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Roy Williams On How UNC Will Handle Strickland’s Loss

As you might imagine, Roy Williams fielded questions in the Monday ACC teleconference on how the loss of Dexter Strickland will affect UNC going forward. Here are the highlights via Inside Carolina.

Have you decided how you’re going to handle the starting lineup?
“We haven’t even talked about it very much, but yesterday in practice we put Reggie [Bullock] in there and I would assume that’s the way it would stay, unless something weird happens in practice. Reggie’s gotten better defensively and he’s really started giving us a lift rebounding the basketball on the offensive board and the defensive board I think that he deserves it and knows more about what’s going on that P.J. [Hairston], for example. But I know that there’s 25-30 minutes a game there that somebody’s going to have to pick up and my guess is that it will be a combination of a lot of guys. But unless something strange happens, we will start Reggie.”

Was there any consideration to Leslie McDonald pulling off his red-shirt? Was that even considered?
“It really wasn’t. I grabbed Leslie last night and told him as far as I was concerned, it didn’t change his situation. Where it hurts the most with Dexter is having that backup point guard. That’s where it hurts the most. We’ve had Reggie playing and Harrison [Barnes] and P.J., those three guys have spent a lot of time at the wing spots with Dexter, so we still have three of the four, but where it really becomes harmful is that backup point guard role.”

How much more playing time do you anticipate Kendall Marshall having to play?
“It remains to be seen. We’re going to try to give Stilman [White] some time there. We’re going to try to do a little more work on the passing game not having a true point guard and see how that works out. We’ll try to see what John Henson or Tyler Zeller look like out there – you never can tell. But right now, Dexter probably has been giving us three minutes or so each half, and that’s just a guesstimate kind of thing, at the point guard spot. And Kendall’s played the rest, so we’ve got to find a way to get Kendall a little bit of a break each half. Stilman White will be asked to do it and then again we’ll be looking to see what else we can possibly have.”

Is there anybody else that can run the point other than Stilman White? Is he your first option at trying to fill those three minutes per half?
“Yes, there’s no question. We’ve had this before. Every team goes through some spots where you lose a key backup or even worse, a key starter. You just have to prepare for it. Larry Drew leaving last year left a big gap in our program because it’s hard to find a point guard in the spring. We knew that this could happen; it has happened. Now we have to deal with it. I may just decide to play a 2-3 zone the whole game and put Kendall in the middle and tell him never to foul. We’ll try to make sure he stays in the game without foul trouble.”

So to sum up, Leslie McDonald isn’t coming back which ends the media’s incessant raising of this point. Reggie Bullock will start at the wing guard giving UNC a really long starting lineup. Stilman White will play some to spell Kendall Marshall at point guard but no one, even Roy, knows how well this move will work or whether Marshall will end up playing over 36 minutes per game.

Among the really interesting point raised is the fact Roy had the team work on running the offense without a true point guard on the floor. This would probably be similar to what the Miami Heat do and Harrison Barnes would essentially become the facilitator of the offense. Roy mentions a 2-3 zone but its hard to tell based on the transcribed quote if he is joking or not. I don’t think he is above using a zone if he needs to protect Marshall’s foul situation much like he did in the 2005 NCAA title game.

One final note. Roy mentions Some Other Kid and the “gap” his leaving created in the program. While most every one agrees that its better SOK left the manner and timing of his leaving continues to impact the team.  SOK’s presence made it impossible for Roy to make a move early enough to get a better backup PG for this season(no offense to White.) Had SOK transferred after the 2010 season, Roy could have at least been working at that point on a PG commit for the 2011 class. Instead UNC sat there with two PGs in Marshall and SOK plus Strickland making it impossible to recruit anyone for 2011.

This is as thin a team as UNC has had since 2005. Baited breath and fervent prayer will follow any time Kendall Marshall so much as takes an awkward step.

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28 comments to Roy Williams On How UNC Will Handle Strickland’s Loss

  • faustus1500

    It is too bad that PJ Hairston can’t magically morph into a Brad Tinsley, or in other words an at least a “meh” point guard who was converted from shooting guard.

    At least the prospect of playing Barnes, Hairston, and Bullock together is interesting.

  • AZACCFan

    Listening to the podcast of Williams’ remarks makes it clear that he was kidding about Marshall in a zone. He is not going to put Marshall in the middle of a zone.


    Then click on the UNC audio file to listen for yourself.

  • BoyWilliams

    Here are the keys to a 2012 championship: (1) The Regginator and Hair-Trigger have GOT to start hitting 40% from 3. (2) Stilletto just needs to help get it past half-court, not dribble it off his foot, & give it to Black Falcon, (3) J-Muppet and Z-Fed need to maintain their level of play, and (4) Black Falcon needs to step it up a level.

    If all 4 of these happen, this team could send Willie-Blue home for the summer with his 3rd ring.

  • LarryS

    “If all 4 of these happen, this team could send Willie-Blue home for the summer with his 3rd ring.”

    And it could give Zeller and Watts their 2nd ring, which has only been accomplished by 3 other sets of teammates in the post-Wooden era. (And never by other Tar Heels)

    But, of course, only if it all comes together, first things first, one game at a time, it’ll take some luck, etc. and so on.

  • LarryS

    Some of these comments by Roy remind me of last year, where they had some ball handling demonstrations after Drew left to see who might be a backup to the backup, further down the depth chart.

    If I remember correctly Henson did the best, which is not that much of a stretch considering he played guard until his big growth spurt in HS.

    I suppose one or two of them, outside of Marshall and White, could perform on a very rudimentary level, as far as bringing the ball up the court and starting an offensive sequence, but I think it especially limits them in transition.

  • joemags52

    Barnes could be serviceable for brief minutes throughout the game. It would be similar to Evan Turner’s last year at Ohio State. It would be a really big line up out there and they could all probably switch everything and should dominate the boards. The main thing now is the shooting from Bullock and Hairston, like was previously stated. Hopefully the additional playing time will allow them to get more into the flow of the game and not feel like they have to score right away because they will probably only be out there for a 3-4 minute spurt.

  • faustus1500

    ^Even with Marshall on the floor, Strickland brought the ball up the floor so defenders couldn’t force Carolina on the right side offensively. I didn’t think about this before. Do you make Barnes essentially play shooting guard?

  • AZACCFan

    As long as the offense leads to players moving around, setting solid screens and remaining unpredictable they will do fine.

    Bullock/Hairston can be more controlled in looking for shots in the flow of the game, rather than focusing on 3 point shooting.

    I don’t see why Barnes and Bullock would have difficulty initiating offensive play. They are not Marshall in terms of passing, but they can move the ball and start plays. Moving the ball up court is unlikely to be an issue. Obviously they should not be expected to make Marshall type passes. However, do not discount the benefit of having more attacking offensive players.

    Having Zeller or Henson receive the ball in high post allows plays to flow left or right to start half court play. This is the usual for UNC for a long time.

  • AZACCFan

    This is an interesting article on Jay Bilas and discusses some of his contributions in favor of better treatment of college athletes.


  • LarryS

    I can only hope these alternative arrangements work out, if needed in a critical situation, but I would never view them as a desirable option. Whether they practice it more, or not, we’ve seen they drop off that often occurs when Marshall is out of the game. And that was with Strciland.

    They’ve got to do everything they can to keep Marshall healthy, foul-free, and be in condition to up his minutes.

  • LarryS

    Gosh, I really don’t spell that badly….I either need to be much more careful before I click “post comment”, or learn how to use the new edit feature.

  • PRGuy

    Off topic, I know, but I’ll take any opportunity to give the Cameron Crazies a hard time. I know student attendance in the Dean Dome has been down in the last few years, but it seems the vaunted Crazies aren’t showing up in full force either. http://dukechronicle.com/article/low-attendance-forces-duke-athletics-sell-student-seats

  • Swap the players however you want…
    Must agree with bw…. some of these players have to improve 3 point shots or we are going to get burned in future games. Dreadful are the games like at FSU; and there will be other teams/players that get hot on 3′s and put us against the ropes. Have not found the confidence in any player that shoots beyond the arc. Maybe it will come…… GO HEELS!

  • makeitWayne22

    Interested to see how Reggie’s overall game changes since he is now going to get starter minutes.

  • i think reggie gives our starting 5 a higher ceiling than we had with dex. that’s just my opinion. while dexter has been one of our 5 best players most of the season, due to our personnel and lack of shooting ability at the PG slot, i always thought it best to have reggie/p.j. starting at the 2. i’m not alone obviously and now we’ll see. it won’t be overnight. but for a six game stretch in march/april, i still like our chances.

  • BoyWilliams

    ^^Yea, like maybe get to the line more than 9 (!) times over the rest of the year

  • LarryS

    “Yea, like maybe get to the line more than 9 (!) times over the rest of the year”

    Bullock’s FT rate is 6.7%, when the next closest one is 33.9% (Henson)

    This is a rather amazing stat, actually, and especially when compared to Hairston, who has shot barely half the number of two-pointers Bullock has.

    Maybe it means Hairston, for example, seeks more contact, or Bullock has a knack for not getting fouled. Then there’s the vast striped-shirt conspiracy.

  • Its a body we are going to miss. If nothing more than an extra pg we can use to spell K-Marsh. Bullock will give us offense, and defense. Im worried about the Marshall effect.

    I don’t see at this point how any bench or maneuvering will help with Marshall. He will get worn down by tourney time. Hopefully, White and whomever becomes the facilitator, can carefully guard the ball with minimal mistakes, while still being able to get guys in good scoring position.

    I fear for our team when Marshall is on the bench going forward, especially with teams that can press hard w/o fouling.

  • Thrawnyboy

    While it pains me to know that Dexter is out for the season, as he’s my favorite player on the team, this is why you play your subs, even if they don’t “deserve” any minutes.

    This is why Watts gets minutes, this is why Hubert gets minutes and it’s why White gets minutes.

  • faustus1500

    Ok C.Michael,

    How is John Gasaway’s conference Points per possession so different than basketball state’s points per possession for UNC?


  • BBState is using a different formula for possessions per game (PPG). Gasaway has them at 72.9 PPG in ACC play, which is the same as KenPom, while BBState has them at 74.8 PPG Both KenPom and Gasaway use .475 as the multipler for FTA, while BBState uses .42, which is the old KenPom multiplier.

    Of course this doesn’t explain why BBState’s PPG number is higher, so they must be doing something else differently (and possibly wrong).

  • faustus1500

    ^if the Gasaway’s number is correct it doesn’t look like UNC’s offense is doing great.

  • ^Small sample size = easily skewed by one datum.

    In UNC’s 3 wins, they are scoring 1.11 PPP and giving up 0.86 (EM: 0.25 PPP), which is great.

    Against FSU, they scored 0.76 PPP and gave up 1.20 (EM: -0.44 PPP). Obviously, this was awful.

    There was an element of “flukishness” to the FSU game, but until there are enough data points to either minimize the impact of that game, or render it completely meaningless (i.e. subtract it all together if UNC does something like real off 10-straight), Carolina’s statistical resume is going to take a hit.

  • LarryS

    Example of severe skewing: Last year in the NCAAT the Heels averaged 76.5 possessions per game, but only because they had 93 possessions in the Long Island game. The last three games were 74, 70, and 69 respectively.

  • faustus1500

    Yeah I forgot that Gasaway’s numbers were only for conference games.

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