So far this season only James Michael McAdoo, Marcus Paige and J.P. Tokoto have started all 19 games. Just like the start of last season, so far this season the North Carolina Tar Heels have been searching for the right starting lineup due to injuries, suspensions and once again no post player stepping up and taking ownership of the position opposite McAdoo.
The Heels started the same starting five through the first 10 games of the season until sophomore forward Joel James went down with a knee injury early in the loss to Texas. They then tried several different lineups following the injury including putting James back in the starting lineup for a few games.
[Recruiting: UNC lands four-star prospect Jared Cohen for 2014]
However, after playing their best game of the conference season so far it appears that the Heels have finally found their starting five thanks to the emergence of freshman forward Kennedy Meeks.
The big man from Charlotte has played well over the last 3 games averaging 12 points and 8.7 rebounds on 65% shooting from the floor while finally providing the Heels with a much needed inside scoring threat that they lacked all of last season. With Meeks in the lineup the Heels had one of their best offensive showings of the season against Clemson, shooting 55% from the field and 44% from behind the 3-point line. He has also improved his conditioning as he played over 20 minutes in back to back games for the first time ever.
His play has allowed James McAdoo to be aggressive attacking the rim instead of worrying about trying to score with his back to basket. This was also the first game that Meeks started along side senior Leslie McDonald, which resulted in a balance scoring attack in which 4 starters scored in double figures led by McAdoo with 22 points.
With Meeks, McDonald, Paige and McAdoo providing the scoring this allows Tokoto to take on the role that best fits him as the utility man doing a little bit everything from playing solid defense to rebounding and using his elite athleticism.
With the struggles of Joel James and Nate Britt this now allows Coach Williams to put his five best players on the floor to start the game with a solid 6th man in Brice Johnson. The Tar Heels best teams under Coach Williams have always featured a traditional lineup of two post players with 3 wing players. Hopefully now that the team has found a starting 5 that works it will lead to the playing at a consistent level for the rest of the season.
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