North Carolina's Marcus Paige Must Get Back on Track to Heal the Heels

By Jeremy Roth
Marcus Paige
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels are 0-3 in the ACC after losing to Wake Forest, Miami (FL) and Syracuse, and their star point guard Marcus Paige has not done much to help change that atrocious record as of late. The sophomore began the season playing out of his mind, having three 20 plus point games in the first five games, including a 32-point performance against Louisville when they were the No. 3 team in the country. As a matter of fact, Paige had double-digit scoring performances in every single non-conference game this season, but why did that have to change when ACC play rolled around?

Since conference play began, Paige has only had one double-digit scoring game out of the three, and that was a 17-point performance against Syracuse when he was forced to basically ball-hog because nobody stood a chance against the Orange’s zone defense. In the three conference games, Paige is only shooting about 27.4 percent from the field and 21.3 percent from three-point range. This is well off of what he was shooting in non-conference play, and if the Tar Heels plan on being successful moving forward, it starts with Paige getting back on track.

In my opinion, Paige should stop trying to play like a dominant scoring guard and focus more on playing like Kendall Marshall did in his days in Chapel Hill. Marshall would think pass first, score second, yet the shots would always fall when he took them. Instead of pressing himself and shooting an abundance of shots per game, he looked for the open guys and passed the ball off, which ultimately helped the Tar Heels be successful. I am not saying that Paige should stop shooting altogether, but it would be more beneficial to the team if he focused more on being a playmaker rather than a sharp shooter. I mean, it worked for Marshall, and I truly believe it will work for Paige.

Paige has all of the tools around him, including James Michael McAdoo, J.P. Tokoto and Brice Johnson when he enters the game off the bench. If he can focus more on setting these guys up for open shots or clutch alley-oop dunks, as we’ve seen a few times, then the Tar Heels will be a much better team. All I know is that Paige is a star, and has a lot more potential than he has been showing as of late. If he can get his game back on track, then the Tar Heel team will hop on his back all the way into March.

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