Monday, January 24, 2011

Marshall will stay in UNC's starting lineup; no other changes expected

North Carolina freshman point guard Kendall Marshall will remain in the starting lineup for Wednesday's game at Miami "unless something weird happens between now and Wednesday night,'' coach Roy Williams said during today's ACC conference call.

But don't expect any other changes, at this point, to the opening five.

Forward Justin Knox - who Williams had thought about starting last Tuesday, in place of Tyler Zeller - will miss today's practice because of a class. Meanwhile, guard Leslie McDonald - who the coach had pondered starting in place of Dexter Strickland - is expected to return to practice today, after missing Tuesday's game because of a back bruise and lung injury, but he will be limited.

In addition, freshman Reggie Bullock is expected to practice today, after sitting out since last Tuesday because of swelling in his knee. Junior Justin Watts, who sprained his right ankle in the game, will be limited to going through dummy offense, at best, today, Williams said.

Williams said it was a difficult decision, inserting Marshall into the starting five in place of junior Larry Drew II. But it worked. Marshall jumpstarted the offense, finishing with five points and five assists in 22 minutes. Drew, the better defensive player of the two, played one of his most complete games of the season, finishing with eight points and a career-high four steals in 23 minutes.

"If you look at my track record over the years, most of the time when I get the group that starts, I stick with it,'' Williams said. " In '06, I took Marcus Ginyard out and stuck Wes Miller in the lineup, and that was really big for us. It gave us another outside shooter and it got us going; I think we had lost two out of three or three out of the four in the ACC, and we go down to Florida State, and Wes makes a few 3s for us that were big for us.

"I don't do it [change the starting lineup] a lot, but it was hard to do, especially because Larry was trying so hard defensively. But we were just a little stagnant offensively, and we can still get him to be extremely important to us, just like he was in the Clemson game."

-- Robbi Pickeral