After two games in the UNC Basketball season the Tar Heels are 2 and 0 and ranked 11th in both the AP and the Coaches’ Polls. The second win for head coach Roy Williams and North Carolina (2-0) came at the expense of Florida Atlantic (0-1) by the score of 80 to 56, in a game that the visiting squad never led in, which is part of the Maui Invitational. In this game some questions might have been answered, while others not so much.
First and foremost for the questions answered, if anyone has any doubt that sophomore James McAdoo is going to be the “go to guy” then you have not watched the first 80 minutes of this season. The power forward has had 26 points/14 rebounds in the first game and then 19 pts/11 boards in this one. Sure, the talent he will face down the road is going to be tougher, but the talent the young man, who could have left for the NBA at the end of last season, is easily spotted on the court. And while his starting partner in the paint, sophomore Desmond Hubert, did not look too good at all, beaten on the defensive end for FAU’s first points as well as making the first TO on Sunday, the other two big men for UNC looked well, especially considering they are both freshmen. Joel James, 11 points and 8 rebounds, and Brice Johnson, dozen points and four boards, are going to be a decent rotation for the Heels moving forward.
In the back court what was good to see was Reggie Bullock’s play. After being called unselfish to a fault in the opener by coach Williams after game one, Bullock was aggressive right off the bat in this one, getting 10 of first 13 points including 2-3 shooting from beyond the arc. As a matter of fact the whole team was shooting pretty well at the beginning, but when the shots stopped falling for UNC it kept FAU in the game, as the two squads went into the locker room with the Heels only leading by 8 points. The 4 for 14 from the free throw line did not help at all either.
Senior Dexter Strickland, junior Leslie McDonald and sophomore P.J. Hairston all played below what is needed from them if this team wants to be among the Top 10 in the country. Freshman point guard also shoot poorly, going 1 for 8, but did have six assists (compared to none in his first game donning the carolina blue) to go against three TOs.
All of this does not mean much as you look at the opponents that Carolina has faced so far. On the other hand they were two good warm ups for what coach Williams’ squad will be facing, first going up against Long Beach State, then heading to the Maui Invitational, followed by the game against Indiana, the top team in the nation, in the ACC/Big10 Challenge. After that core of games we will really have a much better feel of where UNC stands as far as ranking and, much more importantly, as far as the season outlook.
In the end the free throw shooting, which was 12 for 27 in this game and 9 for 19 against Gardner-Webb, has to improve and do so quickly if Carolina wants to do something during this campaign. The three point shooting improved from 1 for 12 in the first game to 6 for 15 in this one, but that has to stay steady at 40% for this squad to be effecient in 2012-13.
The team will have most of the week to get ready for LBSU, as they play them on Friday night at 11:00 p.m. EST (ESPNU). They will need the time to work on the fundementals, but there is no reason to doubt that all of these players, both upperclassmen and freshmen, can not improve during this time. I said it after the first game, will repeat it now, this team is working to be a top team in the nation, but without a doubt it does have both the talent and the coaching staff to be one. The fact that the team seems to be hustling on both sides of the ball is one positive sign that they are going to improve with each and every game.
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