North Carolina Basketball: Lack of Star Power Is Killing Tar Heels
Roy Williams needs to petition the state of North Carolina for a roster swap. It would make for a heck of a reality show.
Give Williams N.C. State's roster, the one that ran his Tar Heels silly in a 91-83 win on Saturday night, and ole' Roy would have those boys ranked in the top five.
As for the roster Williams currently has, it's performing right about where it should be.
We watched an NIT team play one of the most frustrating teams in the country. The Wolfpack are too talented to lose to Wake Forest and to allow UNC to cut a 28-point lead to nine in eight minutes, but that's another story.
The fact that a program has proud as North Carolina's could even get down 28 points might frustrate the fanbase, but Williams is actually coaching this team to perform about as well as can be expected—13-6 and 3-3 in the ACC.
The Tar Heels lean on James Michael McAdoo to be a star, and he hasn't really progressed from where he was a year ago. McAdoo shows glimpses of promise, but last season he was a 43 percent shooter. This year he's a 45 percent shooter.
That's your go-to guy. That's a problem.
Williams dealt himself a mediocre hand when he wasn't prepared for the early departures of Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Kendall Marshall.
The loss of Marshall probably hurts more than any other. This team needs a player who can put everyone in easy situations to score.
Marcus Paige, like McAdoo, shows some flashes, but he went into Saturday's game turning it over on 28 percent of the possessions he finishes, according to KenPom.com. He had three turnovers and went 2-of-11 from the floor against the Wolfpack.
Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston are nice pieces on the wing. Bullock is actually having a highly productive season. He's shooting 46.3 percent from beyond the three-point line.
But Bullock and Hairston are complementary pieces. UNC's roster is filled with complementary pieces.
This isn't the first time this has happened to Williams in his career. When Raef LaFrentz graduated and Paul Pierce left early for the NBA draft in 1998, Williams had his two worst seasons at Kansas, both second-round exits.
Help arrived in 1999 with the class of Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison and Drew Gooden. A few years later, the Jayhawks made back-to-back Final Fours.
Williams' worst team in Chapel Hill (before this one) was the 2009-10 team that went to the NIT. That team had Tyler Zeller and Henson.
Help arrived the next year in Marshall and Barnes, and the Tar Heels went to back-to-back Elite Eights. Last year's tourney run might have been even better if Marshall would have been available in UNC's loss to Kansas.
Next season could be a repeat of history. Williams already has a nice class with three top-100 recruits signed, led by forward Isaiah Hicks, ranked No. 14 by Rivals.com in the 2013 class. North Carolina is also one of the final four schools still in the hunt Andrew Wiggins, the top-ranked recruit in the class.
If Williams lands Wiggins, he'll get his star.
If Wiggins doesn't become a Tar Heel, the hope in Chapel Hill will be that McAdoo eventually lives up to the hype—he was ranked eighth in his class—or another player fills that role.
Put the complementary pieces around the king, and the Heels will be back to where they are expected to be.
The ceiling for this year's team is sneaking in the tournament as a bubble team. The ACC is down enough for that to happen. This team, as it showed in the second half against N.C. State, still plays hard for Williams. The Heels still have pride.
They just don't have a star.
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