New Year Means New North Carolina Tar Heels

By Jeremy Roth
Marcus Paige
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

With 2013 in the books, as well as the North Carolina Tar Heels non-conference schedule, the team now has its sights set on ACC play. Although the team has been inconsistent thus far, it finally seems like they have everything figured out. Although it took losses to three teams that do not even belong on the same court as them to realize what they had to fix, everything is finally coming together for the Tar Heels, and they will definitely be dominant moving forward.

Since the Tar Heels’ embarrassing loss to Texas in which they shot like a bunch of third graders from the free-throw line, the team has improved in all aspects of their game. James Michael McAdoo is shooting much better from the charity stripe, Marcus Paige is continuing to be the star point guard he has proven to be, and every single player from the starters to the end of the bench has contributed in their own way. The Tar Heels blew out North Carolina-Wilmington yesterday, and there was not one aspect of their game that posed an issue. Leslie McDonald is finally coming in off the bench and doing his thing from the three-point line, and Brice Johnson is emerging as a star in the frontcourt in replacement of the injured Joel James. Even the freshman Isaiah Hicks is coming in off the bench and making vital plays, while J.P. Tokoto is making a name for himself in Tar Heel blue on both ends of the court.

Many fans still do not know what to expect from a team that defeated a No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 team in the country, but lost to three unranked teams.  While fans still decide to dwell on those losses, the Tar Heels seem to only dwell on the victories. As of late, they have played each and every game like it was against a top team in the country, and they possess a tremendous amount of momentum and confidence as they head into Wake Forest on January 5, to open ACC play.

The year of 2013 is a thing of the past, as are the Tar Heels’ inconsistent performances against teams that they are supposed to beat. The main contributor to the teams losses has been their free throw shooting, but in their final three non-conference games, the Tar Heels shot about 71 percent from the line which is a drastic improvement. The team should get James back from injury as soon as the Wake Forest game, which will provide them with yet another threat in the frontcourt. McAdoo and Johnson are a dangerous combination already, and with James back in the lineup, it will be scary to see what the Tar Heels’ frontcourt has in store.

If the team can continue to keep this momentum going and play the way that they know they can, then 2014 will be a great year for the Tar Heels.  If they can come up with wins against Wake Forest, Miami, and especially against No. 2 Syracuse to begin ACC play, then it will certainly be a happy new year for the boys from Chapel Hill. Only time will tell just how successful the Tar Heels will be to begin the year, but right now, there is a tremendous amount of optimism surrounding the program.

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