#1 UNC Already Dodging Bullets

Posted by rtmsf on October 8th, 2008

If you want to get a Carolina fan really riled up, we mean realllllly excited, just mention how many titles your favorite team would have won had it not been for some injury to some key player along the way.  Every team has a story or two like that in their attic somewhere.  Well, for Carolina fans, their key injuries that have ‘cost’ them national championships have taken almost mythic proportions.  Just mention the words “Phil Ford” and “1977″ in the same sentence (referring to Ford’s injured elbow in the NCAA Tournament), or “Kenny Smith” and “1984″ in another (referring to Smith’s broken wrist suffered in January of that year), or even “Derrick Phelps” and “1994″ for good measure (referring to Phelps’ concussion in their NCAA loss against BC). 

UNC Fans Are Hoping This Doesn’t Last Too Long

Let’s hope that today’s news won’t be another chapter in those annals, as UNC released news that their Mr. Everything on Defense, senior guard/forward Marcus Ginyard, will miss as much as the next eight weeks after surgery for a stress fracture on his left foot.  From the UNC Athletics site:

Doctors inserted a screw in his fifth left metatarsal. The Alexandria, Va., native was Carolina’s defensive player of the year in each of the last two seasons, was a member of the all-tournament team at the 2008 ACC Championships and has started 55 of the 107 games he has appeared in as a Tar Heel. [...] Ginyard started all 39 games last year, averaging a career-best 6.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He made both the coaches’ and media ACC all-defensive teams and was UNC’s defensive player of the game 11 times, including the NCAA East Regional title-game win over Louisville. He scored in double figures in all three ACC Tournament victories.

In other words, not an insignificant piece of their overall puzzle.  The rangy 6’5 Ginyard can defend the 1-4 positions and played 70% of the available minutes last year (third behind Hansbrough and Ellington), using his length and quickness to harass opposing scorers all over the court. 

Should UNC fans be concerned that another Phil Ford or Kenny Smith situation is afoot?   Probably not to that level, but foot injuries do have a tendency to linger, seeing as how ankles like to twist and feet like to get mashed during the battles underneath.  We know UNC can score bunches of points, but their downfall last year was their relatively average defense (#90 in eFG% and #179 in TO%) - an inability to ensure stops when they absolutely needed them – and losing a defensive stalwart like a 100% Ginyard is cause for mild concern. 

The good news for Heel fans is that Ginyard should be healed completely by January according to doctors, but those fans smitten with the idea of an unbeaten regular season should dampen those hopes somewhat.  A November home game vs. Kentucky, a trip to Maui where Alabama, Notre Dame and/or Texas await, and a quasi-away game at Michigan St. in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge will put the Heels to the test before ACC play begins, especially if their best defender is still on the bench.   

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