McAdoo met his head coach’s challenge in the season opener on Friday, scoring 26 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Williams described Bullock’s initial effort, however, as unselfish to a fault. The junior wing attempted just four shots against Gardner-Webb, scoring five points to go along with nine rebounds and three assists.
On Sunday, McAdoo continued his strong play (19 points, 11 rebounds) while Bullock asserted himself early, scoring 10 points in the opening six minutes of play and finishing with 16 points, four assists and three rebounds.
For a team clearly seeking its identity offensively, the veterans – one a junior, the other only a sophomore – provided consistent scoring against the Owls to offset the shooting struggles of their teammates. Bullock and McAdoo combined to shoot 58.3 percent (14-of-24), while the rest of the team combined to shoot 36.2 percent (17-of-47).
“I don’t think there’s any question that they’ve played more minutes and accomplished more things than anybody else, so it’s not completely new to them,” Williams told reporters following the game. “Nineteen and 11 for James Michael and he really didn’t even have a great day by any means, but I think he’s a youngster that’s going to get better and better also.... But Reggie, that was good today.”
The 10th-year UNC head coach expanded on Bullock’s improved production off the tip.
“He took the shots that were there,” Williams said. “The first one was penetration-and-pitch and he’s wide open from three. And then he got a steal and laid it up and made another three at the top of the key on the left side. All of those were within what we’re trying to do.”
Bullock acknowledged that he’s still growing into the role of a leader, both on and off the court.
“I’m the type of player that if I don’t feel comfortable shooting, I’m not going to shoot it,” Bullock said. “Today I just felt in rhythm on everything, starting on the defensive end, trying to get steals. And just trying to be that energy boost for my team so that they can follow and let me lead by example.”
McAdoo, despite not being a traditional post player in Williams’s system, has accepted his new role and delivered in both opportunities, averaging 22.5 points and 12.5 rebounds on the young season.
“It’s definitely been a confidence booster,” McAdoo said of his start to the season. “I had a good game on Friday and today I feel like I played pretty well, so it’s definitely letting me learn more about myself and what I’m capable of doing.”
Bullock’s scoring on the perimeter paired with McAdoo’s work on the interior – as well as the ability of both to be effective in transition – balances out the offense and allows their teammates to work into the flow without having to push too hard.
“I think it’s a perfect example of what we’re capable of doing, but more importantly, of what this team is capable of doing when we’re stepping up and helping lead the team,” McAdoo said.
Now the emphasis becomes replicating this type of effort night-in and night-out.
Follow IC on Twitter @InsideCarolina.
Like IC on Facebook InsideCarolina.