The 2012-2013 season was an up and down season. The Tar Heels did not start off strong at the beginning of the year as many expected them to do. The combination of new roles and high expectations seemingly got to this group of Tar Heels at the beginning of the season. Things all started to change once Coach Roy Williams decided to insert P.J. Hairston into the starting lineup and take out Desmond Hubert against Duke. North Carolina looked like a much different team, maybe even a top 20 team that night at Cameron Indoor.
On Senior Day in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels looked nothing like the Tar Heels that took the court in Cameron Indoor earlier in ACC play. Needless to say, Duke ripped them at home. Most Tar Heel fans would call this 25-11 season a failure, and especially since we went 0-2 against our arch rivals Duke. Next year, I believe, will be a much different.
Duke lost its 3 best players in Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, and Seth Curry to graduation. Sure they bring in a very good recruiting class with Jabari Parker, Semi Ojeleye, and Matt Jones, but Duke finds itself, yet again, a very guard heavy team. With the recent news of Andre Dawkins returning to the team for the 2013-2104 season and transfer Rodney Hood being eligible next year, Duke now has 5 definite guards.
Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon, Jones, Dawkins, and Tyler Thornton are those guards. Their frontcourt consists of Alex Murphy, Josh Hairston, Marshall Plumlee, Parker, Hood, Amile Jefferson, and Ojeleye. Marshall Plumlee is only clear and defined center on the roster along with Josh Hairston and Amile Jefferson as the only defined power forwards.
Marshall Plumlee is standing tall at 6’11” and about 5 guys standing somewhere in the 6’7”-6’-8” range. Judging from their roster, Duke will not have much or any inside presence next year. Marshall Plumlee, Amile Jefferson, Josh Hairston, and Alex Murphy did not get much playing time this year. Yes these guys did play minutes this season, but they were all role players. As we saw with North Carolina this season, the transition from role player to starter or sixth man is not as easy as it seems. Duke will be an excellent 3 point shooting team next year, as they usually are, and will still be a top tier team in the ACC and NCAA.
Our Tar Heels will be a very strong team next year. We have a very solid recruiting class in McDonald’s All Americans Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks and point guard Nate Britt. This class would only get better if Andrew Wiggins decides to suit up for the Tar Heels next season. Reggie Bullock has declared for the NBA draft and James Michael McAdoo and PJ Hairston have both decided to return for their junior seasons.
Reggie Bullock leaving definitely will hurt the Tar Heels on the perimeter, but Hairston and McAdoo returning is absolutely huge for North Carolina next year. The Tar Heels have three pure point guards in rising sophomore Marcus Paige, incoming freshman Nate Britt, and Luke Davis. They have PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald at the shooting guard position with Hairston being able to play the small forward spot as well.
We cannot forget about the super athletic JP Tokoto at the small forward position as well. North Carolina’s frontcourt will look much more like a traditional North Carolina team next year with James Michael McAdoo, Brice Johnson, Jackson Simmons, and Isaiah Hicks all being able to play the 4. Joel James, Kennedy Meeks, and Desmond Hubert are the labeled centers on the roster.
Joel James, Kennedy Meeks, and Desmond Hubert are all around the 6’10” area and McAdoo, Johnson, and Hicks all being 6’9”. Look for the Tar Heels next season to be able to have a much more effective rebounding and post presence. Carolina will be a good 3 point shooting team next year again with Paige, Hairston, McDonald, and maybe even Kennedy Meeks if he can impress Coach Williams in practice with his newly acquired outside shot. The Tar Heels look to be much stronger down low with McAdoo, Hicks, Johnson, Meeks, James, Hubert, and Simmons. Foul trouble with big men will not trouble us with so many big men being on the roster. The Tar Heels will be a very well balanced team again. I think the team next year has a great amount of potential to do good things next year. I can see another banner being hung from the Dean Dome with this roster.
As for the matchups against Duke next year, I think the Tar Heels will win both regular season games. I think North Carolina matches up with Duke well. Duke will always have superior guard play, but next year the Tar Heels will have that same superior guard play. The difference in the series with Duke next year will be down low. Marshall Plumlee is Duke’s heir to the starting center position and has no experience with starter’s minutes. I do not know whether Duke will start Hairston or Jefferson at the 4 or start Jabari Parker at the 4 and play with 4 guards. But whoever they decide to put down low, Carolina has the edge regardless.
James Michael McAdoo had some experience this past season guarding the center position. I think he will only use that experience to his advantage this upcoming year. The Tar Heels have two massive bodies in Joel James and Kennedy Meeks and a defensive specialist in Desmond Hubert. Let’s not forget incoming freshman Isaiah Hicks and sophomore Brice Johnson. Both look to be serious offensive and rebounding threats next season. I think North Carolina will take the game in Chapel Hill due to our experience and talent at all spots on the floor and this is the same reason why thdy will beat Duke in Cameron Indoor as well. We all know that in the back of the Tar Heels’ minds they are thinking about the 2012-2013 year, using this as motivation to get them going. Next year has a very strong potential to be very special, and making that more special will be to beat Duke twice during the season