UNC Basketball: Tar Heels Need To Find Backup PG With Dexter Strickland Injury


UNC lost it’s starting shooting guard to a torn ACL and junior Dexter Strickland will now miss the remainder of the season.  The Heels did in fact lose their best perimeter defender and one of it’s best slashers.  But that’s not at all what I’m concerned about.  UNC is loaded at the wing positions and can cover the loss at the shooting guard position with ease.  In fact, I’ve argued a few times recently that Strickland should have been coming off the bench in favor of Reggie Bullock.  Bullock’s almost certain inclusion in the starting five will instantly improve the offense.  The one thing the Heels lacked in the starting lineup was a pure shooter.

The defensive end is what concerns most, not me however.  Bullock has improved tremendously on that end of the floor, his size may actually help UNC against other powerhouse teams with star perimeter players.  Dexter may still be the superior defender, but Reggie is more than ready for major minutes and will be fine. I believe UNC will actually be better at the start of games now with another shooter with size.  This also gives Bullock, a five star hyped recruit coming in, a chance to blossom this season instead of next.

The problem is who’s going to run the point when star Kendall Marshall needs a rest or runs into foul trouble?  Stillman White?

So what do Roy Williams and the Tar Heels need to do?  Find out after the break

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UNC coach Roy Williams has a tough task ahead of him.  He has to figure out if freshman Stillman White can be counted on to handle the backup PG duties, and he has to figure that out now.  Roy also must find another player on the team with enough versatility and speed to run the point in an “emergency” situation.  What happens if Kendall Marshall gets into foul trouble?  UNC cannot run with White for major, starter like minutes in these nightmare situations.  Roy’s new task is finding someone on the roster who can.

Let’s look at the candidates:

Harrison Barnes: Barnes worked hard on his ball handling this off-season.  But he’s not a PG by any stretch of the imagination.  Barnes is best in transition or driving to the cup when he’s not spotting up for the open jumper.   Averaging less than one assist per game, Harrison just isn’t the play maker UNC needs at the point.

Reggie Bullock: Bullock and Barnes have similar ball handling skills.  Barnes is probably more suited than Bullock is to run the point.  Reggie is best as a spot up shooter and moving without the ball to get open.  A decent slasher at best, Roy needs to find his backup PG elsewhere.

PJ Hairston: Hairston is probably the most suited to pick up some minutes running the show for UNC.  Known for his smooth jumper, PJ is more of a complete player than Tar Heel fans may realize.  Coming out of high school, Hairston had about as many highlight dunks as he did three pointers.  UNC needs him to keep shooting, and make a bigger impact off the bench with Strickland out.  But given the fact that he has the best handle off the bench for Carolina, he may need to spend more of his time handling the basketball.

Leslie McDonald: Could the injury to Strickland force McDonald to trade in his red shirt for a Carolina jersey?  McDonald has run some point in the past, though on a very limited basis for UNC.  Don’t be surprised if he decides to rejoin the team soon.

Whatever Roy decides to do, let’s just hope it’s not simply handing the backup PG duties to freshman Stillman White.  White is a decent player and a NC product and I would like nothing more than to see him succeed.  He’s simply not ready for a much larger role yet.  UNC needs to get by with increasing Marshall’s minutes as much as they can get away with and finding another option within the players listed above.  Good luck Roy, I hope you prepared for this and have better answers than I do.  Our national championship is betting on it.

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