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November 13, 2013

Holy Cross-UNC Preview

Basketball Preview

It was a tale of two halves (as it often was last season) for UNC against Oakland. They went into halftime with a 58-21 lead but were outscored 40-26 in the second half of their 84-61 opening season victory.

The Tar Heels were team last year that couldn't seem to put together a complete basketball game and it will be interesting to see if that is a trend that continues into this season.

It could be that Roy Williams just wanted to give his guys a chance to try different things in the second half but it's tough to says since many of last year's key components are still the main players on this team.

UNC will look to do what their supposed to do this Friday against Holy Cross while also giving guys a chance to audition for more permanent roles and playing time.

Here are some storylines to pay attention to.


Eight players received double digit minutes in the opener. Almost everyone that wasn't suspended made it into the game. Just like last year, every game could feature a different starting line-up, especially while P.J. Hairston remains sidelined.

Really, only James Michael McAdoo is assured a starting spot when Hairston and Leslie McDonald return from suspension. Marcus Paige could see Nate Britt overtake him (unlikely, but possible) at the point guard spot. Britt might slide to the bench in favor of Hairston while some combination of small line-up could demote Joel James and J.P. Tokoto to reserve status.

If that sounds like a negative indictment of those four guys, it's really not. It actually speaks to the kind of depth and flexibility Williams can have with this year's team.

While they will certainly be thin throughout the year on the wing, they will be big and have plenty of options and different styles they can throw at opponents.

This game against Holy Cross will be the second "science experiment" for Williams as he figures out which line-up combinations will work best and who can provide the type of versatility they'll need to contend for an ACC title.


UNC is going to have a size advantage against almost every opponent they face this season. McAdoo, James, Tokoto, Brice Johnson, Isiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks give UNC a plethora of large and athletic guys that can muscle around anybody on the front lines.

They were able to outrebound Oakland 41-22 and Holy Cross was outrebounded 44-27 against Harvard in an 82-72 opening season loss.

On his weekly radio show, Williams said he thought Tokoto has the potential to become the greatest offensive rebounder he's ever coached. That will pay dividends if it comes true sooner rather than later because UNC isn't going to have a great shooting team this season.

Whereas a team like Duke has a stellar, dynamic signature player like Jabari Parker, UNC strength comes in its numbers and size. That's a welcome sight for Williams who has always favored those elements and will be able to play his brand of basketball this year.

Brice Johnson

Last year, Brice Johnson was pushed around on the block quite a bit because of his skinny frame. While it was a challenge for the coaching staff to find some extra pounds to pack on the skilled inside scorer, and he still doesn't really look like Fat Albert yet, he looked a lot stronger against Oakland.

He has a silky smooth turnaround hook shot and it looked like it was on point as he scored 10 points on 4-5 shooting last game. Johnson won't be a traditional three-man but neither will McAdoo when he gets minutes there. Both guys, especially while UNC's best wings are out, will have to play in that spot and play well for UNC to do what they want.

Johnson can get the job done and it will be fun to see just how much he's improved from Year One to Year Two.

Marcus Paige

There were questions about Marcus Paige and where he would end up getting the majority of his minutes. He split time at the point guard spot with Britt last game and that will likely be the case all season long.

Williams said on his radio show that Paige has put on 10-plus pounds this offseason and his shot looked much improved and consistent. The best asset Paige possesses is his attitude. He never gets down on himself, has a great belief in himself and doesn't take things personally. He's competitive but he'll do whatever it takes to help the team.

Whether that means sliding over and letting Britt take the reins or coming off the bench, Paige will be a key to a lot of UNC's success this year.

Holy Cross
(1-1, 0-0)
#11/12 North Carolina
(1-0, 0-0)

Date: Friday, November 15, 2013
Time: 8:00 PM EST
Venue: Dean E. Smith Center (21,750)

Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network & SiriusXM (Sirius 157/XM -)

Holy Cross at a glance
Location: Worcester, Mass.
Nickname: Crusaders
Colors: Royal Purple
Conference: Patriot League
Arena: Hart Center (3,600)
2012-2013 Record: 12-18 (4-10)
Last Game: W 122-118 2OT over Sacred Heart on November 13.
More on the Crusaders:
Schedule | Stats | Roster
Official Site

North Carolina
Head Coach - Roy Williams (283-79 at UNC; 701-180 overall)

Last starting line-up for North Carolina (against Oakland)

F - Jame Michael McAdoo
F - J.P. Tokoto
F - Joel James
G - Marcus Paige

G - Nate Britt

Statistical Leaders
Scoring: James Michael McAdoo (21.0 PPG) Marcus Paige (14.0 PPG)

Rebounding: James Michael McAdoo (9.0 RPG) Joel James (8.0 RPG)

Assists: J.P. Tokoto (5.0 APG) Marcus Paige (5.0 APG)

Team Statistics
oints Per Game: 84.0
Rebounds Per Game: 41.0
Assist Per Game: 25.0
Field Goal Percentage: .600

Holy Cross
Head Coach - Milan Brown (24-36 at HC; 119-156 overall)

Statistical Leaders
Scoring: Dave Dudzinski (25.5 PPG) Cullen Hamilton (22.0 PPG)

Rebounding:Dave Dudzinski (10.5) Malachai Alexander (7.5 RPG)

Assists: Justin Burrell (6.0 APG Eric Green (2.5 APG)

Last starting line-up for Holy Cross (against Sacred Heart)

F - Malcolm Miller
F - Taylor Abt
C - Dave Dudzinski
G - Justin Burrell

G - Cullen Hamilton

Team Statistics
Points Per Game:
97. 0
Rebounds Per Game: 36.0
Assist Per Game: 15.0
Field Goal Percentage: .446


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