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Roy: "We Don't Know"

And that was after spending 18 hours over a three day stretch on a retreat with his coaching staff. Not to worry Roy, I am sure the message boards and radio show callers will have plenty of advice for you! Until then here is what Roy Williams had to say in his Media Day press conference:

  • The biggest thing Roy learned from being defending champions in 2006 was to make sure the players understand they will be okay despite the adversity associated with replacing so many key pieces from a team that won the title. Of course this team is different since there is more experience back but the circumstances will be similar in many ways.
  • Practice will be slower in terms of teaching because the new players. While the freshman might not be primary cogs they are key contributors. UNC is also looking at a full week less of practice before the first game as opposed to last year. I'd call that Murphy's Law: When you have the most experienced and talented team in recent memory you end up with 23 practices to start the season. With a team full of younger players it ends up being 16 or so. That's sucks but that's life.
  • Getting the freshman to trust Marcus Ginyard and Deon Thompson will be important but how well they play will help in that respect as well.
  • Concerning Will Graves: Hopes missing last season "really hurt" and also hopes he is motivated. Based on potential Graves could be the best shooter, perimeter rebounder and post-up player. Roy thinks he can be a double figure scorer but that will be based entirely on how much Graves focuses.
  • Regarding big men on the perimeter: John Henson is being slated for the three and it has been that way since they started recruiting him(let that one sink in.) Roy is also thinking about moving David and Travis Wear out to the perimeter as well(now watch some UNC fans' heads explode.) Roy indicated that the Wear twins are fundamentally very sound as well as being versatile. For Roy it comes down to the ability to slide your feet on defense in order to play on the perimeter.
  • Larry Drew does not need to be Ty Lawson. Deon Thompson does not need to be Tyler Hansbrough. He has told these guys be themselves.
  • For the record, Roy says Drew would be the starting PG as of right now but is allowing the for possibility that is could be Ginyard or Dexter Strickland starting at PG. For my money, I think it will be Drew simply based on the fact Drew understands what Roy wants(a point the UNC coach himself made) and there was enough good play from Drew during Lawson's toe injury to make me think he can handle the job.
  • Roy believes in a balanced offense with an attack inside first mentality. He says that philosophy will be tested because no one knows if the point guard play will be good enough to facilitate getting the ball inside or if the three point shooting will be good enough to keep the offense balanced.
  • Drew vs Lawson: Drew should be better on defense because of his length, has a great PG mentality, runs the screen and roll better and is probably a better passer. Lawson was faster, better three point shooter and better at scoring off penetration.
  • Roy also can keep money in his pockets now that Lawson is not around to try and steal it.
  • Depth on the frontline will be a "strong point."
  • Ginyard looks great and was really good during the conditioning test.
  • The preseason rankings that have UNC at round #5 means he cannot use the "no one thinks we will be that good" card which he sued in 2006. Roy thinks people missed so badly on the 2006 team they are compensating by putting the Heels in the top five. There might be some merit to that point.

Overall nothing Roy said surprised me. The unknown factors that have been on the table since Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson declared for the NBA Draft are the ones Roy and his staff will wrestle with starting Saturday morning. What will the point guard play look like? How will make the three pointers? Roy also said that Ed Davis and his inside scoring is an unknown, mainly because Davis only averaged 6.7 ppg last season. We saw glimpses of what he can do scoring wise but that has not really be fleshed out. Based on what Roy had to say about Graves, they seem to believe he could be a real X factor capable of filling in for what UNC loss from last season if he can shoot the perimeter shot. The success on the season might very well hinge on whether Graves is average or outstanding.

In short Roy Williams and his staff as a little over two weeks to sort through some of these issues before hosting Florida International on November 9th. It is a given that this team's overall development could take some time and the learning curve, especially for the freshman is bound to slow that process. As is the case with young teams, November and December could be rocky at times but from there on steady improvement could mark a nice tournament run.