Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

UNC Basketball: The 2012 Rotation

The North Carolina Tar Heels will look much different in 2012 than they did in 2011 with the losses of Kendall Marshall, Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller to the NBA, Justin Watts to graduation and Stillman White who going on a religious mission.

UNC will rely on four new incoming freshman Brice Johnson, Joel James, JP Tokoto and Marcus Paige along with increased responsibility for many of the returning players to fill the void.  The Tar Heels are without a proven star and have plenty of questions as to how they will replace the 55.2 points, 27.3 rebounds and 13.1 assists that has vanished from the roster.

Head coach Roy Williams has a tough task in front of him, setting the starting lineup will be tricky.  Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo are the only starters you can assume with complete confidence in my view.  Everybody is counting on McAdoo to break out into a star in his sophomore campaign.  And although Bullock looked good as a starter last season in Barnes’ shadow, the Heels are loaded on the perimeter and nothing will be handed to him, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone will beat him out.

Roy has always shied away from starting freshman at the point guard position, even opting to start Larry Drew III over Marshall during his freshman season.  The Heels are thin at the point and their main backup, Dexter Strickland is not a natural PG.  So do you start the freshman and take the bumps along the way or do you hand the job to Strickland who will make less mistakes but cannot run the up tempo offense Carolina employs?

Beside McAdoo inside Roy has almost the same question to ponder.  Between Brice Johnson and Joel James, does he go with the freshman who shows he’s the most ready to play or Desmond Hubert, the sophomore who is more prepared to play now but not as talented as the others?

If you pencil in Bullock at the small forward position who gets the spot at shooting guard?  Strickland got the nod last season despite being the only backup PG with experience and that backfired badly.  Leslie McDonald has been lights out in the last two NC-Pro Am’s but after a year off is he the best choice amongst a very deep pool?  PJ Hairston had an awful freshman season but has looked good in summer competition and if he shows his confidence and more importantly, his shot is back, is he the guy? 

Given all the factors, here’s how I think the rotation will look like in 2012. 

Starting 5: Paige, McDonald, Bullock, McAdoo, James

6th man: Strickland, backup PG and perimeter defensive stopper

1st Big off the ping: Hubert

Bench scorer: Hairston

Role Players: Johnson, Tokoto, Davis

What do you think the lineup will look like?

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  • Ahhines

    Im in agreement on the starting 5. You cant start dexter because he will not be back to his usual self for a while with the acl injury. i tore mine this past may and know how it is. I think the first big off the bench will be johnson. at this point im not confident in hubert, i know he has ability i just dont think hes as talented as johnson. tokoto will get probably the same amount of time as PJ did his freshman year. I think UNC is going to have a very versatile and quick team this year. Paige McDonald Bullock McAdoo and James are starters. 6th man is strickland, for more of defensive purposes and backup pg. Hairston will get good pt as well as Johnson. Tokoto will average probably 10 to 12 mins a game with Hubert about the same or a little more.

  • Charles Baker

    Dexter will start at PG, and deservingly so! You dont sit the guy who has the highest FG percentage from the previous year on the bench and start a freshman PG! Its Dex job to lose, and Roy understands that. As much as I see post and blogs of people encouraging the start of Paige, I just dont see it happening. unless he comes into the pre-season practices and just floors people with his ability to pick up the Tarheel offense. (which is highly unlikely). People, the guy hasnt played one minute of Div 1 college basketballe yet!

    • Ahhines

      Dexter strickalnd is coming off one of the worst injuries you can have as a basketball player, he will not be the same player. Probably not as quick or agile. He didnt play half of the season last year so it is un fair to award him with the highest fg %. Paige is the best option to replace marshall, and with a year with not as much offensive fire power, paige provides more of an offesnive threat than strickland.

      • Devonheelfan

        Dude he went out like the third game in conference play. That’s at least half if not more than half the season.

        • Ahhines

          Exactly. he played in 19 games and sat out the next 20. he played half the season. check the schedule, he got hurt against vtech after the fsu thrashing. but he wont start at pg or sg.

  • coachj

    if Bullock is not All-ACC and a candidate for All-American, I will be extremely disappointed in him.

    • Ahhines

      If he can get a post game and a little better handles he sure will be great!

  • TL25205

    Dexter Strickland will start at point guard if he is healthy by the start of practice. Anyone who thinks otherwise. hasn’t been paying attention to Roy Williams. To start with, Dexter is a senior and Roy loves seniors – especially ones who have been starters for two years.

    Dexter was recruited as a combo guard and was supposed to start at point guard during his senior year in high school – until Kyrie Irving transferred to St. Patrick’s. He started at shooting guard the past two seasons without being a three point shooter, and did a fine job as the backup point guard. Look for his defense on opposing point guards to be the catalyst for an active perimeter defensive team.

    Although Dexter certainly isn’t the passer that Kendall Marshall was last season, Dexter is a better point guard than most ACC teams have. Point guard will be his position in the pros – possibly the NBA but more likely overseas – and Roy would like to prepare him for that. If Paige is really good, he could take over as starter by mid-season, however, I think it more likely that Dexter will start and Paige’s minutes will increase with Dexter moving to the 2.

  • appheel

    Dexter has plenty of ability to run the up tempo offense. He is perhaps the fastest on the team and thrives in the fast break where he can drive to the hoop. Also, with Dex’s perimeter defending ability, he can create his own breaks. I’m content with him starting at PG.

  • UNC staffer78

    Has anybody seen Desmond Hubert lately? You will all be surprised and I’m certain he will get the start w/ Mac, Reggie, Dex, and Paige. Joel will get rotated for defensive stops when are up (18-19 mins a game) but Hubert has excellent defense, as well. If Dex isn’t 100% then the start goes to Leslie.

    • Mr. Thibs

      FYI, Desmond Hubert weighs 224 as of August 6th.

  • Heelblue82

    PG- Dex/Paige/Davis
    SF- Da Bull/PJ/Tokoto
    PF- JMM/Hubert/Johnson
    C- Joel James (The Big Rascal)/Hubert/Johnson