Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Marcus Paige will probably never dish out 9.8 dimes per game through a season at Chapel Hill, but he has the attributes to become the leader Kendall Marshall was.
Paige has been roughed up in his first season with the Tar Heels. But the "little freshman is a tough little nut," (h/t Inside Carolina) and hasn't seemed phased by poor performances or the blasting he has received from impatient fans.
The Carolina point guard has one job to do, and that's all he seems worried about. That's the kind of toughness leaders are made of.
Though Marshall didn't have to face as much heat as Paige, you could tell he had that same kind of toughness about him. That carried over to being a true leader of men.
Marshall didn't hesitate to instruct the players on where to be, or to chew into someone if they did something wrong. After getting injured in the tournament, he was in his suit on the sideline cheering on—and instructing—the players on the court.
It looked like he was ready to take Roy's job.
You see some of that from Paige, but he could still stand to be a little more demanding of the other guys. His hesitance was understandable, given he was a freshman still learning the game. But he seems to have a better grip on his duties and the flow of the game.
Now it is time for Paige to lead, and that means being the coach on the court. He needs to be the one to make sure his teammates are in the right position, and to settle them down when they start going at a frenetic pace.
The freshman is perfectly capable of being the floor general. He just needs to put his foot down.
As much as this small lineup brings to Carolina, it could really shine if the players can work out the deficiencies of the scheme. And if they can improve on the areas they have struggled with all season, we may be looking at a deep run by UNC in the NCAA tournament.
Otherwise, the end of the season may be as disappointing as the beginning.