UNC Basketball: 4 Things About Tar Heels That Will Keep Roy Williams Up at Night
No matter the cards Roy Williams is dealt, the head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels demands perfection. Anything less results in screaming and animated gestures from the coach's box and likely a mild case of insomnia.
One thing about being a perfectionist is the chase never ends.
Ol' Roy will never have a perfect team. Particularly in college sports, there is always some aspect of a team's game that will ultimately cost a coach a few gray hairs.
As we can plainly see, Coach Williams has had his fair share of frustrations.
The last two years, it was the woeful perimeter defense and shooting. Before that, turnovers and poor chemistry were among the many items on the laundry list of 2009-10.
What will be on Roy's mind in 2012-13?
Only time and a handful of games will begin to tell the true story. As it stands now, there are four key areas of concern for the Hall of Famer.
The Carolina season officially begins on Friday, so this list is subject to change throughout the course of the season.
Lack of Experience
A lack of experience will probably be one frustration that carries on through a good chunk of the season.
Roy lost four big-time starters, with Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall leaving for the NBA. Only Luke Davis, Reggie Bullock and Dexter Strickland have at least one year of experience as a starter at the collegiate level.
Aside from Leslie McDonald—a junior—the rest of the squad consists of four sophomores and four freshmen. McDonald averaged 15.7 minutes per game his sophomore year, while the returning sophomores combined for a mere 35.3 minutes per game last season.
It would be one thing if this were a slow team. But Coach Williams likes his team to roll at a NASCAR pace, opening up plenty of opportunity to make poor decisions.
Fortunately, he is wise enough to recruit players that liked to run at prep. Though we have really only seen them in the exhibition, the freshmen were impressive with their awareness in transition.
Joel James proved he could run the floor, while Marcus Paige, J.P. Tokoto and Brice Johnson showed off their ball-handling and awareness, ready to make the extra pass.
That's a really good thing, considering how much the transition game means to a Roy Williams-coached team.
But that doesn't mean they won't have their fair share of mistakes.
After all, Paige will probably be running point the entire season. There isn't a position in basketball more prone to mistakes than that one. No matter how good he is, his lack of experience will occasionally show.
Between Paige, Strickland and Davis, I don't think the point will be too much of a concern.
However, there is another major area of concern heading into the season, which is also due to a lack of experience.
Transition aside, Coach Williams main area of focus on the offensive side of the court is working the ball inside out.
Sadly enough, I'm more confident in the post play of freshmen Joel James and Brice Johnson than sophomores James Michael McAdoo and Desmond Hubert.
James has about 30 pounds on Hubert, and he knows how to use it. He also showed some more advanced post moves than I expected in the scrimmage and exhibition, including a nice spin move, a left hook and a turnaround jumper.
One year and some preseason action in, I still have no idea what Hubert's post moves are. He will have to find a way to show his stuff to Roy on Friday before he ends up buried on the bench.
James Michael McAdoo has developed some post moves, but the problem is connecting on them. Consider he was 7-of-15 in the exhibition, and two of those were breakaway dunks.
Going 5-of-13 in the post isn't going to make Roy Williams very happy. Fortunately, McAdoo can do a lot of things to make up for his inadequacies, with rebounds, steals and drives to the bucket.
Brice Johnson is perfectly capable of doing all of those things, with the exception of trading steals for blocks. He is also a better shooter than McAdoo.
However, he is roughly 43 pounds lighter than McAdoo and has one less year of experience. McAdoo is the obvious choice.
But the fact remains there are massive question marks in the post, and it will take a little while before we have an accurate picture of how well Roy's inside game will work with this crew.
The Tar Heels coach isn't even sure who will start opposite James Michael McAdoo, according to Robbi Pickeral at ESPN. "Joel [James], Brice [Johnson], Desmond [Hubert], Jackson [Simmons] … one of those four will start, but we don’t know who that’s going to be," he said on his radio show.
John Henson was 6'11", with the wingspan of a bald eagle—literally. Tyler Zeller was 7'. The two players combined for 19.5 rebounds per game last season.
North Carolina was the top rebounding team the last two seasons, and they haven't dropped out of the top three since 2005-06.
Joel James is the tallest of the current group of posts, at 6'10". Hubert is right behind, at 6'9.5", and both Johnson and McAdoo stand at 6'9".
The last time North Carolina was that vertically challenged, they finished 11th in the country, with 40.3 rebounds per game. Both Marvin Williams and Sean May were only 6'9".
I'd say that's bad news, but 40.3 isn't too shabby, and they went on to win a national title that season.
James is a physical specimen and is already well-developed on the block. Opponents will have a tough time bullying UNC's man-child for position.
My worries come from the less physical McAdoo, Johnson and Hubert.
Hubert is a pretty decent rebounder, using his length to shine the glass. Johnson and McAdoo tend to use their superior athleticism and leaping ability to snag their rebounds.
I see this team as being better rebounders than most people think, thanks in part to the team's overall athleticism. Despite their lack of height, I think they can be a top 10 rebounding team.
But when a team loses a couple players like Henson and Zeller, questions of UNC's rebounding ability will loom overhead. They will have to prove themselves before Roy will feel comfortable shutting his eyes at night.
Perimeter defense is a problem that was very apparent last season.
North Carolina allowed their opponents to get off 862 threes last season, and they were open enough to bury them at a 31.9 percent clip. That's 275 treys being dropped in the faces of last year's Tar Heels.
That is horrible, and it certainly can't happen again this season.
In all honesty, it probably will. Roy Williams' teams tend to be gamblers because of the extreme focus on transition.
Players will jump into passing lanes to get steals, which will sometimes leave their opponents open on the wing. Other times it will lead to a steal they take coast-to-coast for an easy bucket.
That's just how it works in this system. Any time you gamble, you can win big or lose big.
Another thing to keep an eye on is switches. A lot of that has to do with team chemistry, knowing someone will be making a switch and getting to the uncovered man. I fully expect this to be a shaky area for a good portion of the season.
Those issues aside, Carolina is equipped with some very solid one-on-one defenders along the perimeter.
Dexter Strickland is a given, Reggie Bullock improved a ton last season and Leslie McDonald has really long arms and sound technique. Hairston is coming along, Davis is physical and Paige has quick hands.
The overall defense will be amazing—especially with relation to turnovers. But there will be open threes from time to time, and it will probably cost them a couple games.
As long as it isn't like the Florida State game, that's something at least I can get over. But any open threes still won't go over very smoothly with the fiery Roy Williams.
That's what I love about Coach.
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