Jan 19, 2013; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige (5) with the ball as Maryland Terrapins guard Seth Allen (4) defends in the second half. The Tar Heels defeated the Terrapins 62-52 at the Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Is Marcus Paige Close to Breaking Out for the Tar Heels?

When freshman point guard Marcus Paige committed to North Carolina, he knew he had big shoes to fill as the Tar Heels new point guard. Shoes that were once filled by legends and more recently the excellent play of Kendall Marshall. Paige was the number one point guard in the 2012 class according to ESPN.com, and many people expected him to help fill the void left by Marshall when he declared for the NBA Draft.

While Paige hasn’t got off to the greatest start for North Carolina, it figures his better days are coming for the Tar Heels. Paige struggled to find his groove early in the season and even had many people wondering if Roy Williams should turn to Dexter Strickland at the point guard spot.

But since ACC conference play has started, Paige has picked up the pace.

Recently the improvements have shown from the young point guard out of Marion, Iowa. His passing has been much sharper and effective. Earlier in the season I’d notice Paige getting a bit sluggish or careless with his passes which lead to turnovers instead of opportunities for the Tar Heels. Now Paige is passing the ball to spots his teammates need in order for them to have better scoring chances. We saw a lot of this from Kendall Marshall last season, where his teammates fed off Marshalls crisp passes to the spots they needed the ball to be. Much like Marshall, Paige can be a an effective passer for the Tar Heels.

The assist numbers might not be mind blowing just yet, but the effectiveness seems to be on the rise. That’s a good thing for Paige. You won’t hear about impressive assist numbers from the national media, but that’s okay. As the improvement grows, so will the numbers.

As Paige has improved his passing game recently one of his other weak areas has also been on the rise. Paige has vastly improved his defense.

He stands at just 6’0″ which can give him a disadvantage when having to guard fellow point guards or even matched up against other guards. He also isn’t the strongest guard on the court at times which can be crucial to his defensive abilities.

To his credit however, the improvements have shown lately for Paige. Take ACC conference play for example. In the two losses Carolina has had, Paige has struggled on the defensive side of the ball. The perimeter defense has been a disaster for Carolina all year and it’s shown in a big way. In the Tar Heels two losses, Paige has played better defense. Forcing other guards to get the ball out of their hands and disrupt the offensive tempo of the opponent.

Improvement in Paige’s game has shown recently, and that’s a good thing for the Tar Heels. A great floor general is the key to success for the Tar Heels. As Paige get’s better, most of the Carolina team around him will.

Paige hasn’t evolved into the guard I expect him to be just yet, it’s going to take some time. Be patient, and understand he’s just a freshman. For Paige I can see the future as a bright one with improvements coming throughout the year as he gets experience and can only learn as he improves his game.

Tags: North Carolina Tar Heels

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