UNC Basketball: Tar Heels to Face Shaw Bears in Exhibition Tonight

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UNC Basketball: Tar Heels to Face Shaw Bears in Exhibition Tonight
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

I know, I know. It's "just" Shaw. And it's "just" an exhibition.

I can't help that I'm hyped up for the North Carolina Tar Heels to hit the floor. There is a lot of mystery to this 2012-13 squad, which makes this game even more compelling.

Who will Roy Williams start tonight?

That's the most obvious question, and one of the hardest to answer at this time. Marcus Paige, Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo are the obvious starters. I don't see any reason to bet against those three.

A couple of weeks ago, Roy told the media Marcus Paige will be the starter. Reggie Bullock proved himself to be a leader on the floor last season, and I fully expect him to be the go-to guy. Then there is James Michael McAdoo, who showed a lot of potential down the stretch without John Henson.

Though I'm a little shaky on whether or not McAdoo will live up to expectations, I wouldn't bench him either.

Making the assumption Bullock plays small forward this season, that leaves the shooting guard and center positions up for grabs.

Especially after watching Joel James in the "Late Night with Roy" scrimmage, I feel pretty good about predicting him to start. Sophomore Desmond Hubert should get a good chunk of playing time in this exhibition, too.

My guess is they split minutes so Roy can see what Hubert can do after adding 30 pounds in the offseason. Expect James to start, though.

Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Joel James

 

That leaves Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald and possibly P.J. Hairston at the 2.

Since Dex isn't quite 100 percent, I think he will come off the bench to play 15 minutes or so. If you watched "Late Night with Roy," you probably noticed he was on the sidelines observing the scrimmage with Coach Williams.

P.J. Hairston has the skills and size to back up Bullock at the 3, so I feel he may not get this start. Roy probably wants to see more of what he can do behind Bullock. However, I wouldn't be surprised if we see him start at the 2 later this season.

Especially if he can bring the game he brought to the NC Pro-Am and the scrimmage.

I think Leslie McDonald gets the start at the 2 tonight, and he will have his opportunity to show Roy and Tar Heel Nation how much game he has added over the past year-and-a-half.

So to sum it all up, my prediction is Paige, McDonald, Bullock, McAdoo and James to be the starting five tonight.

The next thing on my mind is how much of an inside game they have. Can McAdoo start making some shots in the post? How much will they feed James down low?

Roy Williams will certainly give the post positions a good test tonight against a lesser Division II opponent.

Who Will Start at Shooting Guard Tonight?

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But considering last season Shaw allowed their conference opponents to shoot 38.1 percent from downtown—which happens to be McDonald's exact mark in 2010-11—I'm willing to bet they will be launching the treys tonight. When you have Paige, McDonald, Hairston and Bullock, there is no reason not to let it fly.

 

I'm also interested in seeing what the new backups will be able to do.

Luke Davis will get his first moment on the floor, after sitting out the first year due to ineligibility from his transfer. Though he has been touted Carolina's top ball-handler, he's had his issues with turnovers in the past.

Freshman Brice Johnson will be filling in for McAdoo, and this kid has loads of potential. But can his 187-pound frame take the pounding in the post? Will he stay consistent or intermittently disappear?

Last, there is J.P. Tokoto. I'm really hoping for him to have a big game because I would love to see him on the floor more than I am predicting. He plays solid defense and everyone knows about his ups. The shooting game remains the biggest question.

Now that I've covered all the hype of this game, one question remains: How can you watch the game if you can't attend?

Unfortunately it won't even be televised on ESPN3. The only way to watch it is online with Go Heels TV, which requires a paid membership. Coverage starts at 7:20 p.m. EST.

Grant Halverson/Getty Images
J.P. Tokoto

Anyone that doesn't want to pay the fee can at least keep up with the scores and highlights with Inside Carolina's Twitter feed. I will also be tweeting my analysis and the occasional scoring update.

You can follow me on Twitter @TSBRollin.

Last, anyone that chooses to spend their Friday night another way can get the full breakdown on the first edition of my game-by-game "Positives and Negatives" series tomorrow morning.

This game may not count toward Carolina's record, but it will be our first true gauge of this squad's talent. For me, this is the start of another great season of Tar Heels basketball.

 

Shaw's 2011-12 season stats, record, roster and more.

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