ATLANTA — There's no doubt North Carolina will miss ACC Player of the Year Ty Lawson, who will sit out today's quarterfinal match-up with Virginia Tech.
But it could also give Tar Heel fans an opportunity to appreciate its past, and anticipate its future.
The past is senior Bobby Frasor, the oft-injured shooting guard who started his career as UNC's ballhandler. As a freshman in 2005-06, he surprised many with his steady stats (6.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 136 assists), and didn't give up his starting job for good until he had to sit out with a foot injury his sophomore season. Since then, he's played mostly at off-guard, becoming one of the team's best defensive stoppers when healthy. An ACL tear last year severely shortened his junior season, and he's only started two games since his freshman campaign. But while he's not as fast Lawson and has struggled with his shot this season, what he really needs to provide today is the same poise he did three years ago, when his bread and butter was finding a way to get the ball to the likes of Tyler Hansbrough, David Noel and Reyshawn Terry.
The future, meanwhile, is Larry Drew II, who will be the last point guard left on the roster once Frasor graduates and if Lawson turns pro early (as expected). The freshman has averaged 1.5 points, 9.7 minutes and doled out 61 assists, and seemed flummoxed at times in big-game situations. But there's not much better on-the-job training than the ACC tournament; and against the Hokies, his job will be to limit mistakes rather than make big plays. How he fares will gives coaches and fans a preview of what he'll need to work on this summer — and perhaps help determine if redshirt senior Marcus Ginyard, who has played four positions in the past, should concentrate on his ballhandling skills during the offseason.
Frasor will likely start — but expect both to get plenty of minutes. With the present sidelined, it will be interesting to see if a blast from the the past and foreshadow to the future can combine for a victory. Or two or three.-- Robbi Pickeral