Roy Williams looks at forward John Henson's wrists during practice before the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Greensboro Coliseum.
Today's press conference in Greensboro had really only one topic of conversation – John Henson's wrist. And a lot of journalists and fans on Twitter were expressing frustration with the lack of information we were getting from Roy Williams. To wit:
Can you say-- is this just going to be an actual game time decision with John tomorrow? I would assume you're having a shoot around sometime tomorrow morning? You might watch him and then are you just going to watch him warm up and see how he feels?
"And it will be-- I think it will be a game time decision, to answer your question. And then it will be a second decision, how effective is he in the first part of the game. Ty wasn't very effective in the first half of that LSU game. And then you guys may remember, he hurt it and that took him out of the game in the first half. He was scared to death; he had heard a pop. But then he sat there and realized, well, this doesn't feel any differently and then he came back in. So there will be a second evaluation as to how he plays in the game, if I do play him in the game.
"And with me, I'm being honest, I really don't know what's the best road to take, because you pick two scenarios. Say you don't play him. All right. What are you saving him for? If you get beat, you're going to go home and start working on your golf game. Okay. All right. Now if you do play him and he gets his wrist whacked again, okay, then that's going to hurt you down the road. So to me it's not an easy decision.
"And NCAA tournament play, I never say okay, well, we may be able to handle it without this. That's not the deal. With Ty, I didn't play him in the first round because I was so comfortable with Bobby. And James Michael's done some good things, but who is going to take James Michael's place coming off the bench there?"
I think that's a pretty honest assessment, myself. But even if you wanted more information, ask yourself this. Why one earth would Williams want to share it?
North Carolina is a different team without John Henson. I don't just mean that they're not as good; they're a different team. They run smaller lineups, and stranger lineups, like when Harrison Barnes and four freshmen were on the court for a stretch during the ACC Tournament. If you're playing UNC, you run a different offense and defense on the floor if John Henson is playing forward or Justin Watts is.
Because Justin Watts and Desmond Hubert are excellent ballplayers. This fact gets lost considering who they share a court with, but either would be starting on a lot of college basketball teams, and definitely for the Catamounts. And they must be prepared for.
And here's the thing. Every moment an assistant coach is scouting Watts, every moment a player is figuring out how to handle him, is a moment they're not focused on someone else. And if Henson plays, and Watts or Hubert only get mop-up time, it's a moment wasted. Vermont has very limited prep time; sure, the coaches may have been scouting UNC before the Lamar game, but not much. They've had two days to figure out how to stop an incredibly formidable foe. And they don't know the starting lineup they'll be facing tomorrow.
For what its worth, here's Henson's self diagnosis:
How is the range of motion in regards to your wrist?
"The range of motion is pretty good. It's increasing everyday. We measure by degrees and on Monday I could only bend it like 30 [degrees] and now I'm to like 60, so it's getting better. Hopefully get some rest tonight and feel even better tomorrow and see what happens."
How effective do you think you can be?
"I think I can be pretty effective. I do have my right hand. I don't use it as much as my left, but get some good rest tonight and some great treatment. I've been going twice a day to Chris [Hirth] and before class and after class and hopefully I can keep it going."
Any particular actions with the ball that hurt more than others?
"Yeah. Gripping the ball and kind of bringing the ball up. I can catch pretty well and dribbling is a little tough as well and I'm just trying to get it better day by day and see how it feels."
In my non-medical, nowhere near the guy opinion, you'll probably see Henson on the floor, but in limited minutes. He may not start, but I think unless the wrist is really bothering him, you'd want to get him minutes on the floor. The Catamounts shouldn't be a problem either way. They're good shot defenders and they actually have some height, but their best rebounder is 6'6" Brian Voelkel, their best shooter comes off the bench, and their offense is really dependent on three guys – Matt Glass, Brendan Bald, and the reserve Four McGlynn. They have a lot of experience, and the depth to run with UNC for a spell, but expect the Heels to pull away by the first five minutes of the second half and never look back. Vermont hasn't seen a team like this all season, and the Heels should quickly send them packing.