In the ramp up to the 2008-09 basketball season, I will be profiling key Tar Heels who will likely be major contributors this season. Today’s profile looks at redshirt sophomore SF Will Graves.
Weight: 245 lbs
Year: RS Sophomore
Career and 2007-08 Stats: 36 gms, 2.2 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 44% 3PG
What Happened Last Season
Will Graves came in as a redshirt sophomore mainly to spell starters and other key reserves. As his three point shooting percentage proves, Graves was capable of hitting perimeter shots but from a defensive standpoint he lacked a certain degree of hustle. The last we saw of Graves he fumbled a key rebound out of bounds against Kansas. Other than hitting a handful of threes here and there Graves was largely meant to fill minutes, especially in the first half.
Outlook For This Season
With everyone returning, especially at the small forward spot, it is difficult to say whether Graves will see increased minutes or not. Certainly there will be more minutes while Marcus Ginyard is recovering from foot surgery, after that, who knows. I would venture to say, based on what we know of Roy Williams, that unless Graves brings something to the table in the defensive/intangibles department his role with likely be limited. UNC does not suffer from a lack of offensive weapons. An argument could be made that UNC could use more perimeter shooting but we also have no idea on the real impact stemming from the extended three point line. Graves will see time and if he can make the most of them, he might be able to still contribute once Ginayrd returns.
Defense. Graves was not a good defender last season and lacked hustle. Defense is priority #1 for UNC and if you cannot play it and you are not vitally important in the functionality of the offense then I imagine you will not play much other than to steal minutes for resting key players.
If Will Graves can raise his game on both ends of the floor, perhaps hit a key three pointer here or there it will help this team tremendously. The benefit of UNC's depth is the opposing team cannot rest with the 2nd group on the floor. If Graves can be a good defender while shooting the ball as he did last season then it adds to the general frustration of the opposing team to not get a break from the top UNC players resting on the bench. The main point for Graves though is to play good defense and let everything else fall into place after that.