The first game of the season for North Carolina, to be played on November 9, will be against an in state squad in Gardner-Webb. For both of the programs this will be the first game of the 2012-13 season. For the opponent, who will travel approximately 3 and a half hours on I 85 to get to the Dean Dome (tip off to be determined), it’s going to be the fourth time that they face Carolina. The Bulldogs, who have yet to defeat the Tar Heels, finished last season with a 12 and 20 overall record while compiling a 6-12 conference record in the Big South. While this is a look at the opponents of UNC Basketball, this being the first game of the 2012-13 campaign most people, be it media or fans or bloggers like me, will be more focused on how the revamped Heels look more than anything else.
It is pretty likely that 6’9″ power forward James McAdoo, selected by the conference coaches to the All-ACC squad, will be under the microscope from the get go. However it might be even more likely that the four incoming freshmen will get even more attention from the people following the squad. From whom will be the starting point guard for head coach Roy Williams, to is going to be in the paint with McAdoo. And while it’s way early in the season, it will be fun to see what type of rotation will be used from the get go. And, of course, how much the duo of Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald play will be another thing that will be interesting to see. Last year the starting line up was pretty much selected as soon as the trio of Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller decided to stay one more year. This season the line up is much more up in the air and I am sure that several spots are still up for grabs.
For Gardner-Webb the one player to watch has to be Tashan Newsome, a 6’3″ red shirt senior, who was named to the pre season Big South 2nd Team and made five game winning baskets last season for the Bulldogs. Knowing how some former guards have torched the Heels in the past and how the team seems to start off slow when coming off long layoffs (beginning of the season or after the holidays), and you can see how Newsome could be a thorn in the side of this young squad. Add to that the fact that Gardner-Webb returns plenty of starters/players with experience from a year ago and this game can not be taken lightly.
Last part of the puzzle to the opening game for the UNC basketball squad is that sophomore 6’0″ guard Luke Davis, who had to sit last year due to transferring, comes from (you guessed it)… Gardner-Webb. This year’s squad might not be as loaded as last season’s, but from the get go it seems that the story lines will be pretty interesting.
Check back later on today for a quick look at the next opponent for the Tar Heels… Florida Atlantic. And of course, as usual, for more information about North Carolina basketball and/or football, teams and players, present and past, make sure to check back often on isportsweb!