The North Carolina Tar Heels had a roller coaster of a week. UNC blew out Mississippi State and Chaminade, but ran into a wall against Butler. The loss to Butler exposed a few of Carolina’s weaknesses.
Although it is early in the season, there is no leader on the team. In past years, the leader on the team was obvious. When George Lynch played at the Carolina, he was the heart and soul of the 1993 NCAA National Champions. The same can be said about Tyler Hansbrough, Tywon Lawson, Antawn Jamison, James Worthy, Raymond Felton, Hubert Davis, Kendall Marshall, and Joseph Forte. Sometimes Carolina’s leader was vocal (e.g. Felton). Other times, there were leaders who led by their play (e.g. Hubert Davis). As of right now, Roy’s boys are figuring out their identity. A leader has not emerged as of yet.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a column that discussed reasons why Brice Johnson should start. On this past Wednesday, Brice Johnson started against Chaminade. As a result, Johnson posted 16 points and 4 rebounds in 19 minutes of playing time. Brice Johnson is a nice compliment to James McAdoo in the low post. I would rather see “small ball,” with P.J. Hairston at the four; however, this would negate P.J.’s ability to be a perimeter player.
In the loss to Butler, UNC coach Roy Williams started Brice Johnson in the second half along with James McAdoo, Dexter Strickland, Reggie Bullock, and Marcus Paige. This lineup can contend against any team in the nation. When you figure in the 1-2 punch off the bench in Leslie McDonald and P.J. Hairston, Carolina could potentially have a great team that flies under the radar. The x-factor on this team will be Joel James. His size coupled with his skill set will take Carolina to new heights.