Mar 21, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Dexter Strickland addresses the media during practice the day before the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

UNC Basketball: Final Report Card; Dexter Strickland

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We’re a little behind here seeing as basketball season has been over for a little over a month now, but it’s never a bad thing to go back and reflect. And reflect we will. After each season, Roy Williams sits down with each of his players and grades them based on their play and I thought, what a perfect opportunity we have for us at KIH to do the same. And so between now and summer ball, we will go through each player and give them a report card from our view. Let’s start with the upper classman shall we?

Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Dexter Strickland

Dexter will go down as one of the more controversial players in Tar Heel history. He was criticized by some and loved by others. I tend to fall in the latter group personally and am truly sad that Dexter will no longer be an active player on the team because he brought a lot to the table including great leadership.

When we look at this year specifically for Dex several variables come into play, such as his recovery from a torn ACL during his junior season, but for the most part, he was the same player. One thing that Dexter did particularly well was facilitate the offense. Due to depth issues at the point guard spot, basically ever since Dexter arrived to North Carolina, he’s had to fill in as a backup. Dexter always had quick handles and an ability to get to the basket, but he was prone to turnovers. This season, was a different story. Dexter compiled a 4:1 assist to turnover ratio while he filled in for Marcus Paige as floor general which was something generally unheard of from him at that position, but it provided a huge boost for the team. Paige certainly came into his own asa point guard later in the year, but without Dexter being able to take the pressure off of him on a consistent basis, the Heels may have lost several games that they ended up winning.

Dex has always been a consistent force in transition and has remained a viable option on the defensive end to take on skilled players one on one. It could be argued that he was not the best on the ball defender on this particular Carolina team, as he’s been during prior seasons, but he was certainly no slouch. In my opinion, the only reason Dexter was any less of a defensive threat was due to having a lack of speed coming off his knee surgery which isn’t his fault. This is definitely me being nitpicky though because he still managed to average 1.2 steals per game and never had issues beating teams down the floor on the break and finishing on the other end. If Dexter ended up being the 3rd or 4th best on the ball defensive player on the team this season, then there were certainly much bigger problems to worry about. However, the issue with it is, imagine how good defensively UNC could have been if Dexter was better? Being consistent there is good, but UNC needed much more from him since that was his specialty and given the fact that he was a senior.

Where I would have liked to have seen Dexter improve was on the offensive end of the floor. For whatever reason, Dex never really proved to be a dominant scorer in half court sets. His shot selections were rarely ideal and he didn’t put it on the floor and take it to the rack often enough for me. Dex’s ppg technically went up from his junior season though the difference was less than a point (7.5-7.8), but his field goal percentage went way down. Dexter was shooting 57% from the floor when he was healthy as a junior, but shot a mere 43.6% this season. Granted, he had Kendall Marshall getting him the basketball for a couple years, which helps, but as a senior, Dexter needed to be counted on to make a much higher percentage of his shots and take less long ranger jumpers. Roy went with lineups earlier in the season that weren’t very offensively efficient that included Desmond Hubert and an inexperience Paige, so it was imperative for the team that Dexter be able to put up points. He never really did, at least the way we wanted him to. The team got by this way for a while, but Dexter was really bailed out by the PJ Hairston insertion. PJ’s offense really allowed Dex to just play his role and he certainly looked a lot more comfortable on the floor when he was just responsible for creating plays in transition and playing great defense.

Dexter didn’t have a bad season by any means for the Heels, although some may disagree. It was disappointing though to not see him step up more than he did as that senior player on a young roster without an identity. I never question Dex’s leadership in the locker room or off the court because players gravitated towards him. His chemistry and passion on the floor were great too, and the fact that he was a great defensive player and a perfect weapon for Roy’s uptempo offense when in transition, made him a valuable entity. Where Dex needed to step up was on offense. Losing four players, that make up a large portion of your point total, to the NBA really hurt Carolina early on and it would have been helpful for Dex to have been more efficient as a scorer especially at the beginning of the season. Dex played great down the stretch once things went small and he got back in his role. He wasn’t a key player like others were on the team, but the Heels could not have done the things they did without him playing his role and providing clutch PG depth.

Dexter’s Grade: C+

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