Monday, November 22nd, 2010 at 11:12 am  |  17 responses

North Carolina, Barnes Struggling Early

by David Cassilo / @dcassilo

It only took four games, but it appears as though No. 8 North Carolina, much like last season, is doing very little to back up its preseason top-10 ranking. After a trip to Puerto Rico saw the Tar Heels fall to both Minnesota and Vanderbilt, it is very likely that they will fall out of the rankings when they are revealed on Monday.

The talent is there. Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Reggie Bullock and Harrison Barnes should all have decorated careers on Tobacco Road but against quality opponents, the offensive cohesion is not yet there. North Carolina failed to score more than 67 points against either Minnesota or Vanderbilt, both of which were unranked at the time.

Much of that offense was supposed to come from Barnes, the first freshman to be selected as a preseason All-American. However, he has done anything but live up to the hype thus far. He is averaging just 12.5 ppg and shot 4-for-24 in the team’s last two games, including an 0-for-12 performance against Minnesota.

While Roy Williams isn’t panicking yet, he is looking to make adjustments after a disappointing Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

From The News and Observer:

But it’s also obvious, with three new freshman and zero returning scholarship seniors, that Williams is still looking for the right combination of players that can play consistent defense, take care of the ball and score in the clutch.

“What I’m looking at is five guys who will play together as one,” he said after his team committed 22 turnovers and allowed the Commodores to shoot 63.6 percent in the first half. “We’ve got great kids; you know what they’re saying? They’re saying ‘I’ve got to do this, or I’ve got to score.’ And it’s not that — it’s ‘we’ve got to do it.’ … We’ve got to make better decisions on how touch we’re going to be, getting after loose balls, and when teams get second-half opportunities against us.”

The Tar Heels won’t have long to figure things out. They still have to face No. 13 Illinois, No. 12 Kentucky and Texas in their non-conference schedule before they enter the ACC schedule. While it’s too early to be thinking of the NCAA tournament, even the idea of another NIT appearance is enough to cause panic on the North Carolina campus.

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  • http://slamonline.com The Black Rick Kamla

    Roy has a job to do. You’ve got a packed backcourt Dexter Strickland, Larry Drew, Kendall Marshall, Reggie Bullock, Harrison Barnes and no solid rotations, its just chaos after every substitution. Then you’ve got guys like Henson and Zeller in the frontcourt who have height and length but couldn’t box out Brittany Griner. Right now you’re witnessing just how superior a coach Coach K is to Roy Williams. There is a system established at Duke. You know that Kyle and Nolan and Plumlee are the key cogs but you’ve got so many interchangle parts and then you add on Kyrie Irving who is CP3 jr. and the rest of that ’10 class and the team looks just as good and 5x as athletic as they did last year……..still very early though

  • http://SLAMonline.com GotHandles?

    they blow. so many turnovers, no movement. Duke will eat them alive.

  • All Day

    Here are UNC problems: 1) Lack of a true PG. Larry Drew is a backup PG playing the starting PG position. 2) Bigs are not tough in the paint. Ty Zweller is too soft inside…a 7-footer should not be getting manhandled in the paint like he does. 3) Too many guys playing the same position. It seems like over half the roster is filled with shooting guards and small forwards.

  • All Day

    @ GotHandles?: You’re right. 4) Too many turnovers.

  • All Day

    The same problems UNC had last season have resurfaced this season. I like UNC but I’m afraid they’re going to have another disappointing season this year.

  • kkrizzle

    @ All Day: u think zeller gets pushed around. watch the other twig

  • All Day

    I blame Roy for 1) recruiting too many players that play the same position and 2) failing to make some changes to his system to fit the players on his roster. It’s clear to me that UNC cannot play Roy’s uptempo style of offense the entire game, because they continue to commit way too many turnovers.

  • http://uiandtherest.com ap

    Having too many players at one or two positions is a recruiting issue. Stockpiling twos and threes isn’t going to help. But everyone thinks Roy is the great coach that he’s not.

    There is absolutely no leadership on the floor for UNC, none.

  • http://yahoo.com Big O.

    What y’all think about Harrison Barnes? He has a lot of upside, which is what are the major mock draft boards are looking at. He has a smooth jumper, decent handles, and above average athleticism. Both on the other hand, I see at least 3 prospects that I would take before him in the upcoming draft: Sullinger, Perry Jones, Irving from Duke, Terrance Jones from Kentucky(luv his game) and maybe Josh Shelby. I just think he is overrated and overhyped.

  • Noel

    @All Day and ap, I beg to differ
    ’07- no recruiting class
    ’08- Zeller, Davis, Drew, Watts- 2 bigs, 2 guards
    ’09- Wear Twins, Henson, Strick, McDonald- 3 bigs, 2 guards
    ’10- Marshall, Bullock, Barnes- 3 guards, one who is a 6’6 NC product and another who is 6’8 and the top rated recruit in the country
    Are you really going to criticize that recruiting and say he is stockpiling players at one or two positions? It’s not his fault that the Wear twins didn’t say they were leaving until recruting was pretty much over.
    Anybody who follows Carolina BBall closely knew that this was not going to be a strong team to start the season. It’s going to take time but we will get better as the season goes on. And no, Roy is not a great basketball coach but he is good enough to win two chips and probably at least one more before he’s done with the talent he’s going to recruit.

  • All Day

    I think Harrison Barnes is legit, but I agree that he was overhyped. What concerns me about Barnes is his number of shot attempts per game. A UNC freshman should not be attempting so many shots in a game.

  • All Day

    @ Noel: You just proved my point about Roy recruiting too many players that play the same position…it doesn’t matter how tall some of those players are…they all play the same position.

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    ‘i dont give a shtt about north carolina.’

  • jarrett

    the problem is larry drew. roy gave him the starting position and he hasnt earned it or produced or expanded his game like say, Nolan Smith. Strict or Marshall should start

  • http://google c_cantrell

    barnes has let me down so far

  • http://twitter.com/on_ray henry

    the thing with barnes is that he is counted on so much, all those other freshman list are on deep, veteran-led teams, they are just asked to play with in themselves. barnes is counted on more than anyother freshman, and thats saying a lot about the state of the unc program to be doin that

  • Luiyo

    Harrison Barnes?? I saw him live in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and he did not play good. I think he’s overrated, he has a very good jump shot, good size, but nothing else, he’s slow, not very athletic (average), not a good defender, poor one-one player… I know I’m being a little harsh with the guy but I was expecting a little more from your diary keeper and #1 rated high school player or maybe because I’m a Tar Heel and I’m frustated with my team…