No need to panic...at least not yet.
As much as we had hoped that last season's odyssey of injury reports was a thing of the past, the Tar Heel basketball team is roughly two weeks into practice and already two starters are down. Granted to varying degrees and if you believe the assessments of Gene Hansbrough and Jay Bilas, Tyler Hansbrough will be back sooner rather than later. Marcus Ginyard will take a little longer but ultimately the season should eventually get on the track we all assumed it would be on the day we heard Lawson, Ellington and Green were returning.
With the report of Hansbrough's indefinite break from the practice floor a virtual rush of pessimism in certain corners in Tar Heel Nation began. Undoubtedly many fans began scrounging around for an Eeyore costume to wear this evening in an effort to reflect the depths of their depression. There is also a palatable frustration in having the table set so perfectly only to find some cracks in the china which endangers what was supposed to be a great dinner party. As UNC fans we were looking forward to this season and potentially the greatest campaign for a title ever taken up by a Tar Heel basketball team. Undefeated talk was viable and despite the fact everyone readily acknowledged the Heels would not go perfect, the fact it was even on the table for discussion was exciting. All the pieces were in place to reel off a dominating regular season capped with a national title and last night all that talk ceased quicker than the whispers at a high school lunch table when the slightly geeky girl walks up. Hansbrough's injury along with the Ginyard surgery deals us two shocking reversal that threatens all we had anticipated over the past few months.
On those terms, some general freaking out is probably expected as well as anger and disbelief. But only for a moment. Long enough for us to digest the information and comprehend that the season has not even started. Long enough for us to step back and realized that as much as we want this team to roll through Detroit and hang a banner with a 38-2 mark, that simply leaving Detroit with the title at all is enough. The point of this season is and always has been redeeming the loss to Kansas and winning the title. In that way I am more than willing to say screw Maui and any other major win in November or December. Why? Because this really could end up being similar to what happened to UConn in 2004 who was the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the national title. However, star center Emeka Okafur had a nagging back injury through most of the season and only really returned to full form by the end of the regular season. UConn won the Big East Tournament and then ran the NCAA table with only the win over Duke in the Final Four being their toughest game. In that case UConn still met the original expectations placed upon them before the season began. It was a tough and at time disappointing road to get there due to Okafur's injury but in the end UConn hung a banner.
The point is there is plenty of time to get these situations resolved. Hansbrough could still be ready by the start of the season and worst case he most certainly should be primed when the ACC schedule begins in January. As long as the words: fracture, surgery, torn, ACL, MCL, PCL, rupture or dislocation are not discussed then Hansbrough should be fine. If all goes according to plan Ginyard also should be fine. It will all be just fine because Roy Williams is still the head coach and the last I checked the roster was still plenty stacked. Winning a title will require both Hansbrough and Ginyard at full strength. Navigating a few games in November? I think they can get by.