Saturday, February 02, 2013

Struggling Heels still a threat for Hokies

Virginia Tech coach James Johnson says "I'm not feeling great about" his team's transition defense.

North Carolina's James Michael McAdoo is not having the All-American-type season he was expected to.

Associated Press

North Carolina's James Michael McAdoo is not having the All-American-type season he was expected to.

Virginia Tech Hokies basketball

Berman Courtside

Men’s basketball today

Virginia Tech at North Carolina
Noon at Dean Smith Center

Records: Virginia Tech 11-9, 2-5 ACC; UNC 14-6, 4-3.

TV: WDBJ  Last meeting: UNC won 82-68 on Jan. 19, 2012 at Tech.

Va. Tech probable starters: F Jarell Eddie (14.4 ppg), F C.J. Barksdale (5 ppg), C Cadarian Raines (6.6 ppg), G Robert Brown (9.6 ppg), G Erick Green (25.5 ppg).

UNC probable starters: F James Michael McAdoo (14.7 ppg), C Desmond Hubert (1.4 ppg), G-F Reggie Bullock (13.7 ppg), G Dexter Strickland (8.1 ppg), G Marcus Paige (6.8 ppg).

Notes: Who on UNC will guard Green? “Everybody on our team,” UNC coach Roy Williams said with a smile at his news conference Friday. “We’re thinking about playing a box-and-one with four guys on him and one guy in the middle of the lane. … He’s really freaking good.” Actually, Tech coach James Johnson figures Strickand will draw that task. … UNC’s P.J. Hairston (12.4 ppg), who suffered a concussion in Wednesday’s win over Boston College, is not expected to play today. … UNC’s Leslie McDonald (8.4 ppg) will play today after missing the past six games — three to injury and three because of a suspension. … UNC has won four of its past five games, with the loss coming last weekend at N.C. State. … McAdoo has recorded a double-double in three of the past four games. … UNC has won seven of the past eight meetings in this series.

Virginia Tech at North Carolina
Today | Noon | WDBJ
Records: Virginia Tech 11-9, 2-5 ACC; UNC 14-6, 4-3

The North Carolina men's basketball team is having a disappointing season, but Virginia Tech coach James Johnson is still plenty worried about today's game with the Tar Heels.

The Tar Heels, who host Tech at noon, are tied for seventh nationally in scoring offense (79.1 ppg) with their fast-break attack.

So how is Johnson feeling about his transition defense?

"I've got to be honest with you, I'm not feeling great about it," Johnson said with a laugh Friday. "We're going to have to get back [on defense], and I don't know how we're going to do it.

"I'm going to look at a couple different things to try to slow them down a little bit."

Johnson likes to play at a fast pace, but not as fast as the Tar Heels (14-6, 4-3 ACC) do.

"They're going to play extremely fast," Johnson said. "We're going to try to run when we can, but we're not going to go and get in a track meet with those guys. They play like we're trying to play, but obviously they're a lot deeper than we are. And if you remember a few years ago down there, they keep it nice and hot in there and we had guys cramping up in there. I kind of want to stay away from that."

Johnson hopes the Hokies (11-9, 2-5) can get some transition baskets. But UNC leads the ACC in offensive rebounds (15.1 per game), so the Hokies might have a tough time grabbing a rebound after a UNC miss so they can trigger their fast break.

"If we can rebound the ball clean, I think we can run in transition," Johnson said. "We're going to have to get some easy baskets so we don't face their halfcourt defense.

"We want to pick our spots in transition. ... Two-on-one, three-on-two, if we don't have that, we want to pull it out and run offense."

Despite losing the four stars of last year's team to the NBA, the Tar Heels were ranked No. 11 in The Associated Press preseason poll. But they dropped out of the Top 25 before Christmas. Center has been a weak spot for the team, and the point guard, Marcus Paige, is just a freshman.

UNC sophomore forward James Michael McAdoo is not having the All-America-type season he was expected to have. He is averaging 14.7 points and 8.5 rebounds but has committed a team-high 54 turnovers. Still, Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranked him this week the No. 22 prospect in the country for this year's NBA draft.

The Hokies boast the nation's leading scorer, point guard Erick Green (25.5 ppg).

But Johnson wants forward Jarell Eddie and the rest of the team to stop enjoying the Green show and start contributing.

"They get caught up in watching Erick play a lot," Johnson said. "They've got to get in the flow of the game.

"Jarell Eddie, get to the offensive glass and try to get something easy there and not get caught up in standing around and watching Erick play."

Eddie took only one shot in the second half of Wednesday's loss to Miami. He had six turnovers in the game.

"Eddie squandered away a few of his opportunities," Johnson said. "Instead of turning the ball over, those need to be shots attempts."

Robert Brown was 3 of 3 from the field in the first half Wednesday but took just two shots in the second half (missing them both). Johnson said Brown could have "attacked a little bit more in transition," but he said Brown is being "more conscious of his shot selection" because of his recent shooting slump.

Johnson said center Cadarian Raines is not looking for his shot enough. He said Raines anticipates getting double-teamed and passes the ball "maybe a little too early."

Raines finished 5 of 6 from the field Wednesday but took only two shots in the first half. Does he need more touches early in the game?

"Touches early also means getting to the offensive glass and getting yourself involved in the game," Johnson said.

"Erick Green is a guy that can get his own shot. Robert Brown is a guy that can get his own shot. And I think the other guys, we have to manufacture offense for them as far as running set plays. And when you have three guys you have to manufacture offense for, that's kind of difficult to run a lot of set plays, which is something I'd like to stay away from. [Raines] needs to get to the glass."

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