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Writer Q&A -- Our experts answer questions on the top five

North Carolina

Both on the court and off, how has Harrison Barnes changed from this time last year?

Robbi Pickeral: Off the court, the preseason AP All-American is looser — playing video games with teammates (something he never did growing up), joking with media, seeming more comfortable with the lofty expectations that surround him. On the court, the sophomore says he has added 15 pounds of strength and that his ballhandling is much smoother. Teammates have been impressed by how much better he’s gotten at taking contact, and they expect him to get to the free throw line more often. That should further frustrate defenders and pad the 15.7 points he averaged last season.

What potentially pivotal player are we not talking about enough?

Pickeral: Lost in the hype of UNC’s four Naismith nominees (Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Kendall Marshall) is another first-round NBA prospect: freshman James Michael McAdoo. The 6-foot-9 forward from Norfolk, Va., would start on most teams, but on this one he’ll be asked to serve a similar role to that of Marvin Williams in 2005 and Ed Davis in 2009: providing a big-time lift off the bench. Both of his predecessors won national titles those seasons before leaving early for the NBA. McAdoo — whose dad is second cousin to former Carolina star Bob McAdoo — has the same potential.

Filed under UNC Harrison Barnes James Michael McAdoo ESPN

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UNC jerseys get the hologram treatment

More than anything — the colors or the argyle design or the popularity inherent in the association with Michael Jordan — it’s because the UNC’s uniforms are classic. They don’t change, at least not in major ways. When they do, the die-hards tend to get upset.

You know the old saying: If it ain’t broke, don’t slap a hologram on it.

Filed under UNC jerseys ESPN

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Coaches survey: Best arenas, bucket lists

The toughest place I’ve ever coached: 

Roy Williams (North Carolina): Oklahoma State. “I’ll never forget the first time we played there. They had that Pistol Pete and he fired that gun. I’d about like to die.’’ 

The one arena I’ve never coached in but would like to: 

Mark Turgeon (Maryland): Dean E. Smith Center, North Carolina 

Roy Williams: WVU Coliseum, West Virginia 

Filed under UNC Roy Williams ESPN Dean Dome

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ESPN: Can you remember the last season when so many teams had the potential to be truly great?

Eamonn Brennan: It’s the sophomores. In the one-and-done era, we’ve come to expect every top freshman to leave school as soon as possible. This summer was a refreshing change from the norm. At least four potential top-five picks — Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones and Terrence Jones — all came back to play as sophomores. North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio State are likely to be the three best teams in the country, and Baylor is one of the most versatile and athletic teams in the country. The stars have aligned — both literally and figuratively — for a vintage season in 2011-12. I can’t wait.

(Source: ESPN)

Filed under UNC Harrison Barnes ESPN