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Drew Is Looking Forward

Inside Carolina caught up with Larry Drew to discuss a variety of topics from last season to the one ahead. By and large it is your basic boilerplate special. Drew says he is not dwelling on last season, is focused on what he can do as a junior and there are no hard feelings between him and his critics. Drew revealed the nature of his injured fingers which was described as a sprain with a bone chip. Drew was also asked about his summer plans which is often a topic of discussion since he spent last summer in Los Angeles and not Chapel Hill.

Drew’s focus this summer includes improving specific aspects of his game, but most of all Roy Williams told him that he just wants him to play as much as possible, furthering the confidence gained during the NIT run, be it in pickup games or open gyms

The staff’s preference is that Drew does this solely in Chapel Hill, but as was the case last summer, Drew indicated that he will be returning home to California to train with his father, rather than attending UNC’s second summer session.

“Yeah, they do (prefer that I stay in Chapel Hill for the second summer session), but they understand at the same time,” Drew said of the Tar Heel coaches. “I am privileged to have a father who has been in the league for as long as he has. He’s going to be right there with me the whole time. He taught me the game and he’s been there with me in basketball since before I can remember.”

Drew’s father, Larry Sr., played for a decade in the NBA and has since been an assistant coach in the league for 17 seasons. As of this week he’s one of three finalists for Atlanta’s vacant head coaching position.

“It’s something I want to take advantage of because I don’t get to see him much during the season or during the year,” Drew continued. “I’m just really looking forward to spending some time with him and picking his brain. I’ve still got all my game tapes from last year, too, so one thing we’re going to do a lot this summer is watch all my game films and break them down.”

I hesitate to make too much of the decision to spend the 2nd sessions of summer school in California vs in Chapel Hill playing pick up ball with his teammates. However I would be lying if I said it did not bother me for a couple of reasons. The first is how it impacts team chemistry. UNC will be looking to integrate new parts in with the old ones. In my opinion the more games these guys can play together, the better off everyone will be. Of course it is not like Drew is the first Tar Heel to not be around for part of the summer. Deon Thompson was gone twice for USA Basketball obligations during his time at UNC. In Drew's case, his play is so imperative to how far UNC can go next season, I think most UNC fans would feel better if he were working on this game alongside his teammates rather than being a temporary member of the UCLA team for most of July. Speaking of which, can we assume any pick-up games he plays will involve Travis Wear?

The other reason this bothers me is the fact he is going against the wishes of the staff by not being in Chapel Hill. On top of that he is doing so to work his father for part of the summer. On one hand that I understand Drew's reasons. He does not get to see his father much being on the opposite coast. During his career he probably has come to rely on his father to aid him in improving his game. On the other hand, Drew disregarding what his coaching staff wants to spend a few weeks at home listening to his father's coaching almost certainly sets up a tension of sorts. The question could be raised who does Drew really listen to? His father or the UNC coaches? Or is he trying to split the baby so to speak? Now UNC coaches do not spend much time over the summer working with players. In that respect, Drew is not necessarily missing out on instruction from the UNC staff. In California he will probably get more hands-on coaching from his father, the question is whether it will be in harmony with what UNC is hoping to get from their point guard?

Is this really a big deal? I guess time will tell. I am a big believer in team chemistry on the court and if you have a group of players who fit together really well it can cover for any weaknesses. Playing with his teammates and UNC alums from the pros strikes me as the better route to accomplishing that. However, it is  difficult to be away from home so all we can do is wait and see how it pans out. This much is certain, Drew appears to be focused and working hard to improve himself. At the end of the day that is really all any of us can expect of him.