The North Carolina Tar Heels need to turn things around quickly as we approach ACC play, because that loss against the Texas Longhorns was demoralizing and showed the problems this team has at center and point guard. But I do think some people are overreacting, because UNC still has one of the top 50 SRS totals in the nation. But that’s not enough to satiate the Tar Heels and their fans, especially since this team can achieve more than they have already.
Today’s game against McNeese State is a nice, easy home game that should serve as a spring board for UNC. The Cowboys have three key players to watch for in Desharick Guidry, Kevin Hardy, and Austin Lewis, but this is definitely a game that has a Tar Heels victory written all over it. But the Heels can’t just win this game- they have to dominate their inferior opponents. UNC’s schedule is pointed out as a “cakewalk” thus far, but it actually hasn’t been all that easy with games against Butler and Indiana as highlighted games. UNC, however, needs to dominate McNeese State and use this as a big confidence booster going forward.
So far, Reggie Bullock and Brice Johnson have been the most noteworthy players on the team. Bullock’s status as the team leader in win shares doesn’t come as much of a surprise, and he has lit up the stat sheet this year with 5.7 rebounds per game, 3.2 assists per game, 1.6 steals per game, and 12.7 points per game. Johnson leads the team with a 29.4 PER to go with a ridiculous 63.8% effective field goal percentage.
While Bullock and Johnson have been the most efficient players, James Michael McAdoo unsurprisingly has the most noteworthy overall statistics with an average of 15.3 points per game being the number that jumps out most. Well, that or the 8.4 rebounds per game that he is averaging. McAdoo is “only” averaging .97 points per possession, but he has made up for that by being the best defensive player on the team so far this season.
I expect P.J. Hairston to bounce back after an awful performance against Texas, and this game is also important for the young guys Marcus Paige and J.P. Tokoto. Those two can really get some momentum going against McNeese State with those opportunities, and my attention will be directed on Paige. His 8.5 PER underlines the fact that he has been the biggest liability to this point, but there is little question that he has plenty of potential and will only get better despite the rough start as a freshman.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.