Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is Heels' Watts ready to Jump Around?

CHAPEL HILL — For the North Carolina seniors, part of grooming freshman for the basketball season is helping them understand the plays, pushing them on defense, encouraging them to speed on the court.

But for Danny Green, there’s an extra responsibility: teaching someone to “Jump Around.”

Now that the swingman is in the starting line-up, he’s looking to pass the torch on his frenetic, hopping, twisting, grinning, pre-game routine in front of the bench that was born to the beat of the House of Pain song.

His leading candidate: Justin Watts, a 6-foot-4 guard from Durham.

“He’s a real happy-go-lucky kid who likes to get out there and dance, especially when we go out and stuff,’’ Green said Saturday. “ … He’s a dancer, so in my book, he’s close to earning that positio for sure. … Dancing all the time, he reminds me a little bit of me.”

Watts hasn’t quite earned the nod yet, partially because he injured his knee in Friday’s practice and was in a suit for Saturday’s exhibition game. When the song came on, the reserves were rather still as Green walked onto the court. Eventually, a few of the guys moved bobbed their heads and shimmied their upper bodies, but there was no true jumping around, Danny style.

“I missed it a little bit,’’ said Green, who will start only the second regular-season game of his career when the No. 1 Tar Heels play Penn this Saturday. “As soon as the music started, Coach looked at me, waiting to see what I was going to do. He knows I can’t dance on the floor, so hopefully someone will take over eventually.”

— Robbi Pickeral