Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr
UNC didn't end the season they would have liked when they
dropped the season finale on the road against Duke to end their
12-game winning streak. The Heels would have much-preferred to
sweep their rivals and go into the postseason with the longest
current streak in the ACC.
But that simply wasn't in the cards. Instead they come into the
tournament with a one-game losing streak which may prove helpful in
the long run if Roy Williams' assessment of getting his
teams focus is accurate.
"It is amazing that everyone, human nature, not just kids, but
everybody's going about bounce back, do more, work harder and invest
more, whatever, after a loss than you do after a win," said Williams
earlier this week. "I wish it was not that way for my team. I don't
care if it's that way for the other teams. But yeah, you get their
focus even a little bit better."
Will UNC get back on track and find themselves playing this
weekend? Let's take a look at that and some other storylines heading
into Friday's game against Pittsburgh.
James Michael McAdoo
James Michael McAdoo is often the guy that sets the
hustle-tone for UNC but recently he's had trouble staying on the
court. In recent games against Florida State and Duke, McAdoo was
unable to give a meaningful effort due to early foul trouble and his
missing production was sorely missed in both contests.
Against Duke, McAdoo's absence was doubly missed because
Kennedy Meeks was ill and couldn't provide much for UNC on
the court either. That left Brice Johnson to pick up a lot
of the slack and forced Williams to go smaller with his line-ups.
McAdoo and Meeks are the two guys down low that can provide the
most on both ends of the court and if they can't stay on the floor
then Williams has to go with Johnson, who is almost exclusively an
offensive player, or Desmond Hubert, whose primary
usefulness is on the defensive end. It creates holes at either end
of the court and forces UNC to play 4-on-5 basketball.
UNC has lost, or won by less than double-digits, in all of the
games since the start of February in which McAdoo has drawn four or
more personal fouls. His production on offense is an obvious need
for the Heels but his ability to stay aggressive late in games on
the defensive end late in games can't be comprised by silly fouls
early in the game.
J.P. Tokoto made the ACC's defensive first team and for
good reason. His athletic ability has a Dwyane Wade-like feel
to it and his offensive game has gotten steadily better the longer
he's been in Chapel Hill. His mid-range shot has never been more
reliable and he's a ferocious attacker of the rim on the fastbreak.
Tokoto's greatest contribution to UNC's efforts against
Pittsburgh will be guarding top-5 ACC scorer Lamar Patterson. Patterson had 24 points against Wake Forest during
the Panther's 84-55 win Thursday afternoon.
The 6-foot-5 senior from Lancaster is one of Pittsburgh's only
reliable shooters from outside and can create his own shot as well
as anybody else in the conference. Tokoto's long arms and
athleticism match-up well with Patterson's skill set but Tokoto
can't get careless and reach for steals. If he does, Patterson is
savvy enough to get Tokoto into foul trouble and send him to the
Tokoto should be in full Jackie Manuel mode for this one
and should focus all his efforts on being the outside stopper UNC
As mentioned in the opening statement, Williams believes he'll
have his teams' full attention this week after they finally lost a
game for the first time in a long time.
Williams wants to win every time out and is constant search of
the perfect game but don't expect him to sacrifice everything just
to win the ACC tournament. Williams has made statements this week
that he doesn't place a huge importance on winning the tournament,
although surely he would love to, but rather he wants his team to
play well enough to have momentum heading into the NCAA Tournament.
UNC had been so up-and-down this year that just about any
scenario that plays out this week and beyond probably won't surprise
anyone. This week won't be so much about how far they can go in
Greensboro but how they look going where they're going. If they come
out flat then maybe UNC peaked too early. If they come out looking
like the team that everyone saw prior to Durham, then the loss to
Duke was probably a one-time thing that happens to ever basketball
team comprised mostly of teenagers.
vs. #15/15 North Carolina
Pitt at a glance Location:
Pittsburgh, Pa. Nickname:
Blue & Gold Conference:
Peterson Events Center (12,508) 2012-2013 Record:
24-9 (12-6) Last Game:
Pitt opened its first ACC Tournament on Thursday with an 84-55 win
over Wake Forest. More on the Panthers: Schedule
| Stats |
Roster Official Site |
Last starting line-up
F - Lamar Patterson F - Talib Zanna F - Michael Young
G - James Robinson G - Cameron Wright