As you might imagine, Roy Williams fielded questions in the Monday ACC teleconference on how the loss of Dexter Strickland will affect UNC going forward. Here are the highlights via Inside Carolina.
Have you decided how you’re going to handle the starting lineup?
“We haven’t even talked about it very much, but yesterday in practice we put Reggie [Bullock] in there and I would assume that’s the way it would stay, unless something weird happens in practice. Reggie’s gotten better defensively and he’s really started giving us a lift rebounding the basketball on the offensive board and the defensive board I think that he deserves it and knows more about what’s going on that P.J. [Hairston], for example. But I know that there’s 25-30 minutes a game there that somebody’s going to have to pick up and my guess is that it will be a combination of a lot of guys. But unless something strange happens, we will start Reggie.”
Was there any consideration to Leslie McDonald pulling off his red-shirt? Was that even considered?
“It really wasn’t. I grabbed Leslie last night and told him as far as I was concerned, it didn’t change his situation. Where it hurts the most with Dexter is having that backup point guard. That’s where it hurts the most. We’ve had Reggie playing and Harrison [Barnes] and P.J., those three guys have spent a lot of time at the wing spots with Dexter, so we still have three of the four, but where it really becomes harmful is that backup point guard role.”
How much more playing time do you anticipate Kendall Marshall having to play?
“It remains to be seen. We’re going to try to give Stilman [White] some time there. We’re going to try to do a little more work on the passing game not having a true point guard and see how that works out. We’ll try to see what John Henson or Tyler Zeller look like out there – you never can tell. But right now, Dexter probably has been giving us three minutes or so each half, and that’s just a guesstimate kind of thing, at the point guard spot. And Kendall’s played the rest, so we’ve got to find a way to get Kendall a little bit of a break each half. Stilman White will be asked to do it and then again we’ll be looking to see what else we can possibly have.”
Is there anybody else that can run the point other than Stilman White? Is he your first option at trying to fill those three minutes per half?
“Yes, there’s no question. We’ve had this before. Every team goes through some spots where you lose a key backup or even worse, a key starter. You just have to prepare for it. Larry Drew leaving last year left a big gap in our program because it’s hard to find a point guard in the spring. We knew that this could happen; it has happened. Now we have to deal with it. I may just decide to play a 2-3 zone the whole game and put Kendall in the middle and tell him never to foul. We’ll try to make sure he stays in the game without foul trouble.”
So to sum up, Leslie McDonald isn't coming back which ends the media's incessant raising of this point. Reggie Bullock will start at the wing guard giving UNC a really long starting lineup. Stilman White will play some to spell Kendall Marshall at point guard but no one, even Roy, knows how well this move will work or whether Marshall will end up playing over 36 minutes per game.
Among the really interesting point raised is the fact Roy had the team work on running the offense without a true point guard on the floor. This would probably be similar to what the Miami Heat do and Harrison Barnes would essentially become the facilitator of the offense. Roy mentions a 2-3 zone but its hard to tell based on the transcribed quote if he is joking or not. I don't think he is above using a zone if he needs to protect Marshall's foul situation much like he did in the 2005 NCAA title game.
One final note. Roy mentions Some Other Kid and the "gap" his leaving created in the program. While most every one agrees that its better SOK left the manner and timing of his leaving continues to impact the team. SOK's presence made it impossible for Roy to make a move early enough to get a better backup PG for this season(no offense to White.) Had SOK transferred after the 2010 season, Roy could have at least been working at that point on a PG commit for the 2011 class. Instead UNC sat there with two PGs in Marshall and SOK plus Strickland making it impossible to recruit anyone for 2011.
This is as thin a team as UNC has had since 2005. Baited breath and fervent prayer will follow any time Kendall Marshall so much as takes an awkward step.