As The Tar Heel World Turns
North Carolina is 0-2 in the ACC for the second year in a row. Roy Williams looks tired and fed up for the second year in a row. The only difference in the two years is UNC doesn’t have the option to insert PJ Hairston in to the starting line-up in an effort to provide a spark. Hairston is not coming back UNC fans. This is your team this year. The team with absolutely no outside threat, they are shooting an abysmal 31% from deep, is here to stay. The same team shooting 62% from the free throw line isn’t going anywhere. Marcus Paige (91%) and Joel James (75% on 12 attempts) are the only players above 70% on the team. That’s unacceptable.
Marcus Paige has emerged as the go to guy for the Tar Heels. After a 2-15 shooting performance (2-11 from 3) against Miami, he is shooting 41% overall and 35% from 3 so far this year. That isn’t going to cut it. Not for a program like UNC. James Michael McAdoo, the heralded recruit who almost left high school a year early, has not panned out like Tar Heel fans and coaches thought he would. McAdoo was supposed to use Chapel Hill as a pit stop, a one or two year pit stop, on his way to the NBA. He will still play in the NBA but he is taking the longer route to a payday. I think it’s safe to say he should return for his senior season. The team lacks leadership in such a way that fans can only hope one of the incoming freshman can step up next year. The players who people expected or hoped would fill that role either have been suspended, left school early or just aren’t stepping up.
Fans are calling for Roy Williams to step down. “He just doesn’t have it anymore”. This is a team that Coach Williams fully expected would benefit from the sharp shooting of Reggie Bullock and PJ Hairston. He has said numerous times that he was surprised that Bullock left early and we all know how the Hairston saga ended. The fact that the team as a whole is shooting 31% from 3 only exposes the lack of depth on the wing that UNC has been saddled with this year. The depth would not be an issue with Bullock and Hairston on the team. JP Tokoto would be coming off of the bench right now as Roy Williams envisioned. Leslie McDonald would not be counted on to shoulder the “scoring off of the bench” load. Freshman Nate Britt has been forced into the starting PG spot in his first year on campus. A scenario that Williams probably never envisioned while recruiting him.
This is not a UNC bash article. There are some bright spots on this team. Freshman Kennedy Meeks has shown flashes of the passing, scoring and rebounding that had college coaches fighting for his services. Brice Johnson has shown that his knack for putting the ball in the hoop was not a fluke last year. Johnson has also improved his rebounding and proven that his athleticism can take him far. If only he was a better defender. As much as you think I have bashed Marcus Paige, he has stepped up admirably and assumed a role that most never thought he could or would. Teams have just started to game plan around him and force him to take contested shots. Tokoto has also climbed into a role that no one saw coming. Everyone knew the young man could get up and throw it down but he has improved his jump shot and is grabbing nearly 6 boards a game. Tokoto’s defense gives Tar Heel fans another reason to smile and he plays harder than anyone else on the team.
Scoring help is on the way next year in the form of 3 high school All-Americans. (6-0, 185) PG Joel Berry, #25 in Rivals Rankings, from Florida. (6-7, 185) SF Justin Jackson, #10 in Rivals Rankings, from Texas and homegrown North Carolina talent (6-6, 185) swing-man Theo Pinson from High Point. Pinson is ranked #19 in the Rivals Rankings. All 3 can be a go-to scorer on any given night. UNC is also still heavily involved in the recruitment of elite (6-5, 200) SG Rashad Vaughn of Findlay Prep in Nevada, another All-American who can score in bunches.
Fans calling for Roy Williams’ head are just venting frustration (I hope) and have been spoiled by past successes of the Tar Heels. Be careful what you wish for UNC fans, you might just get it. Coach Williams has expressed that this has been his toughest coaching year and it is wearing on him. Wife Wanda has expressed her desire for Williams to spend more time with family. A feat that can only be accomplished when you are no longer coaching. How bad does it have to be to drive a man like Roy Williams, who loves this game and his players unconditionally, to consider retiring earlier than he wants to? Instead of bashing Roy Williams and the kids on the team, support them more. These are the type of seasons that test the true “fandom” of a fan.
What do you think needs to happen in Chapel Hill?