Thank you, Roy Williams, for finally putting P.J. Hairston in the lineup. Now that it’s obvious that he makes Carolina an exponentially better team, let’s revisit the other recommendations.
You trimmed the lineup back against Duke and Virginia, and the increased success is impossible to argue with. Joel James’ injury helped you out by removing him as an option, and I’m hoping you don’t revert to old habits when he returns. James is not ready to play meaningful minutes, and his time on the court should be limited to mop-up duty when the outcome is no longer in doubt.
Brice Johnson needs more time on the court. He played great against Virginia with six points and four rebounds, but 11 minutes of playing time isn’t nearly enough. UNC is going to need him when playing teams with dominant big men, and he won’t be ready for the challenge if he’s spending the majority of games on the pine. I do like the small lineup, but it’s not going to cut it against the top centers in the country.
With the insertion of Hairston into the lineup, Dexter Strickland is picking up his level of play. Hairston’s fire and intensity have rubbed off on the rest of the team, and Dexter is back to doing what he does best: attacking the basket. Without Hubert or James getting in the way in the paint, the guards now have the driving lanes to take it to the hole. Strickland thrives in the small lineup, and that should be his role. When Carolina goes big, Dexter should usually go to the bench.
In addition to the in-game recommendations, I have one for your press conferences and radio shows. Stop making disparaging comments to Carolina fans. I know it’s hard to hear fans critique your decisions, but they’re only doing it because they are passionate about the team and want to see the Heels at their best.
UNC faithful from all over have been questioning your lineups and substitutions, and the transformation of the team with P.J. Hairston's increased minutes shows they were right to do so. Instead of reacting negatively to this criticism, try considering the reasons behind their pleas. UNC fans are showing that in many cases, they do know “your team” better than you do, and you’re just putting off supporters with your comments. We would all be lucky to have so much volunteer help with our jobs.
Carolina fans are some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable in the country. Rather than immediately going on the defensive when your methods are questioned, you would be best served to pay attention when nearly everyone is begging for a change. They might just know something you don’t.
With that said, UNC is now playing like a top-15 team. Let's build on these massive improvements and finish the season strong. This year’s title is up for grabs, and with a newfound star in P.J. Hairston, the Tar Heels now have a shot to make a deep run in March.
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