It's been quite a week for P.J. Hairston. 52 points and 15 rebounds in two games is one of the more productive weeks you will see from a player. It was good enough to earn Hairston one of the ACC weekly recognitions.
Hairston set career scoring highs in consecutive games this past week, scoring 23 at Duke Wednesday and 29 in Saturday’s win over Virginia. The Greensboro, N.C., sophomore also tied his career high with eight rebounds against the Blue Devils and added seven more rebounds against Virginia. Hairston was 16-of-32 from the floor, including 7-of-19 from 3-point range and 13-of-16 from the free throw line.
For the record, NC State's Scott Wood played one game during the past week scoring hitting six threes and scoring 22 points in an OT win over VIrginia Tech. How or why that rates sharing the award with a player who scored 29 and 23 against two of the better defenses is beyond me.
Meanwhile, Roy Williams continues to get asked why Hairston is playing more or why the lineup changed. As expected Williams persists in delivering answers that can be best summed up as "coach's prerogative."
"A lot of it is too complicated to talk about. P.J. was getting good minutes, and the last two games, and it just happened to coincide with games that he started. We decided to shorten our lineup a little bit, shorten the substitutions. We may go back and start playing 10, 11 guys in the first half like we did for a long time there if the match-ups are different. But the last two games we've thought it's been good match-ups to stay small for a really, really long period of time.
"But P.J. was doing some good things, and he was not as consistent as he is now, but he was still pretty doggone consistent. You know, I think it was Maryland he was like 1-for-8 or something like that. But he's played well for us off the bench all year long, and then match-ups, and as I said, five or six games ago now I thought about making that change at that point, and it just didn't seem like the right thing to do at that time.
"But a lot of it depends on match-ups and what the other team does and a lot of that kind of stuff that would determine if we keep our lineup shortened, if you'll let me use that terminology."
Williams also said on Saturday that there are reasons he had for holding Hairston's minutes. There are things a coach cannot discuss publicly and while Williams' dependence on practice was the target of much ridicule, there is merit to the idea that a player needs to meet a certain threshold in practice before he can be fully trusted in game. Taking Saturday and today's comments together I would surmise it was mainly a consistency issue, probably on the defensive end that limited Hairston's minutes. I also think Williams was simply hesitant to use a smaller lineup since taking either Marcus Paige or Dexter Strickland out of the lineup was never going to happen. Whatever the case, better late than never right? Williams is still giving himself some wiggle room by talking about adjust the lineups for match-ups. The first true test of that will come Tuesday night in Atlanta against Georgia Tech's bigger frontline.
Then again, this is what happened the last time Hairston went against a Yellow Jacket big man.