UNC has its perimeter arsenal in place for a team already aiming to break the school’s season scoring record.
If the Tar Heels are going to improve on their 79.4 points per game scoring average from a year ago and break the 91.3 mark set in ’86-’87, they’ll need more production from beyond the arc. Carolina connected on an average of 6.9 three-pointers per game last season, shooting 37.5 percent – which ranked fourth in the conference, but UNC will be without graduated senior David Noel and his 42.4 percent.
Roy Williams predicted by the end of this year Reyshawn Terry and Wes Miller will lead the team in three-pointers, with either Danny Green or freshman Wayne Ellington next on the list.
“Reyshawn shot the ball very well last year, and Wes can stretch the defense so much,” Williams said. “I thought Wes was the key to last year’s team creating more space for Tyler [Hansbrough], even late in the season they didn’t respect him too much. That was a mistake because he can shoot the dickens out of it.
“Wayne is a scorer, because he can put the ball on the floor and take it to the basket. He can pull up mid-range. When he gets it cocked and is ready to shoot it, I think its going in every time. He doesn’t have the range like Rashad [McCants] or Wes, but the three point line is well within his range,” Williams said.
No other player in the ACC improved his scoring total from the prior year more than Terry. After averaging just 2.3 points per game in ’04-’05, he improved his output to 14.3 points per game last season in what Terry called his “breakout season.”
Terry – a multi-dimensional scorer – nailed 45 of his 118 three-point attempts for a 38.1 percent rate, second only on the team to Miller (64-145, 44.1 pct.), a long-range shooting specialist.
When Terry began to show more confidence in his shot about midway through last season, the Tar Heels simultaneously rose from a pleasant surprise to a national contender.
“Once I started being consistent, it began to show with my team’s play,” Terry said. “I’m just feeding into more of what Coach Williams wants me to do, and it gives me confidence to know that my coach has confidence in me.”
Bobby Frasor was indispensable at the point last season, highlighted by the fourth best assist-to-turnover ratio (1.81) in the ACC. With less pressure to run the offense this season, he should improve on his 31 percent three-point shooting (27-for-87), which was far lower than expected after a prolific high school career. He’ll not only have Quentin Thomas to help shoulder the floor general load, but freshman Ty Lawson (40% 3pt as a high school senior) as well.
Sophomores Ginyard (10-41, 24.4) and Green (27-76, 35.5) also hope to have more opportunities to increase their three-point accuracy, while freshman forward William Graves arrives with the reputation as a long range marksman.
Williams is confident UNC’s outside shooting will improve across the board. He has the options, he’ll just have to determine who has the hot hand.
“Bobby will be a better shooter, and Danny will be a better shooter this year,” Williams said. “Marcus’ and Bobby’s percentages have to go up, and I think they will.
“Ty and Wayne are both good shooters, and William Graves is a good shooter.”
It will also be up to Lawson, Frasor and Thomas to find the open man on the perimeter when the inside options aren’t there. Frasor demonstrated that ability last year, Thomas showed marked improvement as the season progressed, while Lawson has already impressed in preseason practice.
“Ty is a playmaker,” Terry said. “He has eyes in the back of his head.”
With so many options and only five available spots on the floor at once, there will be plenty of motivation – if not urgency -- for each player to make baskets, or else Williams will put someone in who will.