The Tar Heels Early Season Struggles


The North Carolina Tar Heels had a long Thanksgiving weekend. The #16 ranked Heels lost to UAB by a score of 63-59. This loss gives Carolina 4-2 record, and with a upcoming game against #1 Michigan State; the Heels are in trouble. But why are the Heels struggling?

The Heels have showed excellence and potential early this season. They preformed extremely well against Louisville and were able to beat the defending national champions by nine. But they also have losses to Belmont and UAB.

The Heels are having major trouble scoring. This is due to the absence of Reggie Bullock, PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald. Of course, Reggie Bullock is currently a Los Angeles Clipper and won’t return to Carolina. However, P.J. and Leslie are a different story.

PJ Hairston is currently ineligible to play because of several summer incidents. He was charged with possession of marijuana, but that charge was later dropped. He also had a few speeding tickets. He has already been out for 6 games, and this has greatly affected the Heels play. Hairston did make some mistakes, but the NCAA has not spoken one bit about his eligibility. There has been no statement no press release. I believe PJ Hairston should serve a 10-game suspension, a proper punishment for what he has done.

The absence of Leslie McDonald also affects Carolina greatly. Leslie is a potent offensive player, who has the ability to break out at any minute. He is currently ineligible to play because he was allegedly sponsored by a mouth guard company. I believe McDonald has already served a proper punishment for his incident, and he shouldn’t be punished further.

Offensive rebounding has also been a major problem for Carolina. Big men James Michael McAdoo, Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Joel James and Desmond Hubert have been unable to rebound. There really is no extraordinary solution; the Heels just need to be more aggressive in the paint. This was also a major problem for the Heels in the beginning of last year.

On the plus side, Marcus Paige has been the star for Carolina; he leads UNC in scoring with 20 PPG. Brice Johnson has already stepped up by scoring an average of 14 PPG and 7 RPG.  Nate Britt and J.P. Tokoto have been as expected, decent players who can contribute at times. Centers’ Joel James, Kennedy Meeks have shown flashes of exceptional play, but they are nowhere near consistent.

Meanwhile, James Michael McAdoo has been unimpressive throughout this season, and isn’t looking like a NBA prospect. Center Desmond Hubert also hasn’t been contributing as much as was expected, at least not yet. Jackson Simmons and Luke Davis also fit in the same boat.

I believe the starting lineup of Paige, Britt, Tokoto, McAdoo and James should be changed. My ideal lineup would be Marcus Paige, J.P. Tokoto, Brice Johnson, James Michael McAdoo and Joel James. However, I’m willing to give Hall-of-Fame Championship coach Roy Williams the benefit of the doubt here.  He may have a plan brewing.

I do believe Carolina will turn things around; all they need is PJ Hairston and Leslie McDonald to return.


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