Dec 22, 2012; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; McNeese State Cowboys guard Dontae Cannon (5) shoots as North Carolina Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige (5) defends. The Tar Heels defeated McNeese State 97-63 at the Dean E Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

UNC Basketball: Marcus Paige Will Get Better

We all know Marcus Paige is an extremely talented freshman. We all know that freshmen make mistakes. Why does Paige make mistakes? Lack of experience is probably the answer to that sometimes. In a majority of cases this year for Paige, it is more linked to the fear of messing up. Therefore, according to Paige, Roy Williams has recently instilled a confidence in Paige that no amount of practice can help a young player with.

Williams outlined for Paige that even though plays are meant to be run a certain way, things do not always go as planned. A player, especially a point guard playing for UNC, must realize these things and trust their instincts. “Making a basket” trumps “do what coach says.” It has always been my experience that when your coach or boss takes the cuffs off and trusts you to do what you do without micromanaging your every move, that people tend to do better work, their best work. There is a new sense of empowerment there that I believe Paige is going to run with. Empowerment is an extremely underrated part of player development.

Paige had a great performance against the Heels’ most recent opponent McNeese State. Paige posted nine assists and zero turnovers. The competition will be a bit higher when the Tar Heels face #20 UNLV on Saturday. Paige will need another great performance of leading the Tar Heels in order for them to stay competitive.

One of the largest challenges that Paige must step up to is his defense. Again, in the McNeese State game he did just that. The McNeese State guards shot a poor 6-24 from the floor. UNLV will offer a higher rate of competitiveness  Starting guard for UNLV, Anthony Marshall, is a senior and will test Paige all afternoon. Marshall averages 5.3 assists per game as well as a respectable 10.3 points per game. The Tar Heels will need to key in on UNLV freshman forward, Anthony Bennett, as he averages nearly 20 points a game. Defense will start on the point guard though.

Hopefully, moving forward for the rest of the season, Paige will use Williams’ confidence to take his game to an entirely new level. It will be amazing to watch what Paige is capable of without the fear of messing up on his back. Without that burden weighing him down, Paige will get better just in time to start ACC play and get a much needed win over a ranked opponent.

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