Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Ty Lawson all learned this summer what they need to do to get to the NBA.
They explored their NBA draft possibilities by attending pre-draft workouts in Orlando, Fla., and working out for individual teams as underclassmen. Then they returned to North Carolina, joining Tyler Hansbrough to make the Tar Heels the overwhelming favorite to win the NCAA title.
One of the few apparent obstacles for North Carolina could be what Ellington, Green and Lawson learned over the summer. If their personal goals for improvement don't match coach Roy Williams' plans for the team, there could be friction.
Ellington said that isn't going to be a problem.
"I don't think so at all," he said Monday, when selected North Carolina players met with reporters. "I don't think so one bit. We're the type of team that really only has one goal, and that's to win."
A guard who will be a junior next season, Ellington said his personal improvement objectives should make the team better. He said he learned that he needs to get stronger and improve as a defender. He said he is fine offensively, although getting stronger might help him get to the basket - and the free-throw line.
Green, who will be a senior forward, said improving his lateral quickness is one of his goals. He said he was told gaining strength, speed and another year of experience could help him become a first-round pick.
He said the team still comes first and is willing to accept a role coming off the bench again, if necessary. Green also said there are no lingering hard feelings within the team over his somewhat unexpected decision to explore the draft.
"There were some misunderstandings, some things that were put in the paper that I think the media might have blown out of proportion a little bit," Green said. "I talked to Coach about that. We all had a sit down and everything was fine."
Lawson isn't enrolled in summer school and was out of town Monday. But other players addressed the potential dangers of entering the season as such a heavy favorite.
Although the players are talking about getting to Detroit for the Final Four, Hansbrough said they learned last season how to value each step along the way. They finished atop the ACC and won the conference tournament and the East Regional before falling to Kansas in the national semifinals.
Guard Marcus Ginyard acknowledged players will feel pressure to win the NCAA title, but said North Carolina teams usually face high expectations.
"There's going to be a lot of pressure and a lot of talk about us winning the whole thing," Ellington said. "But we're just going to have to enjoy it." -- KEN TYSIAC
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Posted by Observer Sports at 12:35 AM