Friday, January 9, 2009

Williams Unclear on Ginyard's Return

Five days after Boston College put a chink in North Carolina's armor, another potential hit to the Tar Heels' invincibility could be on the way.

Senior small forward Marcus Ginyard, who started all 39 games for North Carolina last season, has only played in three contests this year after undergoing surgery on his foot in the preseason. As a result, head coach Roy Williams is not sure when -- or if -- Ginyard will return at full strength.

"I don’t know. I’m very – you pick the adjective – frustrated, concerned," Williams told reporters at Friday's press conference. "But I just thought and Marcus thought that he would be farther along at this step. We are even discussing holding him out for a little bit and just letting him rehab and seeing if he can get back to that point where he was in the past."

The 6-5 Ginyard is one of the top defenders in the country, and was an integral part of the Tar Heels' run to the Final Four last season. One of the main problems for North Carolina this season has been its perimeter defense, which is exactly where Ginyard excels.

"The guy was our defensive player of the year," Williams said. "You look at our club right now – is there anybody that we can put out there that can make life miserable for the 6-foot-3, 6-foot-6 guy on the other team? And I don’t know that we have."

Ginyard's numbers are obviously down across the board from last season, most noticably in minutes, where the senior is averaging just 12.3 per game -- a far cry from the 28.2 he played per contest last year. In the three games he played this season (against Rutgers, Nevada and Boston College), Ginyard totaled four points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.

Williams did not rule out the possibility of redshirting Ginyard, which would have to take place in the next week, as the Tar Heels' showdown against No. 4 Wake Forest on Sunday marks the mid-point of the season. As per NCAA rules, a player is ineligible to redshirt if he plays one game past the halfway mark of the season.

"Right now, I’m trying to get Marcus ready to play for our team. Period," Williams said. "Isn’t there sometime that you’re going to want a healthy Marcus Ginyard? And that answer is every day. But you also open your eyes yourself and look at it and we don’t have that right now."

Ginyard has been practicing everyday, according to Williams. However, Williams also said that he hasn't practiced 50 percent of any practice this season, and is not likely to do that in the coming days, either. It is clear that Williams is growing increasingly frustrated with the amount of time it is taking Ginyard to fully recover, as he expected Ginyard to play on December 3, given that he underwent surgery on October 8.

If North Carolina is to make a run at the Final Four and a national championship, Ginyard's return to health could be a necessity -- and Williams might know that.

"I don’t know that you can put a finger on it, but I’ll say it to you this way – is it the Marcus Ginyard that you’ve seen the last three years?" he said. "Mentally, he knows where to go, but when he gets there, he doesn’t have a heck of a lot in the tank.

"There’s some times when I’d like to have a healthy Marcus Ginyard out there and we don’t have him."

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