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January 9, 2013

Miami - UNC Capsule

Basketball Preview

Game Preview Thoughts

Growing Pains

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 to.

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 transition.

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.

Reggie Bullock

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:

Points: 22
Rebounds: 5 (2 offensive)
Shooting: 7-9 FG, 4-6 3PFG, 4-4 FT

If he was feeling any effects from the concussion it was that his brain wouldn't allow his hands to miss a shot (almost).

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 lacked.

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.  

Johnson 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 full.

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 conference.

Miami (10-3, 1-0) vs. North Carolina (10-4, 0-1)

Date: Thurs, Jan. 10, 2013
Time: 7:00 PM EST
Venue: Dean E. Smith Center (21,750)

Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network & SiriusXM (Sirius 123, XM 191)
Series: UNC leads 18-2 (including 9-1 in Chapel Hill)

North Carolina
Last starting line-up for North Carolina (against Virginia)
F - Desmond Hubert
F - James Michael McAdoo
G - Dexter Strickland
G - Reggie Bullock
G - Marcus Paige
Points: 81.4 PPG (9th overall)
Rebounds: 44.1 RPG (2nd overall)
Assists: 18.7 APG (3rd overall)
Field goal percentage: .453 (98th overall)
Scoring: James Michael McAdoo (14.5 PPG) Reggie Bullock (13.8 PPG)
Rebounding:  James 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 overall)
Assists: 11.1 (290th overall)
Field goal percentage: .451 (105th overall)
Rebounding:  Reggie 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 Georgia Tech)
F/C - Julian Gamble
F/C - Kenny Kadji
G - Trey McKinney Jones
G - Durand Scott

G - Shane Larkin

Miami at a glance

Location: 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:
Rivals Site
ACC Standings

Last Season's Meetings

Jan. 10, 2012
Chapel Hill
73-56 UNC

Feb. 15, 2012
Coral Gables
73-64 UNC

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.


UNC: 72
Miami: 69

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 hand.

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 victory.



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