Hoopsbag: North Carolina edition

The regular season is almost here (!), so the UNC Hoopsbag is back. ... In case you missed it in 2011-12: Each week, I’ll try to answer your queries, comments, raves and rants about North Carolina hoops. Send your interrogatives by visiting this page. You can also email me at bylinerp@gmail.com or contact me via Twitter at @bylinerp.

As Will Graves used to like to scream as the Tar Heels exited the locker room: Here ... we ... go ...:

Jeremy H. from Minneapolis: Do you think Roy continues to start [Desmond] Hubert and [Dexter] Strickland? I hope by the time ACC play starts we have a starting five of [Marcus] Paige, [P.J.] Hairston, [Reggie] Bullock, [James Michael] McAdoo, and [Joel] James. Dex would be a great sixth man and has the right kind of attitude to thrive in a role like that. Thoughts?

Pickeral: Based on his performance in the exhibition game against Shaw last Friday, I think Strickland continues to start at shooting guard, as long as he is healthy. He’s the only scholarship senior, coach Roy Williams likes to have a strong defender on the perimeter (and that will give him two, with Strickland and Bullock in the lineup), plus it gives the team another guy who can handle the ball on the floor.

That's a guess, of course, since Williams hasn't announced his starting lineup for Gardner-Webb. Another guess: James will start, too.

Roger from Raleigh, N.C.: Where did Stilman White end up going on his [Mormon] mission?

Pickeral: He's headed to Utah.

White – who started two games in the NCAA tournament last season, after point guard Kendall Marshall fractured his wrist – will leave Nov. 28 for the Utah Ogden Mission. He plans to return to UNC in two years.

I caught up with him a couple of weeks ago; click here the story.

Michael Lane from Raleigh, N.C.: … Do you really think NC State will actually win the conference this year?

Pickeral: Yep. With all the talent they have returning, I think the Wolfpack should win the ACC. The question is: with all the expectations, can the players keep all the hype from getting to their heads (and games)?

The Triangle teams – State, Duke, then UNC – held the top three slots on my preseason ballot, but watch out for the Florida teams. FSU’s Michael Snaer had my Preseason ACC Player of the Year vote, and that team showed last season (again and again and again) that it knows how to win in tight situations. And in Miami, big man Reggie Johnson has slimmed down, and has a whole lot of weapons around him.

It’s going to be an interesting season.

Steve N. from S.C.: Important question here, Robbi: If Leslie McDonald ends up in the starting line-up, who's the fave to take the reigns in the 'Jump Around' dance?

Pickeral: Steve, you're not the only one who has asked.

So when I asked McDonald that question last month, he laughed and said he just might have to hold tryouts. But if I were a betting gal, I'd go with J.P. Tokoto. Have you seen how high the freshman can leap on dunks? Plus, he's a wing like McDonald and the originator of the pre-tipoff ritual, Danny Green.

Of course, McDonald has to make the starting lineup, first. Strickland started at shooting guard in the exhibition game against Shaw.

April from NC: Since Roy Williams said Marcus Paige is going to start, I’ve been curious about how many other freshmen have started their first games at UNC?

Pickeral: Twenty-eight.

Here’s the list, courtesy of UNC’s media guide:

Phil Ford, 1974-75

Mike O’Koren, 1976-77

James Worthy, 1979-80

Michael Jordan, 1981-82

Kenny Smith, 1983-84

J.R. Reid, 1986-87

Pete Chilcutt, 1987-88

Rick Fox, 1987-88

Vince Carter, 1995-96

Antawn Jamilson, 1995-96

Ed Cota, 1996-97

Brendan Haywood, 1997-98

Jason Capel, 1998-99

Kris Lang, 1998-99

Joseph Forte, 1999-2000

Adam Boone, 2000-01

Jawad Williams, 2001-02

Raymond Felton, 2002-03

Sean May, 2002-03

Rashad McCants, 2002-03

Quentin Thomas, 2004-05

Bobby Frasor, 2005-06

Marcus Ginyard, 2005-06

Tyler Hansbrough, 2005-06

Wayne Ellington, 2006-07

Brandan Wright, 2006-07

Tyler Zeller, 2008-09

Harrison Barnes, 2010-11