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UNC 80 Lipscomb 66

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Everyone say it with: It was the first game.

Since Roy Williams has been at UNC, season openers have not been pretty affairs or in the case of 2007, the second of game of the season. I am going to spare you a list of season opening struggles such as Santa Clara or Gardner Webb. I take solace in the fact UNC usually finds a way to gel as a team even if things look ragged in the first game of the year.

I can tell you that Roy Williams was more pissed about the fact they could not open a door to get his suit jacket at halftime than he appeared to be over the team's performance. It was a game with plenty of positives but some negatives as well. It was also a game versus a very good and experienced team who was not going to wilt beneath the Dean Dome lights. UNC on the other hand has many new parts that are being fitted together for the first time. Roy pointed out in his postgame remarks that UNC has lost 12 players in the past two years. On this team alone there are four first year players, two players who saw very little time on the court last season and four others who played significant minutes together. It will take a few games for players to find their niche and Roy to figure out the rotation. The results will be mixed early and this game is indicative of that.

Looking at the box score, the eye popping stat line of the night belongs to John Henson who had 10 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks. You read that correctly. Henson is just a freak and while he won't do that every night, I think averaging double digit rebounds is a possibility. Henson's offense is still a little funky and you would prefer a 6-10 power forward come up with a better shooting night than 5-11 but overall it was a nice start for Henson. Likewise Tyler Zeller had a nice game though he looked a little timid early. Late in the second half he asserted himself and made some strong moves to the hoop, scored a key basket or two. Much talked about freshman Harrison Barnes had 14 on 7-14 shooting(0-3 from three) It is pretty clear Barnes needs to let the game come to him and the best way for him to do that is attack the basket. I think Barnes is pressing a bit trying to make jumpers go in when he needs to find the flow of the game. He showed some flashes of what he is capable of as a scorer when he was aggressive. You also get the impression he is still getting comfortable.

Kendall Marshall and Reggie Bullock rounded out the double figure scoring for UNC. I really liked Bullock's feel for the game, especially doing things like following his own miss. Marshall, likewise, has a nice feel for the game.  It is as though he can see the action unfolding in half speed. Leslie McDonald scored seven and did some little things well as did Justin Knox who had a couple of baskets and some nice defense around the basket.  Larry Drew only had two assists and was 4-8 from the free throw line which really needs to improve. Dexter Strickland and Justin Watts were essentially non-factors. Again, it should be stressed that performances both good and bad do not a season make. The important thing is getting acclimated to each other and the speed of the game. There is obvious room for improvement but isn't there always with what is essentially a new team sporting four first year in the program players?

UNC will head to Puerto Rico and play three games in four days. That should go a long ways towards this team meshing into a more effective unit.

Note: Apparently there were issues with the box scores having incorrect information. I pulled the stats for this post from which must have differed from the official totals. Corrections have been made.