UNC opponent preview: Gardner-Webb

As we count down to the first day of basketball practice (Oct. 12), let’s take a daily look at an opponent on North Carolina’s basketball schedule….

Opponent: Gardner-Webb

Date: Nov. 9, tipoff TBA

Game location: Smith Center, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Series results: UNC leads 3-0; last beat the Runnin’ Bulldogs 93-72 on Nov. 23, 2009.

Last season: Gardner-Webb finished 12-20 overall; 6-12 in the Big South

Foe to know: Tashan Newsome, 6-feet-3 G, redshirt senior

Not only did Newsome lead the Runnin’ Bulldogs with 12.3 points and 7 rebounds per game last season, he buried five game-winning baskets, including four in conference play. That’s a boon for a team that has lost a bunch of close ones over the last two years, and is looking to build its wins total by returning five players with starting experience in 2012-13.

Potential storyline(s) to watch: This will mark UNC’s regular season opener, so expect all eyes to be on the Tar Heels’ freshmen quartet. Will Marcus Paige beat out senior Dexter Strickland for the starting point guard slot? With last year’s starting frontcourt now playing in the NBA, will Joel James join sophomore James Michael McAdoo on the block in the opening five? And where -- and how much -- will new wing J.P. Tokoto and new forward Brice Johnson fit in?

Also, this will be the first time fans get to see redshirt sophomore Luke Davis, who sat out last season as per NCAA transfer rules, compete in a regular-season game. With Strickland coming off knee surgery and Paige beginning his first college season, the Tar Heels may need some minutes from Davis at point guard this season.

And by the way, Davis transferred from Gardner-Webb.

Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.