While various media outlets have North Carolina flirting with a top-10 preseason ranking to open next season, the former players that return to Chapel Hill every summer made it clear that the current group of Tar Heels have plenty of work to do.
The games are played first to 80 and the Blue team – the older guys – won 80-59.
“They just ran out and guarded Leslie [McDonald] and [Reggie Bullock] and didn’t let them get an open look,” head coach Roy Williams told reporters during his summer press conference on Thursday. “They got their tails kicked.”
Current Atlanta Hawks forward Marvin Williams led the Blue team with 30 points, while James Michael McAdoo paced the White team with 22 points.
Inside Carolina subscribers can click here for a comprehensive report, including full stats and analysis, of Wednesday’s pickup game.
The White team started McDonald, Bullock, Desmond Hubert, James Michael McAdoo and Luke Davis at point guard. The Blue team’s lineup included Williams, Raymond Felton, Marcus Ginyard, Deon Thompson, Reyshawn Terry and David Noel.
McAdoo offered a simple explanation for the loss: “They’re pros and we’re still in college. They’re pretty good.”
“We made it to 40 first – that counts – and in the second half they just imposed their will on us,” he continued.
Bullock provided more insight into the loss, which seemed eerily reminiscent of issues from last season.
“The first half they was up a little bit on us and we just kept fighting to come back,” the junior wing said. “The second half we started dying down, they start hitting a lot of threes [and] we weren’t getting back on defense. They was getting a lot of open threes, so as me being a leader being out there with them, I definitely have to set the tone and let them know we have to get back on every possession. We can’t give up open threes.
“It just seemed like the counselors wanted it more than we did and they definitely had more energy on the defensive end of the floor and they shouldn’t.”
It’s not as though the current roster expected to roll the veterans. McAdoo, in particular, understands that these pickup games represent the starting point of his team’s growth.
“It was different, because last year we had four guys that were going to play in the NBA on our team, so we’re still just trying to find ourselves right now,” he said. “We’re just trying to learn and come together as a team.”
That willingness to learn is what makes these summer contests so valuable.
“When the pro players come back, they’re competing,” Bullock said. “They’re trying to kill us just like we’re trying to kill them. I learn so much from the players. Every time I’m on the court I want to guard the best player. Guard point guards like Raymond Felton, guard Shammond [Williams], whoever is out there. Rey Terry, even though he’s in the post, he’s a lot bigger and stronger than I am, just being able to compete against those guys...
"I know I won’t see those type of players in the ACC, so if I can actually stay in front of them and learn certain moves they do it’ll help me a lot on my game.”
As for the early preseason polls that are already a month old, they carry no value for this young group. After all, the freshmen will not arrive on campus until next week and it may be August before Dexter Strickland is fully cleared to play.
“I think it’s kind of early right now to start thinking about expectations,” McAdoo said. “I feel like once we get the freshmen here, we’ll get a whole lot better feel for the team. And then once we start getting workouts in and practicing, I feel like that’s when we’ll really be able to gauge how good we can be.”
That doesn’t make the pick-up game defeat any more tolerable.
“Yeah, they got us,” McAdoo said. “We’re looking forward to hopefully redeeming ourselves.”
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