Dexter Strickland’s loss won’t sink Heels if offense kicks in

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source: APNorth Carolina’s had better weeks.

Five days after the Heels’ 33-point loss to Florida State, they handled Virginia Tech but lost starting guard Dexter Strickland for the season when he tore the ACL in his right knee.

Yes, it’s a biggie. Ask any Tar Heel fan.

The 6-3 junior is UNC’s best perimeter defender, one of its primary ball-handlers and the security blanket in case anything happened to point guard Kendall Marshall. (Doubly so given that guard Leslie McDonald tore his ACL during the summer.)

Strickland isn’t a stat-stuffer, but he’s one of Roy Williams’ ideal players – he allows the offensive-minded players in the offense to thrive. When Williams has a guy who can disrupt an opponent’s best player (David Noel in 2005), his team really thrive.

(deep breath)

But this isn’t the end of UNC’s title hopes. In fact, it may just be a hiccup.

Strickland’s role is easy to describe, but harder to pinpoint exactly how much he impacts UNC’s play. Yes, he plays great defense. Ask any Tar Heel onlooker. But his defense isn’t good enough to where UNC will collapse without him. When the 2009 team won a title, it did so without a lockdown defender (Marcus Ginyard was supposed to be that guy but was hurt). If this team reaches the Final Four or even win it all, it can do so without Strickland.

Consider: Strickland used just 14.2 percent of the team’s possessions and took 13.1 percent of its shots while playing 60.7 percent of available minutes. He didn’t impact the offense at all. (Marshall has similar usage and shot percentages, but his assist numbers dwarf Strickland’s, meaning his offensive role is clear.)

If Strickland’s not in, it gives guys like Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston more playing time, both of whom score more efficiently and are larger parts of the offense, even with coming off the bench. This post from Tar Heel Fan lists each player’s season impact rating (go with it; he’s done the work) and shows Strickland to be less consistent and have less impact than Bullock this far. And with guys like John Henson and Tyler Zeller in the frontcourt, the Heels’ post defense remains its strength.

This isn’t to suggest losing Strickland is a good thing.

Anyone that focuses on defense and ensuring the other guys play well is hardly worthless. His absence means the Heels’ perimeter defense could fall off and Marshall no longer has someone who can automatically take the quickest guard.

But if Strickland was hindering the offense, it’ll be interesting to see how UNC responds. Remember, he’s a non-factor who only attempted one 3-pointer all season and basically only scored in transition. Bullock and Hairston are guys who can stretch a defense and score in transition. Despite the talent, this isn’t one of Williams’ best offensive teams. In fact, it still needs plenty of work.

If UNC wants to make that run at a title, I’d suggest kicking the offense into high gear and seeing if everyone else can keep up (this does not mean Harrison Barnes should just start chucking shot after shot, though). At this point, what else can you do?

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Bill Self unsure of how long he will continue to coach

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Kansas head coach Bill Self is one of the most decorated college basketball coaches of all time.

Recently inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this month, Self has won a record 13 consecutive Big 12 regular-season championships while also claiming a national title for the Jayhawks during his storied career.

But while most legendary coaches in contemporary college basketball have stayed around to coach well into their late 60s or early 70s, the 54-year-old Self doesn’t necessarily see his career playing out that way.

Speaking with ESPN.com reporter Myron Medcalf on Wednesday, Self acknowledged that he’s thinking about potentially retiring once his next contract ends after the 2021-22 season. With five more years left on his current deal, that would mean that Self would be retiring before he would even turn 60.

“I’ve said all along that if I could go to my late 50s, that’d be good for me,” Self said to Medcalf. “Now that I’m getting close to my late 50s, I’m like, ‘Well…’ but my contract runs until I’m 59, so I’ve got five more years left. I definitely want to do that. Then whatever happens after that I’d be happy with whatever. But I don’t want to [coach too late].”

While Hall of Fame coaches like Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (72 years old), Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (70 years old) and North Carolina’s Roy Williams (67 years old) are showing no signs of slowing down, Self acknowledged to Medcalf that coach, and specifically recruiting, has started to take its toll on him.

“With recruiting the way that it is, it just wears you down,” Self said to Medcalf.

With Kansas pursuing so many potential one-and-done prospects over the past few seasons, it means that Self usually has to recruit sizable recruiting classes

Self is certainly entitled to do what he wants with his career and his life but it would be a shame to see one of the game’s greats hang it up at that point in his career. Potentially retiring at that age means that Self won’t chase 1,000 wins or any additional longevity records

Ohio State lands second pledge in two days with 2018 guard Duane Washington

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Ohio State stayed hot on the recruiting trail on Wednesday as the Buckeyes landed a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Duane Washington.

The 6-foot-3 Washington is the second commitment for Ohio State and new head coach Chris Holtmann in the last two days after four-star forward Jaedon LeDee pledged to the Buckeyes on Tuesday.

One of the better shooters in the Class of 2018, Washington averaged 14.9 points per game on tremendous shooting splits (48% FG, 87% FT, 45% 3PT) playing with The Family in the Nike EYBL this spring. A Michigan native who now resides in California, Washington gives Ohio State a much-needed guard commitment in the Class of 2018.

With the Buckeyes needing to fill a lot of scholarships due to roster turnover, Washington is a solid start to their perimeter class. While Washington isn’t likely to play point guard, he can play multiple perimeter spots and should be a solid addition to the Buckeye rotation.

Syracuse walk-on accused of sexual assault

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Dominick Parker, an 18-year old freshman who was added to the Syracuse roster as a walk-on just 12 days ago, was arrested last Friday and charged with sexual abuse in the first degree, reports Syracuse.com.

Parker is accused of having sexual contact with an 18-year old female student while she was incapable of giving consent. His name and picture have been removed from the Syracuse athletics website.

“Sexual and relationship violence is not tolerated at Syracuse University,” the school said in a statement. “We are now doing all that we can to support and provide assistance to those affected by the alleged incident. As this is an ongoing investigation, Syracuse University will not be providing further comment.”

Wichita State to sell beer at Koch Arena

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As if it wasn’t already hard enough to win games at Koch Arena.

Starting this season, Wichita State fans will be able to buy beer during games at their home arena, a fact that should ensure that the raucous home environs that have made the Shockers so difficult to beat in Wichita remains the same.

That’s not a bad thing to add to a home court advantage while making the move into a new conference, the American, for the 2017-18 season.

Once a rarity, beer at college sporting events in a growing trend. Minnesota, Florida and Texas, among a number of others have added alcohol sales in recent years. Given the money that would seem likely to be generated, it’s a trend that will probably become even more pervasive in college athletics.

Let’s just make sure that everyone partakes in moderation.

Blue Ribbon release college basketball preseason top 25, all-american teams

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Blue Ribbon, the college basketball bible, has released their top 25 and preseason all-american awards, the first publication to do so as far as I know.

Their top five — Arizona, Michigan State, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky — contains the same teams as my top five will, only in a different order. The only crazy ranking that I see in their top 25 comes with Miami checking in at No. 16. I have a feeling they are going to end up regretting that by the end of the season.

What is somewhat crazy, however, is Blue Ribbon’s all-american teams.

Bonzie Colson is their Preseason National Player of the Year. That’s not my pick, but it’s justifiable. But having Miles Bridges as a second-team preseason all-american? Angel Delgado as a fourth-team preseason all-american? I disagree with both of those picks.

But that will all play out during the season.

And, frankly, I haven’t exactly had the best track record predicting all-americans in recent years, not after I opted to rate Skal Labissiere as a first-team preseason all-american over Buddy Hield.

That was a miss.

It happens to the best of us.

But I feel pretty comfortable saying that Miles Bridges as a second-team preseason all-american will end up being a miss.