Point of Contention

The key to UNC's success will be the health and play of Joel Berry II.

Joel Berry II
Photo Credit: Gerry Broome/AP Photo

College Basketball and the NBA are different in many ways but where they are similar is in the importance of a team’s point guard. Teams were able to win in the past with average and even sometime below average point guards but that doesn’t happen in today’s basketball.

Coming into the season, North Carolina was looking for redemption after one of the most heart breaking losses in a National Championship game in over 30 years. Roy Williams had plenty coming back and could sustain the losses of Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson. Who wouldn’t want Berry II starting along with Pinson and Britt coming off the bench? But, an injury to Berry II has changed the Heels outlook.

Sans the Indiana game, North Carolina had looked as good as any team in the country until Berry II went down. In games versus Davidson and Tennessee the Tar Heels have lacked efficiency on both ends of the court.

With Berry II, UNC averaged 90.2 points a game. Without him they are averaging 78 points a game and, at times, look loss on the floor. On the defensive end, they had only allowed a team to score over 70 points in 3 of their first 9 games. Without Berry II in the lineup both Davidson and Tennessee scored over 70 points.

The two players that might be most impacted by the loss are Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks. Meeks had scored double digits in every game except opening day. In the last two games he’s only managed to 9 points in each. Hicks scored 13 against Davidson but only 6 against Tennessee while fouling out. Not having the ball pressure that Berry II impacts the Carolina bigs inside. On the offensive end, Berry II shooting and decision making makes it easier on the bigs to get the ball where they want it.

Berry II is second in scoring and first in assists and it’s been hard to replace him with Britt who has his limitations. Since starting, Britt has shot 4-22 from the field making the loss of Berry II even bigger. Couple that with the fact that UNC doesn’t have Pinson and you can see why Ol’ Roy might be worried about this team.

North Carolina has three more non-conference games, including a neutral site battle against Kentucky, before the conference starts. Berry II is imperative to the success of UNC especially when you consider how good the ACC is, especially at the top.

Roy Williams won two National Championships with guards, Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson, who upped their games in big moments. Berry II has the same basketball DNA as those two and his health will determine how far the Heels go in March.

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About Marcus Washington 149 Articles
Born and raised in the DMV, Marcus Washington is a former high school basketball coach and currently a member of the USBWA and FWAA.

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