Turnovers are an unfortunate part of life for point guards in the game of basketball. For freshman floor general Marcus Paige, that is no exception. The young Tar Heel landed the starting point guard role with zero experience at the college level and was given the keys to Roy Williams’ high octane, complex offense and asked to lead the way through a new season filled with the usual high expectations.
Paige to this point has been a good player and it’s clear that he has the tools to be much more. The biggest disadvantage that Marcus has against him is that he will constantly be compared to the likes of his immediate predecessor Kendall Marshall. It’s not Paige’s fault that he is following one of the greatest pure passing point guards to not only have played at UNC, but in college basketball as well. It was a luxury for us Tar Heel fans that we could expect to see a ten assist night from Kendall paired with 8 points and, most importantly, less than two turnovers a game.It’s unfair for anyone to compare Marcus to Kendall especially since they play different games. It’s very clear that Marcus is far and away a better scorer than Kendall to this point. On Friday night against Long Beach State, Paige racked up 15 points which was second most on the team behind James Michael McAdoo and showed the sweet touch from three on a couple of shots. Unlike Marshall, his assist to turnover ratio is not as good. Currently Marcus is averaging 3.25 assists per game and a total of 3.75 turnovers a game. Marcus may not be asked to get double digits in assists on a nightly basis, but what can he do to prevent turnovers?
I think it starts with making the smart pass. Too many times to players in a fast paced system try to go too fast and do too much with the ball. Marcus needs to work on making the easy pass. His game plan should be simple, run it down the floor and either dump it down low to McAdoo or penetrate in and kick it out to the open wing player. Both plays are high percentage and low risk. The majority of the assists we’ve seen from Marcus have come from easy passes in transition or down low to his post players.
Once Marcus gets used to the added speed and skill level of the college game, he will lower his turnover number and replace them with points of assists. I think it’s only a matter of time for him to finally make the full transition. He did say in an interview after the Long Beach State game that cutting down on his turnovers will be the easy part so it’s comforting to see that he’s confident in his ability and that he doesn’t get easily discouraged.
For Paige, the sky is the limit. He has the talent and the skill set to be a real force on the college level for North Carolina. He’s shown us all moments of brilliance that make us all very happy he’s a Tar Heel. Now Marcus just needs to work on his consistency and iron out his mistakes. Once he accomplishes that, you’ll be looking at a premier player.