GoHeels Spotlight: Meet Nate Britt
by Stephen Thompson, GoHeels.com
CHAPEL HILL - Meet Nate Britt. He stands five feet eleven inches and weighs 165 pounds, but most importantly, he's North Carolina's new starting point guard. If you are wondering what happened to Marcus Paige, don't fret, he is also starting for the team. It's just that coach Roy Williams decided that two is better than one when it comes to point guards. Britt agrees.
"Playing with two point guards together has always been easier because we always have the same mindset," Britt said. "Two point guards being out there together at the same time, we have a better feel for the game than I think everyone else does. I think it's easier to kind of find each other in spots where we know we can do something with the ball or score."
Starting two point guards is nothing new to Williams. At times at Kansas, he even started three point guards at one time.
"I think Coach has a lot of trust in us two being out there together," Britt said. "I think he feels more comfortable with that because turnovers are one of his big things and as long as we keep down on the turnovers I think he likes that type of lineup."
Paige can relate to Britt in many ways. They both are lefthanded point guards and started their freshman years. Britt said that the similarities between the two has helped him become better and allowed the two guards to form a bond.
"He's been helping me from the summer," Britt said. "If he didn't go through what he went through last year he wouldn't have been able to help me as much as he did. He knows just about everything. He knows about how Coach wants us point guards to play. He's been teaching me the whole time and I think that's given me a great advantage heading into the season.
"We probably have the biggest bond on the team out of anybody else because we are two point guards, left handed. I think our knowledge of the game creates that bond between us and it [creates] chemistry."
The two guard lineup may be a starting lineup that Williams will use most of the season. The suspensions of P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald has allowed Britt to earn the starting spot and the chance to showcase his ability.
Britt was sidelined his senior year at Oak Hill Academy by a torn meniscus that kept him out for two months. Oak Hill Academy is a renowned prep school for producing top-tier talent. Former UNC players Jerry Stackhouse, Jeff McInnis and Ty Lawson played at Oak Hill, as did Carmelo Anthony, Josh Smith, Rajon Rando and Brandon Jennings. Britt's experience at Oak Hill allowed him an easy transition to the college level.
"I feel like the speed of the game wasn't very difficult," Britt said. "The strength of the guys is a whole lot different and how athletic they are. I've never played with bigs like [James Michael] McAdoo, Desmond [Hubert], Brice [Johnson], Kennedy [Meeks] - just their athleticism, strength and size - I've never played with bigs like them.
"I think I was prepared. We did a lot of work in the summer. Coach, Coach Rob [Steve Robinson] and all the coaching staff has been preparing me up for this game because they knew I would have the chance to play like I did tonight."
There are a few things that Britt will have to get used to. Towards the end of the game Williams motioned to Britt to check in and Britt didn't hustle, and he got an earful for it.
"He was just telling me to sprint to the check in table," Britt said. "He wants us to do everything with a sense of urgency.
"I think the biggest things for me to learn were the defensive principles. Just learning all the defensive principles and how I need to guard the ball, playing my man off the ball. We help a whole lot more than what I'm used to. I think those are the biggest adjustments I've had to make.
"When we did things in the summer I was real nervous, I thought it was a lot to take in. There are a lot of plays to remember, a lot of defensive sets. It hasn't been as hard as I thought."
Britt posted a modest stat line on Friday night in his debut: four points, one rebound, three assists, one steal, and three turnovers in 22 minutes. He is expected to start again on Friday November 15 against Holy Cross.