- Inside Carolina: The question of the week is how will North Carolina deal with losing Dexter Strickland. The simple answers are Stilman White (who has racked up just over 60 minutes of playing time this year) will be Kendall Marshall’s backup at point, and Reggie Bullock will replace Strickland in the starting line-up. Bullock has really come into his own this year, and many Tar Heel fans were already calling for him to start due to his huge offensive upgrade over Strickland. He also always draws the toughest defensive assignment when he’s on the floor because his length and athleticism make him a terrific perimeter defender. Not surprisingly, Roy Williams is not considering pulling Leslie McDonald’s red-shirt (McDonald isn’t a point guard). One of Williams’ ideas to keep Marshall out of foul trouble: “I may just decide to play a 2-3 zone the whole game and put Kendall in the middle and tell him never to foul.”
- Orlando Sentinel: In our no-brainer move of the week, the ACC named Michael Snaer its Player of the Week after he knocked down not one, but two huge threes in Florida State’s upset bid at Duke. Austin Rivers also took rookie of the week honors after settling into conference play with 19 points in the Blue Devils’ loss to the Seminoles. Both performances were pretty significant. Rivers proved he could be “the guy” against tough defenses, and Snaer continued his streak of games scoring in double figures. For both teams to be successful, those trends will have to continue.
- Raleigh News & Observer: For the first time in several years, the North Carolina-NC State game feels important beyond the rivalry. NC State looks like a NCAA tournament team but still needs a marquee win to hang its hat on. The Tar Heels have shown some mortality. Even when both teams were ranked in Herb Sendek’s final season with the Wolfpack, his downplaying of the rivalry kept it from feeling like a big deal. Mark Gottfried is not Sendek. I personally think the Wolfpack starting five can hang with the Tar Heels. And I’m very excited to see Lorenzo Brown and Kendall Marshall face off at the point guard spot although I wouldn’t be surprised to see Reggie Bullock guarding Brown.
- Fox Sports Carolinas: Duke still has issues defensively and at the point guard position. In the past the Blue Devils have been fine without a point guard, but this year the offense is focused on the interior. The Plumlees need someone to get them the ball. So far, only Quinn Cook has shown the ability to do that consistently (but his turnover issues made him an extreme liability against Florida State). Defensively, Duke lacks the athleticism and flexibility of past teams that had both good on-ball defenders and flexible wings, like Kyle Singler, to make Mike Krzyzewski’s over-playing man-to-man defense effective. They have to fix both issues to be a legitimate contender. Period.
- Miami Herald: Jim Larranga is getting tired of his team’s lack of progress. I’d be frustrated too: the Hurricanes had one assist to nine turnovers at the half and shot 2-20 from three against NC State. Kenny Kadji’s play has been about the only positive thing for the Hurricanes so far this season. Reggie Johnson’s injury really set him and the team back, as he still hasn’t been able to get near game shape. Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant have both been plagued by inconsistent play.
EXTRA: Tonight at the game against Duke, Maryland will be dedicating its court to Gary Williams (apparently there were a couple of events last night too). It should be a pretty special event, and Scott Van Pelt hinted there would be some very cool stuff. I’m not sure if the ceremony will be televised, as it starts before the game. I’ll pass along any good videos I find.