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Exhibition: UNC vs UNC Pembroke

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Grant Halverson

North Carolina vs UNC-Pembroke, 7:30 PM, Go Heels TV(subscription required)

After a season of turmoil, the focus on Tar Heel basketball will return to the court. Depending on how the final dispositions of P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald go, that might not be a good thing either but it beats talking about rental cars and speeding tickets.

This game constitutes UNC's lone exhibition game of the season and the only public viewing of the team in action against a real live opponent before the games actually count. The Tar Heels did play Vanderbilt in a secret scrimmage a couple of weeks ago. The rumors floating around concerning that game was the Heels didn't fare so well. One reason for that was the absence of Hairston, McDonald and J.P. Tokoto from the lineup.

That will be the case again this evening. Hairston and McDonald are still waiting for the NCAA and Roy Williams to settle on a penalty for each player. Tokoto missed the secret scrimmage and will sit out this game because he played in an summer league in Wisconsin but failed to file the proper paperwork. That leaves the Tar Heels using some interesting lineup combinations in this contest.

The likely starting lineup will be Marcus Paige and Nate Britt in the backcourt, James Michael McAdoo at the wing forward, Brice Johnson at the power forward and either Kennedy Meeks or Joel James at center. That lineup is pretty much devoid of three point shooting and will depend heavily on interior scoring. The Tar Heels will enjoy a significant size advantage not only in height but chances are the Braves don't have anyone who can bang in the post with either Meeks or James. Since this lineup plus Tokoto will be the way of things for the foreseeable future, it will be worth watching to see how it functions.

Within that lineup, there will be a fair amount of attention given to the battle between Meeks and James for the starting center spot. Meeks was impressive in the scrimmage but will that translate going forward? James had some nice offensive moves and hit a longer jumper. He has been touted by Paige and others as much improved. Will that improvement be on display in this game?

Also of note in this game will be the officiating. Various reports from other exhibition games has mentioned the new foul rules and how much the slow the game down. I would expect the same here as players adjust to the new rules in a live game. Having not seen a game called under the new rules, it will be interesting to see if there is a discernible difference in what is called outside of the foul count going up.

I will be at the game so check about later tonight for a full report.