CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall has carried a heavier work load in the 12 games since junior guard Dexter Strickland suffered a season-ending knee injury.
Before Strickland's injury during the Tar Heels' 82-68 win at Virginia Tech on Jan. 19, Marshall averaged 31.2 minutes of playing time per game in 19 games. Since then, he averages 35.4 minutes per game.
Marshall played 38 minutes during No. 4 North Carolina's 88-70 victory at Duke on Saturday night - the fifth time he has played that many minutes since Strickland's injury.
Entering the postseason, North Carolina coach Roy Williams said Monday he is concerned by Marshall's level of fatigue.
"It is a concern of us, and it's a concern probably more so probably because of the way I felt about this game on Sunday in the (ACC) tournament last year," said Williams, referencing how Marshall wore down in a 75-58 loss against Duke in the ACC championship game last season.
"Our practices have been cut back really short, and it's because all the guys (need rest) - but Kendall probably more so than probably anyone else."
Marshall said Monday that he became "a little tired," against Duke, but that he has attempted to combat fatigue through hydration, rest and breathing techniques.
"I think one thing that I try not to do is get too hyped," Marshall said. "Because when I do that, that's just using a lot of energy.
"So I try to maintain steady composure throughout the game - make sure I'm taking deep breaths, in my nose, out my mouth.
"Just little things like that, as well as just staying hydrated, you know, and getting as much water as possible."
Williams says Tar Heels will "try their darnedest:" Every season around this time, Williams is reminded of something he said leading into the 2004 ACC tournament during his first season as North Carolina's coach.
That year, he described the ACC tournament as more of a "cocktail party" than an intensely competitive event.
The comment created controversy, though Williams sounded frustrated Monday that it continues to stick.
"Those statements I made nine years ago, people are still writing the same statements," Williams said.
Since his "cocktail party" commentary, Williams said, "I've said that we're having a tournament, we're going over, we're going to try our darnedest to win it."
Still, the Tar Heels' most important postseason focus remains clear.
"The ACC tournament has been so fantastic for such a long time," Williams said. "But all tournaments are overwhelmed by that other tournament that goes on later.
"And there's no question, '05 and '09, we win the national championship and we didn't win the ACC tournament, but I think our folks were pretty happy with what did happen."