Hoopsbag: North Carolina edition

Each week, I’ll try to answer your queries, comments, raves and rants about North Carolina hoops (and other related issues/teams). Send your interrogatives by visiting this page. You can also email me at bylinerp@gmail.com or contact me via Twitter at @bylinerp.

Kim Porter from Asheville, NC writes: Hi Robbi -- As much as it pains me to say the name Zeller right now, (kidding aside, nice game Cody!) I heard that Tyler got a mean elbow to the face in a game before Thanksgiving and suffered a concussion and a broken cheekbone. How is Tyler doing now?

Pickeral: Hi, Kim. Zeller, now a rookie for the Cleveland Cavaliers, suffered the fractured orbital bone and concussion on Nov. 5 against the L.A. Clippers, and returned on Nov. 17, wearing a protective mask. The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Jodie Valade had a good story over the weekend about Zeller’s adjustment to the NBA; you can find that here.

On a funny note, Cleveland’s coach also apparently has assigned his team’s rookies -- including Zeller -- baby dolls and carriages to give them more responsibility. Wrote Mary Schmitt Boyer:

Zeller didn't look too thrilled with the development. Asked if he had any experience with babies -- his "baby" brother is 7-0 Indiana Hoosiers star Cody Zeller -- Zeller grumbled, "No."

Michael Brown from Peoria, Ill., writes: my Heels are going through tough times. this season is a rebuilding one i know, but i am extremely upset with roy williams more than anyone else. why does this man refuse to call a timeout when the opposing team goes on a run??? why let them continue to be hot?? every coach that i have ever seen in basketball on any level have called timeout if the other teams gets hot and goes on a run . i never understood why he would flat out refuse to do that. plus why don't any of you media pundits ever ask him that question??

Pickeral: Well, Michael, actually he has been asked that timeout question many times over the years. Here’s one example from last season when he explained some of his reasoning.

And here’s more on his timeout philosophy from last season.

And here’s where I addressed a similar question last season.

The quick gist is this: During another team’s run, Williams believes in letting his squad fight it out on its own – that his players should be able to take what they learned in practice and apply it in order to fight through the adversity. Sometimes it works (one example was a game against Georgia Tech a few years back when the Tar Heels rallied after being down by 20-plus points); sometimes it doesn’t (Kansas in the NCAA national semifinals in 2008 comes to mind). Love it or hate it, agree with it or not, it’s a philosophy he’s not going to change -- even though it can be extremely frustrating to fans.

But if you’re looking for a positive: because he does it so infrequently, it really gets his players’ attention when he does call a timeout.

@bamcmill tweets: Do you think we give too much credit for wins over highly ranked teams in the early season? Take UK for ex. #3 but now unranked.

Pickeral: In some cases, probably -- especially when those teams don't live up to those high early-season rankings. And we likely give too little credit for wins over some un-ranked teams early in the season, too. It's the nature of the polls; so much is based on potential and opinion. (And in my opinion, there's still a lot of potential for Kentucky to be quite good.)

Rod Murray from Halifax, NS, writes: With Joel James and Kennedy Meeks being on the Tar Heels at the same time, is Roy thinking about going to a more traditional halfcourt offense rather than trying to score 90 by running??

Pickeral: Rod, we're barely into 2012-13! Meeks -- a big man who recently signed with the Tar Heels -- won’t arrive in Chapel Hill as a freshman until next season, so you really are thinking ahead.

But to answer your question: No, I doubt Williams is going to stop running; he always wants his teams to go faster-faster-faster. Even though James [a freshman this season] and Meeks are bigger-bodied big guys, they’ll have to keep up the pace. After talking to both of them, they both knew the speedy expectations when they signed with the Tar Heels.