PPP: Dexter Strickland
While the media mostly focuses on the returning frontcourt and the seemingly all-seeing Marshall (and rightfully so), Strickland does quite a few things well that don’t necessarily show up in the stat sheet, and that’s why he’s expected to start again this year as the glue guy on a roster full of big names. Dex has stated that he wants to showcase more of his scoring ability, something that he hasn’t been able to do as a backup PG since LDII’s departure, but he’s mostly being pegged as the team’s defensive stopper.
Sam: There’s three things I want to see from Dex this year: hassling opponents all over the floor with his quickness and creating steals, running the floor like the one-man fast break that he is, and not taking any 3-pointers. Strickland probably is the best on-ball defender that UNC has, but I think it’s unfair to slap that label on him. His speed is a great asset and helps him lock down on defense. It also allows him to sprint down the court for easy layups, sometimes even resulting from steals he created himself. I think they play I saw a couple of times last year that embodies his game is when UNC is in it’s half-court D, and Dexter gets out in the passing lane quick enough to deflect the ball back towards to the top of the key, where it was usually scooped up by Marshall who then lobbed it forward for Dex to outrun everyone to and score the easy 2. Still, every time he launches a three, I shudder.
Benn: Jackie Manuel had the gasp and Dex has the shudder. Surprising stat from last year: even with his nagging D, Dex did not register one block over the course of the season. Anyway, Dex showed what he was capable of on the offensive side of the ball, leading the team in scoring several times last season. The man is not afraid to put the ball on the floor and take it to the rack. Miles Plumlee can attest to that….
But even with his proven offensive propensity it is hard to see Dexter finding a place in the offense without a proven jump shot. Let’s just hope he doesn’t take that want to showcase his scoring ability too far and start making stupid decisions.