Roy Williams

Who will develop as a post presence for UNC next season?


Kansas’ Jeff Withey had his way with the North Carolina front line in a dominating second half that helped the Jayhawks to a 70-58 win Sunday to advance to the Sweet 16. He had 16 points, 16 rebounds, and five blocks and looked like a player at times with little to no resistance against him at the rim.

While it is true that North Carolina had changed to a smaller and more versatile lineup part of the way through this season, its inability to do much of anything against Withey in that second half highlights a problem: what will the Tar Heels do about an interior presence next season?

James Michael McAdoo is projected to be a first round pick in the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft, ready or not as he may be for that stage. Draft Express currently has him as the No. 19 overall pick. He certainly did not play like a first round selection Sunday, going 5-of-19 from the field for 11 points and being unable to keep up with the physicality of Withey down low. So who remains?

Sophomore-to-be Brice Johnson will be the returner who logged the most minutes this season, having averaged 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in just over 10 minutes per game. He is still wiry and will have to continue to add significant muscle, but is beginning to come along offensively from where he was at the start of the season.

He’ll be joined by his fellow sophomore in the front court, Joel James. James is the opposite of Johnson, a beefy space-eater in the post who averaged 2.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in close to ten minutes per game. He will need to develop along with Desmond Hubert, who should be returning.

The incoming recruiting class has a pair of post players in 6-8 forward Isaiah Hicks and 6-9, 275-pound Kennedy Meeks. Hicks is the best of that duo, having won North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year this season. But will he or any of the others be able to make an instant impact?

North Carolina’s success often goes along with an interior presence. Among them are Tyler Zeller, Sean May, and Tyler Hansbrough. We’ll be keeping an eye on how Marcus Paige continues to progress at the point guard position and how freshman Nate Britt can be brought into the fold at that spot as well, but don’t forget about the void on the interior.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.