The Tarheels come into this season a preseason #1. They have a great team behind a successful coach, Roy Williams. Their players play hard and have plenty of skill. When one player slacks off, the other players manage to pick up the slack. They can work together and have learned to play their positions and fill in their roles on this Tarheels team very well. Here is a breakdown of the Tarheels by starters at each position:
Point Guard: Ty Lawson - Sophomore - Lawson is the starting point guard for a talented UNC team. He had a very successful year as a freshman in the 2006-07 season. Last season he averaged 5.6 assists per game and had a total of 213 for the entire season. He also had 10.2 points per game. Lawson protects the ball and turnovers the ball very rarely, as he lead the ACC in assist-turnover ratio last season (2.57 to 1). He had 16 straight games at the end of the season with more assists than turnovers. He improved dramatically from the beginning of the season to the end resulting in being voted the Most Improved Player on the Tarheels. Lawson is just 5'11, but he is remarkably fast with and without the ball. He is careful with the ball and he is willing to pass it to the open man, whom he is capable of finding. He has great dribbling skill also. On the downside, he isn't a very good shooter and needs some practice in tha aspect.
Shooting Guard (Two Guard): Wayne Ellington - Sophomore - Ellington has a smooth shot that helped him get to third on the team on average points per game (11.7) and lead the team with 66 three-pointers. In 33 of 38 games he made at least one shot from beyond the arch and in 22 of those games he made 2 or more. In an NBA perspective his shot comes out a too slow, but he should be able to adjust that. He is a good athlete and he is capable of playing point guard because of his skills dribbling the ball. He came through in the game against Davidson by scoring 20 points and leading UNC to a win in a game where Lawson and Hansbrough were struggling. He comes through when you need him as you can see from the key plays he made in the fourth quaarter against Davidson to avoid the upset. He fits into Williams' system much like McCants did. He is consistent with his jump shot and he is capable of playing above the rim. He is versatile and is an important part to this team.
Small Forward: Marcus Ginyard - Junior - Ginyard is arguably the best defensive player on the team. Last season he was voted Carolina's Defensive Player of the Year by the coaches and he stole the ball 39 times. He isn't a great scorer, but he is constantly working to imporve that. He is versatile and well rounded therefore he can play in more than one position on the perimeter. He did very well last year at gathering offensive rebounds. Last season he acquired 54 offensive rebounds. He is a leader for the team and he is very popular with his teammates. He is strong and athletic. He plays hard the whole game and that is one reason why he is so well liked by his teammates and coaches.
Power Forward: Deon Thompson - Sophomore - Thompson is replacing the highly skilled Brandon Wright, who left to enter the NBA draft. Thompson is 6'8 and has a good amount of offensive skills. He hasn't played basketball for a long time, so he has a ton of potential. He needs to work on his defense in order to become a more highly touted aspect of this team. He played in the Under 19 World Championship where he averaged 10 points per game and 6 rebounds per game. He is a great offensive rebounds, having made 11 of his last 16 rebounds off the offensive glass. He was effective off the bench lasy year and everyone is hoping that he can stay effective with additional minutes, which he did against Arizona when Barndon Wright was sick. He scored 14 points and 6 rebounds.
Center: Tyler Hansbrough - Junior - Hansbrough is expected by many to lead this team to the Final Four and for him to win National Player of the Year. At this pace he is going to become the all-time leading scorer at UNC and near the top among rebounders. He has an incredible work ethic hence his nickname, "Psycho T". He has great heart and self-motivation Roy Williams has called him the most focused player he has ever coached. Some experts have said that Hansbrough is too small at 6'9 for the NBA, but with the way he works he will most likely find a way to overcome that. He is the oldest, most experienced, and most skilled starter on this team. He is consistently at the free throw line. He has made more free throws than field goals in his career. He averages getting to the free throw line and makes 73%. So far Hansbrough has amassed 1,268 points in his career, becoming the 59th Tarheel to accomplish this. He is a repeat as first-team All-American, only the 14th ACC player in history to do that. He isn't very quick or athletic, lacking a great leaping ability. With his work ethic he should be able to improve these things. He is great at keeping position and he doesn't shy away from contact. He doesn't have good range and needs to improve that part of his game.