CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall on Friday balked at the idea that he’s elevated his passing game en route to recording 14 or more assists on four different occasions this season. He credited his teammates, saying they have assisted him.
“I’d just say we’re hitting shots this year,’’ said the sophomore, who leads the nation with 10.6 assists per game. “It’s something that we struggled with last year; we’d get great looks, but the shots just weren’t falling. I think this year, as far as shooting the ball as a team, we’re shooting with a lot more confidence, and because of that, we’re hitting a lot more shots.”
Coach Roy Williams said during his weekly news conference that he’d still like Marshall, who’s averaging 5 points, connect on more of his shots, as well.
Marshall, who is shooting only 35.4 percent from the field, is working on it. The No. 5/6 Tar Heels (8-2) play Appalachian State (4-5) on Saturday.
“Naturally, I do look to pass the ball first, because I enjoy it -- it’s a big part of my game, and it’s something I take a lot of pride in,” Marshall said. “I’ve tried to concentrate on making the defense respect me, and I haven’t shot it the greatest percentage this year.
"It’s a little frustrating, because I feel like at the beginning of the season, I was shooting the ball tremendously. But at the end of the day, it matters what you do in the game. So I have to keep working at it, keep my confidence high, and the results will come out in the games.”
PUSHING MCADOO: Williams said he’d like to see more aggression out of freshman forward James Michael McAdoo.
In one of the last few games, according to Williams, "I turned around to the bench and said ‘If he doesn’t dunk the ball before this game is over, I’m going to run every one of you extra sprints. And I’m going to get him a lawn chair, and get him some lemonade, and let him sit there in the lawn chair and watch you guys run.' Because that’s such a sensitive kid, that would destroy him.
"And the next play, he dunked the next ball.”
Marshall, who was on the bench at the time, said the scariest part of Williams’ proclamation is that McAdoo didn’t know about it.
“He only told us on the bench, so there was no way of telling him [McAdoo],’’ Marshall said. “But thankfully, I think it was the next play, McAdoo went baseline, so that was kind of relieving.”
McAdoo is averaging 5.3 points and 3.7 rebounds off the bench thus far, numbers that both Williams and Marshall think will improve as the McDonald’s All-American grows more comfortable in his role.
“He’s going to be a big-time player for us, and he’s going to be a big factor in some games for us this year,’’ Williams said.
MCDONALD UPDATE: Williams said he’s waiting for junior Leslie McDonald to have another doctor’s appointment before he discusses what’s next with the junior guard. McDonald had offseason surgery to repair ligaments in his knee, and it remains up in the air whether he will try to return this season, or redshirt.
“He’s been released to shoot, he’s been released to do dummy offense,’’ Williams said. “And I think the next step, I think, the next step would be release to practice. But I just don’t know when that’s going to be, and when they release him to practice, then we’ll start talking.”
REACTION TO 18: Williams said he didn’t have much of a reaction to the ACC’s decision to expand the league schedule to 18 games, beginning next season.
“They don’t really care what coaches think, or anything,’’ he said. “Just make the rules, and we’ll play whoever they tell me to play."
Asked if he thought the expanded schedule was good for the league (which will add Syracuse and Pittsburgh in 2013-14), he responded: “I don’t know. By the time we start playing those, we may have 32 teams in the league. Who knows what the dickens is going to happen? I ain’t worried about that. … I’ve got to be worried about doubling down on the post, or stop fouling or get fouled more, but I’m not worried about that.”
Robbi Pickeral can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @bylinerp.