Caulton Tudor

Will Williams shuffle Heels' lineup?

Posted March 17, 2014

Kennedy Meeks (3) goes up for a shot during action at the Dean E. Smith Center between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the North Carolina State Wolfpack on February 1, 2014 in Chapel Hill, NC. (Will Bratton/WRAL contributor)

— Coaches normally don’t tinker with their personnel rotation only a few days before beginning the NCAA tournament, but you have to think North Carolina’s Roy Williams is at least considering it.

The Tar Heels, who open their East Regional bid on Friday (7:20 p.m., TNT TV) against Providence in San Antonio, have played only two games since March 3 -- a regular-season ending loss at Duke on March 8 and an ACC quarterfinal loss to Pitt on March 14 in Greensboro.

In neither outing did freshman starting center Kennedy Meeks make much of an impact. In 20 combined minutes, he scored one point and had four rebounds.

Meeks, an all-ACC rookie team member, has the potential to one day become a star. But for now, it seems clear that he’s hit the wall and you have to wonder if he can bounce back under the weight of NCAA pressure for the first time.

That’s part of what Williams has to be pondering.

Another issue, and probably far more important, is the backcourt. With a few isolated exceptions, fifth-year senior wing Leslie McDonald has been all but invisible on offense. He didn’t score during the 80-75 loss to Pitt and is shooting only 38.5 percent from the field.

Against Pitt and in a few other games, the backcourt tandem of sophomore star Marcus Paige and freshman playmaker Nate Britt has been more productive.

Britt is only 5-feet-11 and Paige 6-foot-1. It likely would be UNC’s smallest starting backcourt since freshman playmaker Phil Ford (6-foot-1) and senior wing Brad Hoffman (5-foot-10) in 1975.

McDonald, at 6-foot-5, adds a lot more size, but he’s just not playing with any consistency at all. Plus, Britt shoots 79 percent on free throws. McDonald’s 62.5 often is a liability and especially so on a team that struggles at the line in the first place.

When the Tar Heels (23-9) staged a late-game rally against Pitt, Britt was in at the point and Paige, who finished with 27 points, was fueling the comeback from the wing.

And who knows, maybe McDonald would be more effective coming off the bench. It’s for certain he can’t be any colder than he was in Greensboro, when he fouled out and committed three turnovers without getting an assist.

If Meeks goes to the bench, Williams has several options in the frontcourt - Joel James, Desmond Hubert and Brice Johnson.

Johnson has an overwhelming offensive edge but at 6-foot-9, 215 lbs., can get pushed around some on defense.

Providence, however, used only six players in its Big East title win over Creighton and starts two forwards -- sophomore Tyler Harris (6-9, 215) and junior LaDontae Henton (6-6, 210) -- who aren’t extremely physical.

Whether Williams stands pat or makes changes, it’s imperative that the Tar Heels get off to quicker offensive starts. When they fell behind 25-8 early against Pitt, the rest of the game became an endless uphill struggle.

44 Comments

Please to add a comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Kenan-FlaglerAlumni Mar 21, 9:51 a.m.

    Let's go HEELS!

  • Doc Holliday Mar 18, 6:21 p.m.

    A better question, will Paige play with a sense of urgency the entire game? UNC falls behind and... View More

    — Posted by mike honcho

    Mike, Paige averages 35 minutes a game, Britt averages 21 minutes a game, so neither will play the "entire" game. Just throwing that out there. Care to name your starting 5? I do believe I picked Britt to start along with Paige. Put the emphasis on the last 5 to 8 minutes because of the FT issues UNC has been having and they need somebody in there down the stretch who can make FTs in addition to Paige. Go back & read my post, big guy.

  • Doc Holliday Mar 18, 6:13 p.m.

    Do you think that coaches don't read and know the stat's of all players on this team? Any team... View More

    — Posted by vt94hokies

    Yessir, Mr. Putin! Don't you think coaches are aware that 62% from the stripe is below average?... View More

    — Posted by Doc Holliday

    Classic, BB5!

    You outdid yourself. Heh. Go Little Hokies. This. I know this I read. I... View More

    — Posted by NothingButNet

    Thanks, Net! You hit that one out of the park.

    :)

  • Doc Holliday Mar 18, 6:08 p.m.

    Britt
    Paige
    Tokoto
    McAdoo
    Johnson

    — Posted by 4tarheels

    +1...bring McDonald, Meeks, James & the rest off the bench.

    Gotta go with Paige @17.4 ppg,... View More

    — Posted by Doc Holliday

    Great analysis, BB5!

    — Posted by StunGunn

    Thanks, Gunny

  • mike honcho Mar 18, 11:30 a.m.

    A better question, will Paige play with a sense of urgency the entire game? UNC falls behind and he "turns it on" in the final minutes of the game. I think Britt at the point and Paige on the wing looking for his shot the entire game as opposed to the last 5 to 8 minutes is their best shot at victory.......but what do I know, I've played a little horse in the driveway.

  • justabumer Mar 18, 11:05 a.m.

    It doesn't much matter who starts. What matters is who gets the bulk of playing time.

  • NothingButNet Mar 18, 8:38 a.m.

    Do you think that coaches don't read and know the stat's of all players on this team? Any team... View More

    — Posted by vt94hokies

    Yessir, Mr. Putin! Don't you think coaches are aware that 62% from the stripe is below average?... View More

    — Posted by Doc Holliday

    Classic, BB5!

    You outdid yourself. Heh. Go Little Hokies. This. I know this I read. I... View More

    — Posted by NothingButNet

    Sometimes I wonder if Hokie is actually a 15 year old troll and the joke is on us.

    — Posted by Hammerhead

    Now that would be ironic. Mr. Gobbles takes himself far more serious than any of us take him.

  • Hammerhead Mar 18, 8:12 a.m.

    Do you think that coaches don't read and know the stat's of all players on this team? Any team... View More

    — Posted by vt94hokies

    Yessir, Mr. Putin! Don't you think coaches are aware that 62% from the stripe is below average?... View More

    — Posted by Doc Holliday

    Classic, BB5!

    You outdid yourself. Heh. Go Little Hokies. This. I know this I read. I... View More

    — Posted by NothingButNet

    Sometimes I wonder if Hokie is actually a 15 year old troll and the joke is on us.

  • NothingButNet Mar 18, 6:38 a.m.

    Do you think that coaches don't read and know the stat's of all players on this team? Any team... View More

    — Posted by vt94hokies

    Yessir, Mr. Putin! Don't you think coaches are aware that 62% from the stripe is below average?... View More

    — Posted by Doc Holliday

    Classic, BB5!

    You outdid yourself. Heh. Go Little Hokies. This. I know this I read. I comprehend. I like to brag about all my degrees. Did you graduate?? Tell me this.....

  • StunGunn Mar 18, 6:33 a.m.

    Britt
    Paige
    Tokoto
    McAdoo
    Johnson

    — Posted by 4tarheels

    +1...bring McDonald, Meeks, James & the rest off the bench.

    Gotta go with Paige @17.4 ppg,... View More

    — Posted by Doc Holliday

    Great analysis, BB5!

More...

 

 

  • ACC: Clemson at NC State

    Wednesday at 9:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State at Georgia Tech

    Saturday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Arkansas at Florida

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: Pro Bowl

    Tonight at 8:00 on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
STJ 68
DUKE 77
Half
NCSU 42
ND 30
 
Final
CHI 84
MIA 96
Final
CLE 108
OKC 98
Half
NOP 61
DAL 56
 
Half
ORL 49
IND 51
 
Half
PHO 57
LAC 55
 
Half
ATL 61
MIN 47
 
1st
TOR 14
DET 9
 
1st
SAN 12
MIL 10
 
8:00pm Tonight
GSW
BOS
8:00pm Tonight
DEN
WAS
9:30pm Tonight
LAL
HOU
Final
UCONN 66
SFLA 53
Final
GT 62
BC 64
Final
VT 47
UVA 50
Final
OSU 82
IND 70
Final
UCF 46
CIN 56
Final
WICHS 74
DRAK 40
Final
STJ 68
DUKE 77
Final
MAR 73
FAIR 67
 
Final
HART 61
MAINE 70
 
Final
MAN 71
MON 64
 
Final
PRIN 96
ROWAN 48
 
Final
SIENA 55
PETE 69
 
Final
RIU 53
BONA 48
Final
BING 54
USB 61
 
Final
MLOWELL 50
VERM 61
 
Final
BUT 77
SHU 57
Final
SALA 55
YALE 72
 
Final
PITT 68
LOU 80
Final
ILLST 53
NIOWA 54
Final
GTDNS 69
UMBC 55
 
Final
IONA 87
NIAG 64
 
1st
TENST 25
BEL 16
 
Half
NCSU 42
ND 30
 
1st
VILL 15
CREI 4
 
7:30pm Tonight
MD
NW
8:30pm Tonight
UTAH
WASH
2nd Intermission
TEAMFOLI 8
TEAMTOEWS 11
 
8:15pm Tonight
CARTER
IRVIN