center roof and within the arenas of their ACC opponents.
Of course, the announcement that the school will not reinstate 2012-13 leading scorer P.J. Hairston was a huge hit to the entire Tar Heel program. The guard was not only a prolific scorer, but he provided the team with a deep threat and was a key player on the defensive end. Although nothing in Santa's workshop could bring Hairston back to the Tar Heels' lineup, it will remain a wish as the team moves forward.
With that being said, the Tar Heels must come up with some sort of a three-point game if they plan on defeating teams like Duke and Syracuse, who could shoot lights out from beyond the arc. Without Hairston, the team is left with very few options to shoot the three ball. Also, with starting center Joel James out for the next two weeks, it is vital that the Tar Heels find an answer to their many problems in their front court. James Michael McAdoo is not performing up to his expectations, which is leaving a huge gap in the team's big man offense.
Hopefully, during the ACC schedule, the Tar Heels can beat the teams they are supposed to beat. These teams include Boston College, Miami, and all of the other unranked teams in the conference. The team's current record is 8-3, and although they came up with huge wins against the ranked teams of Louisville, Michigan State, and Kentucky, they could not seem to find any momentum against the mediocre squads of Belmont, UAB, and Texas.
If the Tar Heels have any hopes of being successful in the most important part of their schedule, it goes without saying that they must shoot their free throws effectively. These are only a few of the team's wishes, but it is going to take a tremendous amount of effort to have them granted.
5. P.J. Hairston Back in the Lineup
Just last week, the Tar Heels announced that guard P.J. Hairston will not be reinstated to the team as a result of receiving impermissible benefits with rental cars. This was devastating to Tar Heel fans everywhere, and many believed that if the team has any chance of succeeding in March, Hairston must be in the lineup. Well, with Hairston gone forever, the Tar Heels have no choice but to make do with their current lineup.
Luckily, sophomore guard Marcus Paige has emerged as a top scorer and playmaker in the ACC. Along with sophomore forward J.P. Tokoto, the team has done a pretty good job handling Hairston's absence thus far.
Despite the success that the team may have moving forward, it would still never hurt to have Hairston back on the court. Unfortunately, this is a wish that will always have to remain just a wish.
4. Some Sort of Three Point Game
Thus far in the young season, the Tar Heels are only shooting .339 from three-point range. They have also attempted the least amount of three-pointers in the ACC with only 109. The absence of Hairston severely affects this stat, and there is really nobody else in the Tar Heels' lineup that can shoot the long ball effectively.
Once in a while Marcus Paige will chuck up a clutch three or two, but aside from those there has not been much production coming from behind the arc. With Leslie McDonald back in the lineup after missing nine games due to suspension, the team's three-point shooting should improve, but it is still in question whether or not they can use the long ball to their advantage.
Even if the team can get their percentage around .400, they will be able to hang with a team like Duke who is currently shooting .409 from long range. Hopefully, with McDonald back in the lineup and Paige still coming together as a complete point guard, this wish will soon be granted.
3. Effective Front Court
I could go on forever about how James Michael McAdoo's play so far has been nothing short of poor, but I do have a word limit to abide by. With starting center Joel James out for the next two weeks, the Tar Heels are faced with even more challenges in their front court.
If sophomore forward Brice Johnson can continue to be the dominant replacement in the starting lineup that he has been thus far then this will be an easy wish to grant. The team's backcourt cannot continue to do all the work late in games, and it is up to the big men to grab clutch rebounds and actually get to the rim without being stopped by opposing players that are far less talented than them.
2. Momentum Against Unranked Teams
When the Tar Heels have faced off against some of the top teams in the country, those being Louisville, Michigan State, and Kentucky, they looked like a Final Four team. Unfortunately, they cannot seem to carry the momentum from those games into the games that they are supposed to win.
I've heard of teams taking it a little easy against opponents that they know they are better than, but the Tar Heels have taken that to a whole new level. Against lesser opponents they play as if they are in slow motion. A challenge is always good, but to be challenged by teams that do not even belong on the same court as them is just absurd.
The fact that they can matchup against top teams in the country is a positive, but if they have any hopes of finishing at the top of the ACC they must play every game like it is against a powerhouse. It is ridiculous that this should even be a wish, but to lose three games to teams that some people have never even heard of poses many concerns.
1. The Ability to Shoot Free Throws
Last but not least, the Tar Heels need to learn how to shoot free throws. Just like how they need to beat the teams that they are supposed to be, they need to make the shots that they are supposed to make.
Currently, the team is ranked last in the ACC in free-throw percentage at .613. Free throws win games, and the Tar Heels have learned that the hard way. Against Texas, they lost by three points, and shot 24-for-47 from the line. How could a team shoot barely over 50 percent from the line and expect to win the game?
James Michael McAdoo is a catalyst for this awful stat, and he is shooting just over 50 percent on the season. For a guy that gets fouled often, if he does not improve his foul shooting then the team will ultimately suffer. Marcus Paige is the only man on the roster that can seem to shoot free-throws with a percentage over 90 percent. If a team does even the slightest scouting report on the Tar Heels then they will avoid fouling Paige at all costs and hack McAdoo whenever he gets close to the rim.
This is not just a wish for the Tar Heels, but for their fans and pretty much anyone who watches their games. It is boring to sit there and watch a team get fouled time after time and just completely brick every single free-throw.
If the Tar Heels can shoot their foul shots somewhat effectively then all of their other flaws will become miniscule. The ACC is one of the toughest conferences is college basketball, and if the team hopes to succeed against teams in their conference they must start making the easiest shots.