Haase Recaps Bahamas Trip

The only negative of the trip was that Larry Drew II wasn't able to play.

"Overall, the trip was good," North Carolina assistant Jerod Haase said following the Tar Heels' two-game jaunt to the Bahamas. "It obviously wasn't mid-season form, but more than anything it gave guys a chance to get a feel for each other."

Including three freshmen that should all make a significant impact this season: Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall.

Two of them will make a huge difference in what was a major weakness a year ago: perimeter shooting.

"We definitely have more firepower on the perimeter," Haase admitted. "Harrison and Reggie can really shoot it and Larry can knock down shots – and Dexter has really improved his shot."

But more than anything, Tar Heels coach Roy Williams and his staff were hoping to see a different mindset than what they witnessed at times last year when North Carolina went to the NIT.

"We wanted to get everyone to play hard – and they did," Haase said.

Haase said that it was a tough matchup for long and talented sophomore John Henson, who played primarily at the power forward spot, because he didn't go up against a ton of size in the two games in the Bahamas.

"They don't have ACC size," Haase said. "But he was better in the second game because he got more time. He's just so unique and so long."

Haase also said that while it's not easily noticeable, Henson is much stronger and has bulked up since he arrived in Chapel Hill a year ago.

"He's not a big, thick power forward," he said. "But he's filled out a little bit and he won't get pushed around in the post as much."

Haase said that the games in the Bahamas were called tight and that had a major impact on playing time and rotations – since Drew and Alabama transfer Justin Knox (didn't make the trip) didn't play.

"We only had two post players, so there were a lot of times we had five perimeter guys on the floor," Haase said.

Marshall started both games at the point in place of Drew – who sat out with an ankle injury suffered in practice when the team arrived in the Bahamas. Marshall picked up three fouls in the first quarter of the first game and Strickland received extensive time at the point.

Haase said that Drew and Marshall will ultimately give the Tar Heels different looks.

"Larry's game is based a lot on speed and quickness," Haase said. "He can break down defenses and go 1-on-1. Kendall is an unbelievable passer who always finds the right guy at the right time."

"Kendall picks things up quickly and any weaknesses he has, he'll mask them," he added. "He's a tall point guard who won't have the quickness of Ty Lawson or even Larry, but he'll make up for it in different ways."

Believe it or not, it wasn't until the end of the conversation when Barnes was discussed.

"The thing with Harrison is that he's just really, really good," Haase said as he laughed. "I know that's generic, but it's true. He shot the ball well, he rebounds it, he makes the right plays and he defends. He's really good because he does everything well."

"He has a nose for the ball," he added. "I feel like a dumb coach saying it, but it's true. He's just really good."

Leadership was another issue last season when the team struggled – and one veteran who Haase said has made significant strides is senior Will Graves.

"I was very impressed with Will," Haase said. "He came off the bench as a senior and was great – even more so with the off-the-court things with the freshmen, talking to them about how to dress and the little things."

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