North Carolina Tar Heels Continue to Underachieve
I’d like to write about my favorite sports team- the North Carolina men’s basketball team. This is one underachieving group if I ever saw one. The entire starting lineup returns from a surprise first place 2011 ACC finish, with all five members being former McDonald’s All-Americans. I never doubted former Maryland head coach Gary Williams’ strategy of straying from these prestigious recruits, but at the same time I loved watching them come in to North Carolina to win two championships for Ol’ Roy. Gary got his, with a bunch of misfit junior college transfers and essential no-names. But Roy was able to keep all his egos in check and win one more national championship than the other Williams of the ACC. But will it work with this bunch? I’m having my doubts.
Lets begin with the floor general, Kendall Marshall, aka “Butter.” This is the type of point guard I’ve been looking for. Who gets more assists than this kid? He’s going to break all the records set by one of my favorite guards in history, former UNC standout Ed Cota. When I played inter-mural basketball, I would put up Kendall-esque numbers. Maybe a few buckets, albeit right handed, but probably 8-12 assists per game. That may translate to wins in some leagues, but under Roy’s system, your point guard needs to score. Pushing, driving and diming is one thing. You’ve got to knock down that open jumper. You’ve got to put pressure on the defense, while playing some too. Passing can generate lots of offense, sure. But when you can’t even create your own jumper? Or defend one to boot? Therein lies a problem.
Moving on. The glue to the stew, the perimeter defender, the energetic leader, Dexter Strickland, is lost for the season. The ’05 Tar Heels were lost without Jackie Manuel, and the ’09 Heels were lost without Marcus Ginyard or Danny Green. On a Roy Williams coached team, such a player is so prominent that yet another McDonald’s All American talent such as Reggie Bullock is not going to make the cut. Three pointers and rebounds be damned, we need that assist to turnover ratio, not to mention the lightning quick speed and hustle that Dexter brings to the team in order to effectively run Roy’s complicated system.
And with the number one pick in the 2012 NBA draft…the WASHINGTON WIZARDS (yet again) will select…Harrison Barnes? This has been pushed by experts in mock drafts for over two years now, and I don’t think it’s actually going to happen. A player that was thought to be the next ‘Melo is now being thought of as the next Tim Thomas. Where is his consistency? Being a late bloomer is one thing…but doing so two years in a row is reason for concern. Let me retract that. It’s reason for panic. Which is exactly what us Heel fans are doing. It took Harrison half the season to surpass 19 points last year, the suddenly he matched his own number-40-by scorching Clemson in the ACC tournament. This year? He scores 25 one night and 8 the next, all while averaging an abysmal 4 rebounds per game. Sure the front court is stacked…but not that stacked.
Having said that…the lack of bulk in the Tar Heel front court has become an apparent problem. The strength of our team, not to mention the most consistent players, Forward-Centers John Henson and Tyler Zeller, have been the highlight of a thus far disappointing 2012 campaign. Though Henson can light up the stat sheet, he can also be the cause of lapses unseen since Brendan Haywood and his 1 point performance in the 1999 NCAA Tournament first round loss to Weber State. Zeller, the lone senior, is also the lone consistent performer on the team. He may not be first round draft material, but he can always be counted on to score at least 12-16 points and 6-8 rebounds. That’s more than can be said for any other front court player on the team.
As for the bench, stocked with 4 more McDonald’s All-Americans, I’ll just keep my mouth shut. I’m so furious with their performance that I cannot even begin to tally up their shortcomings. James Michael McAdoo, nephew of former UNC standout and NBA MVP Bob McAdoo, has been anything but Marvin Williams. P.J. Hairston has been refreshing with his 3-pointers, but frustrating with his lack of rebounding, despite his size. Shades of Harrison Barnes, just poor man style. Where is Tyler Hansbrough when you need him? Trite as it sounds, this team needs a overdose injection of Psycho-T.
Maybe Gary Williams had the right idea when he retired early after going against his own philosophy. His big names didn’t exactly have a big impact. I’m not saying that Roy needs to make an early exit, but he’s got plenty of work to do with his band of personality driven egomaniacs. Sidney Lowe learned the hard way how number hungry egos don’t mesh with team oriented students of the game. Is it possible for Roy to study two shunned coaches in order to bring his own team together?
Whats Your Verdict?