UNC Basketball: Will Harrison Barnes Take Off This Season For Tar Heels?


We’ve looked at almost every angle of the Dexter Strickland injury.  We’ve examined Reggie Bullock, PJ Hairston and Stillman White as they prepare for increased roles.  One of the forgotten factors is Harrison Barnes.  Barnes could be the key that nobody is thinking about right now.  While the others do in fact need to step up their game as they see more playing time.  Barnes has to do more with the time he’s already got.  So far this year, Barnes has been good, leading the team in scoring and playing more efficient basketball.  But that’s not enough, it’s time for Barnes to take his game to another level.

With Strickland out Barnes, along with Bullock have played terrific perimeter defense.  Barnes has also improved his rebounding over the last few games for Carolina, something they need from their SF.  Maybe I’m greedy, but I want more out of the preseason All-American.  Barnes has the ability to put up 20+ points every single night.  But more than putting up more points, Barnes has the ability to rise above the rest on a very talented Tar Heel team and become the leader on the offensive end.  Something UNC desperately needs in my opinion.  Roy Williams team arguably has the most talent in the nation, especially on the offensive end.  The Heels roster is full of players with the ability to put up a lot of points on any given night.

So far this season it’s been a balanced attack and Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson have each took turns leading the team in different situations.  Early in the season even Hairston led the team in scoring a couple times before slipping into his current slump.  A balanced attack is never a bad thing and relying on one player to lead you in scoring each and every night is not what I’m calling for here.  UNC needs “that guy” the guy who demands the ball when the team is struggling early in ballgames.  The guy who calls for the isolation and takes it upon himself to lift the team when times are going bad. Zeller and Henson are very talented players, but if anyone on this roster is “that guy” it’s got to be Harrison Barnes.  Barnes is the only one of the “big four” that can create his own shot whenever he wants.  He’s also the most versatile scorer UNC has, Barnes has a terrific mid range jumper, three point range and can take his opponent off the dribble and is a tremendous finisher at the basket.

Last season late in the year, especially in the ACC and NCAA tournament, Barnes showed the killer instinct UNC needed.  Whether it was putting up 40 points in one game or hitting a game winner, he took the team on his back when he needed to.  With Duke coming to Chapel Hill on Wednesday Feb 8th.  It’s time for Barnes to tap into that killer instinct again and lead Carolina down the stretch.  But one other thing must happen in order for this to work.  Barnes had the look in the second half, that look of a player getting ready to take over a game.  He played well, scoring 25 points.  But he was absent for far too long and didn’t play well enough on the defensive end.

Not only does Barnes himself have to step up and answer the call.  Head coach Roy Williams needs to lead his star and encourage him to become the man.  Right now Kendall Marshall leads the team in minutes while Barnes is playing about two less mins per game than he did his freshman campaign.  I’m calling for Roy to increase Barnes’ minutes to about 34-36 per game.  But more importantly, Roy needs to make Barnes understand how much he and the team need him at his best the rest of the season.  Will Barnes answer the call?  Right now, it’s hard to say, this team hasn’t even jelled yet as a unit.  When they do, I expect to see Barnes best.  I just hope it’s not too late.

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