CHAPEL HILL/SMITH CENTER — You have to hand it to the guys in Vegas. Many scoffed at the 46-point spread when North Carolina faced off against N.C. Central on Wednesday night, but indeed the Tar Heels won by 47 points in a game that lost all competitive semblance about 10 minutes into the first half.
Of course, the point of a game such as this isn’t to boost a team’s portfolio for the NCAA Tournament; it’s too develop a player rotation, enhance overall cohesion and enable inexperienced players to build confidence.
And on all three scores, the Tar Heels succeeded. Roy Williams tightened his rotation slightly from the revolving door the team used in the season opener on Monday, and clearly players on the floor are becoming more comfortable with each other’s tendencies.
Moreover, this game offered freshman guard Dexter Strickland a great opportunity to bounce back from his first-game jitters. The slender guard is expected to be at worst the primary backup at point guard, and some expect that by the end of the season he will challenge Larry Drew for the starting position.
Strickland scored nine points to go along with three assists and two turnovers — as opposed to five on Monday — and appeared much more comfortable handling the ball. Meanwhile, Deon Thompson added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Marcus Ginyard tied a career high with 17 points on 7-for-10 field goals.
As for Central, the Eagles are trying to build a program at the Division I level under first-year coach LeVelle Moton. Moton was one of the best players in program history, and clearly he has a long-term project ahead of him. That said, the school is paying him $100,000 annually to bring his vision into focus, a substantial financial commitment for a program just breaking into the D-I ranks.
Carolina’s next game is on Sunday afternoon versus Valparaiso. To see the box score versus N.C. Central, click