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Friday Food for Thought: Lineups

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Guessing what craziness could find the court this year.

NCAA Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Charlotte Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Welcome to Friday Food For Thought, the weekend conversation starter. Each week, this article presents a topic for debate. Whether in the comments section, on the golf course, or around the weekend game table, the goal is to provide enough background that either side could be a winner. In order to facilitate the discourse, a suggested beverage pairing is also included. So speak up, mix it up, and drink up.

One of the best activities to partake in during the summer is wildly speculating about basketball lineups for the upcoming year. Last summer, I guessed that by the end of the year, a starting forward would be the point guard. Let’s see if this summer brings the same level of accuracy.

Issue: what is the most interesting lineup combination outside of the starting five debate.

1. Point

Last summer the Tar Heels were looking at a team full of established guards with a questionable inside presence. This year, a Third Team All-American in the form of Luke Maye is returning to anchor the interior (or exterior?). While there may be some point guard concern, there can be no doubting the size.

Roy Williams has a history of bringing a full five-man team off the bench to shake things up. This year, with up to 12 players ready to see quality playing time, the Blue Team will take on a new look.

Think length.

Excluding the likely starters, the scorer’s table could see Brandon Huffman, Garrison Brooks, either Cameron Johnson or Nassir Little, Brandon Robinson, and Rechon “Leaky” Black at the same time. Leaky may be a stretch at point guard, but he does bring that experience and the potential is definitely there.

This lineup brings players onto the floor at 6’10”, 6’9”, 6’7”, 6’5”, and 6’7”. That is incredible length without really playing anyone out of position. Now, imagine all of that height packing in a 2-3 zone. The three point line could stretch to 30 feet. From a defensive point of view, this could be 3 minutes of shut down, slow down, frustration.

Imagining a group off the bench that can wear down the other team while the starters get some rest is exciting. Remembering the fatigue that plagued the starters toward the end of last year makes this prospect all the more real. Zone out.

2. Counterpoint

A lineup of all bigs ignores the importance of ball handlers in the Roy Williams’ system. Tempo is managed by ball handlers who can dribble up the court as fast as they can pass it. A premium is placed on distribution.

Today’s college game, however, can be controlled from deep. It is a luxury to get consistent scoring out of the set offense with post positioning and close shots. The truly great moments of the season, however, will come from a proverbial avalanche of points as the threes rain down.

Carolina can bring a death lineup to the court this year that will quickly strangle its opponents with scoring that is difficult to match. How about a center that could shoot 40% from three while securing double digit rebounds? Check. You would need a lethal 2 guard. Check. Cameron Johnson would need to play the four to stretch to the perimeter. No problem, we saw that last year. Nassir Little will need to score consistently from the wing. Yep. Finally, either Seventh Woods or Coby White will need to prove their deep range ability. Very likely.

It is not beyond the realm of possibility to see a five player lineup that all average over 33% from three with a collective average of 37 of 38%. By the way, just doing the math, a 33% stroke from three without a single offensive rebound still results in a 1 point per possession average. Not too shabby.

In a blink of an eye, a 2 point lead could become 10 or a late 7 point deficit could be eliminated.

Drink Pairing

In need of encouragement to debate – I will be having dinner Saturday with my friends and colleagues Ron and Dave before a trip out. Dave is an Absolut drinker. Just ice with a twist of lemon. Impressive.

Can debate without assistance The Coconut Water provides a high level of hydration with plenty of electrolyte replenishment. A great cure for summer drought.