Dexter Strickland hasn’t looked the same for North Carolina this season after being known as the best perimeter defender in all of college basketball prior to his ACL injury last season. But over the last two games he has played some very solid defense, especially against Virginia Tech on Saturday.
I have been highly critical of head coach Roy Williams for continuing to sticking with the senior guard over the more offensively dangerous P.J. Hairston in the starting lineup. Strickland has struggled this year offensively and has not been the same on the defensive end thus minimizing his value as anything other than a backup point guard in my eyes.
What this team needs is the Dexter Strickland we saw against Virginia Tech. Although Reggie Bullock is going to get most of the attention for his defensive effort against ACC leading scorer Erik Green on the final possession in regulation, it was Strickland who played the most impressive defense of the game.
Green scored just 16 points, only the second time he’s been held under 20 this year and a ton of the credit is due to Strickland. Not only was he defending him well when Green had the basketball he was cutting him off in the passing lanes, working hard through screen and getting to his man when the basketball arrived via the pass not allowing even an inch of free space or timing.
For all the attention given to the offense on this team (not excluding myself) the bigger reason why the Tar Heels have struggled at times is their defense. If Strickland can continue to give the type of effort and showing he did against the Hokies it could prove to be the biggest difference for UNC down the stretch.