Dexter Strickland did a nice job with a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio starting at the point against UAB with freshman Marcus Paige injured during shoot around. Strickland finished with 11 points, nine assists and four turnovers in 29 minutes, Paige has averaged 3.3 assists and 3 turnovers per game to go along with 7.9 points per game thus far in his young career.
Strickland looked good and sliding him to the PG spot allowed head coach Roy Williams to play PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald over 20 minutes against UAB. The Tar Heels are stacked on the perimeter and getting each of them enough minutes has proven difficult this season.
Dexter is the lone senior on this team and the one proven leader, despite all those reasons, starting Paige is still the right call. Paige needs big minutes as the PG of the future for this team. Strickland is not a natural PG, he’s done a nice job over the years filling in here and there at the position but he is not an every game point, it’s just not what he does. Marcus Paige was the #1 rated PG in the 2012 recruiting class and has tons of talent. I’ll repeat a statement I made many times during the off season, you never ever want to lose Kendall Marshall, but if you have to lose him, Paige is the guy you want replacing him.
We have seen plenty of freshman mistakes and the PG position has taken a huge hit in the assist department moving from Marshall to Paige. Paige doesn’t get the ball down the floor the way Marshall does, he doesn’t drive and find the open shooter like Kendall did and that’s why he needs the time.
This is a young team still figuring out who they are and a big part of that equation is the maturation of Marcus Paige. Paige needs to figure out how to get this team out on the break, he needs to build confidence in his instincts and learn on the floor. Fans hate seeing freshman mistakes but the fact is they need to happen now so that this team is ready to compete later in the season.