First a disclaimer, it’s not going to be easy to fix whats wrong with the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team. I believe this roster isn’t constructed to play the type of style Roy Williams likes to play, I also feel like they lack a true leader on and off the floor. With that said some easy fixes to help get things on the right path do exist.
Lineup Changes: Dexter Stricklandis no longer the player we are used to seeing. Roy recently said that he is no where near the defender he used to be, he’s lost some of his explosiveness and his shot selection has been terrible this season. I can’t count the number of times I’ve scratched my head and said why in the world is Dex shooting that shot? Prime example was the momentum killing awful jumper he took against Virginia with UNC down one late in the second half.
I am a big fan of Stricklands but the fact is he’s a shooting guard who can’t shoot the ball, a senior who still fades on the vast majority of his jump shots. Strickland and Marcus Paige played a combined 56 minutes against UVA, they need to split the PG responsibilities and combine for 40 minutes a night period. Start Paige since he is the future at PG and the natural point, bring Strickland off the bench. By now Roy’s allegiance to Dex reeks of Marcus Ginyard over Danny Green or Larry Drew over Kendall Marshall, time for a change. By bringing in Strickland off the bench the team will always have a fresh PG on the floor and can play more aggressive defensive basketball (more on that in a minute) and more importantly, get P.J. Hairston on the floor.
Next, stop the flip flopping at center and stop this charade of playing Desmond Hubert. It’s time to start Brice Johnson and give him big minutes, I know Brice isn’t the best on the defensive end but can anyone with a straight face claim that James Michael McAdoo is that much better? Hubert brings nothing offensively and is an inferior rebounder when compared to Johnson. Brice averages over 29 points per 40 minutes played, in other words he’s a scoring machine, Hubert and James meanwhile are averaging about nine points per 40 minutes need I say more?
By starting Hairston at shooting guard and splitting the minutes at point between Paige and Strickland you open up more minutes for the teams true scoring threats in Hairston and Leslie McDonald. By starting Brice next to McAdoo you give the team a true post threat that allows McAdoo to operate the way he knows best, facing the basket. With a player like Hubert next to him, all the attention underneath is on James Michael.
Run more defensive traps: Paige isn’t strong enough to run a 40 minutes of hell system but splitting his minutes up with Strickland will allow the team to operate more of a pressure system. The amount of standing around and the lack of communication on the defensive end is maddening, I can’t remember ever watching a team give up as many open shots from the perimeter as Carolina has this season, a change is not only necessary it’s a must.
Again making these changes won’t magically fix everything, these are easy changes that can be made at the blink of an eye that could put the team on the right path.