2009-2010 North Carolina Tar Heels Basketball Preview
Head coach Roy Willams led the Heels to the National Championship in 2005 and again in 2009. Last season, North Carolina (34- 4 overall, 13- 3 ACC) finished tops in the conference and easily knocked off every team they met in the tournament, including a sound 89- 72 beating of Michigan State for the title. This season, many expect coach Williams and company to do more of the same.
Last year, the Tar Heels were ranked first in scoring in the ACC, averaging a healthy 89.9 PPG, while holding opponents to 72.0 PPG. They were tops in three-point percentage, hitting 39% of their attempts. However, the team has lost a wealth of its three-point potential. That could be a problem.
Forward Tyler Hansbrough, the ACC’s all-time top point producer is gone. Still, the club is actually deeper than it was last season. Senior forward Deon Thompson (10.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 0.7 APG) offers the most experience of all returning players. He’s got fine scoring moves from either side with his back to the basket. Last season, as a freshman, Ed Davis (6.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 0.6 APG) proved to be an excellent shot blocker and rebounder. In 2008- 2009 forward Tyler Zeller (3.1 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.2 APG) missed a slew of games due to injury. He should be a force this year. Freshman forward John Henson offers a lot of promise from the get-go.
The backcourt may suffer the most with the loss of Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Ty Lawson. Sophomore Larry Drew (1.4 PPG, 1.1 RPG, 1.9 APG), the team’s only true point guard, has big shoes to fill. He needs to raise his game to a whole new level to replace the contributions of star Lawson. Guard/forward Marcus Ginyard (1.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.3 APG) returns from a foot fracture; his “D” will be much needed. Freshman guards Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland may both be asked to contribute immediately. Will Graves (4.0 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.8 APG) will try to fit in after being suspended last season.
The Tar Heels certainly have their work cut out for them. They are loaded with talent but their lack of experience could hinder their attempt to capture a second consecutive NCAA crown. The Elite Eight looks promising and the Final Four is possible. If they get to that point, then anything is possible: even another national title.