North Carolina head coach Roy Williams talked about how he believed this would be a much better shooting team this year and he right for the most part, but shooting isn’t the problem with the Tar Heels, it’s creating that shot in the half court. UNC has struggled to create offense and a real problem with this team in the half court is the fact that they have very few players who are capable of creating their own shot off the dribble.
This teams best scorer is power forward James Michael McAdoo, not a typical post player and one who can face up and create his own shot looked great in that role the first few games of the season. During the teams recent five game road trip that took them to California, Maui and finally to Indiana, McAdoo looked rushed and wasn’t able to establish himself as the threat the Tar Heels need him to be.
While McAdoo is very important to UNCs success, the strength of this team is on the perimeter but they need those players to do more than just be stand around jump shooters. The Tar Heel offense thrived last season due to it’s ability to dump the ball into the post to Tyler Zeller and John Henson on every half court possession and relied heavily on point guard Kendall Marshall’s ability to penetrate and find the open shooter.
With those threats gone the team is struggling to find it’s identity, the team has struggled getting quality shots early in the shot clock under freshman PG Marcus Paige. When they settle in the half court they have become a team that stands around and swings the ball around the perimeter with difficulty finding a quality shot.
A few players have shown that they can create their own shot in McAdoo, Paige, PJ Hairston, Dexter Strickland. Roy Williams needs to get these four players on the court together as much as possible. Reggie Bullock has been extremely inconsistent and has proven to be little more than a three point shooter on the offensive end.
Paige needs to be more aggressive in driving the ball to the basket with his head up and making faster decisions on where to distribute the basketball. McAdoo needs to slow down when the ball is delivered into the post and look for the right shot, so far this season it looks like he’s falling in love with any shot he can get up. Hairston simply needs more minutes and he more opportunities to create, at just 15.7 minutes per game, PJ is the teams third leading scorer and has expanded his game well beyond his perimeter teammates.
Brice Johnson also needs more minutes on the floor and he needs to be in the starting lineup so Carolina can have it’s best scorers on the court to start the game. Johnson is a scoring machine and has shown already in his young career that he excels at putting himself in the right position to put the ball in the basket.
Many including myself are frustrated at Strickland’s increased shot attempts from the perimeter, but nobody can deny his ability to slash to the basket. I like Strickland for his presence on the defensive end, his ability in transition and to get to the basket in the half court. He needs to be coached to continue to penetrate the lane and attack the basket, more so than that he needs to be more of a play maker and look for open shooters when he is attacking.
The biggest challenge is the development of Paige who is a natural scorer but less of a play maker than Marshall. It’s no secret this team will have to rely heavily on it’s three point shooting this season and in order to find the best opportunities their new floor general needs to be on the attack with his eyes on his teammates.
I feel repetitive in saying this but I feel it has to be stated once again. This is a very young team and even the teams experienced players outside of Strickland are in new roles and it’s going to take some time to develop. It’s going to take time to find the right combinations in the rotation for Roy also. This team has a ton of talent and when they figure out how to use it most effectively they will be dangerous.