NCAA BK

No commitment to 4-guard lineup

Share This Story

   
 

DURHAM, N.C. (AP)

North Carolina coach Roy Williams waited until mid-February to shorten his bench and rely largely on a small lineup. It remains to be seen whether it was a short-term move or something the Tar Heels will use through the final weeks of the season.

The Tar Heels spent the days leading up to their game at No. 2 Duke working to turn that occasionally used four-guard unit into the focus of their attack. The plan worked well enough to keep North Carolina in the game the entire night in one of college basketball's most hostile settings and gave the Tar Heels a jolt that had been missing so far in Atlantic Coast Conference play.

''We do a better job of spacing the floor when we have four guards on the court because spacing has been an issue for our offense for a lot of the year,'' freshman point guard Marcus Paige said after Wednesday night's 73-68 loss. ''But when we have four guards, we're able to spread the floor, get driving lines and (James Michael) McAdoo has more room to operate, too. It's an interesting lineup we can play with.''

Williams moved P.J. Hairston into the starting five against the Blue Devils alongside regular starters Paige, McAdoo, Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullock. Hairston's only start this year came in December against UNLV when Bullock was out with a concussion. He had played stretches as the 4-man for the Tar Heels before, but this time, he was on the court almost the entire night.

It was North Carolina's sixth starting lineup this year.

Hairston, a 6-foot-5 sophomore guard, matched his career-high with 23 points and had eight rebounds (seven offensive) in 34 minutes, though he struggled from the outside and finished just 1-for-7 from 3-point range. Still, Hairston's presence allowed the Tar Heels (16-8, 6-5 ACC) to keep up with the Blue Devils' outside shooters defensively most of the night.

It also helped the Tar Heels get off to a strong start, jumping to a 7-2 lead and leading by 10 on Bullock's third 3-pointer with 7 minutes left in the first half.

''They started a different lineup and they really went away from all the stuff they usually do in trying to run it down our throats,'' Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. ''... Those two kids, Bullock and Hairston, are two of the best shooters in the country and they put a lot of pressure on you.''

FOXIEST FANS

Check out the FOXiest fans from arenas across the country and tweet us your photo.

Compare that to the past five games, when they fell behind in the opening minutes, including 10-0 at home to offensively challenged Virginia Tech, each time with a more traditional starting lineup that had 6-10 defensive-minded sophomore Desmond Hubert in the middle.

Bullock finished with a team-high 36 minutes; Hairston, Strickland and McAdoo played 34; Paige played 30 and sixth man Leslie McDonald, yet another guard, played 20 minutes. No other Tar Heel played more than 4 minutes.

UNC had played at least eight players for double-figure minutes in 21 of 23 games before Wednesday's trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium and never fewer than seven.

Hubert had played at least 10 minutes in every game for the past two months, but made little more than a cameo (1 minute) against the Blue Devils. Meanwhile, freshman forward Brice Johnson (4 minutes) and freshman guard J.P. Tokoto (3 minutes) each logged season-low totals.

Strickland said the shortened rotation forced UNC's offense to find a rhythm.

''You understand the comfort zone they like to be in: Reggie coming off screens a certain way, you know (Marcus) is going to drive and kick it out,'' Strickland said. ''You get a feel and you get in your zone and not having all these subs — he does this, he does that — you know what to expect from the player you're playing with.''

The Tar Heels started the year at No. 11 and reached ninth in Top 25, only to start 0-2 in the ACC and fall out of the national rankings. UNC's most glaring problem has been replacing four NBA first-round draft picks from last year's team, leaving behind a team a bit thin up front but returning plenty of experienced guards.

Williams certainly took advantage of them against Duke. He just wasn't saying whether he'd stick with the small lineup against Virginia and beyond.

''We started to make that change four or five games ago,'' Williams said. ''I may start five different guys Saturday.''

Tagged: North Carolina, Duke, Dexter Strickland, Reggie Bullock

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



NCAA BK Videos

Georgetown, Syracuse to renew CBK rivalry Posted: Jun 10, 2014
Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III on the renewal of the rivalry betw...

Cuonzo Martin new head coach at Cal Posted: Apr 16, 2014
Cuonzo Martin is introduced as Cal's new head coach.

UConn tops Notre Dame in women's final Posted: Apr 09, 2014
Hear from Geno Auriemma and his players after their National Championship victor...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
    Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
    Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
    Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
    Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
    Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
    adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
    Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
    Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..