UNC Basketball: Key Takeaways from the Season Opener Part I


The Tar Heels tipped off their season against Garner Webb and registered a win in a sloppy 76-59 win (for our game review click HERE).  UNC takes the court again on Sunday against Florida Atlantic, before we look ahead let’s take a look back at some key takeaways from Fridays action.

Nov 9, 2012; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams during the game against the Gardner Webb Runnin Bulldogs at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Curtis Wilson-US PRESSWIRE

Marcus Paige will have a bumpy road: Paige’s debut was not horrible, but it wasn’t all that good either.  Paige registered a whopping zero assists but as Roy Williams pointed out he had several good passes that resulted in the receiving player getting to the free throw line.  Paige also turned the ball over four times and scored just six points on 3-9 shooting.

Paige was able to get the team in the offense and looked pretty confident out on the court.  He also showed that he is crazy athletic, one of his misses was a very impressive up and under layup attempt that he followed up with a made jump shot.  Paige is a better defender and scorer than Kendall Marshall ever was and as his understanding of this offense grows I expect him to be just fine.

UNC didn’t rely on the outside shot:  That’s one way of putting it, the other way is the Heels didn’t shoot the ball well going just 1-12 from three.  They also found out that they might just be better in the post than expected.  James Michael McAdoo put up a career high 26 points scoring in many different ways.  Freshman Joel James and Brice Johnson also built on the promise we saw in the exhibition season, Johnson looks especially polished.  This should be a better shooting team than we saw last season with the return of Leslie McDonald and the increased roles for PJ Hairston and Reggie Bullock to go along with the arrival of Marcus Paige at the point.  It’s good to see that the team also has the potential to do some damage

Heels in big trouble if one or more bigs get in foul trouble: Roy Williams went with a five man rotation inside.  McAdoo and Desmond Hubert started with Joel James and Brice Johnson playing 14 and 12 minutes each off the bench.  With James and Hubert in foul trouble, Roy had to turn to Jackson Simmons.  A local product, Simmons is only a on scholarship because UNC had an extra one and he belongs sitting with the Blue Steel on the bench.  Simmons had a nice high school career but is not the type of player who can be relied on for big minutes in Carolinas rotation.  He played seven minutes against Garner Webb, that’s his limit and ideally the playing time can be divided between McAdoo, Hubert, James and Johnson.

Hubert started the game but started the second half on the bench giving way to James.  Desmond is extremely limited offensively and downright terrible at the free throw line.  His knack is supposed to be on the defensive end of the court.  But it didn’t look like that against Garner Webb as he consistently gave up post position and committed unnecessary fouls.  I like Huberts potential and believe he deserves some minutes in the rotation, but the bulk of the minutes beside McAdoo should go to James and Johnson, if they are in foul trouble the Heels will be forced to go with the limited Hubert for long stretches.