UNC: James Michal McAdoo Is A Star But The Rest Is UncertainPosted by KCarpenter on November 9th, 2012
Kellen Carpenter is an RTC correspondent and ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from Friday night’s UNC game versus Gardner-Webb.
James Michael McAdoo was expected to take a starring role for his North Carolina team and in the first game of this season, a 76-59 victory over Gardner-Webb, he showed what he could do as a star. With a career-high 26 points and 14 rebounds (eight of which were on the offensive glass), McAdoo is clearly on the path to fulfilling his first-team All-ACC expectations. The team as a whole however, is clearly one that is a work in progress.
Desmond Hubert earned the fifth Tar Heel starting spot in the post, but he struggled, tallying only four rebounds and failing to score while turning the ball over twice in 13 minutes. He was also memorably bowled over by Mike Byron just a few minutes after tip. Roy Williams made a change by starting Joel James in the second half, and, for his part, James played with a lot of energy but he struggled to stay on the court, accruing four fouls in only 14 minutes of play. The question of the frontcourt rotation is clearly an unsolved riddle for this team, with Williams freely experimenting and looking for a combination that was effective on both ends of the court. Brice Johnson looked polished on offense, but in limited minutes it’s hard to draw too many conclusions about him. Roy Williams said afterward that he isn’t sure who will fill this spot for the next game.
The backcourt rotation also presented a puzzle. Freshman point guard Marcus Paige started and managed to tally four turnovers and zero assists in his 28 minutes, not exactly an auspicious start for the team’s chief playmaker. On the perimeter, one of UNC’s supposed best shooting teams in recent memory managed to shoot 1-of-12 from the field while going 9-of-19 from the free throw line. Granted, a lot of the poor shooting from the stripe was due to McAdoo’s 6-of-11.
North Carolina looks like what it is right now — a young team with plenty of as-yet untapped potential. The offense stagnated when McAdoo was on the bench and the defense alternated between ferocious and indifferent (the perimeter defense, in particular, looked aggressive and tenacious). The rotation of minutes is unclear and outside of McAdoo and a rejuvenated-looking Dexter Strickland, North Carolina looks like a team full of players who are unsure about their roles. Reggie Bullock, the do-everything small forward who was expected to also play a starring role, illustrated this point with his play tonight. According to Williams, Bullock was “unselfish to a fault,” a criticism that the stat line bears out. Bullock took only four shots (compared with McAdoo’s 20), but he amassed three steals, three assists, and an impressive nine rebounds. While he undoubtedly helped his team, Bullock needs to be a second focal point of the offense.
After the first game, there is little about this team (other than perhaps James Michael McAdoo) that looks like a finished product. With a point guard that didn’t distribute, a scorer that didn’t score, and shooters who didn’t shoot, North Carolina often looked shaky, even in a 17-point victory. There’s little doubt that this team will get better and even less doubt that this team needs to get better to come anywhere close to fulfilling expectations. The Tar Heels will get another shot to show where they are when they take on Florida Atlantic in Chapel Hill on Sunday.