UNC Basketball: Encouraging Signs


The 2012-13 season is just two games old but it’s never too early to start critiquing the team.  While nothing that has happened so far in this young season can be  taken as definitive signs of whats to come, some signs both encouraging and discouraging have emerged for this years version of the North Carolina Tar Heels.  In a two part series I’ll take a look at the good and the bad through two games for UNC, let’s start the day off on a good note and look at the encouraging signs first.

Nov 9, 2012; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward J.P. Tokoto (25) dunks the ball against the Gardner Webb Runnin Bulldogs during the game at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Curtis Wilson-US PRESSWIRE

Production from the bigs: James Michael McAdoo has been the player he was advertised to be coming into Chapel Hill and looks poised to become the next superstar for Carolina.  McAdoo has averaged 22.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in two stellar performances, he is showing the assertiveness needed to be the teams rock on the offensive end and looks like one of the best players in the country so far.

Freshman Joel James and Brice Johnson have been awesome and both have outplayed sophomore Desmond Hubert on both ends of the floor.  Johnson looks like a potential go to guy in the post, James has proved that he more ready to be an offensive force early in his career than he was expected to be coming in.  Both freshman are rebounding and picking up the system well.

Defense better than expected: UNC has surrendered just 57.5 points per game on 33% shooting from the field and 29% from three point range.  The entire roster is buying into playing hard defense for 40 minutes and if they can continue to play this type of defense it could help make up for the teams inability to score in bunches compared to last years group.

Dexter Strickland’s recovery: Strickland and head coach Roy Williams have both stated that Dexter is not yet at 100% but you wouldn’t know that by simply watching him play.  Strickland looks great in terms of his lateral movement, quickness and explosion.  He’s been terrific in the open floor and has picked up right where he left off last season before the ACL injury ended his season as the Tar Heels defensive stopper.  His offensive game looks good also and so far he’s displayed a nice mid range game shooting 50% from the floor and averaging 8.5 points per game.

Freshman play: In addition to the stellar play of Joel James and Brice Johnson who have been better than expected, the Heels are getting solid play from the entire freshman class.  After an up and down game in which he failed to register an assist, point guard Marcus Paige collected six assists against Florida Atlantic.  Paige still has a ways to go but he looked good with his command of the offense in transition and the half court, a good sign that he is learning quickly, a must if the Heels want to go anywhere this season.  JP Tokoto has also looked good in limited time.  Tokoto is known as an athletic freak and potential UNCs best athlete since Vince Carter but it’s been his play on the defensive end and his contributions as a rebounder that have impressed so far.