I meant to mention this when it first came out, but it slipped my mind until Tar Heel Fan brought it up. Among the spate of recent articles on the upcoming basketball season came this one from Jeff Goodman, and for the most part it's the standard everything-is-coming-up-Milhouse type piece that gets written about the top teams every September. Except the focus turns to Larry Drew, because Goodman sees him as the biggest cause for concern on the team:
So leaves the one final major hole - and Williams doesn't seem nearly as concerned about it as I am.
Point guard play.
It'll be the key to whether the Tar Heels can return to national prominence this season.
I still maintain there's a chance Marshall - due to his high IQ - could wind up taking the starting point guard spot from Drew at some point this season.
As someone who never thought Drew deserved all of the blame he shouldered last season, especially when it came to turnovers, I don't understand the thought process that finds him to be the weakest link on the team. Most of the NIT run was driven by his play, in fact, and he had one of the bigger leadership roles down the stretch. I have a lot bigger concerns about this team, in fact. In order of how much they're keeping me up at night:
Frontcourt Depth: Don't forget, UNC lost four big men in the course of a month. It if wasn't for the late transfer of Justin Knox from Alabama, there would be no one coming off the bench taller than 6'6". So I'm thrilled Henson will be spending more time in the paint and am willing to believe Tyler Zeller can play an entire season; they'll still need bench time at the pace Williams likes to run, and that's going leave an awfully small lineup at points. I'm sure every opponent is already pencilling "Force it inside and draw fouls" next to Carolina's name on the schedule.
Defense: I'm sure there are people thinking, "What defense?" but said people are idiots who have never heard of points per possession and can be ignored. Suffice it say, the defense of even the 2009 championship team was a step down from the 2005 squad, and last year's shooting defense in particular was pretty bad. Defense his harder to pick up quickly on the college level, so there may be an adjustment period for the freshmen. Rejuvenated shooting is only going to take the Heels so far. Whether they can get the stops on the other end will win games.
Leadership: I know, Harrison Barnes is the Second Coming, already inked on everybody's All-American ballots, and being praised high and low for filling the leadership vacuum of last season. But he's a freshman; he'll be carrying backs and the last off the court to get water at practice. There's a limit to what he can do, as hard as that is to believe. I'm not going to try to speculate how a team is going to gel from hundreds of miles away and no firsthand knowledge of the people involved, but I can worry about it. After all, I've got some free time.
As for the point guard situation, though? If Larry Drew continues to play like he did in the NIT last season, I have no qualms about that part of Carolina's game. He'll have more perimeter shooters, which should bring more space and more opportunities to drive towards the basket. He'll be fine.