The young Tar Heels have shown what they’re capable of in spurts, but have basically been untested so far this season. That first test will be Friday at Long Beach State: A program that year in and year out has one of the toughest schedules in the nation. Long Beach State like UNC lost four of its top five scorers including Casper Ware the speedy guard who torched the Tar Heels the past two years for an average of about thirty points. A veteran Tar Heel team narrowly escaped Long Beach State last year at home to the tune of a six point victory, and this game too could be close. If you take the youth into consideration along with the fact this game will be played in enemy territory, this will be an accurate observation of how good this team can be.
I don’t think that UNC has put together it’s most complete game yet. They struggled in the first half of the FAU game before putting on a dominating performance in the second half, and vice versa for the Gardner Webb game. James Michael McAdoo has proved in both games that he’s the star we all thought he could become when given the opportunity. The perimeter shooting has been cold which is an uneasy feeling considering the perimeter talent the Tar Heels have. Look for UNC to break out of its shooting slump Friday night at Long Beach State.
This will be the first real test for the freshmen who have displayed the talent and energy needed to compete at this level. Joel James is a monster down low and will be tough for anyone to handle. Brice Johnson has been a nice surprise, showing an offensive game that we weren’t sure he was quite ready to display just yet. Marcus Paige has gone through some bumps in the roads, but you can expect that from a freshmen point guard running this fast tempo offense. JP Tokoto could be the next Jackie Manuel; he displays athleticism that is off the charts, and could become a very versatile defender.
I think Long Beach State comes out pumped up in the first half and it takes a while for UNC to settle it’s nerves. I don’t see this being like the UNLV game last year where the Tar Heels had a deer in the headlights kinda look going on the entire game, especially when they got down. I expect more of a fight from this Tar Heel team. The Tar Heels are being overlooked this year and they’re out to prove something. All in all after some early game jitters and some halftime adjustments I see the Tar Heels surviving Long Beach State with an 84-71 victory.