This has been known for awhile but in recent games has not been raised as an issue. Then James Michael McAdoo went down in the Maryland game and apparently aggravated his back again causing him to miss practice on Thursday. McAdoo's condition was of great concern for Roy Williams when he spoke to the media earlier today.
"He hurt it on the play underneath the basket where he went down. He’s been struggling with his back for about a month. We’ve cut back on some things in practice for him. I don’t know if it’s when he landed wrong, jumped wrong or got turned around or whatever. I just know his back was really bothering him. Then when he went over and sat on the bench it relaxed a little bit and he said I need to go back in if I’m going to go. Sitting there for a long time he thought it would really stiffen up.
"He had four classes yesterday. He has a higher load on Tuesdays and Thursdays then he does on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. We did talk about sitting still for a long time and he said that’s the reason I told you that I was ready to go so quickly because I felt like if I sat there any longer it’d really get stiff. He has a bulging disk. They’ve done all of the test."
There was some concern that McAdoo might not play versus Duke. McAdoo told the media that he would play and according to UNC he went through a full practice today.
The question is to what extent McAdoo's back troubles have impeded his play this season. On the surface the answer is probably no. There is no evidence McAdoo's struggle shooting the ball and finishing around the rim stems from any back issues. There could be issues with his overall leg strength which would affect his jumping ability and defending bigger players. Regardless, a bulging disk is a difficult injury to play with and shows a level of toughness McAdoo hasn't gotten credit for having.