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Grading Out[UPDATED]

Update: It has been noted that the quote below does not refer to practice however that is how Joe Ovies took it in his reference to it. I did not hear this part of the program and it is possible the reference to practice as omitted in the quote given by IC. The quote almost certainly has to be referring to practice though since there is no way Ginyard can be grading ahead of Strickland during games. If he is then Roy needs a new grading system.


Since the hottest topic on THF is Roy Williams insistence on playing Marcus Ginyard ahead of Dexter Strickland, this quote from Roy's radio program Monday night sheds some light on the decision making process:

"I would like to play both of them together a little bit, particularly if we’re not getting more productive play out of the 2-spot, but at the same time, when I grade out Marcus Ginyard and he grades positive every time and I grade out Dexter and he grades out negative every time, that’s something that the typical fan does not see… It’s easy to decide who to put in the game – it’s who deserves it."

This is the part of the process I have talked about before which fans often do not have privy to as they evaluate the team. Coaches see things in practice and as a result game time decisions are affected by those observations. In this case, Roy is opting to reward Ginyard with playing time ahead of Strickland because the former is getting the job done in practice where the latter is not. Anyone who has followed Roy Williams knows this is how the system works. If you want to play you better bring it in practice. Apparently, Strickland is not, at least not compared to Ginyard. One one level this is perfectly fair, fine and exactly the sort of thing a coach should do. Roy in particular believes you play the way you practice so he doles out playing time with that in mind.

All that being said, there is also something to be said for results. What happens in the game is arguably more important than what happens in practice something Roy does admit in a round about way(emphasis mine.)

Now, if you go back and look at the stats before he hurt his ankle the last time, Marcus was shooting 40-something percent from the 3-point line – I’ll just guess here from the first 10 games. But since he hurt his ankle, his stats don’t look very good at all. So we’ve either got to get him shooting it better or we’ve got to get somebody else some opportunities.

In other words, Roy is not totally blind to what is happening on the court. I think Roy believes Ginyard will snap out of this funk and get back to the level he was at in the first ten games. I also would speculate that Roy is playing the loyalty card while at the same time using this as a lesson to Strickland that he needs to work hard in practice too. That aspect of it is another part of the equation which is entailed in running a program. Roy is looking at Strickland's development as a player both in the short term and the long term. In that respect, Roy is putting a expectation on Strickland to perform at a certain level in practice. Doing that should pay dividends perhaps this season, next year, etc. The UNC head coach is not in the habit of giving playing time away and that is obviously the hang up here. The question is how much of the short term is Roy willing to sacrifice to make a point?

And there lies the catch. In the past there were enough options on the floor to do this sort of thing without interfering with the winning side of things. Part of Roy not playing Danny Green ahead of Ginyard had something to do with Green's father writing letters suggesting Green get more time. It is also possible Ginyard was better in practice than Green so that was how it unfolded. Ultimately it did not hurt anything given the team went 36-3. That is not the case this season and when Roy says 20 years worth of running the same system has worked until now, I am sure this is a piece of that. At the end of the day, Roy is going to have to bend a little on this and get Strickland into the game whether he proves himself in practice or not. Such a thing is not without precedent, otherwise Ed Davis would never see the floor based on what I have heard about his practice habits. There is a breaking point with this where it no longer benefits the team to simply reward playing time based on practice. We have evidence that Strickland and Larry Drew are a better guard combination than Ginyard and Drew. At what point Roy relents on this is anyone's guess but I think we all hope it is very tomorrow.