Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr
UNC is coming off an 84-51 victory over UNC Wilmington and
will head into conference play with a three-game winning streak
The Heels have had the highest of highs and the lowest of
lows, leaving the middle ground untouched as they beat some of
the tougher teams the nation has to offer while letting winnable
games against lesser competition slip away from them.
They head into the ACC schedule as one of the biggest unknowns in
the conference. Are they a team that can compete for the title?
Certainly. Do they have the potential to become this season's
biggest disappointment? Absolutely.
As the Tar Heels gear up for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons Sunday
night, let's take a look at some of the storylines for that game and
the remainder of the year.
This could mean any number of things.
The Tar Heels are taking a step up in competition as it will be
all ACC foes from here on out. No more chances to take teams lightly
because their name isn't big enough. Every game will increase or
decrease their standing in the conference rankings.
The Heels also need their perimeter players to step up and be the
players they need in order to win.
There is no longer a question of whether UNC will regain the
services of P.J. Hairston so there shouldn't be any
questioning of changing roles down the road due to guys coming back.
Hairston is gone, Leslie McDonald is back, J.P. Tokoto needs to gain consistency on his shot and Marcus Paige needs some help. McDonald should give the Heels more
space in the driving lanes by extending defenses beyond the arc but
other guys like Tokoto and Nate Britt are going to have to
find their shots as well.
James Michael McAdoo may never be as hyped as he was a
couple seasons ago, but they need his veteran leadership and have to
count on him at the foul line when he attacks the basket
This team tends to go or make steps forward as he does when it
comes to the charity stripe.
The front court also needs to find stability. Roy Williams has given multiple guys chances to solidify the front
court spot opposite McAdoo. If Kennedy Meeks can step up
and claim that spot as his own that would ideal. He has the
basketball savvy and full court passing ability that gives Williams
his best chance to play his brand of basketball. Brice
Johnson and Joel James only play one side of the court
too often making Meeks the logical conclusion as the best option.
It's just a matter of everyone taking what they want and making
it their own.
This is a young UNC team that is relying heavily on it's freshmen to
have an immediate impact this year.
The Heels lost the services of Reggie Bullock and Hairston
for differing reasons and haven't fully figured out how to replace
Paige has been dynamite this year but he can't do it alone.
Expect his numbers to taper off in the not to distant future if he
doesn't get help.
Britt has done a solid job handling the rock but still has his
first year moments. His shot hasn't been on-point and he makes the
types of plays you would expect a young guy to make from time to
The real key is Meeks. They need him to give them a dual-threat,
offensive and defensive presence at that center spot. He's done an
admirable job dropping the weight but he's got to keep himself
consistent in getting himself in the right positions. The Louisville
game showed that he can be the most dominant player on the court
when he's focused.
The guy with the most room to improve and the greatest ability to
increase UNC's fortunes is Isaiah Hicks. His talent his off
the charts as anyone who saw his 30 rebound performance in last
year's state championship game can attest, but he's been playing out
of position all year long.
He might as well get used to it because that role isn't likely to
change this year. He made his first three of the season the last
time out and has looked more comfortable as the season has gone
along after looking like a deer in the headlights the first couple
Hicks played double-digit minutes in back-to-back games for the
first time this year since the first two games of the season over
the last week. He responded by shooting 4-of-6, with the
aforementioned three, and grabbed seven total rebounds while
blocking three shots in those combined efforts.
vs. #19/19 North Carolina
Wake Forest at a glance Location: Winston-Salem, NC Nickname:
Demon Deacons Colors:
Old Gold & Black Conference:
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum (14,665) 2012-2013 Record:
13-18 (6-12) Last Game:
Lost 68-53 to Xavier on December 28. More on the Demon Deacons: Schedule
| Stats |
Roster Official Site |
Last starting line-up
F - Devin Thomas F - Travis McKie F - Tyler Cavanaugh
G - Codi Miller-McIntyre G - Coron Williams
Last year, Williams stuck with the same line-up for an extended
period of time before ultimately letting Hairston loose on the floor
at the beginning of games, replacing Desmond Hubert.
Williams is loyal to a fault when it comes to making a switch to his
starting rotation but has been quicker with the trigger this year.
He hasn't locked anybody into anyone spot. His main thing is effort.
If he's not getting it, he'll make the switch.
A couple of spots that could see changes are if he chooses to replace
Britt with McDonald and the front court spot opposite of McAdoo.
It would a tough pill to swallow if Britt were replaced because he's
done a decent job thus far. But he's not the scorer McDonald is and
doesn't hit the outside shot like the veteran does.
The other one is entirely dependent upon Meeks' consistency level.
Johnson and James will most likely always be specialists. James starting
playing basketball later in life and hasn't developed a natural
offensive touch while Johnson just has too much fun gunning for points.
It remains to be seen if Johnson can bring that same type of enthusiasm
to the other end of the court.
But Meeks is a natural baller that just hasn't hit his groove yet. He
has all the instincts you would look for but hasn't put together a
string of games that says he can do it night in and night out.
His development is the most intriguing storyline to follow going