The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday January 25th

Point Gaurds Audition for Leading Role in UNC Lineup

It was the one question everyone had about North Carolina men's basketball. It was also the one question UNC coach Matt Doherty would not answer.

Who's your starting point guard?

Doherty finally showed the world Friday night, when he sent freshman Adam Boone out for the opening tip against Winthrop in the first game of the NABC Classic.

However, the answer was not a definitive one. Boone also started against Tulsa, but Brian Morrison and Jonathan Holmes got significant playing time in each game.

"All three of us have done really well," Holmes said after UNC's 91-81 victory against Tulsa. "I think Adam and Brian and myself all bring a different flair to the game. All three of us have different strengths, and I think that hurts teams."

Morrison inflicted the most pain on Winthrop, coming off the bench for 14 points to tie for the team lead in scoring in his first college game. He connected on 3-of-4 3-point attempts and committed one turnover in 19 minutes, 26 seconds of court time.

He also excited the crowd, pushing the tempo constantly and driving the lane whenever he could. Morrison even got himself loose in the second half for a dunk attempt, which he missed.

"It felt really good," Morrison said of his first game. "It was really exciting."

Morrison was perhaps too excited against the Golden Hurricane on Saturday. Doherty pulled him just 2:15 into his second-half stint after Morrison took two bad shots.

After playing 5:35 the night before, Holmes got the call and responded. He received two long stints of playing time - one in each half - and took advantage with career-high totals in points (nine) and assists (five). He scored just seven points all of last season.

Holmes scored all of his points Saturday in the second half, hitting a

3-pointer and going 6-for-7 from the foul line after entering the game for Morrison with 11:57 remaining. He was on the floor until the game's final minute, finishing the game with 19:43 of floor time.

"Once you get into the flow of the game, you're that much better," Holmes said. "Because you're in the flow of the game, you're running up and down, you're getting your muscles loose, it just makes you get better accustomed to what's going on in the game. I think definitely that longer stints help out."

Boone starred in neither game, but he gave the solid, steady effort the Tar Heels know him for in practice. He had some jump shots rattle out on him and failed to score during the weekend.

But Boone did give UNC six assists against three turnovers in 30:51 of total playing time.

"I'd say I did a good job out there in terms of adjusting and getting the ball inside," Boone said after UNC's 66-61 win against Winthrop. "I don't really worry so much about whether I knock shots down. They were good looks, and a couple of them felt good, but they went down and came back."

With all three players proving that they can run the UNC offense, the point guard rotation will probably continue. Doherty said he likes to have as much continuity as possible, so he won't remove Boone from the starting lineup unless one of the other two guys moves decidedly ahead of him.

Thus far, Doherty has tried to give each player five minutes in the first half and then give the last five minutes of the half to the one who has played the best. That man was Morrison on Friday and Holmes on Saturday.

The debate will continue as to whether UNC needs to go ahead and decide on one main point guard to run the team. But the Tar Heels, at least right now, think they can succeed with their present arrangement of point guard by committee.

"I feel you can," senior center Brendan Haywood said. "A couple of years ago, my freshman year, we almost went by committee with the starters. We had the starting six instead of the starting five.

"So, as long as it's working for you, keep going with it."

That's Doherty's idea. The player with the hot hand early in the game could end up playing most of the second half if UNC gets on a roll.

"It's one of those old cliches that we all get tired of hearing," Doherty said. "It's not who starts, but who finishes."

The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.



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