Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November unkind to Heels so far

This is supposed to be UNC's year, another national title in basketball, the second in five years. It certainly hasn't started that way.

First, it was Marcus Ginyard, then Tyler Hansbrough and likely Tyler Zeller (44 at right) on Tuesday. All three injured, or in Zeller's case, probably injured and due to miss significant time.

UNC's so good, as Tuesday's dismissal of a sad Kentucky program can attest, the Tar Heels can afford to miss Hansbrough for a stretch, maybe even into January, but when was the last time a basketball team won a title with so many injuries?

It's just not a good sign if you're reading the tea leaves. Zeller's wrist injury could prove more costly than the setbacks of Ginyard (stress fracture foot) or Hansbrough (stress reaction shin) because once March starts and the top-end teams start running bodies at Psycho T, like Kansas did at the Final Four, the Heels are going to need depth.

Zeller and fellow freshman forward Ed Davis were expected to give the Heels those reinforcements. Even when he was healthy, Zeller didn't look that great on Tuesday, granted he was matched up with Patrick Patterson.

Neither Zeller nor Davis looked like an immediate impact player, along the lines of Hansbrough as a freshman or Antawn Jamison. Yes, it's a limited sample and, yes, those are great players to be compared to, but given the high school credentials of Zeller and Davis, they are expected to do more than just be the eighth and ninth guys in the rotation this season.

Maybe Hansbrough will return sooner now if Zeller is out for an extended period. Maybe Deon Thompson will continue his production when Hansbrough returns. Maybe we'll all write in April how much "adversity" UNC overcame to win Roy Williams' second national title.

We'll see, but if I'm a UNC fan, I don't like the karma of November.

-- J.P. Giglio


Matt said...

You do realize that when Hansbrough started his first year David Noel was the best returning player, and when Jamison came in it was probably McInnis or Shammond Williams, right? The difference between Davis & Zeller and those two might be more in who they play with than how talented they are.