Whether it’s a fortune 500 company, a donut shop or a college basketball team every team or organization needs a leader. A huge problem for the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team is that they lack one. Last season UNC had plenty of leaders with Kendall Marshall the nations top point guard, two All-American big men in Tyler Zeller and John Henson and another in swing man Harrison Barnes. This years team looks lost without them.
The biggest question of all is who’s supposed to be the leader? Is it senior guard Dexter Strickland? Preseason All-American James Michael McAdoo? Or is it Reggie Bullock who has been the teams best player thus far this season? So far it isn’t any of them and that’s a major problem for Carolina this season.
All four of UNCs losses have come on the road or on a neutral court away from Chapel Hill, this is a different team on the road, when the team leaves the comforts of home they become a shell of themselves and don’t come close to playing up to their potential. It’s easy to play on a court with your team emblem at center court, with everybody wearing Carolina blue in the stands and cheering you unconditionally.
For a young team like Carolinas the road can be a very scary place, a place that shakes the nerves and makes one play scared and a team lose their collective heads. Basketball is a team game, one that requires five individuals to come together and play as one unit what we’ve seen by UNC when adversity begins to rear it’s ugly head this season is anything but a team unit, we’ve seen five individuals walking scared with no idea what to do. That’s where a leader is supposed to come in.
The leader of this team doesn’t necessarily need to be the guy who scores the most points, grabs the most rebounds or dominates the defensive end of the court. What the leader needs to do is bring the players together into the huddle when a fellow Tar Heel is about to step up to the free throw line. He needs to scream out defensive assignments, he needs to be the voice on the court that calms when things get tough.
Bullock, Strickland and even McAdoo have voiced their concerns several times after defeats this season. They have questioned the heart, the hustle, the energy and the lack of defensive execution, Bullock has stated a few times that players are playing too much for individual numbers as opposed to playing for the team. All valid points, but nonetheless points that do nothing when they are stated after the fact, these messages need to be delivered during the games, on the floor.
UNC has plenty of talent to get it done on both ends of the floor, a leader is not all that they need but it’s a huge ingredient towards righting the ship.