Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr
Game Preview Thoughts
North Carolina dropped its opening
act in ACC play when it was defeated by Virginia Sunday night.
The loss marked the first time UNC lost its ACC season opener
since being defeated by Boston College during the 2008-2009
campaign. That team eventually won the national title.
This team doesn't look like a
national title contender especially after its poor performance
against the Cavaliers and lackluster performances against higher
profile teams during the non-conference schedule.
This team has far more questions than
answers. Is James Michael McAdoo, the Tar Heels highest
profile player, the leader this team needs? Is Roy
Williams capable of coaching a team made-up of players that
don't fit his traditional up-tempo style of play? Will the
young Tar Heels (namely Brice Johnson, J.P. Tokoto and Marcus
Paige) grow up quick enough to turnaround what has thus far been
a disappointing season for North Carolina?
The Tar Heels haven't found a
consistent complimentary option to team-up with McAdoo in the
front court. Williams has tried every line-up under the
sun and hasn't seemed to settle on any particular one yet,
mostly because nobody has seized the moment enough to force him
Combining North Carolina's inability
to find a starting line-up with its inability to get
consistently stellar play out of its point guard position has
left the Tar Heels with a herky-jerky offense that comes in
spurts and stall out at inopportune moments.
ESPN's Jay Williams talked about North
Carolina's lack of communication on defense during the broadcast of
the Virginia game. His words coincided with North Carolina
getting burned on back-cuts to the basket, not getting through
screens quick enough to close out on shooters and allowing a team
that would rather count sheep on offense than take a shot before the
shot clock hits 20 seconds to hook-up on a couple of alley-oops in
Some of (if not all) of these questions
and concerns need answering if the Tar Heels want to see a happier
outcome against Miami. They must become a thing of the past
should they want to finish in the top half of the ACC this season.
If there was one positive storyline
coming out of the loss to Virginia, it was Reggie Bullock's
performance in his first game back after sitting out because of a
concussion suffered in practice.
Bullock was on fire against the Cavs.
His state line:
If he was feeling any effects from the
concussion it was that his brain wouldn't allow his hands to miss a
If Bullock carries his scorching shooting
streak against the Hurricanes from South Beach and P.J. Hairston can
bring an equally hot hand off the bench (which he's prone to do),
the Tar Heels can mask a lot of its other issues (point guard play,
inconsistent rebounding and giving up second half leads).
Aside from his stellar play, Bullock
showed off his leadership skills off the court when he called a
player's only meeting after the loss.
By calling the meeting Bullock may have
established himself as the official alpha dog for the Tar Heels this
season. More importantly, by establishing himself as the
leader, Bullock has the ability to create a pecking order and
subsequent identity for this North Carolina team that it has sorely
Shootout in the Dean Dome
Miami guard Durand Scott is coming off a
four point performance against Georgia Tech. Scott isn't
likely to repeat that performance against North Carolina. His
backcourt teammate Shane Larkin also had a forgettable game against
the Yellow Jackets (five points).
With both Hurricanes' shooters coming off
disappointing scoring outings, North Carolina should expect a
renewed focus from Miami's best scorers.
What's more, Rion Brown came off the
bench in that game and scored 22 points. If he can match North
Carolina's P.J. Hairston's scoring off the bench it could neutralize
one of the Tar Heels strengths.
Miami's frontline players
Miami's Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji
are averaging a combined 24.5 PPG and 17.6 RPG.
would sit second in the ACC in rebounds per game but hasn't played
enough (only 7 games) to qualify. Kadji is currently sitting
ninth in the rebounding stats.
Kadji had a decent outing against Georgia
Tech scoring 14 points and snagging 11 rebounds.
McAdoo, as mentioned before, hasn't
gotten much help this year. He'll need it against those two,
who have been ferocious on the glass. Not only are they good
rebounders but they can also score. McAdoo will have his hands
Roy's not worried. Yet.
"If I play 17 holes, and I'm 900 over par,
I'm going to try to birdie the last sucker. It's not panic time.
It's the way I coach," said Williams during his Wednesday press
Miami (10-3, 1-0) vs. North Carolina
Date: Thurs, Jan. 10,
2013 Time: 7:00 PM EST Venue: Dean E. Smith Center
(21,750) TV: ESPN Radio: Tar Heel Sports
Network & SiriusXM (Sirius 123, XM 191) Series: UNC leads 18-2
(including 9-1 in Chapel Hill)
Last starting line-up for North Carolina
F - Desmond Hubert F - James Michael McAdoo G - Dexter Strickland G - Reggie Bullock G - Marcus Paige
Points: 81.4 PPG (9th
Rebounds: 44.1 RPG (2nd
Assists: 18.7 APG (3rd
Field goal percentage: .453
Scoring: James Michael
McAdoo (14.5 PPG) Reggie Bullock (13.8 PPG)
Michael McAdoo (8.2 RPG) Reggie Bullock (5.6 RPG)
Assists: Dexter Strickland
(4.4 PPG) Marcus Paige (4.2 PPG)
Points: 68.8 (153rd overall)
Rebounds: 35.9 (150th
Assists: 11.1 (290th
Field goal percentage: .451
Johnson (10.1 RPG) Kenny Kadji (7.5 RPG)
Assists: Shane Larkin (3.8
APG) Durand Scott (2.8 APG)
Last starting line-up for Miami (against
F/C - Julian Gamble F/C - Kenny Kadji G - Trey McKinney Jones
G - Durand Scott G - Shane Larkin
Miami at a glance
Coral Gables, Fla Nickname: Hurricanes Colors: Orange, Green & White Conference: ACC Arena: BankUnited Center (7,200) 2011-2012 Record: 20-13 (9-7) Rankings:AP - NR, USA Today
- NR, RPI - 5 Last Game: W 62-49 at Georgia Tech on January 5 More on the Hurricanes:
Last Season's Meetings
Jan. 10, 2012
Feb. 15, 2012
Note: Carolina has won 10 straight against Miami
since losing to the Canes in Chapel Hill on January 14, 2006.
He may not be panicking yet but with Duke riding
high as the number one team in the nation and North Carolina State
rolling in the most talent its seen in years, an 0-2 start to the ACC
season may have Williams at least looking at the glass case surrounding
the panic button with a little more sizzle in his eyes.
A coach of Williams' stature won't have to worry
about his job. That's not the issue. But given his
competitive nature, and the recent memory of the disastrous 2010-2011
season being brought up as a comparison for this year's squad, Williams
needs a win here if he doesn't want to end up throwing his glasses
against his courtside seat.
"I'm not going to panic. I've lost eight in a
row before. I'm not going to panic," said Williams.
However, if the Tar Heels should falter against
the Hurricanes, it will be difficult to figure out which ACC foes North
Carolina should be favored against.
North Carolina is still a good team.
Bullock calling a player's only meeting is a big deal. No matter
what was said in the meeting, the fact that it was called by a veteran
player shows that this team has the drive to get better and the players
to attempt it. Miami has strong scorers and rebounders and won't look to
slow the game down in the same way Virginia did.
North Carolina will have to get stronger in
the rebounding department or get better at identifying their hottest
shooter and keep feeding him the ball. They didn't do that enough
when Bullock only attempted nine shots against Virginia despite the hot
In the end, North Carolina is still more
talented than Miami and should have a renewed focus against the
Hurricanes. The Tar Heels haven't lost back-to-back games yet this
season and Williams' doesn't want to begin another eight game losing
streak.North Carolina will run the court, Miami will keep up for a bit
but the Heels will do a better job of feeding Bullock and get the