The Tar Heels are loaded with talent, possessing an elite frontcourt of potential All-Americans and the nation's top point guard, but with the latest injury of starting two-guard Dexter Strickland (torn ACL), does this UNC team still have Final Four potential?
Losing reserve guard Leslie McDonald was bad. Add glue-guy Strickland to the IR. He's far from their most talented player, but he is their "glue guy", their top defender and second-best ball handler behind point guard Kendall Marshall. As a result, Roy Williams will have to promote shooting guard Reggie Bullock or P.J. Hairston to the starting lineup and back-up point guard Stilman White, a reserve in the truest sense, averaging just 4.3 minutes in his 15 appearances, will see an increased role.
The benefit to adding Bullock and Hairston to the lineup for more minutes is their shooting touch and deep range. On the year, Strickland had only attempted two 3-point shots, connecting on neither of them. Bullock had made 34 3s, sixth most in the ACC despite playing under 19 minutes a game. The freshman Hairston has 28 makes from beyond the arc in his 13+ minutes per game. Both Bullock and Hairston offer better rebounding than the small Strickland, but neither can match his playmaking or defensive skills.
They have time to rebuild their chemistry with new roles and could still easily end up in New Orleans for the Final Four, but when Strickland went down, clutching his knee, UNC lost the toughness and energy that he brought to the floor night in and night out.