Weekly Hairston/McDonald Update and Press Conference Notes

Grant Halverson

The update is there is no update.

As has been the case since the summer, nothing has changed regarding the status of P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald in terms of resolving their lingering eligibility issues with the NCAA. As such, neither player will accompany the team as they travel to Ucansville, CT for two games in the Hall of Fame Tipoff Tournament. The Tar Heels are scheduled to face Richmond on Satuday at noon and then either Louisville or Fairfield on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the only tidbit of news regarding the Hairston/McDonald case is Tar Heel AD Bubba Cunningham telling ESPN's Andy Katz that UNC was "still gathering facts" and there is still no timetable for a decision. Meanwhile, Haydn "Fats" Thomas agreed to a plea bargain on a litany of charges which allowed him to avoid jail time. Thomas, who is linked to the cars Hairston was cited for speeding and possession in, says he has not spoken to the NCAA or UNC about the matter. Whether that is by UNC/NCAA's choice or Thomas' lawyer in unclear.

The "we are still gathering facts" mantra has been so often used by UNC in this ordeal it makes it difficult to know whether that is actually the case or just the pat response being given at this point. If that is really the case, one has to wonder what facts are they still gathering. That is, until you consider the possibility some previously discovered information or testimony has been called into question forcing UNC to dig deeper to attempt to salvage one or both players' eligibility.

As for no one talking to Haydn "Fats" Thomas, that comes off as a bit curious considering he was the one renting the vehicles. That being said, Thomas is also a person who enjoys making connections with local college athletes as he did with Hairston(and allegedly others.) Advertising yourself as a  "snitch" to the NCAA would probably put damper on one's ability to make or maintain those relationships.

And yes, we've clearly reached the tipping point when I am using words like "snitch" in a post.

On the basketball side, Roy Williams appears to be far less down about the loss to Belmont than pretty much everyone else. He stated he was mostly pleased with the offensive execution and felt they did a good job moving the basketball. The stats tend to bear that out with UNC shooting 48% from the floor vs Belmont, tallying a nice offensive rebounding rate and getting to the line a ridiculous 48 times. The problem there was missing 26 of the 48 free throws. Williams indicated they haven't done anything different this season on free throws than they did in 2009 when the team shot 75% from the line. The difference is the 2009 had better shooters than the current roster. At the same time no one is expecting the 2013-14 Tar Heels to shoot 75% from the line. If the Tar Heels can continue to be aggressive and get to the line, free throw shooting close to the national average of 68% would be nice. On the defensive side, Williams concurred that the Tar Heels didn't play well on that end of the floor and simply said they "are not there yet."

According to Williams the only thing that did upset him was the fact Isaiah Hicks only played two minutes. Williams feels like they need to give him more opportunities. Unfortunately, that could prove difficult given the logjam at the four and five. Hicks is probably best suited as a power forward but that means sliding James Michael McAdoo to the three and Brice Johnson to the five. Doing that eats into playing time for Joel James and Kennedy Meeks. The combination of Johnson, Hicks and McAdoo would be interesting and the fact such a hodgepodge of lineup choices is being discussed highlights a concern for the Tar Heels right now. There is chaos in terms of who is playing where and acclimating to those roles. The absence of two wing players has required a constant shuffling of the deck to find out what works. Even then there is great uncertainly among the players about their roles or how they work together. That, more than anything, is why the last possession versus Belmont was so incredibly hosed and yes, probably demanded a timeout be called. Because anything that didn't include Marcus Paige running the play with the ball in his hands was a bad idea.

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