UNC Basketball: Players Who Need to Shake Off Loss to Miami the Most

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UNC Basketball: Players Who Need to Shake Off Loss to Miami the Most
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels may have lost the ACC championship game to the Miami Hurricanes, but the players have little time for a pity party with the tournament looming. This loss needs to be shaken off, and quickly.

UNC just couldn't catch a break, unable to keep up with Miami head coach Jim Larranaga's fast-paced offense, though the Tarheels did put in a respectable effort. The Hurricanes shot 51 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from long range, and also out-rebounded the Tar Heels 33-26.

All that North Carolina's players could do was sit back and watch, completely stunned that their ACC tournament run ended in defeat. As heartbreaking as this loss may be, however, now is not the time to get upset about it and let it get them down.

Certain players had bad games, and UNC's tournament hopes are going to be bleak unless this small handful can put it behind them and enter the tourney with a positive attitude.

 

Dexter Strickland

USA TODAY Sports

Entering the game against Miami, Strickland was averaging 12.5 points and 5.5 assists in the ACC Tournament and also shooting 50 percent from the field. For the regular season, the 6'3" senior averaged 8.1 points and 4.1 assists while shooting 44 percent from the floor.

He ended up having eight assists and six rebounds against the Hurricanes, but his scoring game was nonexistent. Miami's defense limited Strickland to just three field goal attempts and four points on the game, and that cannot be the case for the guard in the tournament.

Strickland must continue to do what he does best in driving the lane to penetrate defenses and rise up for either a layup or occasional dunk. He can be electrifying when in the zone, and the Tar Heels are going to need him to be that and more with the tournament starting in a few days.

 

James McAdoo

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

In all honesty, McAdoo did not have a bad game against Miami. However, it could have been better.

The sophomore forward averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game on the season but only had 12 and five against the Hurricanes. For the entire ACC tournament, he averaged 12.3 points and 5.3 boards per contest.

Those numbers are not necessarily bad, but the fact is that McAdoo cannot allow himself to be outmatched in the paint during the tournament like he was against Miami. He has the size to be a force at 6'9", 235 pounds, so it's just a matter of him fighting for every loose ball and not letting himself be outclassed by bigger players at his position.

Once this young man is in full defensive mode, there's no stopping him, and such must be the case for the tournament.

 

Reggie Bullock

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Out of all of the players on North Carolina's roster, nobody needs to shake off the loss to Miami more than Bullock. The team's leading scorer with 14.3 points per game on the regular season, Bullock was limited to just 11 points on 3-of-14 shooting. All three shots he made were three-pointers.

To his credit, he did manage seven rebounds, but that's not his first priority on the team. Head coach Roy Williams needs Bullock to be a great scorer who can be a threat from anywhere on the floor. As bad as he was against Miami, he can't let that bad performance get him into a funk.

The fact is that Bullock averaged 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 46 percent from the field in the ACC tournament. Those numbers are not bad at all.

With the Big Dance looming, he must be sure to have his confidence back sooner rather than later so that UNC can get back on the horse and enjoy a potentially long tournament run.

 

Remember to download a printable NCAA bracket and to watch Selection Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.

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