North Carolina coach Roy Williams didn’t have to think very long when asked to summarize his team’s season with one adjective.
Williams did pause for a few seconds before choosing, but only to finish swallowing a sip of a beverage rather than to think about syntax.
“For me, probably ‘frustrating,’” Williams said as he set down his cup in a news conference Tuesday.
With Ed Davis’ status in doubt for tonight’s game against Wake Forest, Williams soon could be even more discouraged by yet another problem.
Davis hurt his left ankle twice Saturday against Georgia Tech, spraining it in the first half and injuring it further after getting it taped up at halftime.
Williams said Davis’ movements have been “limited” in practice and that if his ankle’s condition doesn’t improve soon, he won’t see the court against the Demon Deacons.
“If Ed ends up limited tomorrow, he probably won’t play at all,” Williams said. “I mean, just, why? We have a six-day break after that.”
UNC’s next game after Wake Forest doesn’t come until a date with N.C. State on Jan. 26.
Davis is averaging 14.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this season. He leads the Tar Heels in rebounding and trails only senior Deon Thompson in scoring.
If Davis indeed can’t go, his name will be added to a lengthy list of UNC players who have missed games due to injury.
Tyler Zeller (foot), Marcus Ginyard (foot, ankle), Justin Watts (ankle), Will Graves (ankle) and Dexter Strickland (hamstring) all have missed time this season for the Tar Heels.
Williams speculated that he would move Graves into Davis’ forward spot should Davis not play.
“I’m always ready to step in wherever,” Graves said. “It might be awkward for a couple of plays, but I can just about play any position by paying attention to what goes on in practice.”
If Graves does shift into Davis’ position, he will have his hands full trying to keep Wake Forest’s big men off of the glass. Demon Deacons forward Al-Farouq Aminu leads the ACC in rebounding with 11.6 rebounds per game, and center Chas McFarland grabs most of the ones Aminu cannot corral, registering almost eight boards per game himself.
In addition to the defensive challenge, the Tar Heels will also be fighting to avoid the slow starts which doomed them in losses to Clemson and Ga. Tech.
To prevent another flat showing in the first half, Graves said UNC will need a different sort of attitude from the game’s opening tip.
“We should be the aggressors,” Graves said. “We should take the second half of the Georgia Tech game and just try to do that for 40 minutes instead of 20.”
The lowdown on tonight’s game
Point guard Larry Drew II struggled against Ga. Tech, and Will Graves may have to move into the post if Ed Davis can’t play. Wake Forest’s Ish Smith, meanwhile, should exploit UNC’s perimeter defense. Edge: WF
If Davis doesn’t go, and even if he ends up playing hurt, UNC will have a tough time containing Wake Forest’s Al-Farouq Aminu. Aminu is the ACC’s top rebounder and fifth-leading scorer. Edge: WF
Twelve UNC players get regular minutes for Roy Williams, and Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald both have shown the ability to score quickly. WFU is deep, but UNC’s bench should contribute more. Edge: UNC
UNC hasn’t lost three games in a row since 2003, and the Tar Heels will have a raucous home crowd behind them as long as they don’t get too far behind early. And after two poor starts, don’t expect a third. Edge: UNC
The Bottom Line — Wake Forest 80, North Carolina 79
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