CHAPEL HILL— One day before North Carolina begins the season here on Friday night against Gardner-Webb, four-fifths of the Tar Heels’ starting lineup appears set.
“I feel fairly comfortable aboutMarcus [Paige]andDexter [Strickland]andReggie [Bullock]andJames Michael [McAdoo],” UNC coachRoy Williamssaid earlier today. “But that fifth spot, from one day to the next, I change quite a bit.”
That fifth spot, of course, represents a post position – and perhaps the Tar Heels’ only true post position. Paige, the freshman, will start his first collegiate game at point guard. Strickland and Bullock are both guards who will play on the wings. And while McAdoo is UNC’s most proven post player, he’s more of an inside-outside type who isn’t exactly a typical back-to-the-basket power forward.
So that leaves a wide opening – literally and figuratively – in the middle.
Desmond Hubert, a 6-foot-9 sophomore forward who played sparingly a season ago, started in UNC’s exhibition victory against Shaw. ButJoel James, a 6-foot-10, 260-pound freshman, gave perhaps the most impressive performance of the Heels’ otherwise sluggish effort in the exhibition. James has only been playing organized basketball since his sophomore year of high school, but he already has developed an effective repertoire of moves, and his footwork is sound for his size.
Still, James apparently hasn’t earned the starting job. At least not yet.
“As we’re sitting here right now, I still do not who I’m going to start,” Williams said. “And I really don’t. And the staff, we talked about it in a staff meeting this morning … I really don’t [know who will start]. I’m waiting for somebody to step up and say, ‘I’m going to deserve that.’ But it may be OK if it’s not.
“You know, we may change the lineup throughout the course of the pre-conference season, too.”
Few would be surprised if Hubert, the more experienced player, starts the season-opener before giving way to James at some point later on. James arrived on campus just a few months ago and instantly became the most physically imposing member on the team. Whether his size and presence translates into a starting position from day one, though, remains to be seen.
Read more here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/uncnow/unc-coach-roy-williams-still-deciding-starting-lineup#storylink=cpy
David Scott has been with the Observer for 28 years and has written about ACC, SEC and other college sports in the Charlotte region. He covers Wake Forest, South Carolina and college soccer for the Observer and (Raleigh) News & Observer.
J.P. Giglio covers the ACC for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1997, and the Observer.
Andrew Carter covers the North Carolina Tar Heels for the Observer and News & Observer.
Laura Keeley covers the Duke Blue Devils for the Observer and News & Observer. Follow her on Twitter.
Chip Alexander covers the Carolina Hurricanes and college football for the News & Observer, where he has worked since 1979, and the Observer.
Luke DeCock has worked for The News & Observer since 2000. He covered the Carolina Hurricanes and the NHL before becoming a sports columnist for the Observer and News & Observer in August 2008.
Tim Crothers is an author and former senior writer at Sports Illustrated who is joining the sports staff to write a regular column during the rest of the college basketball season.