UNC Basketball: Can Reggie Bullock Fill Dexter Strickland’s Shoes?


Today I’m taking a look at the Dexter Strickland injury affect from two angles.  Be sure to come back later for Part II.

UNC coach Roy Williams has officially tapped sophomore Reggie Bullock his new starter. Bullock enters the starting lineup to replace the injured Dexter Strickland who tore his ACL against Virginia Tech, ending his junior season.  Bullock the slick shooting sophomore who missed most of his freshman season due to an injured knee.  Has come on strong this season for Carolina and not only proved that he can be a reliable outside shooter, but a reliable defender for the Heels as well.

Bullock will have to step up in a major way filling in for Strickland who played multiple roles for coach Williams.  Dexter was the teams top perimeter defender, it’s backup point guard and a terror in transition.  Something rarely talked about in Strickland’s game is his efficient offensive output.  Strickland plays to his strengths, doesn’t take bad shots and plays under control.  Many, including myself, have pointed out that Bullock and freshman PJ Hairston will also see an increased role could improve the offense.  Something being overlooked is the fact that these guys are going to put up more shots, and the Heels will need to adjust their offense, especially in the half court.

The start of games is what interests me the most.  This season UNC has been a team that pounds it inside and relies on dribble penetration from slashers Strickland and Harrison Barnes.  Will Bullock’s inclusion in the starting lineup and Hairston’s increased minutes off the bench disrupt Carolina’s top ranked offense?  And what will Roy do about the backup point guard responsibilities? All that and much more after the jump

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I expect this to look like an “easy” transition at first.  In fact, some will say the Heels are better off, they will be wrong.  The big test won’t be Thursday against NC State, and it probably won’t come until the Duke match up on February 8th.  This is a loss that will likely have to be examined after the season is over.  I’m reminded a lot of the injury to Marcus Ginyard in the 09 season that allowed Danny Green to move into the starting lineup.  Green, was already a terrific defender and the Heels ended up improving on both ends of the floor.  In this case, it would shock me if Bullock were able to actually improve the Tar Heels on defense.

Biggest Question Mark: The backup PG spot will be given to freshman Stillman White according to coach Williams.  This scares the crap out of me.  In my opinion, White is not ready to play anymore than he already is.  I was hoping for a Bobby Frasior prototype when White signed on late in the recruiting period, but he isn’t ready yet.  Roy has admitted part of the plan is to play starter Kendall Marshall even more than his team leading 32 minutes per game.   The real problem won’t be the six or so minutes Marshall is on the bench.  It will come not if, but when, Marshall gets into foul trouble, or dare I say it injured.  With Strickland out, if Marshall gets hurt for the long haul, the Tar Heels are finished.

My Solution: In the interim, they must find a way to play without a true point guard.  I think Roy should cue up some old Chicago Bulls footage from the Michael Jordan era.  The Bulls ran a very effective offense with no true PG.  Small forward Scottie Pippen, or guards Ron Harper or Jordan would take the ball up the floor and initiate the offense.  One of those three or Toni Kukoc could all initiate and lead the break.  The Bulls got out and ran by advancing the ball with a lot of look ahead passes, and everybody getting down the court hard.  Roy would be smart to infuse a similar type of system with Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock, or PJ Hairston when Marshall is on the sidelines.

As far as replacing Strickland as a defender.  Bullock and Hairston are both fine on the defensive end, that’s not the concern.  This falls squarely on the shoulders of Marshall.  As of late he’s done a better job of staying in front of his man and playing the ball.  Still, he’s got a long way to go for the Heels perimeter defense to play well enough for this team to advance.  Already a concern with Strickland in the lineup, perimeter defense will be a hot topic all year in Tar Heel land.

They say numbers never lie, let’s take a look at Bullock vs Strickland before we go

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