In the ramp up to the 2010-11 basketball season, Tar Heel Fan will be profiling key Tar Heels who will likely be major contributors this season. Today’s profile looks at guard Dexter Strickland
Number: 1 (Changed from #5 last year)
Position: Combo guard
Weight: 180 lbs
2009-10 and Career Stats: 36 gms, 5.4 ppg, 1.0 spg, 1.2 A/TO, 43.2% FG, 24.2% 3P, 69.2% FT
What Happened Last Season
Strickland struggled at times last year as his transition to the college game was complicated by a switch from his customary role as a shooting guard to that of mostly a lead guard. Strickland had his breakout game in late December when he scored 18 points in a win against Rutgers, and was able to produce similar performances at Clemson (loss) and at NCSU (win). In those three games, Strickland shot a combined 19-23 from the floor, as he was able to use outstanding athleticism to get out in the open floor and to the rim. From the State game on, Strickland's performance was rather nondescript, as he really did not shoot (or look to shoot) all that much. However, some encouragement can be taken from the fact that he shot 81% from the foul line over the second half of the season, and during the team's NIT run, he posted an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.2:1, which is outstanding for a freshman.
Outlook For This Season
Strickland comes into this season in great shape, winning the team's annual mile run with a time of 5:12, and certainly has the potential to have a breakout season. At this point, it is a little difficult to know exactly what to expect from Strickland, as we have not yet seen how Roy will utilize him. However, the addition of Kendall Marshall, along with the subtraction of Will Graves, could mean that Strickland sees a lot more time back on the wing, similar to the way Roy used Kirk Hinrich alongside Jeff Boschee and Arron Miles. Hinrich is an intriguing comparison to Strickland, as they are quite similar in terms of both size and athleticism, and also had very similar levels of production as freshmen:
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Hinrich exploded during his sophomore season, producing an offensive rating of 115.7 with a stunning shooting slash of 50%/51%/84%. It would be unrealistic to expect Strickland (or anyone, for that matter) to shoot over 50% from behind the line, but he does have the tools necessary to be a very strong offensive force for the Heels this season and beyond.
3-point shooting. Entering the season, Larry Drew is the only player on the roster who has proven that he can hit open outside shots with any regularity on the college level. Bullock has the reputation that leads one to believe that he will be an excellent shooter, but unless (and probably even if) Reggie Bullock is actually the next Reggie Miller, UNC will still need a couple other players to shoot between 37-40% from three. At this point, it appears that that onus will fall on Harrison Barnes and Dexter Strickland.
47% FG, 40% 3P, 80% FT, 2.0 A/T, 1.5 spg
The big wish is that Strickland plays well enough to earn (and keep) a starting spot on the wing. With the experience he gained last season as a point guard, this would make the Heels very difficult to press and absolutely lethal in transition. Additionally, this would allow Reggie Bullock to come off the bench in an "instant offense" role (think: Danny Green as a sophomore/junior), which would hopefully help to ease the transition from high school to college.