Exhibition: North Carolina vs Guilford, 7:30 PM, Go Heels TV(subscription required)
The Tar Heels play the first and only public exhibiition game of the 2015-16 season tonight against the Guilford Quakers starting at 7:30 PM in the Dean Smith Center. The game will be streamed online on Go Heels TV(subscription required.)
Prior to Wednesday's press release that Marcus Paige would miss 3-4 weeks with a broken bone in his non-shooting hand, the biggest question heading into the exhibition was who would snag the final starting spot. Paige, Justin Jackson and Brice Johnson were considered to be mortal locks. Roy Williams hedged a bit on Kennedy Meeks but it stands to reason the junior big man will get the start at the five spot. The remaining mystery is whether Williams would simply replace J.P. Tokoto with Theo Pinson on the wing or slide Paige to the two and use Joel Berry/Nate Britt at the point.
The injury to Paige made the question moot, at least for now. Pinson and Jackson will almost certainly get the start on the wings with Johnson and Meeks on the block. The stater at point guard could be either Britt or Berry with both probably splitting the minutes at that position.
The other effect of Paige's absence is likely increased minutes for freshman guard Kenny Williams. The Virginia native comes in with a reputation of being a sharp shooter from beyond the arc. This type of game is ripe for Williams to see a nice chunk of minutes to simply get his feet wet.
Another player to watch will be Isaiah Hicks who many feel could be on the verge of a breakout season. Hicks could very well be the spark plug off the bench for UNC this season, a shot in the arm and a viable option if Johnson runs into foul trouble.
As is the case with exhibitions, this serves as a first snapshot of the team. It is a starting point to figure out how the lineups might work and see the #1 team in live action for the first time. The injury to Paige is a setback since it prevents UNC from using the early games to mesh. However this is an experienced team so that is not nearly as important as it might have been in years past.