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June 28, 2013

McAdoo, Paige Break Down Summer

North Carolina basketball's first summer practice isn't one that gave the players too much to take away. It was more just going through the motions, giving the new incoming freshmen a taste of how practices are run.

And although the practice, and the shoot around games that the players are having, cannot give an accurate reflection of what the team will do come November, it did make one thing clear: the 2013-2014 team should be very different from last year's squad.

"We couldn't take a whole lot away from it (the first practice session)," rising sophomore point guard Marcus Paige said Thursday. "We're a big team, you see a lot of big guys, we don't have a whole bunch of wing depth this year."

"But I feel like we're going to be fine with our wing rotation. I just like the size and rebounding potential of our team and a lot of our guys get along well. (Those are) just first take those are the things I notice."

There will likely be only one senior starter - Leslie McDonald - on the team, and there will be no more than five juniors assuming P.J. Hairston returns along with {db}James Michael McAdoo[/db], Jackson Simmons, Luke Davis, and Desmond Hubert.

But the way that last season's four-man freshman class has evolved gives this year's roster the big-man depth that is more traditional for Tar Heel basketball and head coach Roy Williams.

And an increasingly confident Paige, who's taking on responsibility as aggressively as he's working toward gaining weight this summer, completes the traditional UNC roster.

"At the beginning of (last) year we had guys filling roles we never have had (to fill) before," Paige said. "We were young at the point guard and then at the big spots which is coach Williams' emphasis really - having a point guard that can run your team and bigs that can score consistently."

The committee of sophomores Joel James and Brice Johnson and junior Desmond Hubert is a group that is "realizing that coach needs a center," according to James Michael McAdoo, and each of the three is working in individual ways that bode well for filling the UNC signature center spot.

James in particular, who has the obvious size advantage, is still working owning his 6'10", 270pound stature.

"The biggest thing for him (James) is he's still developing and learning," James Michael McAdoo said.

"He's an unstoppable force. Nobody can guard him in my mind. The biggest thing he has to learn is how to continue to use that frame that he has and the skill work that he has."

For McAdoo, one of his own personal adjustments this summer is owning his expected role as a leader on the team.

Taking full responsibility of what it means to have the expectations that he has for himself and that people have for him is something he admits to not having fully done last off-season, but even in realizing that, he says, he knows he's already developed significantly since the end of the season.

"Honestly, last year I feel like I accepted those
expectations, but I didn't really do anything with them," he said. "I didn't work as hard as I should've in the off season.

"I feel like I took advantage of some of the success from the end of my freshman season and it felt like that was just going to keep going until the next year.

I think with this year, (it's been me) getting older, just seeing what needs to get done and what I need to improve on regardless of expectations in order to gain the results that I want."

In the past three months, the pseudo-big from last season feels he's already made more progress and improvement in his game in almost everyway than he did between his freshman and sophomore season, a feat that he's exceptionally confident in when combined that last year's sophomore season came with an unexpected learning curve of filling a post-player positional role for the first time.

But the challenge is one that adds to McAdoo's ability to lead and to find comfort returning to the position on the court that he's played most of he career.

"We're a big team and that's definitely something that I like," McAdoo said. "It allows me to be more perimeter oriented where I feel more comfortable and I feel like it definitely just adds to our depth."

"I just feel like nothing new can be thrown at me, so that is definitely a positive going into this year."

For Paige, settling into the point guard position after being "thrown into the fire," last season is about developing consistency and self-confidence.

"I made a couple shots last year that people were like 'No, no, no, no..,' but then I made the shot," Paige said.

"As my confidence got (higher) I didn't have a problem taking those shots but now it's more of a commanding role next year - to have the ball, and want the ball, and demand the ball in those situations so that I can make a play rather than just ending up with the ball and taking a shot that people were screaming at me for until it goes in."

But another facet of the sophomore's summer focus is settling into the role of a vocal leader on the team, one that can be trusted to have that confidence and late-game clutch capability.

"My teammates feel comfortable with me having the ball now and they know that I have their trust, especially the older guys, that's a big part of that," Paige said. "Once they trust you, you know that you can just be yourself, relax and just know that they have your back and they want you to make plays."

One of the most helpful experience Paige has experienced in the offseason so far, he says, is working even in brief stints with former UNC point guards Kendall Marshall and Raymond Felton.

"Kendall's talking to me about leading and Raymond's talking about my turn to be more aggressive and show people what I can do, just confidence boosting things during workouts and after workouts," Paige said. "They're little things, but they mean a lot to me."

Having advice from Shammond Williams, who Paige says reaches out to players at every position with his wisdom, also adds to the rapid position development of the guard in ways that allow him to take newcomer Nate Britt under his wing.

Being shown the ropes by a veteran of the same position is something that Paige recognizes almost none of the players in his class had the luxury of having after the 2012 NBA Draft and graduation left holes in roster depth, but the trial-by-fire experience of last year's team has made it even easier for Paige to see how much guidance this season's already has.

"We have more experience than we did last year at the point guard spot, and our bigs are a little bit more seasoned. Brice, and Desmond and Joel kind of got thrown in the fire last year, but now they've been there but now we have a quality big rotation. Overall we're a lot more deep, and then I think the wing rotation of P.J. (Hairston) and J.P. (Tokoto) should be able to hold up just fine."

"Our lineup has depth and it also has versatility. We have lineups that can be big and we have lineups that can be small, and then we can go to lineups that can be almost two natural PG's on the court, or we can go big at each position."

"I like the versatility of our roster right now."


JAMES MICHAEL MCADOO THURSDAY AUDIO


MARCUS PAIGE THURSDAY AUDIO







 

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