I Present: Your 2009-2010 North Carolina Tar Heels
For the first time in four years, when we turn on UNC basketball, we will not see Tyler Hansbrough grabbing rebounds, hitting mid-range jumpers, making free throw after free throw, or hitting unorthodox shots in the paint. We will not see Danny Green athletically blocking shots, throwing down dunks on Greg Paulus, or taking bonehead shots. For the first time in three years, we will not see Wayne Ellington's sweet stroke, or Ty Lawson's unstoppable drives and blazing speed. But we will see last year's freshmen mature into beasts. We will see this heralded recruiting class, ranked second only to Kentucky. We will see Duke's helplessness and thoughts of "here we go again" as they try to defend Ed Davis, John Henson, Deon Thompson, Tyler Zeller, and the Wear twins. We will see a very good North Carolina team take the floor this year. Mabye not a championship-caliber team, but a team that has a very good chance of making it to the Elite 8. Here's a look at the Carolina roster; starters and key bench players.
Starting Point Guard: Larry Drew
He's definitely not Ty Lawson, but I think Larry Drew will mature into a serviceable point guard this year. He hardly played at times last year and was somewhat erratic, but he definitely has skill. Don't expect him to score a whole lot, but he should be very solid.
Starting Shooting Guard: Dexter Strickland
I don't know too much about Strickland other than that he's 6-3 and a combo guard. I've heard he can score and that he's a smart player whose willing to play combo guard. He's also a terrific finisher in the lane according to ESPN. His shooting could use some work but I think he will get better. If he can make the same kind of improvement that Danny Green did, he'll be a star.
Starting Small Forward/Shooting Guard: Marcus Ginyard
He's baaack! One of the best perimeter defenders in the country is back after receiving a medical red shirt. He will be counted on to be a leader like he was his junior year and also will be asked to guard the best perimeter player on the floor for the other team. I expect his scoring to increase to over 10 a game and for him to be a lock-down defender.
Starting Power Forward: John Henson
I expect big things from the most herald UNC recruit this year. He has tremendous upside, ability, and athleticism. He has a very good mid range jumper, and because of his length, can score easily in the paint. Henson was originally thought to be one of the best shooting guards in the class of '09 until he grew 5 inches. He has good enough ball-handling and shooting ability to be at times an unstoppable offensive force. If he adds bulk, he will be an outstanding player.
Starting Center: Ed Davis
I have a feeling that Ed Davis is going to have an all-ACC caliber year. His defensive game is beyond his ages and his offensive game really started to come into it's own last year. He can really rebound the basketball and was a game-changer off the bench for Carolina last year. As one of the focal points of the offense this year, Ed should live up to his potential as a top-three pick in the draft.
6th Man: Deon Thompson
Even though he has been a starter his past two years at UNC, I think Deon would make a great 6th man. He would provide bulk, rebounding, and scoring off the bench for the Heels. With him in the game, there is a possibility to have a lineup that consists of three athletic big men, which would be impossible for a team like Duke, who generally plays with a smaller lineup, to defend. It's possible that if Larry Drew struggles, Deon could be in the starting lineup. Strickland would move to PG, Ginyard would move to SG, and Henson would move to SF. It all depends on how Roy plays his cards.
First Wing off the Bench: Leslie McDonald
McDonald has great size, good shooting touch, and a decent handle. A freshman version of Marcus Ginyard. Nuff said.
Big Men off the Bench: Tyler Zeller, Travis Wear, David Wear
The Tar Heels have SIX, count em' SIX big men on board for this upcoming season. If Zeller hadn't gotten hurt last year, he would have been a very solid producer off the bench. Remember, he had 18 points in the season opener against Penn(I was there). He's also 7 feet tall, which always helps. The Wear twins are well coached and have great fundamentals. They have good range and are big bodies, standing around 6-9, 220. All three of these players should help keep the starters fresh and should contribute scoring and rebounding.
End of the Bench: Justin Watts, Marc Cambell, Will Graves*
I'm not sure if Will Graves has been allowed to come back to the team or not. Watts showed some promise last year when he got minutes and could be a contributor this year. Campbell will only play on Senior Night and if they get up by a lot at the end of the game.