Carolina, the overwhelming preseason favorite to cut down the nets, has sputtered out of the gate to a 6-2 start. And, although one of the losses was on the road to fellow heavyweight Kentucky, that means the natives are getting restless in Chapel Hill. While it certainly wouldn’t solve all of the team’s problems (mediocre rebounding on both ends, inability to consistently finish in the paint, and poor free throw shooting, to name three), I’d like to propose one remedy for UNC’s tepid start: replacing Dexter Strickland in the starting line-up with Reggie Bullock.
Don’t get me wrong: I love Strickland. He’s made huge strides as a junior–namely as a ball-handler/back-up PG/facilitator of the offense and a mid-range shooter (hitting 45% (9-20) of his 10-20 footers through 8 games after connecting on just 27% last season). Strickland’s defense– his calling card– has also been better and more consistent as a junior. The logic for starting Dexter is compelling and straightforward: his strengths (attacking off the dribble in transition, defending ultra-quick point guards) help to offset the weaknesses of backcourt partner Kendall Marshall. He’s also Carolina’s best complementary ball-handler and play-maker– a trait Roy Williams covets from his 2-guard to maximize secondary break efficiency. Add all that to Strickland’s incumbency, and it’s easy to see why he remains in the starting line-up. From a purely basketball perspective, Strickland’s presence in the starting line-up makes far more sense than, say, Drew over Marshall last season. But, while Strickland’s strengths compensate for some of Marshall’s weaknesses, the two share a common flaw: the inability/reluctance to knock down 3-point jumpers. And in a system predicated on feeding the post as a primary option, this shared weakness has had deleterious effects on floor spacing/halfcourt offensive efficiency.
Before getting to the first +/- table of the season, some words of caution: single-game +/- figures are so “noisy” (i.e., influenced by randomness) that they’re rendered practically useless. Even with a complete season’s worth of data, the +/- metric (especially in this– its unadjusted– form) suffers from this noisiness. Still, when taken in conjunction with the defensive box score, traditional box score, and old-fashioned “eye test,” the single-game +/- can be a part of the total evaluation process. It also serves as a good summary of Roy Williams’s substitution patterns/rotation.
Pts-Pts All.: the points scored and points allowed by the team during a given player’s minutes
Off Eff: the points scored per 100 possessions with a given player on the court
Def Eff: the points allowed per 100 possessions with a given player on the court
Net Eff: the scoring margin per 100 possessions with a given player on the court
+/- Stats vs. Michigan State
|+/- by Backcourt
|+/- by Frontcourt
When Bullock and Hairston were paired together on the wings, I called Hairston the 2 and Bullock the 3. Continue reading
Posted in UNC
Tagged Desmond Hubert, Dexter Strickland, Harrison Barnes, James Michael McAdoo, John Henson, Justin Watts, Kendall Marshall, Men's Basketball, Michigan State, P.J. Hairston, Reggie Bullock, Stillman White, Tyler Zeller
Due to distribution problems at Maple Street Press, the fifth edition of Tar Heel Tip-off will not be available in a print version this season. I have chosen to make my Tip-off content available to read/download (for free!) at issuu.com, though. This includes a 2011-12 season preview article, as well as four-page player profiles for each of the eight returning rotation players.
If you can’t see it above, check it out at issuu.com.