- Robbi Pickeral, College Basketball
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Exhibition opponent: Shaw
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET, Smith Center
TV: The game will not be televised, but you can watch online at GoHeelsTV (subscription needed).
About Shaw: The Bears went 27-4 last season in the Division II CIAA, and are led by senior forward Karron Johnson (12.2 ppg last season) and junior guard Derrick Hunter (4.6 ppg). Their top returning player, forward Junius Chaney, only has one semester of eligibility left, a team spokesman said, and won’t play until after the fall semester.
What to watch: Because North Carolina is participating in a “secret scrimmage” at Georgetown on Sunday, this will be the only tune-up fans can watch before the Tar Heels’ season-opener against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 9. A few things to keep an eye on:
The starting lineup
Coach Roy Williams has said he expects freshman Marcus Paige to start at point guard this season, and forward James Michael McAdoo and wing Reggie Bullock seem likely shoo-ins, as well. But it will be interesting to see who fills in the other two holes.
Shooting guards Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland are both back after ACL surgeries -- although McDonald is farther along, having redshirted an entire season -- and sophomore P.J. Hairston, by many accounts, has regained his outside shooting touch after struggling last season. Freshman Joel James and Brice Johnson, as well as sophomore Desmond Hubert, are competing for minutes alongside McAdoo in post.
The point guard rotation
Of course everybody wants to get a look at the 6-foot-0, 157-pound Paige, who has impressed teammates with his court vision and athleticism. But his back-ups will be key, as well.
Strickland was the team’s starting shooting guard and No. 2 ballhandler until he tore his ACL last January at Virginia Tech; he was at about 95 percent at the beginning of practice, according to Williams. And sophomore Luke Davis sat out last season after transferring from Gardner-Webb; he’s a scrappy pass-first point guard, according to his teammates.
UNC’s head coach has said he’s not allowed to go too “wacko” until he’s healed from last month’s surgery to remove a tumor from his kidney, but how calm can the usually-animated Hall-of-Famer remain? … Tar Heels alum Hubert Davis will make his debut on the bench as UNC’s new assistant coach. … If McDonald starts, who takes his place performing the passed-down-from-Danny-Green pre-tipoff “Jump Around” dance? The redshirt junior joked the week that if necessary, he may need to hold auditions.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.
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