#148 R.P.I. Virginia Tech @ #31 R.P.I. U.N.C.
TV coverage: ESPN3, 12-noon, Saturday
Vegas line: VT+15
Too bad the Miami game had to last 40 full minutes. As after the opening 20, I was hoping R.Brown had snapped outta his funk. I was hoping that E.Green would continue right along, I am nearly Praying for a cure from the C.D.C. down in Atlanta for what does officially appear to be the most communicable strain of the lockeroom “zombie virus” of all-time. Two outta three ain’t bad; and yet one outta three was not enough.
And neither is two games above .5oo (11-9) and a beleaguered 2-5 in league play. Not if we wanna make the post-season that is, as I am still (somehow — someway) hopeful, that just like Phil Collins –against all odds; E.Green. J.Eddie, and Ro.Brown will all magically find their three-point stroke at the same time on the same night.
U.N.C. at a glance: (1 starter returns)
- 2nd in assists (18.3)
- 4th in offensive rebounding
- 8th in scoring (78.9 ppg)
- 37th in steals (8.8)
- 3o2nd in FT percentage (64.1%)
N.B.A. pros=1.5, (legacy McAdoo, and it’s UNC after all, so there has to be another one, somewhere, right?)
Somewhere, James Worthy, Michael Jordan and Bob McAdoo (pic) must be smiling. As James Michael McAdoo is a 6`9“ 23o lb. N.B.A. draft pick whenever he decides to turn pro. An honor roll student, a former Wr/Safety in football, a Missionary for his Church, and oh by the way, he leads U.N.C. in scoring (14.7 ppg) and in rebounding alike (8.5). Partially thanks to his whopping 1o6 FTA’s thus far this season where the legacy McAdoo is a mere 58% from the charity-stripe. He is also not a shot blocker at 0.3 swats per contest. Note that I called him an “N.B.A. draft pick” just above. As there is something rather talented and yet rather incomplete regarding McAdoo’s game, in that his Uncle’s playing days may be gone, and yet there still here. As there is something very offensive about McAdoo’s game, as in offense first, offense second and the rest can come later. That said, this kid is an offensive talent; however, he is not quite as big as he looks and there are times when you’d like to see this big-time talent, take the time required to do the little things better. Make no mistake; this is an all-A.c.c. talent, however, I’d like to see that matched by an all-A.c.c. work ethos and/or all-conference caliber determination. McAdoo is good, and he prolly can be great, he does need time, reps and a bit more work … with the final noun being the truly possessive one on that list. Reggie Bullock is a 6`7“ 2o5 lb. swing-Forward who can borrow a few minutes at the Two if Coach Williams wants to go big. This third year kid might just be the sleeper Association pick on a every so slightly thinner U.N.C. roster –at least by historic U.N.C. terms. Reggie was the teams leading 3-point man a year ago and he’s only netting a team leading 45% from range this season. Bullock is an all-A.c.c. kinda wing talent, he is scoring 13.7 ppg, pulling down 5.7 boards, and kicking in 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals on top of that. That with 86% from the FT-line and suddenly you has a fairly complete looking power conference player on your hands and don’t forget that this kid has a late-game knack to his play as well. Bullock is the top perimeter threat right now down on Tobacco Road and he is a former First-team Parade All-America. He is also one of the very select high schoolers to own state championship hardware at two levels (AA and AAA)! Not half bad for the North Carolina player of the year; even if his N.B.A. chances would freely benefit from another season at U.N.C.
Desmond Hubert is the new starter upfront as a 6`9“ 22o lb. sophomoric baller from Jersey. Mr. Hubert is an extremely mobile P/F who is a bit more defensive oriented at this stage of his career. He has also been a substitute (until recently) his whole career. Thus far this season he is contributing 1.4 ppg, 2.1 boards and 1.1 blocks in limited minutes. He is also 21% from the FT-stripe. That’s not a typo either. Hubert also looks a little thin to me, as he could stand to fill out in power-conference terms for at least another year or so. Though he is vertical, and he does well without the ball in the defense of same due to his raw physical gifts, which tend to mirror his raw offensive game.
Association pros=2, (Bullock and Hairston ball at some professional level or another)
Hurts=2, (P.J. Hairston, NECK, listed as DOUBTFUL for Saturday’s game, 6`51/2“, 220 lb. sophomore, third in scoring @ 12.4 ppg, much improved lead-Guard, 38% from downtown, a significant departure to be sure, God Bless on that)
(Leslie McDonald, 6`5“ 215 lb. shooting-guard, coming off a redshirt (torn A.c.l.) year, pure wing scorer, has not played since o1.o6, now eligible to return from 3-game suspension for “unsatisfactory performance as a student-athlete”, 8.8 ppg, on 43% from beyond the arc)
If 6`3“ 180 lb. Dexter Strickland seems like he’s been at U.N.C. forever –it’s because he has- although he has also been giving you 8.1 ppg, 4.1 assists and 2.5 rebounds on his rebuilt right-knee that he blew out in Blacksburg Va. just last year. There were reports that he damaged his meniscus (or cartilage) in addition to his blown A.c.l. Recall that this Strickland (no relation) kid was a clutch defender and did just enough on offense to start at either guard slot after primarily being a 2-guard in high school. No basketball coach worth his NaCl (salt) hates defense and Strick’ is till a pretty steady defender, what with his team leading 1.5 thefts per game. Strick’ is also extremely well-seasoned and experienced having played at least 17 minutes per game every single year at U.N.C. since he left high school in 2008. That said, he just does not look as fluid on tape to me as he once did (God Bless on that) and his 3-point shooting is all the way down to 20%. That means if coach J’s wants to sag and front on the low-post, Strickland is the kid to do that off of. Strick’ is a good kid, he’s a likeable hard-luck kid and you have to wonder what kinda all-‘round player he’d a been if his body would have only held up.
Marcus Paige is Strik’s backcourt running mate and although he’s big on talent, he’s not exactly big on size. 5`11“ 157 lbs. says so! That said, this natural Koufax (or lefty) is an old-school or throwback true point-guard. In fact he is the only scholarship true point-guard on the entire 16 man U.N.C. roster. Go fig’ on that?!? However, do figure on this rookie getting you almost 7 points, a team leading 4.5 assists and a couple of rebounds to go with a steal. It is worthy of mention, that Mr. Paige shoots a nifty 85% from the FT-line and yet a meager 31% from the floor and 29% from beyond the arc. Well, I suppose that’s consistent enough from a particular point of view. Paige is a 4.0 student and that tells you something about the acumen between his ears which you’d have to think might just translate fluently enough into a high on-court basketball I.Q. Nevertheless, I was told that he has the lowest ceiling of the most recent 4-man U.N.C. recruiting class and he is at least years plural away from deploying March Madness savvy body. Accordingly, you have to like E.Green when matched up here even if Paige is a solid A.c.c. point-guard come 2016.
U.N.C. Bench: (3-deep less P.J.)
J.P. Tokoto, Brice Johnson, Jackson Simmons, and make up the trio of the Heel’s pine-squad firepower; though that number could increase outta necessity post injury to P.J. Hariston. Note as well that the Heel bench has only one Guard (P.J. himself) in the substitution rotation. J.P. is a 6`5“ 185 lb. rookie year S/F. J.P. says that his surname is pronounced “major dunker” or “TOE-ka-toe”; take thy pick. J.P. is known to be a decent enough shooter, though he is also known to be a major finisher at the rack. I’d say 55% shooting might have something to do with that. As of now J.P. is kicking in 4.2 ppg and a couple of boards. Though his FT shooting leaves something to be desired at 31%, and his 3-ball in the corner-pocket is all rails, at a impoverished 10%! There is no doubt that J.P. is raw, though there is nary a doubt that he is freaky raw at that. This Cameroon native was a soccer player by trade; well, at least until he won the 2012 American Family Insurance Slam Dunk contest in New Orleans. Not bad for a kid was 3 times all state and only holds 12 high school state records. This one is a keeper, not so much a matter of if, as a matter of when. Brice Johnson is a string-bean 6`9“ 187 lb. t-freshman who could stand to mix in a streak and a protein shake, or eight. This is a very bouncy springy kid who looks like shooting guard trapped in an emasculate power forward’s body. Right now Brice nets you 7.9 ppg and 4.2 rpg on 58% shooting from the field and a lowly 51% from the FT-line. Brice is the South Carolina player of the year, and he played for his day. So you know that he has the coaches kid home cooked basketball heady erudite acumen firmly in place. And if that was not enough, he was the 2-time South Carolina state champion in the freakin’ High Jump! Can you go Star Wars and say “Skywalker” with me?
Jackson Simmons is the third banana of a buncha **** and ***** (4 and 5 star) bench players for U.N.C. 6`7“ 220 and nearly all-world as a sophomoric student. Jackson gets you 3 points 2 rebounds and the only thing higher than his G.P.A. is his star struck shooting percentage of 68% on the year! 1,554 rebounds is a South Carolina all-time high school record, so I’d say that this kid is a bottle of Windex, he wipes the glass so dang much. 100% from the FT stripe in college and 89% in high school does not suck either as this is the most precocious kid of all of Coach Roy’s VHT’s (very highly touteds) right about now.
Do you see the trend in Coach Williams’ bench? I see a buncha raw freak-show athletes who need some seasoning and some reps. After that, I see a buncha rim-rockers come 2015-2016.
Conclusion(s), illation, OPT digits:
Now we travel to unranked North Carolina to play the 14-6 overall and 4-3 in the A.c.c. Heels. When you study U.N.C. this year, it’s what you are not seeing that counts first most. What you are not seeing is an entire 2011-2012 dearly departed and N.b.a. starting line-up that has left this year’s Heel squad backcourt heavy and short on raw height and experience alike. As U.N.C. courts only one baller north of 6`9“, only one baller north of 230 lbs., only one senior who plays, and a ton of VHT (very highly touted) rookies or second-year ballers. Hence, this may very well be a national championship contender –again- in 2015 or thereabouts. Right now it is a lower echelon NC2A bracketed team that is no longer beyond reach. In fact you are seeing the 5th place A.c.c. team that did not even receive a single vote in either major National poll this week. Does that mean that Virginia Tech has a chance to win this one? Well, the fact that U.N.C. has been beaten by nearly all 6 quality teams that the Heels have played; does suggest to me that that Coach J’s and company at least have a chance to steal this one.
“…a man’s reach should exceed his grasp…”
U.N.C. has been playing a little better of late, having won four of their last five and our handy-dandy Forum Guide is predicting an out right Slaughter House-Five beat down of 33 points. YIKES! Vonnegut and I both find that to be a bit of gallows humor; and yet of late, it is fair to say that the O&M joke has been us as we only field two wins in our last nine. However, as you can see above, the most recent 5-game Splits are much more competitive than most would have you think. I’m thinking that someway, somehow, coach J’s and his boys are due to play a good game, due to have a hot shooting day. That, and I’m sure that this is not your momma’s U.N.C. as this particular T.Heel team is officially within our grasp, not matter how much of a reach pick this may be by me.
Virginia Tech=7O, U.N.C.=69