Tyler Zeller is glad to be back and really believes he can help.
Via Inside Carolina:
On getting back into the flow:
"It’s definitely different, having been out for 13 weeks, and especially the first eleven when I didn’t get any physical action. I’m a little behind in reaction speeds, getting to places. That’s why I got so many fouls. But it felt great to be back out there."
That first turnaround jumper—was that instinct taking over?
"Yeah, it was kind of all instinct on offense. Offense I’m fine, because I’ve been able to shoot, I’ve been able to do stuff. It was more on the defensive end, just reacting to people’s drives, going around people, getting a hand in there to help—that’s what I was struggling with."
On hearing the crowd’s reaction while waiting to enter the game:
"It was one of those things where I expected it, but when you get 22,000 people cheering for you, it’s a great feeling. It was amazing when I got up and went to the table. But when I got in and found out who I was guarding, I didn’t really hear much after that."
How’s the wrist feeling now?
"It feels fine. I don’t really have any problems with it. No stiffness or anything. I’m still doing a little bit of rehab, trying to get the last little bit back. But for the most part I have all motion back and no pain."
What went into the decision to come back now instead of red-shirting?
"It was one of those things where I talked to coach about it a little bit, and then I just felt like it was the best thing for me to help me prepare for next year. In these games, I can learn a lot, which is, I can tell you, I already learned a lot from tonight’s game. Just little things you have to work on to get better. You can’t get that kind of experience if you don’t play. I feel like I can help now, just our depth, just playing. It does get difficult in the ACC [Tournament] when you’ve got three games in a row, so I feel like I can help and give other guys a couple extra minutes’ break so they can go in and play full force."
Are you concerned about giving up a whole season for the last five or six games?
"Um, yes, but no at the same time. Yes, because it is one of those things where I’m losing like half a season. But no at the same time because these are my teammates. I’ve got to help support them. If I can help them in any way, then I have to come back and help them. I feel like I’m obligated to them because they’ve been great to me the whole way I’ve been injured, and then as I come back. If there’s anything I can do to help them, help them get to their goals, winning a national championship, then I want to help."
On ways he can help:
"Anything really. Rebounding, like I said, giving them a couple more minutes out. Score a little bit here and there. Just whatever I can find to do."
Roy Williams said back when the Ty Lawson class came in that the defensive principles are tough to pick up. It was evident Zeller was struggling with that aspect and it will take a few games to get into the flow of the defense in terms of being where he is supposed to be. That in itself is reason enough to have him play games this season as opposed to just practicing. Still the week off after the Maryland game will hopefully aid Zeller in getting up to speed. I thought Zeller looked good on offense. The three shots he took were good shots.
Zeller indicated his decision to come back hinged on his desire to further his develop by playing but also to help his teammates. Roy often talks about having high character kids and Zeller clearly fits the bill. Zeller came back for many reasons but I honestly believe the biggest reason was to help his team. He also has the right perspective on it saying he is willing to do "anything" to help which is a great approach.
Like Bobby Frasor's threes versus Duke or Deon Thompsons first half points in that same game, I think Tyler Zeller will have a similar game at some point before this season out which will really helped the Heels in a tough game.