Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE
Brian Barbour from SBN's Tar Heel Blog was kind enough to join us to discuss Roy Williams and upcoming basketball season for North Carolina.
Streaking the Lawn: I think everyone in the ACC was stunned when they saw the news items on Roy Williams and his surgery to remove a tumor from his kidney. What's the latest on his recovery?
Tar Heel Blog: Roy Williams had one surgery to remove a tumor on his left kidney and a biopsy on a tumor on his right kidney. Both tumors were non-cancerous. As it stands right now, Williams is still recovering. He has not been out recruiting since he was not cleared to fly and he has been cutting back his hours. That is expected to change soon as he will be cleared to resume his normal schedule both for travel and practice.
STL: What was your biggest loss from last season's team?
THB: Kendall Marshall without a doubt. Let's be honest. UNC, lost a ton of talent and production. Tyler Zeller was an ACC Player of the Year. John Henson was one of the more prolific shot blockers in UNC history and Harrison Barnes averaged 17 ppg. However it was Marshall who controlled the offense, set the table and as Roy Williams likes to point out had 351 assists for a team that did not shoot the ball well. The PG duties will now fall to freshman Marcus Paige with some help from Dexter Strickland. That is a drop-off to be sure, the question is how much.
STL: Who is the newcomer that you think will make the biggest impact this year?
THB: Marcus Paige is obviously going to have the biggest opportunity since he will start at point guard. However, freshman big man Joel James is an X factor in the coming season. James is an interesting story. He started playing basketball as a sophomore in high school and at one stage in his prep career he was 6-10 and over 300 lbs. He devoted himself to conditioning and also improving his game. The result is a player who is a chiseled 260 pounds and ran a 5:56 mile during UNC's preseason conditioning test. Clearly he is still raw but there is an open spot at center that needs to be filled by someone. Joel could be that guy and playing off James Michael McAdoo could have a significant impact.
STL: The Tar Heels were picked to finish third in the ACC this season. Fair? Not Fair?
THB: Fair. UNC has point guard questions and a host of complimentary players from last season now being thrust into primary scoring roles. Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald are coming back from ACL injuries and there are questions about how all the parts will fit together. In that respect, 3rd place is probably on the money.
STL: Who does Virginia need to watch out for most this year?
THB: A couple of candidates. James Michael McAdoo will be the centerpiece of the offense. McAdoo showed at the end of last season he is capable of being an impact player. Now the spotlight is on him to produce on a consistent basis. Aside from McAdoo, junior Reggie Bullock has a chance to be a solid player. Bullock was the fifth option a year ago and could spend most of his time after Dexter Strickland went down being a defensive stopper. That role and the other scoring options meant Bullock was never pressed to be a real offensive threat. That will change this season as Bullock will need to score. He is capable of hitting threes and also an excellent rebounder for a perimeter player making him dangerous in the all-around sense.
STL: Which of Virginia's players gives you the most concern?
THB: Given UNC's issues defending the three, Joe Harris has to be a concern. UNC has the personnel in Reggie Bullock to guard Harris but in an offense paced the way Virginia does, a hot hand from a player like Harris can make a huge difference when possessions are a premium.