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November 6, 2013

Oakland-UNC Preview

Basketball Preview

Another season of basketball has reached our doorsteps and UNC fans are surely looking forward to a bounce back year after a somewhat disappointing season last year.

While last season certainly wasn't a complete bust, the Heels did make the NCAA Tournament, it wasn't one that will have a lasting legacy in UNC lore.

But that season might be table-setter for upcoming years as North Carolina is bringing in a super-talented class this year and the year after despite missing out on the services of the talented Andrew Wiggins.

Let's take a look at some of the storylines heading into the regular season opener against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.

The Backcourt

The Tar Heels will of course be without their streaky scorer P.J. Hairston for the foreseeable future (but I bet he's back for Kentucky) and won't have veterans Reggie Bullock and Dexter Strickland as they've both moved on.

But they do bring back Marcus Paige and bring in heralded four-star recruit Nate Britt into the fold. Paige will likely move into the two-guard position as Britt becomes more comfortable playing on the collegiate level.

If that falters while Hairston remains on the sidelines, that means Roy Williams could insert Leslie McDonald into the starting rotation. Of course, McDonald has his own set of issues to work out but shouldn't be out as long as Hairston.

In all honesty, it's hard to predict what the starting backcourt will look like until Hairston comes back.

If everything had gone according to plan, Hairston would start at the two and Paige would battle it out with Britt for minutes at the point.

This post-Hairston speed limit sign illiteracy session can either be a blessing or a curse. They'll be young in the backcourt for a while but at least Paige played a boatload of minutes last season and won't feel overwhelmed coming into the year.

The real question is how quickly Britt can become a real factor. All indications are he's a guy that can play right away, but it's always tough to say until you see someone out there on the floor.

James Michael McAdoo

James Michael McAdoo is the "guy" on the UNC squad that other teams will likely focus their main defensive game plan around. The only question is, where will he play this year?

Last season, McAdoo shifted between power forward and center depending on what Coach Williams' feelings on the small line-up were that week.

In reality, McAdoo's future, both in college and the NBA, likely lies as more of a wing presence. He'll need to prove he can knock down perimeter shots and Tar Heel fans should know fairly quickly if that's something he's added into his game from hours spent in the gym during the offseason.

He's already got the explosiveness to drive by his defender from the outside and has shown he can do that against small and big men alike. If he can play more of a small forward position and give Williams flexibility with the line-up, which can open up all kinds of possibilities as UNC looks to break down opponents.

Imagine a line-up of Paige, Hairston, McAdoo, Hicks and Meeks on the floor and the defensive havoc that length could wreck on ACC foes. It all depends on if McAdoo can consistently knock down the outside shot and stay focused throughout the game without drifting into the background like he did at times last year.


If anybody tells you they know what Coach Williams is going to do with his line-up this season their lying to you.

Flat out, nobody really knows.

Not having Hairston makes it a little more difficult to predict because now the backcourt and frontcourt are likely to see shuffling depending on Williams' moods and the tide of each individual game.

Williams used 13 different line-up combinations in the scrimmage and guys like Brice Johnson and J.P. Tokoto really don't have defined positions. Neither does McAdoo really.

So that can be a blessing or a curse. Either UNC's players produce no matter where they are positioned on the court or they might get lost through undefined roles.

All of this is predicated on not having Hairston in the line-up. If he's in there, it likely takes care of two starting spots (his and McAdoo's) with others left to battle out for other positions. Without him in there, Williams is going to look for any way to put the ball in the basket without a true lead scorer.

This could allow other guys to step-up and show Williams he might not have seen otherwise but the trick is to have that happen while not creating a big scene when Hairston comes back and everyone's roles (and shot charts) get redefined.

(0-0, 0-0)
#11/12 North Carolina
(0-0, 0-0)

Date: Friday, November 8, 2013
Time: 9:00 PM EST
Venue: Dean E. Smith Center (21,750)

Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network & SiriusXM (Sirius 158/XM -)
Series:UNC leads Oakland, 1-0

North Carolina

Head Coach - Roy Williams (282-79 at UNC; 700-180 overall)

Last starting line-up for North Carolina (against UNC Pembroke)

F - Jame Michael McAdoo
F - Brice Johnson
F - Joel James
G - Marcus Paige

G - Nate Britt

Statistical Leaders

Scoring: James Michael McAdoo (14.4 PPG) P.J. Hairston (14.3 PPG)

Rebounding: James Michael McAdoo (7.4 RPG) P.J. Hairston (4.3 RPG)

Assists: Marcus Paige (4.6 APG) P.J. Hairston (1.4 APG)


Head Coach - Greg Kampe (506-366 (242-202 in D-I) at OU; 506-366 overall)

Statistical Leaders

Scoring: Travis Bader (22.1 PPG)

Rebounding:Corey Petros (8.2 RPG)

Assists: Duke Mondy (5.1 APG)

Last starting line-up for Oakland (against Lake Superior State)

F - Tommie McCune
F - Corey Petros
G - Travis Bader
G - Duke Mondy

G - Kahlil Felder

Oakland at a glance
Location: Rochester, Michigan
Nickname: Golden Grizzlies
Colors: Gold & Black
Conference: Horizon League
Arena: Athletic Center O'rena (3,000)
2012-2013 Record: 16-17 (10-6)
Last Game: W 88-61 vs. Lake Superior State on Nov 3, 2013 in Rochester, Michigan
Last Game vs. UNC: W 96-68 on March 18, 2005
More on the Golden Grizzlies:
Schedule | Stats | Roster
Official Site

The soft opening schedule is usually the time of the year when all this gets sorted out but it likely won't because of the much-touched upon situation from the summer.

The best battle UNC might have heading into ACC play this year might not come against the guys in the other jerseys, it will probably come against one another on the practice courts.

It should make for an interesting game experience, but one that Tar Heel fans hope won't be a trial and error type year that leaves them with a mediocre season like last season.

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