Thursday, March 22, 2012
UNC notes: Watts ready if called on
By Robbi Pickeral
ST. LOUIS -- North Carolina sophomore Harrison Barnes jokingly pondered recently exactly how play-every-position senior Justin Watts prepared for a game: Does he work on his dribbling, Barnes asked, or on defending big guys in the post?
Friday’s game against Ohio is easier in one respect: With starting point guard Kendall Marshall questionable to play because of a fractured right wrist, Watts will be working on the former.
“I’m ready,’’ Watts said Thursday. “If my number is called, I’ll be ready.”
That’s been the 6-foot-5 athlete’s mantra throughout his tenure in Chapel Hill. A natural wing, he played a lot of power forward when the Tar Heels were thin in the post last season. This year, after backup point guard/starting shooting guard Dexter Strickland tore his ACL in January, he played two stints at ballhandler -- a position he’s not totally unfamiliar with.
“The first position I played with my AAU team was point guard,’’ Watts said. “So I’ve got a little of that under my belt.”
Keep that in perspective, though. Freshman Stilman White (who will likely start if Marshall is a scratch) and Watts have combined for only 24 assists this season. Marshall had 21 in his previous two games.
“[Kendall] just told me to be myself, to play my game, to get the ball to my teammates,’’ Watts said.
“…It’s not about me, it’s about what I need to do to help my team win.”
ZELLERS’ CHOICE: Steve and Lorri Zeller said during the ACC tournament that if their two younger sons (UNC’s Tyler, and Indiana’s Cody) made the NCAA tournament in different brackets, they’d follow the elder one.
They’re sticking with it, and will be at the Edward Jones Dome to watch Tyler play Ohio, while Cody plays Kentucky in Atlanta on Friday.
“Both my parents are coming here because of seniority,” Tyler said.
JAYHAWK TALK: Coach Roy Williams said he was out for his morning walk Thursday when a passerby said, “Rock Chalk Jayhawk.”
His response, he said, was “Go KU.”
Old feelings die hard, even with the chance that his Tar Heels could meet up with his old team, the Jayhawks, on Sunday if both prevail Friday (Kansas plays NC State).
“I'll be ecstatic if we're still playing on Sunday regardless of who we're playing,’’ Williams said. “And I'm a Kansas fan. I'm a North Carolina fan first. For 15 years I was a North Carolina fan, but I was a Kansas fan first."
THE OTHER WRIST WATCH: UNC forward John Henson, who missed three games because of a sprained left wrist before returning Sunday against Creighton, said his wrist is feeling better; it remained wrapped during Thursday’s open practice.
Asked if he wished people were writing his number (31) on their wrists, like they’re now doing with Marshall’s No. 5, he said: “No. He actually broke his … so he’s a little more deserving of that.”
QUOTE-WORTHY: Williams on Marshall: “I just know the kid tells me he can't brush his teeth yet, how the dickens can he play basketball game if he can't brush his teeth? I mean, he can go out there with bad breath, but you still got to be able to play the dadgum game.”