The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday February 28th

Tar Heels shorthanded leading up to ACC opener

Ginyard out, Graves, McDonald questionable

Roy Williams will finally get out of his shoulder sling for North Carolina's ACC opener against Virginia Tech. His team is heading in the opposite direction. 

No. 9 North Carolina could be into its fourth option for a starter at the No. 3 spot Sunday.

Marcus Ginyard is still out with a right ankle sprain suffered Dec. 26. Will Graves is questionable after missing UNC's loss at College of Charleston with a right ankle sprain. Leslie McDonald, who Roy Williams said would start if healthy, is also questionable with a right ankle sprain.

"If we played today, they would not play," Williams said during his news conference Friday. "The extra day may give them more time."

The injuries could spell trouble for a team struggling with depth on the perimeter, especially Sunday night against the ACC's leading scorer, Hokies guard Malcolm Delaney (19.8 ppg).

The Tar Heels struggled to defend College of Charleston's quicker guards and were even forced to a smaller lineup with Larry Drew II, Dexter Strickland and McDonald in hopes of defending the Cougars. Nothing stopped Andrew Goudelock, who finished with 24 points and a three-pointer to send the game into overtime.

Williams said he hoped the game served as a wake-up call to his highly-touted freshman class — one that's struggled to get up to speed with the college game.

"How many of y'all had heard of Goudelock?" Williams said he asked his freshmen. "No one. And he just beat your butts up and down the court."

That loss, as well as UNC's three other losses this season, have served as a shot to the team's confidence.

"Their confidence level isn't where we'd like," Williams said. "But they're really cocky as well.

"You can tell them all you want but they have to experience it."

Williams was also critical of his coaching Monday night, and said he needed to adjust a few things for this team.

"I assume that when we're down three that you're not going to go to the basket," He said, citing Strickland's drive down three with four seconds remaining Monday night. "I've got to tell them that more."

But Deon Thompson said that the team itself has to take responsibility, and that the recent losses make the team more eager to listen.

"Coach is getting through to them," Thompson said. "We're losing games and there's a reason. It's not coach's fault, it's our fault.

"Our confidence is still high, we still know we have all the pieces to be a great team."

The John Henson enigma

UNC's uber-talented freshman small forward came to UNC with a ready-made resume: No. 3 on ESPNU's top 100 high school prospects, a 6-foot-10 frame, shot blocking capability, and an impressive wingspan coupled with an outside shooting touch.

But only the shot blocking talent has manifested itself so far at UNC, as Henson's skinny frame (he weighs in at 195 lbs.) and lack of post strength has limited him, and he's struggled to earn minutes. 

So far this season, Henson averages 3.6 points per game in just 11.7 minutes. His free throw shooting is only 50 percent and he averages just 2.6 rebounds per game.

But there have been flashes of his tremendous talent. Henson is second on UNC's roster in blocked shots with 20. In transition and in week side defense he can be devastating at times.

The problem, according to Thompson, is Henson's struggle to shift from a power forward who could play outside to a small forward who has to do a bit of everything.

"He hasn't really found his niche," Thompson said. "You've seen the flashes of what he can be." 

And as the Tar Heel roster continues to try and cope with injuries, Henson may find the spotlight — and extended minutes — for at least limited time as ACC play opens.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.


Black History Month Edition

Special Print Edition

Games & Horoscopes

Print Edition Games Archive