What UNCs Rotation Should Look Like


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Part of any coach’s job in any sport at every single level of play from high school to the pro’s needs to set his rotation.  The early part of the season is where a coach can experiment, play with different lineups, give guys a chance at earning some playing time for the season when the games get real serious.

Roy Williams is famous for using 10-13 man rotations early in the season and sometimes depending on how deep his team really is that rotation may not be cut down until after the mid point in the season.  The temptation will be to do just that with this years Tar Heels.  The team is young, deep and aside from a couple early tests the schedule isn’t too intimidating until the latter part of the season.

Roy should resist this temptation and set a lineup now that gives it the best chance to win in March.  What that rotation is and why after the jump. 

It’s not just that UNC has talent, they have a whole lot of superstar, top shelf talent.  Too many star caliber players to fit into a starting lineup.  They also have a few pretty decent role players that under normal circumstances would deserve a small role, even on a team like UNC.  Not this year, UNC doesn’t need these guys, it’s time to pull out the guns.

But what’s the rush?  The team is winning, filling up the score board and for the most part coming together.  For one the Tar Heels haven’t played anybody of significance yet.  When they do, they need the top 8 or 9 guys getting big minutes, not 13 guys being squeezed into the rotation.

Let’s shift back a bit to the coach’s responsibility, a big part of being a college coach is developing players for the long term.  After all when the stars go off the NBA your going to need these role players to play bigger roles in the future right?  No, wrong, we’re UNC remember, we will simply recruit another few superstars to come in and play the big roles.  When we don’t have literally 8 or 9 guys with NBA talent that’s when these types of players can get onto the floor in the regular rotation.  On a team like this we need to let our ballers ball, give them minutes and learn how to straight up dominate right now.  This is a relatively young team, especially among the most talented of players, let them play and play together.

I love it as much as anyone when UNC leads by 20+ with 2 or 3 minutes left and “Blue Steel” comes into the game.  You’ve got to love those end of the bench guys that practice hard with the team all season long.  But they are not supposed to play with the big boys when it actually counts for something.

It’s time to add Stillman White, Justin Watts, Desmond Hubert and Jackson Simmons to that list right now.  They will get to play about every game or 2 anyway when the Heels blow some poor team out by 30.  I understand it’s Watts senior season and he’s a North Carolina native and blah blah blah.  I get that Stillman White waited a year to go on his religous retreat because UNC needed a true backup point guard.  Whatever, I’m over it already, his reward for waiting can be playing on a national championship team, well sitting on the bench for a national championship team.

But Roy needs to stop giving these guys minutes that he needs to give to PJ Hairston and Reggie Bullock.  Both five star recruits stuck playing behind superstar Harrison Barnes and defensive star Dexter Strickland.  I hate to be harsh but I can’t change the facts, the games are 40 minutes long.  Do the math 5 positions, wait, 2, 7, 12, 11 carry the 1 yeah that’s 200 minutes of playing time.  I’m done with seeing White, Watts, Hubert and Simmons getting about 15 of those minutes.

It may seem like I’m making a big deal out of 15 minutes but look at the average minutes of the players that could benefit from them sitting down.  James McAdoo UNCs star recruit, a five star top 3 rated player that most NBA draft experts feel could very well be a lottery pick next year is playing just 14.6 minutes per game right now.  Give him 5 more and he’s playing almost 20, ask any ball player if the difference between 15 and 20 mins can do for your game.  And don’t tell me you need to play Hubert or Simmons, both 3 or 4 star recruits depending on who you listen to that will play here for 4 years no matter what.  They can wait.

Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston could also each benefit from another 5 or so minutes per game.  Hairston at 12.4 per game is still averaging 8.6 points per game and has looked very good defensively.  Hairston should not only get those 5 minutes from the scrubs but I contend he should be should be getting some of Dexter Strickland’s minutes at the shooting guard spot.

Bullock like PJ has looked good in a limited role this year.  While Bullock isn’t near the defender Hairston is on the perimeter he can stroke the jump shot and has nice penetration skills and can really finish around the basket.  The players Roy needs to ride to the Final 4 is the 5 he has starting with James McAdoo, PJ Hairston and Reggie Bullock off the bench.  Give all the backup PG minutes to Strickland, all the backup big man minutes to McAdoo and watch your stars jell together.

My final plea to Roy, it’s probably not imperative you do it now but you’ve got to get your best players on the floor playing big time minutes by mid season if you want another banner.  Follow the blueprint of the UNLV game, only design more offense for PJ Hairston please.

Keep It Heel!

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