It’s been a long time -- years really -- since an N.C. State basketball team has had the personnel to victimize North Carolina, but that should change Tuesday night in the RBC Center.
If Javi Gonzalez, Farnold Degand and Julius Mays can combine for just an above-average performance, State should have enough of a backcourt advantage to put the Tar Heels in a hole.
Carolina coach Roy Williams has had five days to make improvements since an 82-69 loss to Wake Forest on Jan. 20 in Chapel Hill.
It’s a lock Williams has used much of that time to upgrade his team’s defensive and rebounding intensity. There’s virtually no chance the Tar Heels will be as nonchalant against State as they were against the Deacons.
But there’s really not a lot Williams can do to turn his backcourt into a true force. With Larry Drew II, Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald, there’s sufficient quickness with which to work, but none of the three is enough of accomplished quarterback to provide the team with a consistently productive half-court offense.
That situation is complicated by the fact that Drew is a below-average on-ball defender. Strickland and McDonald, both freshmen in the 6-foot-4 range, have glaring limitations when guarding smaller opponents who have the ability to handle the ball in traffic.
Carolina’s guards are trying. It’s not like they’re mailing it in against ACC foes, but all three are so inexperienced that each possession seems to present a different dilemma.
They could -- should -- improve as the season progresses. But for now, the backcourt equation should add up to a plus for the Pack.