Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr
UNC's topsy-turvy season might be just beginning and Tar Heel
fans might want to take some medicine to settle their stomach as
the basketball team takes them on a crazy ride otherwise known
as the 2013- 2014 season.
After stunning the defending national champion Louisville
Cardinals last weekend, the Heels did nothing to keep that
momentum rolling as they faltered on the road against the UAB
UNC isn't a school that schedules lightly in their non-conference
schedule and this week is a clear indicator of that.
Roy Williams takes his team on the road to East Lansing to play
the No. 1 ranked Michigan State Spartans.
Can UNC get a bi-polar streak going this week? Will an upset of
another top-five team be more of an indicator of how good this team
or are the performances against Belmont and UAB more of an indicator
as to what kind of team this is?
This week will answer some of those questions and with that,
let's take a look at some of the storylines heading into this
If you've been paying attention (and even if you haven't) then
you know that UNC's team is deprived of a traditional wing presence
this season. A lack of shooters has prompted Williams to place guys
in awkward positions on the court.
James Michael McAdoo has been one of the more out of place Tar
Heels as he has had to spend time playing small forward. Already a
player that has struggled with consistency, the inconsistency in
where he's being asked to play on the court has wielded some bad
numbers from McAdoo.
He shot 3-of-13 from the field against UAB and only had six
points. Also, being further away from the basket has hurt his
rebounding effort at times. He only snagged four boards against the
Another obvious area of concern for the Heels is their perimeter
defense. This past Sunday's game marked the fourth straight game
that UNC has allowed a perimeter player to score 25 points or more
against them. The latest guy to break down North Carolina's defense
was Chad Frazier when he put up 25 points.
Everybody, with the exception of
Marcus Paige,is ice-cold when shooting from long distance. UNC
has made 20 three-pointers this season. Paige has made 17 of those
Only four guys, Paige, McAdoo, Tokoto and
Nate Britt, have even attempted a shot from distance. This has
allowed teams to sag off and play without fear of UNC burning them
from deep. Without a true perimeter presence, UNC's one area of
surplus, it's inside players, haven't been able to put their true
mark on games.
Kennedy Meeks and
Brice Johnson have had some good games but if UAB's strategy
against UNC is any indication, they may have seen their easiest days
already until somebody steps up and starts hitting shots from
outside. Meeks and Johnson scored seven and eight points
respectively. The eight points from Johnson were a season low.
UNC's best game thus far came against Louisville because the
Cardinals were willing to engage the Tar Heels in an up-and-down
style game that best-suited their needs. Don't expect the rugged
Spartans to play anything other than the traditional slug-it-out
style that is customary in the Big Ten Wednesday night.
Not that Michigan State can't speed it up if they want to. They
are averaging 85 points per game after all.
But if they stick to the blueprint that's been laid out there and
UNC doesn't execute its Plan B, it could be a long night for the
After putting on a dazzling display of full court passing against
Louisville, Meeks didn't record a single assist against UAB. In
fact, Meeks hasn't recorded an assist against anybody except
Louisville all year long.
Without a very good half-court offense, Meeks' catch-and-throw
ability is something that needs to happen every game. When he's able
to do that he's infinitely more valuable to the team and their
chances to win.
vs. #25/NR North Carolina
Michigan State at a glance Location: East Lansing,
Green & White Conference:
Big Ten Arena:
Breslin Center (14,759) 2012-2013 Record:
(13-5) Last Game:
W 98-65 over Mount St. Mary's on November 29. More on the Spartans: Schedule
| Stats |
Roster Official Site |
Last starting line-up
Mount St. Mary's)
C - Alex Gauna F - Matt Costello G - Alvin Ellis III
G - Travis Trice G - Denzel Valentine
Statistical Leaders Scoring: Gary
PPG) Keith Appling (16.9 PPG)