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Harrison Barnes: Sophomore Star Must Step Up for Tar Heels to Make Final Four

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels gestures on court against the Florida State Seminoles during the Final Game of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Philips Arena on March 11, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Adam SpencerCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2012

Harrison Barnes is one of the best players in the country. He's going to need to prove that to the nation if the North Carolina Tar Heels are going to make it to the Final Four.

The sophomore guard is going to be a lottery pick if he declares for the 2012 NBA draft, but he still has some work left to do in college.

With the recent injury to outstanding point guard Kendall Marshall, Barnes is going to have to do even more to help his team.

Let's break down the three areas Barnes must improve in if the Tar Heels are going to advance past this weekend.

 

Passing

Barnes didn't have a single assist in North Carolina's first two tournament games. I know he's a scorer, but that number is ridiculous.

Especially now that Marshall will either be out or severely limited, Barnes needs to make an occasional pass. He still needs to be a scorer first and foremost, but making opponents defend against the pass would be good for him and his teammates.

He doesn't need to completely replace Marshall's passing, but three or four assists per game isn't too much to ask.

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 18:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts as he runs down court next to Jahenns Manigat #12 of the Creighton Bluejays in the first half during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Gre
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

 

Scoring

With Marshall out, Barnes will probably find the ball in his hands a lot more often. So, even though he needs to improve his passing, he's going to need to find a way to score more too.

That's a lot to ask of a guy who already averages more than 17 points a game, but stars find ways to rise to the occasion.

This doesn't mean he should take bad shots, he just needs to find ways to get himself more high-quality shots.

 

Leadership

Marshall was the unquestioned leader of the offense on the court. He made sure everyone from Barnes to Tyler Zeller was involved in the offense and never shied away from a big moment.

Now, Barnes is going to have to step up and be the leader on the floor.

If the offense is struggling, he needs to take over and create his own shot. Or, if he's struggling, he needs to realize that and feed the ball to Zeller and John Henson in the post.

It's a lot to ask of the young sophomore, but this is his chance to shine. He needs to take full advantage of it.

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