UNC Tar Heels Going Forward: The Game Plan Without P.J. Hairston
Per ESPN.com, P.J. Hairston has been suspended indefinitely by North Carolina after being cited Sunday for speeding and reckless driving. He was reportedly driving 93 mph in a 65 mph zone when pulled over by state police. It was the latest in what has been a jeopardizing offseason for the career of the star wing player.
On July 15, Coach Roy Williams said there would be serious consequences after Hairston's recent run-ins with the law. Now, we must wait and see what Williams and the university decide to do with him.
He averaged just under 15 points, 4 rebounds, and shot 40 percent from beyond the arc last season. For a team with too many bigs and not enough perimeter players, losing this amount of production will put even more pressure on the rest of the players to make up the slack.
The first man to be called upon will be junior power forward James Michael McAdoo. He averaged 14 points and 7 rebounds last season but shot just 45 percent from the field. Without Hairston, Coach Williams may be forced to start the half-court offense from the post. McAdoo has the athleticism, and if he polishes his low-post game he will be the Tar Heels' go-to player.
After McAdoo though, it will take a team effort night in and night out to get wins. The first adjustment is the turnovers.
The Tar Heels gave the ball away more than 17 times per game last season, a number that will doom them if duplicated. Sophomore point guard Marcus Paige will be relied upon to create open shots for others, but this is not a one-man job. In the half-court offense, everyone will have to move the ball smartly and look for the efficient shot.
The Tar Heels will then have to be on the same page and be active defensively. Roy Williams' teams have never been praised for their defense, but there should be a noticeable improvement this season.
Junior center Desmond Hubert and sophomore center Joel James will have to protect the rim at all times, and perimeter defenders will have to close out on shooters. Communicating and deflections on defense will lead to easy transition buckets for high flyers like J.P. Tokoto. Also, great defense takes opposing crowds out of games and frustrates players into bad shots.
What should be P.J. Hairston's Punishment?
Home-court advantage and pace will determine a great deal of the team's success. Recent Tar Heel teams were used to turning everything into a fast break, but lack of backcourt depth will make that difficult this season. When at home, they must feed off the energy of the crowd to fuel them through potential droughts on offense. When on the road, they must remain calm through turmoil and impose their pace on the opponent through rebounding.
The Tar Heels were coming into this season hoping to ride the backs of Hairston and McAdoo to success. While no one knows the exact punishment that awaits Hairston, it is safe to say he will miss some games this season, if not all of them.
The pressure is on, and almost everyone on the team will be asked to play a little beyond their own game. If there is any coach and team that can pull it off, it's Roy Williams and these North Carolina Tar Heels.
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