North Carolina Basketball: Final Grades for 2013-14 Season
North Carolina's roller coaster 2013-14 season came to a close on Sunday, as the Tar Heels lost a closely fought battle with Iowa State 85-83 in the NCAA tournament's Round of 32.
UNC's 24-10 record does not tell the up-and-down story of this year. The Heels had more than a few incredible victories and just as many puzzling losses.
Let's take a quick look at how each of the starters, the rotation players and the coaching staff graded out for this unique season.
Player and Stat information provided by ESPN.com
Unless otherwise noted, all advanced stats via Sports-reference.com
With the emergence of Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson, sophomore center Joel James played a reduced role from what he played a year ago as a freshman.
He still provided solid interior defense and rebounding in spot duty (7.9 minutes per game).
With the depth and talent that this roster possesses, James future is questionable.
Freshman guard Nate Britt was forced into a more significant role on this year's team because of the departures of Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston.
Britt showed signs of breaking out early, scoring 13 points, grabbing six rebounds and handing out three assists against Michigan State.
Unfortunately for him, after Leslie McDonald joined the active roster, Britt seemed to shrink back and play tentatively.
Sophomore wing J.P. Tokoto emerged as a superb open-court slasher and the Heels' steals leader. Known for his highlight-reel slam dunks, Tokoto showed surprising passing skills as the team's No. 2 distributor.
Tokoto's second-round outing against Providence (10 points, four rebounds, six assists and three steals) demonstrated one of his primary strengths: versatility.
To elevate his game during his junior year, he needs to sharpen his beyond-the-arc (22.2 percent) and free-throw (50 percent) shooting.
The 6'9" sophomore has great anticipation and hops that help him get to tips and blocks that others do not.
The only facet of his game that keeps Johnson from starting and playing significantly more minutes is his on-ball defense.
Per Game Averages
Freshman center Kennedy Meeks was the team's best rebounder per 40 minutes (14.9; Sports-reference.com). His size was a huge plus to the Carolina front court, and allowed James Michael McAdoo to play a majority of time at the power forward position.
Playing a season-high 31 minutes in the Heels' Round of 32 game against Iowa State, Meeks scored 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
Off-season conditioning and weight-training will help Meeks become a consistent force in the middle as a sophomore.
After an adjustment period, Leslie McDonald gave the Heels a second beyond-the-arc shooting option and another dependable double-figure scorer.
Beyond his actual production, McDonald provided much-needed experience on a young team that was raw and untested. More specifically, he added size and toughness to the Carolina backcourt that was small and slightly laid-back.
McDonald's contribution would have been more significant if he could have become more of a lockdown defender.
James Michael McAdoo
Forward James Michael McAdoo had a strong junior campaign, leading the Heels in rebounding and being the team's No. 2 scorer.
JMM showed flashes of becoming that frontcourt force that everyone in Chapel Hill has been waiting for since his freshman season. He was in good company as an All-ACC second team selection.
A better performance at the free-throw line would have elevated his grade (and his scoring average).
Last year, Marcus Paige was a pass-first point guard. This year, he transitioned from an off-the-ball scorer back to the primary playmaker with major scoring responsibilities.
He more than doubled his freshman scoring average (8.2 PPG) and improved his assists-to-turnover ratio from 1.84 to 2.0 A/TO.
Paige stepped up over and over again to carry this team as its leading scorer.
Roy Williams and Coaching Staff
Roy Williams and his staff had their work cut out for them this year.
Before the season ever started, they had to deal with an extended public investigation that took its toll on focus and preparation.
A number of players were forced into playing larger or different roles than they should have played.
Early season wins against Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky showed a high level of performance against a trio of elite teams. Astonishing losses to Belmont, UAB, Wake Forest and Miami created questions about this team.
Their 12-game ACC win streak demonstrated a consistency that was not present in the first half of the 2013-14 season.
A 24-10 record is not a great season in Chapel Hill. But, Williams and his staff should be acknowledged for a better-than-solid job with an uncharacteristic Tar Heel team that lacked outside shooting and will be ready to challenge for the ACC title next season.
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