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UNC Media Day Highlights

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Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The first order of business was P.J. Hairston which UNC addressed mostly via this press release. Hairston has been reinstated to practice.

University of North Carolina men's basketball coach Roy Williams says junior guard P.J. Hairston has earned the opportunity to practice with the team when the Tar Heels officially begin preparations for the 2013-14 season on Friday. Hairston was suspended from the team on July 28th.

"In 26 years as a head coach, I've never made the demands on a young man that I have made of P.J.," says Williams.  "To his credit, he accepted them without question. This is just the first step towards permanently earning his place back on the roster. He will have to sit out some games, but we haven't yet determined how many that will be.

"PJ has done, to this point, everything he's been asked to do, and done it with an outstanding attitude and a sense of remorse for his actions which put him in this position," says Williams.  "He knows he made a series of mistakes and understands very clearly that he embarrassed his family, our program and the University. But he's worked hard to get to where he could once again practice with the team."

"I am so sorry for the mistakes I made that brought such negative attention to the team, the University of North Carolina and my family," says Hairston. "That's not how I was brought up and it's certainly not how Coach Williams expects us to represent this program. I know I let a lot of people down, including our fans and all the people who love not just the basketball team but UNC. I will do whatever I can to regain your faith in me and make sure that I represent the school and the Tar Heels with respect in the future. I appreciate Coach Williams giving me another chance to show that I can and will make better choices and decisions. I owe it to my mom, my dad, my coaches and teammates and every Tar Heel out there to make you proud to have me play basketball for Carolina. It was my dream as a kid and I would love more than anything to have that chance once again."

In the press conference(you can watch in full below) Williams dealt with about ten minutes of Hairston questions before jumping into the basketball.

  • Williams says that he has asked of Hairston more than he was any player in 26 years. The thrust of that has been in conditioning. Hairston has participated in all of the team conditioning and has run 18 days extra. According to Williams, Hairston has done everything without complaint and done all of it to his satisfaction. Williams says he doesn't think anyone else on the team could do what Hairston did.

    Note here: Leslie McDonald told WTVD's Mark Armstrong that Hairston had to do 100 "33's" which is down the court and back three times in 33 seconds. The length of the court is 94 feet. If you run down and back three times, that is 564 feet or 171 meters. 171 x 100 is 17100 meters or 17.1K which is 10.6 miles. Oh and 100 x 33 seconds is about 55 minutes. Assuming he got a short break then we are talking 10.6 miles in one hour which a little over 5.5 minutes per mile.

    Now, I was a 4:31 miler in high school and ran three years of cross country in college. I did my fair share of gut-wrenching, verge of vomiting workouts. I am not sure I could have done what Hairston did. In fact if you factor in Hairston is 220 lbs(versus my 148 lbs dripping wet) and it is even more astounding. The only concern here is Hairston having a stress fracture.
  • In addition to the extra conditioning and missing games, Hairston has been stripped of all leadership responsibilities. This may not seem like much, but in the Dean Smith/Roy Williams model of a basketball program, upperclassmen are looked upon as leaders and enjoy certain privileges.
  • Williams has not spoken to the NCAA about Hairston, all contact with the governing body has occurred through the compliance office.
  • There is no indication of when the final decision on Hairston will be made or how many games he will sit. Williams says he doesn't know what he is going to do yet but that belies the fact that some of the suspension is likely out of his hands.
  • Leslie McDonald is not "deep in the doghouse" but "knows there's some barking going on." McDonald is also without senior leadership privileges.
  • On the basketball side, Williams is pleased with how the freshmen have responded. Kennedy Meeks showed up in Chapel Hill tipping the scales at 317 lbs. He is down to 292.
  • With the extra practice time(29 practices before the first game) there will be some experimentation with different lineups or as Williams said, they will "freelance" more. The idea of running two point guards has been discussed. UNC may also put three bigs on the floor with James Michael McAdoo or possibly Isaiah Hicks at the three. Chances are the potential absence of Hairston is necessitating some of this exploration though UNC's wing depth is thin even with all personnel playing.
  • Neither Joel James or McAdoo practiced or played from the near the end of the season until June due to injuries.
  • The players also met with the media. There were a wide variety of things bouncing around Twitter from the assembled meda, but nothing particularly revelatory. Marcus Paige says he think Joel James is the starting five right now and has undergone an amazing transformation. McAdoo commented he hopes to be productive now he is back in the power forward slot full time. James says he gave up #0 for Nate Britt then asked Sean May for permission to wear #42. No word on if Jerry Stackhouse gave his approval.
  • Because Hairston and McDonald both forfeited their leadership roles, Paige and McAdoo have been named team captains(via Inside Carolina.) I really like the notion of Paige being a team captain despite only being a sophomore. He has exhibited some great leadership skills and as the starting point guard the role comes quite naturally.