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James Out Two Weeks With MCL Sprain

Grant Halverson

On a normal day this would be the biggest news of Roy Williams' weekly press conference. Joel James will miss 10-14 days with a sprain of his right knee. James suffered the injury less than a minute into UNC's game versus Texas when a teammate landed on his leg and buckled the knee in an awkward position. The injury looked far worse than it turned out. Based on the stated timetable James should be available for UNC's opener at Wake Forest on January 5th.

With James out the focus turns on who will start at center in his place. Brice Johnson started the 2nd half versus Texas and Williams indicated he is probably leaning that way. For now he told assistant coach C.B. McGrath to pencil in "Johnson-Meeks-Hubert" at the five spot for practice today. I doubt it's Desmond Hubert he could see more playing time with the post depth decreased by one player. That leaves a choice between Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks. The good news is UNC's next three games are against a fairly soft schedule with teams ranked 182nd, 308th and 219th in the KenPom rankings.

Aside from the injury news and some discussion of the 5 AM practice, the press conference was about the end of P.J. Hairston's time at UNC although the details were scarce. Williams called the announcement that UNC would not seek reinstatement for Hairston the "lowest point" of his career. While Williams' hyperbole is famous, if you watch the press conference, the word "dejected" doesn't even begin to describe the Tar Heel coach's demeanor. Williams is clearly upset by the news and the 5 AM Thursday practice followed by recruiting at a tourney in Las Vegas which he just arrived back from before this media session probably isn't helping either.