The North Carolina Tar Heels need second-half-against-Texas James Michael McAdoo.
They need March-of-2012 James Michael McAdoo. They need the dominant, athletic, I'm-going-to-take-over-this-game-and-not-be-stopped James Michael McAdoo.
Unfortunately, Mr. Jimmy Mike Mac isn't always there to answer the call.
One only needs to look to the aforementioned Texas game from Wednesday night for proof.
In the first half, McAdoo looked uninterested, soft, unaware on defense and unwilling to even think about bothering Cameron Ridley or Jonathan Holmes.
The Tar Heels, unsurprisingly, fell behind by as many as 19 and trailed by 13 at the break.
But then Roy Williams obviously said all the right things in the locker room.
McAdoo came out with much more aggression and passion. On the offensive end, he posted up, called for the ball and knocked down his mid-range jumper. He also crashed the offensive glass, and even if he didn't get the board, he often freed up a teammate for an open path to one.
On defense, he showed that unique on-ball perimeter defense for a 4, racking up six steals and a number of plays that won't show up in the box score.
The Tar Heels weren't able to mount the comeback, but the difference in the halves was very obvious.
In the end, McAdoo finished with 10 points, four rebounds and five steals in the second half alone. He attempted more shots and got to the free-throw line eight times compared to two in the first half.
That's the type of production the Heels need from McAdoo.
Not what they got from him and the rest of the big men in an ugly win over East Carolina last weekend (via Greg Barnes of Inside Carolina):
North Carolina’s four primary post players – McAdoo, Hubert, Joel James and Brice Johnson – failed to pull down an offensive rebound against the Pirates. The quartet has just one offensive rebound in UNC’s past two games.
“I’ve never had a game where a post player never got an offensive rebound the whole game,” Williams told reporters during his postgame press conference.
This team clearly has plenty of problems.
The defense, at times, has been horrendous. One of the least offensive teams in the nation, after all, just dropped 85 on them.
Who is most important for North Carolina getting past its current struggles?
Moreover, with freshman Marcus Paige struggling, there's also a lack of necessary leadership and production at the point-guard position that Tar Heels fans probably took for granted with Kendall Marshall running the show.
But Dexter Strickland has the ability to run the point, as evidenced by his 26 assists in just three games before Wednesday's contest.
And while the defensive problem isn't easily as solvable, McAdoo, Joel James and especially Brice Johnson have arguably the most potential out of anyone on the team.
If the Heels are going to make some noise in a wide-open ACC (wide open behind Duke, at least), those young big men need to start flashing more of that immense potential.
Or at the very least, at a more consistent level.