UNC Basketball: Player Review Series Redux Part I


Before the season I did a player by player review series of the UNC Tar Heels basketball roster.  I did my best to outline what the team needed from each player.  While trying my hand at predicting who would deliver and how each player would fit into the team.  Now that the ballots are in, the curtain has closed, and the fat lady has sung.   In other words, now that the regular season is over, let’s take a look back and compare results vs expectations.  For the full preseason review series, click HERE.  For Part I let’s look at the perimeter players on the roster.  Part II on the teams big men coming later today.

Kendall Marshall PG
Expectations: Expect Marshall to average close to 10 assists per game and between 10-13 points shooting about 45% from the field.

Result: Marshall had an incredible season, leading the nation at just under 10 assists per game.  He validated himself as the best passer in the country and the Tar Heels most indispensable player.  But while he showed flashes of scoring ability late in the year.  He still averaged less than eight points per game was as effective of a shooter as the Heels would have liked.  Defensively Marshall was also a liability at times against quicker, penetrating point guards.

The Verdict: I nailed it on the head with the assists prediction, but who didn’t?  Big whiff on my predicted scoring improvement.  Maybe just a little late on that one though judging by the way he’s played of late.

Preseason Series

Reggie Bullock SG
Expectations: I expect Bullock’s role to be diminished and by the end of the year for Hairston to be the team’s perimeter 6th man with James McAdoo as the big 6th man.

Result: Bullock stepped into the starting lineup at SG when Dexter Strickland was lost for the season with a torn ACL.  The Heels were already leading the nation in scoring and the worry was how the Bullock for Strickland switch would affect them.  Bullock stepped up in a big way, especially late in the season on both ends of the floor.  No doubt last seasons injury set his progression back as a player offensively a little.  The sophomore struggled with his jumper early but provided a nice spark late in the season.

The Verdict: Way off here.  I fell in love with Hairston as a five star darling recruit promising to fill the air with three pointers.  I truly thought it would take a full year of playing a small role before Bullock would be able to step up after that nasty injury last season.  His play offers some encouragement for both Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald coming back next season.

Preseason Series

Harrison Barnes SF
Expectations: Barnes will be an All American, he’s too talented and too polished of a player not to receive that honor.  I believe it will come down to Barnes and Ohio St’s Jared Sullinger for the POY award with Barnes winning due to the Heels being the dominate team in college basketball.

Result: Barnes had a good season and has improved his offensive efficiency.  As a sophomore he took better shots and became a more reliable player on the defensive end and on the boards.  What Harrison didn’t do is wow anybody or become anybody’s All-American.  He’s been nice at times, and the Heels leading scorer has had a very good season.

The Verdict: Swing and a miss here and I’m pretty surprised by this one.  EVERYBODY including all of you thought Barnes was going to get silly this year and dominate college basketball.  He still has the makings of a Top 5 NBA pick and nothing he did this year changes that.

Preseason Series

PJ Hairston SG/SF
Expectations: I think he’s going to play a big role and ultimately become the sixth man of this team (combined with McAdoo, PJ as the first small off the pine).  He will absoltely deliver and I think he will be the team’s best 3 point shooter, even better than Mr. Barnes.

We may be looking at the next Wayne Ellington…..only with some bulk and a defensive game.

Result: PJ has been a disappointment his freshman season.  After starting off the  season pretty strong putting up a couple 20 point performances he’s disappeared.  Not that he’s been shy at looking for his own offense.  Hairston took a lot of threes this season, he just missed the vast majority of them shooting under 30%.  Hairston’s struggles have gotten to the point that his role in the rotation has been reduced to a role player.  Despite the injuries to Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald, Hairston has failed to establish himself as a key player for the Heels.

The Verdict: Definetely my biggest miss of the series was here.  Hairston continues to shock me with his struggles to get going offensively.  In high school he was not just a dangerous shooter, he was known for slashing to the rim and finishing with authority.  That player has not shown up once since his arrival in Chapel Hill.

Preseason Series

Dexter Strickland SG/PG
Expectations: I expect his defensive skills to enhance and his shooting to improve as well.  Don’t expect a huge improvement as his minutes may go down just due to the sheer depth on this Carolina team.

Result: Dexter was having a very good season when he tore his ACL, ending his season.  Not only was he the teams best defensive player, he was a very efficient offensive player as well.  Strickland provided the team with a steady backup point guard behind Kendall Marshall and did a much better job than his successor igniting the fast break.  Strickland has never been a big time scorer, but he was starting to find his niche and always took good shots.  His injury hurt the depth, perimeter defense and transition offense for Carolina.

The Verdict: Without a full sample it’s hard to claim victory here.  But I’m going to anyway after the PJ Hairston disaster.

Preseason Series

Stillman White PG
Expectations: Indications are White’s role will be very, very limited this season.

Result: White was simply the third string, emergency point guard entering the season.  When Strickland went down however, White was thrust into the role of backup to Kendall Marshall.  White hasn’t put up big numbers but he has done his job since being given regular playing time.  White rarely commits turnovers and has done a better than expected job of leading the fast break.

The Verdict: I can’t really draw one here since I never expected him to play.  I will admit, I didn’t think he’d play this well given the opportunity.

Preseason Series

Look for Part II on the Heels big men later today.

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