It’s been six long weeks since the news of Cole Anthony’s injury changed the course of the UNC basketball season. The long wait included plenty of debate as to whether or not Anthony should shut it down for season and instead focus on his NBA career. Cole and his family shot that down pretty quickly, so fans have just been counting the days.
The intervening weeks has seen a rough stretch of Carolina Basketball with losses to Wofford, Gonzaga, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Pittsburgh twice, and Virginia Tech. However, the Virginia Tech loss showed signs of a team getting comfortable in their roles, and the Tar Heels have won two in a row in convincing fashion. The wins have kept their very dim NCAA hopes alive, as long as Cole was going to return.
Well, today, Roy Williams confirmed that Anthony has in fact been cleared to return and has been practicing. Roy stated that he is probable for tomorrow’s game against Boston College before the schedule really ramps up with a short turnaround trip to Tallahassee and then the first meeting against Duke next Saturday.
In this day and age where players usually beat their coach in making announcements, Anthony gave fans a tease of the good news in his Instagram stories last night. He posted a simple black screen with wide smiling emoji in the middle, a sign that he had gotten the good news to move forward.
The Tar Heels will now look to show they are a dramatically different team with Anthony than without, creating a narrative that a strong finish to the season could sneak them into the tournament. How well Anthony will play is a great unknown, both after six weeks off and having to play on a surgically repaired knee, but at the very least the addition of a player is great news for a team that appears to be rounding into form.