Roy spoke at length about the injuries and what not on Monday. The short, short version is: Deon Thompson feels better, Marcus Ginyard is better, Bobby Frasor is still out(in case you were wondering) and Quentin Thomas now has the “flu” though it is likely one of those 48 hour bugs sort of like I have right now which he probably got from Danny Green. And concerning Ty Lawson he said he was better but Lawson would not play versus NC State. He went into more detail about the process surrounding getting Lawson back.
Is Lawson possibly being overly cautious in his return, with one eye looking to the future?
“I don’t think that is a factor at all. We’ve never talked about. He still has pain in the foot, and the doctors are being very cautious with it, which is what we should be. Whether I like it or not, and in fact I don’t like it, that everybody only talks about the end of the year in college basketball, but that’s what everybody talks about – it is an important time. So I think we would be making a huge mistake trying to rush somebody to get back in when [you] are still keeping your head above water and feeling like you’ve got a great chance to play at the end of the year. We’d rather be healthier at the end of the year.
“We have not discussed, and I don’t think it’s been in Ty’s mind one second about something that he’s trying to protect himself [against]. I think he wants to help the Tar Heels win, and frankly, if I had a player that I thought [that way], then I could keep him out a heck of a lot longer and could make him really be healthy.”
When Lawson comes back, does he automatically take back the starting role?
What we’ll probably do is that hopefully he’ll have a couple of days of practice where his first real action is not just in that game. And if we can get him two or three days of practice at pretty much full speed before the game, then I think the chances of him coming in and starting are much greater than it would be if we’re saying, ‘Well, we can only get 10 or 12 minutes out of him today’ and then trying to piecemeal him back in a little bit at a time.
“So I really think it depends on when we feel that we can start going with him, and whether that’s in a practice time – like I say, two or three times – or if he comes in and practices a half-hour one day and 45 minutes the next and then the next day you play a game. I think that way would be difficult to put him back in the starting lineup. But if we can have him pretty much full go for a couple of days… I think he won the starting [job] over five weeks of preseason practice and was playing great basketball.”
In terms of reasonable speculation, which is pretty much what I am here to offer, I think Ty Lawson’s ankle injury was far worse than anyone realized or was willing to say. In fact given the healing time involved for a high ankle sprain versus the lower version, I think it is clear that is what this is despite Roy saying it was not one. Either that or it was about as serious a sprain a player can have without actually tearing the ligaments. My current read on this and some comments made during the radio show Monday night, I think we see Lawson back for Wake Forest but for limited minutes. Roy’s focus is in the right place and that is on the NCAA Tournament. He also knows Lawson needs a few games to return to full form and for the team to readjust to his presence. That is why I think Wake Forest is the logical game for his return since it gives him three games before Duke and 5-7 games before the NCAA Tournament. The only obstacle appears to be the pain he feels in the foot and given the degree to which Lawson uses his speed, pain down there undoubtedly slows him down.
The truth of the matter is UNC has gone from barely keeping their head above water to treading water nicely with QT running the show. If they can keep that going, it takes the pressure of Lawson to come back before he is ready.