Exhibition: UNC vs Belmont Abbey, 7:30 PM, Go Heels TV(subscription)
Carolina rolled over Fayetteville State in their first exhibition match two weeks ago. This Friday, Belmont Abbey come to town and the Heels should notch another easy preseason win. With that in mind, there are several things to watch in this game that would be omens of a good season for the Heels.
Free Throw Shooting
Regardless of the competition, the Heels should aim to make as many of their free throws as possible. Many fans remember agonizing defeats because the Heels simply could not covert at the foul line. Free throw shooting was also a big problem with last year's team and improvements need to be made if the Heels are to build on their success from last year. If Carolina can shoot even 70-75% in this game that's a good sign going forward.
Can J.P. Tokoto shoot?
Much has been made over the offseason of Tokoto's new shot. Tokoto is UNC's most athletic wing defender, if he can find his offense and show his own ability to create of the bounce that would be a good sign going forward. It would prevent the Heels from having to play 4 on 5 on offense as well as space the floor better; opening up driving lanes as well as room to operate for Kennedy Meeks down low.
Low turnover ratio
This is another area where the Heels can try to iron out some early season issues. Reducing turnovers is just a sign of being a better, more experienced basketball team. Look to Marcus Paige and Nate Britt to do the bulk of the ball handling in this game and watch their turnover stats. If they take care of the ball fans should be even more confident in the Heels going forward.
Kennedy Meeks' Rebounding
Meeks is a beast in the post and this could be a year where he really makes his mark as a dominant post player like Tyler Zeller was for the Heels. The offense has shown flashes of this type of development and while Meeks needs to improve his jump shot before he can become a great scorer he already possesses the rebounding tools. Look for Meeks to be on pace for double digit rebounds in this game, a sign of his determination and skill on the boards.
Three Point Shooting
Another way to discard rust from the offseason, the Heels badly need to find shooting outside of Marcus Paige and against Division II foes is a great time to look for it. Try to see how many Carolina players jack threes in this game as well as how well they do. That will show who Roy Williams has given the green-light to, as well as how well they are as shooters. Fans should expect a three point percentage of about 35% or more in this game, just look to who is actually taking the shots.
Above all else, this is the most important goal for this game. It's a preseason scrimmage that doesn't count. However, if Meeks or Paige were to get hurt in this game that would count a lot in terms of affecting the Heels' season. This game should be fun for the player, coaches and fans. An injury would be the only way to tarnish the night.