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l e t t e r f r o m t h e e d i t o r Dear Carolina Fan, Hello and welcome to college basketball season! Let me start by thanking you for purchasing Maple Street Press Tar Heel Tip-Off 2011–12. This is our fifth edition of the Tip-Off and, like always, we strive to provide fresh information and thoughtful analysis about the Heels from cover-to-cover. Many of the statistics (and accompanied analyses) found within are only available in this publication. We re-watch and hand-chart every Carolina game to meticulously accumulate the data used in the magazine. It’s a labor of love, and we hope you have as much fun studying our numbers as we did collecting them. After a couple years of (ever-so-slightly) lowered preseason expectations, this version of Carolina basketball is squarely back to its 2008–09 position as October favorites. Like then, when the return of Lawson/Ellington/ Green/Hansbrough made UNC the team to beat, the current Heels welcome back Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and Tyler Zeller—all of whom delayed NBA millions for another crack at a national championship. Those three, along with sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall, give Carolina four of the best players in the ACC, and make the Heels the clear-cut favorites to win a second consecutive regular-season title. And, with the Final Four back in New Orleans (home of the 1982 and 1993 championships; see Nolan Hayes’s story for some Big Easy memories), there’s plenty of reason for optimism. No matter how loaded a roster, there’s no such thing as a guaranteed championship. Luck and March match-ups will always play a huge role, and teams like Kentucky, UConn, and Ohio State join Carolina as teams with lottery talent and high expectations. So, like always, don’t forget to enjoy the ride. Teams like this one don’t come around all the time, even at a program as storied as North Carolina. Enjoy every Barnes three-pointer, Strickland transition dunk, Henson rejection, Marshall assist, and Zeller jump hook. Enjoy watching highly touted freshmen James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston make their collegiate debuts. Enjoy cheering on Blue Steel as they take the court in pursuit of biscuits. The destination is New Orleans, but the journey should be pretty spectacular, too. Tip-Off is written with the diehard Carolina fan in mind. If you’re reading this letter, you probably fall into that category. I invite you to contact me on Twitter @FreeportKid with any feedback on the publication, or with any ideas about future content. Enjoy the season, go Heels, and let’s cut down some nets! Best Regards, Adrian Atkinson October 2011 POINTING TO THE PASSERS (ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS) I would like to personally thank a handful of people who helped make this publication possible: my wife Katya for her unconditional love, support, and understanding—thanks for all you do to allow me to pursue my hobby; Jim Walsh for providing me with this opportunity; the authors, who did a great job of writing pieces that were consistent with the vision of MSP Tar Heel Tip-Off; everyone who worked so hard to layout, design, and produce this book—especially Bryan Davidson, Jon Franke, Ryan Bray, and Jeff Powalisz; my parents and sister for a lifetime of love, guidance, encouragement, and wisdom; this edition’s for my daughter Allison—you’re the Michael Jordan of toddlers (sorry I couldn’t work in more panda bear content).

2011-12 North Carolina Basketball Preview

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