Friday, January 8, 2010

UNC's Ginyard out; Graves, McDonald questionable for Sunday

CHAPEL HILL -- North Carolina shooting guard Marcus Ginyard, the team's best perimeter defender, third-leading scorer, and leader, will miss the ninth-ranked Tar Heels' season opener on Sunday against Virginia Tech because of a sprained right ankle.

It's an injury that appears to be contagious at UNC. Starting small forward Will Graves and reserve guard Leslie McDonald are both questionable to play, also because of sprained right ankles.

"If we played today, they would not play," coach Roy Williams said Friday. "If we played tomorrow, they would not play. ... So we'll just have to wait and see."

Sunday will mark the fourth straight game (and fifth overall) missed by Ginyard, who was averaging 11 points, 3.9 rebounds and a team-high 31.6 minutes before he got hurt. Graves (7.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg) has missed one game, and McDonald was hurt during Monday's loss at College of Charleston.

"I was encouraged by Leslie the other night, but I hate it for him that he sprained his ankle during the game. But he toughed it out and played the whole second half, and then it just ballooned up on him when he got back here," Williams said.

He said, however, that if McDonald were healthy, he would start tonight. Instead, expect freshmen Dexter Strickland and David Wear to open the game in place of Ginyard and Graves, again. Sophomore guard Justin Watts, who also missed a game with a sprained right ankle this month, should also be available to play more minutes.

"[Injuries are] a concern, but if we can get everybody healthy and playing, then the struggles that we've gone through now and the minutes that we've been able to give Dexter and Leslie will help us," Williams said.

-- Robbi Pickeral