To play or not to play.
Five minutes into UNC's ACC Quarterfinal game against Maryland what was looking like a fairly smooth road towards Greensboro fell under a shroud of uncertainty. John Henson, in an attempt to break his fall following a foul, put his left hand down and in turn injured his wrist. The initial x-rays were negative ruling out a fracture but opening the possibility that it is anything from a ligament damage to a painfully sprained wrist. Since Henson tried twice to return to the game, the safe assumption is it is probably the latter.
Thus the dilemma. If we proceed on the assumption that Henson's wrist is not seriously damaged and further play will not exacerbate the injury then playing is a question of pain and effectiveness. Can he hold a basketball? Catch a pass? Shot the ball well? And the list goes on. In my opinion there is no toughness question with Henson. His and likely Roy Williams' concern is with prognosis and being able to perform at a minimal level. If either are in question, Henson doesn't play.
UNC's NCAA title hopes ride heavily on having an effective and healthy John Henson in the lineup. Getting a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament won't mean much if Henson is not able to play. Protecting UNC's chances in that tournament trump the current one much like it was in 2009 when Ty Lawson sat out the ACC Tournament with a toe injury. It wasn't ideal but it is not like there is much of a choice.
The bottom line is if Henson feels like he can go then he will play versus NC State. Henson is a gamer. He will show up and if he is able to play then he will. That being said, my own experience with injuries of this type tells me Henson is unlikely to go from experiencing pain while performing basic basketball actions on Friday to being able to perform those same actions pain free 24 hours later. The one caveat there is Henson will receive a fair amount of treatment so it is possible the wrist feels much better after rest, icing and a night of sleep.
Then again maybe this is a good sign. It wouldn't be a UNC national title run without an injury question heading into the Big Dance.