UNC Basketball Season Preview Series: Is PG Depth an Issue?


The Tar Heels learned a very tough lesson during the 2011 season.  UNC runs a system that is heavily reliant on the point guard.  An up and down, high tempo system that is always looking to initiate the offense and attack.  That means the PG is always under pressure, always has the ball in his hands and is always creating.  Much like a quarterback in football, they are the engine that runs the Heels.

Jan 19, 2012; Blacksburg, VA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Dexter Strickland (1) is helped off the court after an injury against the Virginia Tech Hokies at the Cassell Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-US PRESSWIRE

In 2011 the Tar Heels had a very strong starter in Kendall Marshall but lacked depth behind him.  Starting shooting guard Dexter Strickland ended up the main backup with Stillman White as the emergency option.  After Strickland tore his ACL, ending his season on January 19th, about half way through the regular season, the Heels situation at the point became almost desperate.

We all know what came next.  Marshall’s minutes were increased, Stillman White came in and played well for the most part as the backup.  The position lived and died with Kendall Marshall.  The team lived fine with a healthy Marshall, began to peak at the perfect time as Marshall’s game exploded in the month of March.

Then the position and the team quickly died when Marshall went down with a sprained wrist (and apparently elbow) in the NCAA Tournament.  For everything White is, he is not a player that can start for North Carolina in the post season.  That’s just too much to ask of him.

Fast forward to 2012 and the team is in the same position.  Except this time the starter and the one being relied upon to carry the team at the position will be a freshman, Marcus Paige.  In a very similar situation, Strickland will once again serve in a dual role as the back up PG.

And just like last season, Strickland will be apart of a very talented and very competitive perimeter group.  Luke Davis who had to red shirt last year after transferring to UNC from Garner Webb will be the #3 option.  Davis probably has a little more talent than White but may not be as efficient and mistake free as Stillman.

In 2011, Roy Williams rarely played his #3 PG until he turned into his #2 when Strickland went down.  It depends on how Davis adjusts to playing at a major program like Carolina, you can’t simply lay out what his role should be now.  What Carolina needs to do in order to protect itself is find another perimeter player who can be an emergency point.

The fact is the 2012 Tar Heels have just one true PG capable of playing big time minutes for this program.  Davis may end up being a decent backup, but he’s not a starter.  Strickland can defend anybody and provide quality minutes at both guard spots.  He is not the type of player capable of running Carolinas offense at the point for long stretches.  As good as he is, the fact is, he’s a shooting guard.

Just like last season all bets are off if the starter is hurt, this year that guy is Marcus Paige.  But in 2012, the Tar Heels need to develop some better options behind Paige if something were to happen to either Davis or Strickland.  All this will be over when 2013 rolls around and Nate Britt comes to Chapel Hill, assuming Paige sticks around more than one year, a good bet in my view, the position will be in much better shape.  The question now is, can the Heels make it through 2012?