North Carolina just suffered their first loss of the season, and the one thing that might be the most evident is that there is a clear lack of a leader on the court. A leader, in terms of basketball, is someone who leads by example on and off of the court. A leader does all the right things off the court and sets an example for everyone else. This Tar Heel team has those kinds of guys, but they seem to be lacking a guy who is an example on the court.
The Tar Heels need a guy to step up and be the clear leader on the court. North Carolina needs a go to guy who is not afraid to be big in big moments. The Tar Heels need someone who will demand the ball and can get his own shot whenever he wants. This is the type of on the court leader that is missing. In other words, an alpha dog is greatly needed. That alpha dog is sitting on UNC’s bench wearing a suit during games. PJ Hairston is that alpha dog that UNC so desperately needs, but it is unclear when he will be back or if he will even be allowed to play. So who will step up and become an alpha dog? Who will demand the ball in big moments? Who will be the guy everyone looks to when a big bucket is needed?
The answer to that series of questions is Marcus Paige. So far this season Marcus has come up big against Oakland, carried the team on his back against Holy Cross, and was huge in the loss to Belmont. In an article on ESPN.com, Roy Williams was quoted saying
“He’s our best shooter, and the guys need to work harder to get him open.”
Roy is correct. Paige is the team’s best shooter and best scoring option so far this season. Last season, Marcus was not needed to be a big scorer in order to win games, this year that is not the case. In the same article on ESPN.com, in regards to his scoring, Paige said
“It’s obviously a work in progress, just because it’s something I haven’t had to do here yet, but at the same time, you’re a basketball player, and if the team needs you to step up and be a scorer, then that’s what you have to do.”
Marcus is currently the team’s second leading scorer at 18 points a game, but needs to be more assertive and look for his shot more often. It seems that Marcus is stepping up into the alpha dog role for the Tar Heels, but what will it take for him to truly get there?The answer is for Marcus to keep taking shots.
As stated earlier, Marcus is clearly the best shooter and one of the best scorers on the team, if not the best. Paige needs to keep taking shots and continue to make them. Against Oakland he shot the ball 9 times and scored 14 points, against Holy Cross he shot 17 times and scored 23 points, and against Belmont he shot 13 times and scored 17 points. If Marcus continues to take large amount of shots that alpha dog mentality will come. It is just taking some getting used to for him.
Marcus Paige needs to continue what he is doing and step up into that alpha dog role this team needs. If he can do that this team will be much better off with him as the clear go to guy. If Hairston comes back, who is an alpha dog already, and Paige has the scoring mentality, opponents should be scared. This team needs a clear defined leader on the court, and Marcus Paige needs to fulfill that role.