Welcome to The Debate! Each week, this article presents a topic for weekend discussion. Whether in the comments section, on the golf course, or around the game table, the goal is to provide enough background that either side could be a winner. In order to facilitate the discourse, a suggested beverage pairing is also included. So speak up, mix it up, and drink up.
I love glue guys. These are the true heroes of any successful college basketball team. While the high scoring playmakers get all of the publicity, glue guys keep the team steady through hard times and stuff the stat sheet. Whether the team is in need of a big bucket, a key rebound, a steal, or that assist that sparks a run, these are the players that fans know they can count on.
The Debate for the week of May 14: Who was the greatest glue guy for Carolina basketball?
Point: George Lynch
The 1992-93 NCAA Championship Tar Heels were loaded with talent. Eric Montross controlled the paint. Donald Williams was deadly from deep. Derrick Phelps was a superb floor general.
George Lynch was the glue guy. Hailing from Roanoke, Virginia, the McDonald’s All American was a highly rated recruit. Once in Chapel Hill, he flourished as a stat stuffing machine and a leader.
During the course of his senior season (the 92-93 Championship), Lynch established himself as one of the best rebounders in college basketball. At 6’8” tall, he was a master of establishing position and boxing out to secure boards. He average 9.6 rebounds per game for the year and had at least 10 rebounds per game from the Sweet 16 on. His 1097 career rebounds rank him as 9th all time in the ACC.
Glue guys, however, are not one trick ponies and Lynch’s senior year success showed all over the stat sheet. He averaged 14.7 points per game on 50% shooting from the field. He also contributed nearly two assists per game. His 241 career steals are 10th all time in the ACC and his senior year was the peak at 2.3 per game.
Beyond the numbers, Lynch was a tremendously fun player to watch. He was so fundamentally sound on the post that he could have made training videos on boxing out. He pulled the team together and seemed to be an energetic leader without being overly emotional. He was truly one of the greatest of all time.
Counterpoint: Theo Pinson
It is easy to forget that Theo Pinson had an injury plagued career at Carolina. He missed the first 14 games of his freshman season and the first 16 games of his junior season when he broke the same bone in both feet, one each year. While the setbacks hurt his total career numbers, his recovery was key to the National Championship run in 2016-17.
Think of the greatest shots in North Carolina basketball history. Luke Maye’s winner against Kentucky has to be high on that list. It was Theo Pinson who dribbled all the way down the court and made the game winning assist.
By the time the NCAA Tournament started that junior season, Pinson had returned fully from injury and was a full time starter. He regularly drew the most difficult defensive assignment and yet did not foul out a single game. Against Gonzaga in the National Championship, he grabbed 9 rebounds, had 2 assists, a steal, a block and 6 points.
The final play against Kentucky would prove to be an omen of things to come for Pinson. In 2017-18, as Kenny Williams struggled from the perimeter, Joel Berry II rotated to shooting guard late in the year and the 6’6” Pinson took over primary point guard duties (note: he did not start at point guard, but regularly initiated the offense late in the season). With a full, healthy season, Pinson’s numbers flourished his senior year. He averaged over 10 points, with 6.5 rebounds and a steal per game. He registered an amazing 5.1 assists per game against just 2.4 turnovers; pretty good for a small forward.
In 6 ACC and NCAA tournament games his senior season, he totaled a whopping 40 assists and scored 72 points. If only everyone else would have played as well in the second round game against Texas A&M, the game would not have been a blow out. Pinson had 11 assists, 7 rebounds and 4 points, contributing on about 40% of the Carolina points.
Like Lynch, Pinson was also a joy to watch. His smile revealed how much fun he had playing. He kept the team loose with his humor but could always turn on the intensity when needed and was constantly supporting his teammates. He will always be a Carolina champion.
Time for you to decide!
Was it the rebounding of George Lynch or the assists of Theo Pinson that were more impressive? Both played excellent defense and both were leaders on and off the floor, but who was the greatest? Is there someone else that should be considered? Debate over the weekend and leave comments!
Additional optional debate: who will be the best glue guy on the 2021-22 team?
In need of encouragement to debate – A close friend gave me a bottle of Hudson Whiskey Baby Bourbon for Christmas. Distilled in Gardiner, New York, the smooth flavor is perfect for sipping while debating. Notes of vanilla mix with a beautiful caramel for an outstanding spring happy hour.