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The Season Rides on Drew

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Yeah it's a crappy deal but that is basically how it rolls in Chapel Hill and presumptive starting PG Larry Drew is aware of that:

Larry Drew is not Ty Lawson. Nor should he try to be.

But if ACC championships are to be won and deep NCAA tournament runs made this season, Drew will have to be swift and intelligent in the open floor, and confident enough to take over games when the situation presents itself.

"There's no doubt I'm ready to take on a leading role," Drew said last month. "But at the same time, I can't try to be a hero."

These aren't uncharted waters. Four years ago, freshman Bobby Frasor succeeded Raymond Felton at the point for a UNC team defending the national title. And Frasor contributed admirably to a team that exceeded everyone's expectations.

But remember what those expectations were. UNC wasn't ranked when that season began and was picked by the media to finish sixth in the ACC. This year's Tar Heels should open the season Nov. 9 against Florida International as a top 10 power and will likely be pegged as the conference favorite.

The 2005-06 team may have finished second in the ACC and earned a No. 3 seed for the NCAA tournament. But they also lost eight times and didn't see the second weekend of the Big Dance.

Can anyone honestly say a similar season this winter will be celebrated the way that one was?

The dynamics for this season are drastically different from 2006 because UNC returns more to the table and has a bit more in the recruiting class as well. The expectation levels in 2006 were what you expect for a team returning David Noel, Wes Miller, Quentin Thomas and a freshman class which had one bona fide start in Tyler Hansbrough. Couple that with the fact no one and I mean no one though Hansbrough was going to end up with a retired jersey in his career at UNC. The Heels were not ranked and rightfully so, there was nothing to rank. This time around it is different. This time I think you can credibly say UNC has a chance to defend. There are plenty of pieces in place already with a great deal riding on the incoming players to fill out the perimeter game along with Marcus Ginyard and Will Graves. The other piece to the puzzle is Larry Drew who will be thrust into the role of starting PG which is the single most important position on the court in college basketball. UNC has won two national titles in this decade and had two Cousy Award winners running the point. To say Drew has his work cut out for him would be an understatement. Drew will bypass the frying pan and jump directly into the fire from day one.

The good news is, he already understands what Quentin Thomas took his whole career at UNC to figure out. You are not the other guy. Drew knows he is not Ty Lawson and understands he needs to run the offense according to his talents and not try to emulate a point guard that might be one of the best to ever play that position at UNC. Drew also knows he has to play within himself instead of trying to do too much too soon which could hurt the team. While Drew cannot mimic Lawson's speed, he certainly should try to mimic Lawson's penchant for taking care of the basketball. The worst thing Drew can do is play sloppy. If he can be efficient with the basketball, pick his spots for his own scoring and facilitate the offense while keeping a handle on the basketball, UNC should be in great shape. Otherwise, it will get dicey in a fairly expedient manner. Yes, it is a tough deal for Drew to be thrust into a position like this with tremendous pressure to deliver but then again this is UNC. Drew knew when he signed the LOI this would be the case, now it is his turn to prove his mettle.

And if this is not enough of a fix for those of you in basketball withdrawal be sure to check out the season preview on Tar Heel Blue where there is a lot of discussion about leadership and how Tyler Zeller is better off having played at the end of last season which is ironic coming from Roy since he opposed the idea.