It’s tough to win games without a solid post presence which is something that North Carolina basketball has trademarked over the years. This year is a little different. Carolina has young, talented, and young big men on their roster. These players bring different skill sets to the table, but all have really capable and bright futures. Did I mention that they were young?
While the Tar Heels don’t have a Tyler Zeller or a Tyler Hansbrough to boast this season, their next opponent does. Maryland is making their trip down to Chapel Hill for the final time as an ACC opponent this afternoon and they’re bringing with them a guy named Alex Len, all seven feet, one inch of him. Before you ask, there is absolutely no relation between Alex Len of Maryland and Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets, but they both are certainly impact players.
I think North Carolina’s best defense for this giant is through their offense. Players are going to have to get him into foul trouble and it has to be a collective effort all the way around. We’ve been preaching for James Michael McAdoo to start driving to the basket more and more instead of facing up and fading away with his shots. To me, this is where creating fouls against Len has to start. Certainly, JMM will get his fair share of touches, since he’s the most legitimate big man on the Tar Heels roster, which makes it so important for him to go hard to the basket and initiate some contact.
Our other big men and even our perimeter players are going to need to help J-Mac out with the cause too. Guys like PJ Hairston and Reggie Bullock, who have the ability to penetrate the lane, will need to use the size disadvantage to their advantage. Bigger guys like Len, are more vulnerable to fouls against them when smaller players go in aggressively because they don’t have enough quickness to get into proper defensive position. Our wings had success driving against a Florida State defense and if we can get around Len and even work him towards the bench, several new offensive opportunities will open up.
Len is the Terrapins leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker. Clearly his importance to their game plan is high. North Carolina will be able to make life much easier for themselves by making sure the take him out of the equation. How do you do that? Get him in foul trouble by attacking the basket.