5 Lessons North Carolina Learned During Non-conference Play
Lessons North Carolina Learned In Non-conference Play
North Carolina has built a fantastic non-conference resume with impressive victories over Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky. The Heels did suffer some early out-of-conference losses, but looked to have gelled into a formidable opponent for anyone.
Coach Roy Williams has done a fabulous job coaching this season and has found a rotation that can score, play stingy defense and run many teams off of the court. North Carolina has dealt with off-the-court issues, as well, and yet has built a team ready to compete for an ACC regular season title. North Carolina opens up conference play against Wake Forest on Sunday and this game will give college basketball fans a great look at what the Tar Heels have to offer other competitors. While the Demon Deacons are not extremely talented, Carolina has already lost to three teams it should not have. This game is a barometer of how seriously the Tar Heels take lesser opponents.
North Carolina has all the talent on the court, on the bench and in its coaching staff to actually compete for an NCAA championship. Every position on the floor has above-level talent and the bench, while not super-deep plays hard and can give a few minutes of rest for the starters. If North Carolina does not compete hard in every game, the Tar Heels could fall into the middle of the pack. If North Carolina comes ready and hyped no matter the opponent, nets could be coming down and draped on shoulders in April.
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J.P. Tokoto Can Swing Games
J.P. Tokoto is coming into form in his sophomore season and has put together several games that have led the Tar Heels to big victories. Tokoto is averaging 10 points per game, can hit mid-range jumpers and the occasional three-pointer. His aggressiveness will play a major role in Carolina's ACC standing.
Depth Is Now To North Carolina's Advantage
One of North Carolina's biggest early-season worries was depth. Since the return of Leslie McDonald, the bench has become much stronger. McDonald is a solid all-around player. He can shoot the three, run breaks and is a good defender. The overall size depth is also strong. Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks have both had several games of great play and when Joel James returns, the middle will be even stronger. Without James, other front line players may develop more and that will only help.
James Michael McAdoo Is Shaking Off Skeptics
James Michael McAdoo had a stretch this season of four-straight games where he did not record double-digit scoring figures. However, McAdoo has come around as of late and has had six straight games of at least 11 points. McAdoo is a superb athlete and can be as disruptive on defense as he is showing on offense.
Marcus Paige Is A Star
Marcus Paige has gone from an inconsistent player who sometimes looked puzzled his freshman year to a bonafide ACC Player of the Year candidate. Paige is easily the best three-point shooter on North Carolina and leads the team in scoring (18.4 PPG) and assists (4.0 APG). He is also a National Player of the Year candidate.
North Carolina Has Handled Adversity Well
North Carolina started the season without Leslie McDonald and P.J. Hairston. McDonald is back, but Hairston will not suit up for the Heels. Despite this, coach Roy Williams has built a true contender. He has taken the roster he has and built a scoring-machine that also plays intense defense. Whether UNC wins a title or not, Williams has done a brilliant job coaching.
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