P.J. Hairston

UNC’s P.J. Hairston hurt in practice, won’t play versus IU


North Carolina will be down one of its top wings for Tuesday’s game against Indiana.

ESPN.com’s Robbi Pickeral is reporting that sophomore forward P.J. Hairston injured his knee in practice on Sunday and was doubtful to play. Now, the program’s official Twitter account announced he will not play in tomorrow’s game against the no. 1-ranked Hoosiers. Hairston did not even make the trip to Bloomington. Coach Roy Williams didn’t sound very positive from the beginning.

“Right now, I don’t think he’s going to practice today,” Williams said. “If he doesn’t practice today, he’s probably not going to play tomorrow.”

Hairston was averaging 10.8 points and 4.2 rebounds for the Tar Heels, who are coming off their third place finish in the Maui Invitational. The injury occurred during dribbling drills, according to teammate Dexter Strickland. The team doesn’t believe the injury is serious.

The loss of the 6-5, 220-pound Hairston will hurt the Heels on the perimeter and in the paint. Hairston’s hit 12 three’s so far this season, tied for second on the team, and is third on the team in scoring despite coming off the bench for all six games so far this season.

Though his best attribute may be he’s versatility, and that’s the biggest loss, per this quote from Williams.

“He’s the only guy (at the wing) that’s worked at the 4,” Williams said. “Nobody else has.”

A guard-heavy rotation might be the way to go with Hairston out, with reserves J.P. Tokoto, Frank Tanner and Luke Davis getting more minutes.

With Hairston out, this could work out well for UNC, with more guards being on the floor to take on Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and role players like Remy Abell. Though you definitely can’t discount Hairston’s role on the team. It does take a little luster of this heavyweight matchup.

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.