Dexter Strickland

UNC’s Dexter Strickland takes shot at NC State

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Circle these dates on the calendar: Jan. 26 and Feb. 23.

If in-state rivals, North Carolina and North Carolina State needed any more motivation going into these two clashes this season, UNC senior guard Dexter Strickland provided it. On Friday, following practice, Strickland told Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports that he didn’t think too highly of the Wolfpack:

“They talk those guys up every single year and we beat them every single year. They are the least of our worries. Beat us one year and then they can talk smack. Until then, you can’t put them in the mix.”

The only problem with Strickland’s comments – who is still coming back from a torn ACL – is that N.C. State is already in the mix. On Monday, the ACC coaches picked Mark Gottfired and N.C. State as the preseason favorites. Duke was picked to finished second, followed by UNC.

However, Strickland does have a point here. This is the same N.C. State team that made it to the Sweet Sixteen, but only finished 9-7 in the ACC this season.

The 6-foot-3 shooting guard is perfect against Wolfpack in his career at Chapel Hill, but this season Strickland lacks the resources he has had in the past. North Carolina has to make up for the production of Kendall Marshall, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and Harrison Barnes.

Roy Williams is going to need to rely on the potential that James Michael McAdoo showed a season ago, as well as depending on freshman Marcus Paige to run the show offensively.

Strickland also told Goodman that he will still be a defensive stopper on the perimeter, but he thinks he will look to score more this season:

“I feel like my role this year is going to be different. I want to get back to having the mentality I had back in high school, getting the the basket and creating for others. I’m still going to lock down on the defensive end, but I’ve been looked at as just a defender. They’re going to see a different player, someone who will attack the rim and score more.”

For the first time in decades, rivals North Carolina, Duke, and N.C. State are all expected to be contenders at the same time and Strickland has only added fuel to the fire.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Dexter Strickland cleared to play for UNC after tearing ACL seven months ago

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North Carolina guard Dexter Strickland has been cleared to play for the Tar Heels, seven months after tearing his ACL in a game against Virginia Tech.

Strickland, a 6-3 guard, shared the news Monday night via his Twitter account.

The New Jersey native played in 19 games last season before tearing his ACL in January, which required surgery and kept him out for the remainder of the team’s season and run to Elite Eight.

Before the injury, Strickland was averaging 7.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game.

Coming into this season, Strickland will be important to help replace point guard Kendall Marshall, who declared for the NBA draft and was selected by the Phoenix Suns.

The Tar Heels welcome freshman guard Marcus Paige in 2012-13, giving Strickland some competition for the majority of the point guard duties.

Paige is a top-25 prospect in the Class of 2012 and a native of Iowa.

Strickland was the team’s best perimeter defender last season, making it key that he has healed properly and can stay healthy for the Tar Heels. Coach Roy Williams and UNC are looking to compensate for the loss of Marshall and three other starters to the NBA.

Four freshmen, including Paige, are joining the team from the Class of 2012.

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