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November 20, 2013

Richmond-UNC Preview

Basketball Preview

UNC is coming off an 83-80 loss against Belmont in a game that was foreshadowed one game earlier during a struggle to the finish line against Holy Cross.

It's clear that this team is still quite early in the gelling process as they piece together a team that is missing some pretty key components. While talent certainly isn't an issue, cohesion, wing players and consistency are.

The Heels have a big weekend ahead of them with a potential showdown with defending national champion Louisville looming if they make it to the Hall of Fame Tip Off Tournament finale on Sunday.

Head coach Roy Williams has had a couple days this week to use the Belmont as a teaching moment.

Here are a few storylines to pay attention to heading into the game.

Growing Pains

"We only watched it for a little over two hours," Williams said. "Some plays we watched once. Some plays we watched twice or three or four or five times. We're going to finish watching tomorrow because we have to learn. It's part of the process, we have to learn and not make the same mistakes again."

Those were the comments made by Williams on his Monday radio show about how the Tar Heels basketball team spent its Monday afternoon. The team didn't run suicides and they weren't put through any sort of torture punishment for their stunning early season loss.

Probably because Williams isn't all that surprised this team would drop that kind of game. He's made it fully aware that his has been the most difficult offseason for him after losing Reggie Bullock to the NBA Draft and P.J. Hairston and Leslie Mcdonald to a "boys will be boys" mentality.

So Williams doesn't have three wing players he expected to have at this particular moment and has resorted to playing James Michael McAdoo, a natural power forward, at the small forward position. He's also had to lean on Marcus Paige, who wasn't expected to even start last season after UNC unexpectedly lost Kendall Marshall to the NBA, but hasn't even been able to take advantage of that situation because he needs him at the two-spot.

Credit has to go to McAdoo and Paige---they've both stepped up big and had nice games in defeat against Belmont. McAdoo scored a career high 27 points and snagged 13 rebounds while Paige continued his hot shooting with a 6 for 13 performance from the field.

They'll need those guys to hold the fort until more firepower returns and be prepared to unleash their full arsenal at a moment's notice if that moment may never actually arrive.

James Michael McAdoo

UNC was not a very good second half team last year.

That trend has carried over into the 2013-2014 calendar year as evidenced by letting Belmont and Oakland outscore them in the second half. They outscored Holy Cross in the second half but went into halftime tied.

The Tar Heels best scorer right now is McAdoo but he's never been the most consistent player and has lacked a true ability to take over a game whenever he wants. He has the skillset to do it but sometimes he gets in his own way.

"I think a couple of times he just goes so fast, just take an extra split second, it's just an extra split second to gather yourself and then you go up and you don't miss those shots. James Michael is important to us," said Williams. "27 points and 13 rebounds, we'll take that every night. I loved his performance in the first game even better when he was 9 for 13. But we do need him to score for us."

McAdoo drew a lot of eye balls during a late season surge in his freshman season when he was able to come off the bench, score, and be a guy other teams couldn't devote a full defense to because of the other talent around him.

This year's team needs McAdoo to dominate at times and exert his will. He showed flashes of that ability against Belmont but his performance against Holy Cross (11 points, 4 rebounds and 3 of 10 shooting) suggest he still isn't as consistent as he needs to be.

"I think a couple of times he just goes so fast, just take an extra split second, it's just an extra split second to gather yourself and then you go up and you don't miss those shots. James Michael is important to us," said Williams. "27 points and 13 rebounds, we'll take that every night. I loved his performance in the first game even better when he was 9 for 13. But we do need him to score for us."

Splitting time across all three frontcourt positions depending on the situation will probably stretch McAdoo's skillset at times but he and everybody associated with the program knows he has to perform in order for UNC to win.

(3-1, 0-0)
#19/24 North Carolina
(2-1, 0-0)

Game Day
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Time: 12:00 PM EST
Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena (10,000)

Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network & SiriusXM (Sirius 132/XM 191)

Richmond at a glance
Location: Richmond, Va.
Nickname: Spiders
Colors: Red & Blue
Conference: Atlantic 10
Arena: Curb Event Center (5,000)
2012-2013 Record: 19-15 (8-8)
Last Game: W 74-63 over Hofstra on November 19.
More on the Spiders:
Schedule | Stats | Roster
Official Site

Last starting line-up
(against Hofstra)

F - Terry Allen
F - Alonzo Nelson-Ododa
F - Derrick Williams
G - Cedrick Lindsay

G - Wayne Sparrow

Statistical Leaders
Scoring:Cedrick Lindsay (19.0 PPG) Kendall Anthony (12.0 PPG)

Rebounding:Terry Allen (8.8) Trey Davis (8.0 RPG)

Assists: Cedrick Lindsay (3.5 APG) Trey Davis (1.8 APG)

Team Statistics
Points Per Game:
Rebounds Per Game: 38.3
Assist Per Game: 11.0
Field Goal Percentage: .402

North Carolina at a glance
Last starting line-up
(against Belmont)

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

G - Nate Britt

Statistical Leaders
Scoring: James Michael McAdoo (19.7 PPG) Marcus Paige (18.0 PPG)

Rebounding: James Michael McAdoo (8.7 RPG) Brice Johnson (6.3 RPG)

Assists: J.P. Tokoto (4.3 APG) Nate Britt (4.3 APG)

Team Statistics
oints Per Game: 75.3
Rebounds Per Game: 41.3
Assist Per Game: 17.0
Field Goal Percentage: .486


Williams is still learning how to utilize this team just as much as the team is trying to figure out how they will mesh on the court.

Williams has given Luke Davis a lot of playing time in the wake of a lack of a backup point guard. Brice Johnson has given UNC an offensive threat of the bench and Kennedy Meeks has gotten double digit minutes in every game this season.

The X-factor's in all of this is J.P. Tokoto and Isiah Hicks. Tokoto scored 13 points in the opener and shot 45 percent but hasn't gotten above 30 percent shooting in either of UNC's last two games. He missed 12 free throws (4-16 from the line) against Belmont and continues to be a liability on the offensive end.

His value comes in his rebounding. He snagged 9 rebounds (5 on the offensive glass) but is glaring weakness when he's asked to put the ball in the hole.

Hicks only saw 2 minutes of game action Sunday afternoon and has, like McAdoo, been tasked with getting comfortable with a more perimeter role than he's used too. Williams has admitted that's a daunting task for Hicks, who hasn't spent much time there, but with such a thin roster at that spot it's where he's needed most.

The only major statistical category Hicks produced against Belmont was one turnover. It won't be hard for him to pass that kind of production in coming weeks but it should be interesting to note how he's utilized going forward.


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