UNC-Gardner-Webb Preview

The season has finally fallen upon us basketball fans. The Tar Heels will be taking the court for the first time, following a great season in 2011-2012 that seemed to fall short of expectations for the team.
UNC has put in the work, played their exhibition game against Shaw, and now will face Gardner-Webb Runnin' Rebels and third year head coach Chris Holtmann on Friday night at 7:00 pm in the Smith Center.
This will be our first look in a regular season game at the new Tar Heels, which will be a great mixture of veterans, newcomers, and players coming back after horrific injuries.
After losing first round draft picks Kendall Marshall, Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and Tyler Zeller, the Tar Heels will be facing a different challenge than they have in the past.
Unlike last year, the team will have a stacked backcourt with returning stars Reggie Bullock, P.J. Hairston, Dexter Strickland, and Leslie McDonald. Newcomer J.P. Tokoto should offer great firepower along the outside which will help out the frontcourt.
UNC certainly had a weakness last year, as they seemed to struggle with their outside shooting, especially around the arc, when they were only able to capitalize on 38 percent shooting.
However, even with the firepower on the outside, much of the pressure will be put on freshman point guard Marcus Paige, as he will have to take over and pick up Roy's system very quickly.
McAdoo will be the main source down in the paint, as he showed a glimpse of what he is capable last year in the tournament.
But the burden will not be on him at all times, as there are high expectations on Desmond Hubert, Joel James, Brice Johnson, and Jackson Simmons to help down in the paint and to play to their strengths.
The freshmen down low looked impressive in the team's Late Night with Roy scrimmage, especially James, who seems to have the body to bang down with the big boys and also the sweet touch that could stretch the defense out more.
This could be a great game that will be able to showcase UNC's interior presence, along with a strong test for the backcourt.
Gardner Webb will be heading back to the Dean Dome, where they lost 93-72 in 2009-2010 to then-No. 11 North Carolina. Gardner-Webb will be returning five starters that had a record of 12-20 Overall (6-12 in the Big South).
They will be led by red-shirt senior guard Tashan Newsome, who was picked second team All-conference and who is the lead returning scorer (12.3) and rebounder (7.0) from last year.
With a heavy load of guards on their roster, there could be a few opportunities for the Tar heels to pound it down in the paint.
The Runnin' Rebels averaged a little less than 66 points a game, but were able to attack the boards, averaging almost 37 rebounds a game and who, as a team, had more turnovers than assists per game.
Gardner-Webb will be welcoming two transfers from UCF and Texas A&M, a JUCO recruit, and four freshmen to their squad this year, that will be able to add even more depth to their backcourt.
This Gardner-Webb team can be dangerous at times and they did play some close games last year against quality teams, such as Butler and Wake Forest, along with losing only eight games by three points or less last year.
Shooting and defense will be key points for both teams.
There will be one familiar face to the Gardner-Webb team, as this will be the first game that Luke Davis will be able to suit up for the UNC, as he transferred from Gardner-Webb and had to sit out last year because of the transfer rule.
Come Friday, we will get to see a glimpse of what UNC and Roy Williams has been working on for the past few weeks in practice. Expect to see some unique matchups and some toying around with his new troops to determine what works in certain situations and what doesn't.
After shooting a lot of three pointers the last time out against Shaw, expect Carolina to work the ball inside a great deal to try and take advantage of its size advantage.
It should be an exciting year for Carolina basketball, with a few new faces and a couple of old friends, in a season that should be very competitive all throughout the ACC.