Tar Heels look to start Reggie Bullock
North Carolina expects sophomore Reggie Bullock to replace injured shooting guard Dexter Strickland in the starting lineup and little-used freshman Stilman White to shift into the backup spot behind point guard Kendall Marshall, coach Roy Williams said Monday.
"That's a big-time loss for us," Williams said of Strickland, who tore the ACL in his right knee Thursday night and will be sidelined for the rest of the season. "He was our best perimeter defender, gave us some minutes at the backup point guard spot, could really run to help our break.
"He's a big-time loss for us, and hopefully somebody else will be able to step up and be able to do a much better job defensively each and every night to help make up for Dexter."
UNC (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) is hoping that player will be Bullock, who has been averaging 8.4 points and 18.8 minutes off the bench. Williams said the 6-foot-7, 205-pound sharpshooter has improved on defense and has given the Tar Heels (16-3) a lift in rebounding.
"I think he deserves it, knows more about what's going on than P.J. [Hairston, a freshman], for example," Williams said of his choice of starting Bullock. "But I know that there's 25 to 30 minutes a game there that somebody's going to have to pick up, and it might be a combination of a lot of guys."
That includes White, a 6-foot, 160-pound point guard from Wilmington who was signed last spring as a backup measure after former starting point guard Larry Drew II opted to transfer midseason. White has appeared in 15 games this season, averaging 4.3 minutes.
"Right now, Dexter has been giving us three minutes or so each half -- that's probably just a guesstimate -- at the point guard spot, and Kendall has been playing the rest," Williams said. "We've got to try to find a way to get Kendall a little bit of a break there in each half. Stilman White will be asked to do it, and again, we'll be looking for anything else we possibly could have."
That will likely include having Marshall, who is averaging a team-high 31.2 minutes per game, play a bit more, and "we're going to try to do some more work on the passing game without a true point guard, and see how that works out," Williams said.
One plan not in the works: To change the status of junior shooting guard Leslie McDonald, who is still recovering from offseason reconstructive knee surgery. Williams said earlier this month that McDonald would probably redshirt, and that's still the case.
"I grabbed Leslie last night and told him as far as I was concerned, it didn't change his situation," Williams said.
Robbi Pickeral covers North Carolina men's basketball for ESPN.com. Follow her on Twitter at @bylinerp.