North Carolina freshman point guard Kendall Marshall will remain in the starting lineup for Wednesday's game at Miami "unless something weird happens between now and Wednesday night," coach Roy Williams said during Monday's ACC conference call.
But don't expect any other changes, at this point, to the opening five.
Forward Justin Knox - who Williams had thought about starting last Tuesday vs. Clemson in place of Tyler Zeller - was scheduled to miss Monday's practice because of a class. Meanwhile, guard Leslie McDonald - who the coach had pondered starting in place of Dexter Strickland - was scheduled to practice Monday after missing Tuesday's victory because of a back bruise and lung injury. But McDonald hadn't practiced in a week, Williams said, so it was unclear how much he would be able to contribute.
In addition, freshman Reggie Bullock was also slated to return to practice Monday after sitting out five days because of swelling in his left knee, Williams said. Junior Justin Watts, who sprained his right ankle in the game, was scheduled to be limited to going through dummy offense, at best.
"I have a flare-up every now and then, and that's frustrating," Bullock, who had surgery on the knee during his senior high school season, said before practice. "But I've been rehabbing, getting it right, and it should be fine."
Williams said it was a difficult decision last week, inserting Marshall into the starting five in place of junior Larry Drew II. But it worked.
Marshall's crisp passing and floor vision jump-started the offense, and he finished with five points and five assists in 22 minutes. Drew, the better defender of the two ballhandlers, played one of his most complete games of the season, recording eight points and a career-high four steals in 23 minutes during the 10-point victory.
"If you look at my track record over the years, most of the time when I get the group that starts, I stick with it," Williams said. " In '06, I took Marcus Ginyard out and stuck Wes Miller in the lineup, and that was really big for us. It gave us another outside shooter, and it got us going. I think we had lost two out of three or three out of the four in the ACC, and we go down to Florida State, and Wes makes a few 3s [six, to be exact] for us that were big for us.
"I don't do it [change the starting lineup] a lot, but it was hard to do, especially because Larry was trying so hard defensively. But we were just a little stagnant offensively, and we can still get him to be extremely important to us, just like he was in the Clemson game."
After that game, Williams said, he told Drew how proud he was of his play and reiterated to the junior how key his performance was to the Tar Heels.
"They've all just got to look: Several years ago, Marvin Williams did not start one single game, but he was extremely important to us, we won the national championship, he was the second player taken in the NBA Draft," Williams said. "If you're important to the team, that's the most important thing - not whether you run out there at the start or not."
email@example.com or 919-829-8944