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Guard Brandon Robinson could be out ‘a couple of weeks.’ How UNC might fill his role.

Brandon Robinson will not play in North Carolina’s season-opener against Notre Dame on Wednesday, and will likely miss a few more games after that.

UNC coach Roy Williams, who said Robinson’s injury was serious, officially ruled him out for at least the season-opener.

Robinson, a senior, suffered an ankle sprain last Friday in UNC’s exhibition game against Winston-Salem State. He stayed on the ground for a while and needed to be helped off the court.

“It’s really serious,” Williams told the media on Tuesday. “Like I said guys, he’s riding around on a scooter. He’s not walking. He’s got a boot on, and is still riding around on a scooter.”

UNC junior forward Garrison Brooks said the team expects to be without Robinson for “a couple of weeks.”

“Leader, energy guy. Glue guy,” Brooks said Tuesday, when asked what the teams loses with Robinson’s absence. “Really good scorer, playmaker. And that’s pretty much it right there. That says it all for B-Rob.”

Brandon Robinson slated to start for UNC

Robinson, a 6-5, 173-pound guard, was slated to be a starter this season.

His prognosis is a blow to the Tar Heels, who lose one of their most experienced players on this season’s roster. The Tar Heels play four games — against Notre Dame, UNC-Wilmington, Gardner-Webb and Elon — within the next two weeks.

He averaged 3.4 points in 35 games last season, and shot 46 percent from behind the 3-point line. Those numbers were expected to improve this season, as his role has increased. In the Tar Heels’ exhibition game last Friday, he scored eight points in the first five minutes of the game before he was injured.

“Losing B-Rob, he was the most experienced, highest field goal percentage from 3 last year, all those things, and he was also our third point guard,” Williams said. “So we lose him at the two, three, and now Andrew Platek, Christian Keeling, or Justin Pierce or Leaky Black are going to start at the two or three, and none of those guys have ever started in an ACC game.

“So just losing B-Rob was more than just one guy going down.”

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Leaky Black could step into Robinson’s role

Black, a 6-8, 195-pound sophomore guard and forward is most likely to step into Robinson’s role. He was one of the Tar Heels’ best defenders last season, and one of Williams’ primary rotation players before an ankle injury sidelined him for 14 games. Black, who averaged 2.5 points per game, and 2.1 rebounds last season, said he feels nearly 100 percent healthy.

He had nine points, seven assists and five rebounds in UNC’s exhibition.

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North Carolinas Leaky Black (1) reacts after a three-point basket by Shea Rush (11) in the closing minutes against Winston-Salem State on Friday, November 1, 2019 at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

Platek, a 6-4, 200-pound junior, also has experience in Williams’ system. He played in 32 games last season, and averaged 1.1 points per game.

Platek finished with eight points and three assists in last week’s exhibition.

Pierce and Keeling are both grad transfers. Keeling, who is 6-3, 180 pounds, averaged 18.7 points per game for Charleston Southern, while Pierce, who is 6-7, 200 pounds, averaged 14.9 points per game and 8.9 rebounds for William & Mary.

“We’re trying to piecemeal things together,” Williams said. “We’re not focusing on just playing the game, we’re trying to prepare for the long haul.”

“It’s been the most difficult preseason, for trying to get your team ready I’ve ever had.”

Notre Dame at No. 9 UNC

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Where: Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill

TV: ACC Network

Listen: WTKK-106.1, WCHL-97.9, WCHL-1360 in the Triangle; WBT-99.3, WBT-1110 in Charlotte;

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Jonathan M. Alexander has been covering the North Carolina Tar Heels since May 2018. He previously covered Duke basketball and recruiting in the ACC. He is an alumnus of N.C. Central University.
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