But he really wanted to play against Boston College.
Tyler Zeller doesn't think there is any way he plays again this season.
With the active imagination some North Carolina fans have, that probably bears repeating. Just so we're clear: Even if his broken left wrist continues to improve, Tyler Zeller doesn't see any way he suits up for the Tar Heels again this year.
"I'm definitely done for the year," Zeller said. "Just from trying to get back and stuff -- you can't get on a team like this and get into the flow and actually contribute a lot. It's late in the season, and I really wouldn't have that many games to contribute a lot."
There's been some scuttlebutt that Zeller might return in time for the postseason -- the timeframe originally outlined by medical personnel would have Zeller at full health by the end of February -- but such a scenario doesn't seem to be in the offing.
"There's a chance, but I think it's awfully stupid," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "He's not been released to play yet. If he comes back and plays one game, then he loses a whole year. There's always a chance, but again, I'll say it's not the smartest thing in the world to have happen."
There are some things that the freshman from Washington, Ind., can look forward to for the rest of the season.
He'll be getting his cast off on the wrist in a little more than a week and hopes to be doing everything at practice shortly thereafter. That will give him the chance to compete against fellow post players Tyler Hansbrough and Deon Thompson every day in practice, something Zeller said will be invaluable in the future.
The pain, for the most part, is gone, which has allowed Zeller to work on rebounding and dribbling in practice in recent weeks.
"I really couldn't even move it two weeks ago," Zeller said. "Now, it still feels weak at times, but for the most part, it's a lot stronger. I have quite a bit of motion back."
Even if Zeller barely could move his left hand two weeks ago, he found himself wanting to rush over and slap the scorer's table to check himself into the Tar Heels' loss to Boston College on Jan. 4.
Considering Zeller describes his frustration with sitting out as a "day-to-day" thing, that probably ranks as his worst day of the season.
Well, second worst -- he describes breaking the wrist as "the most excruciating pain" he's ever been in.
"Boston College was frustrating just because we lost and I wanted to play," Zeller said. "I thought I could've helped us out in some way. I don't know what I could've done, but I figure I could've helped us either get the big guys a couple of extra minutes break or get out there and play or something."
Well that should put an end to that. The upside is Zeller will hopefully be healthy enough to get some practice time in with the current team which will help his development. It also helps Tyler Hansbrough, Deon Thompson and Ed Davis to have a high caliber big man to go against in practice as well. During the preseason Zeller supposedly drove the veterans crazy with how he was playing in practice.
Zeller's attitude here is outstanding. He defintely brings a competitve fire and has a great understanding for the game. The frontline come next season, assuming everyone is healthy will be a sight to behold.
Hat tip: wb3