Drew entered tough spot at North Carolina, leaves it in tough spot

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This was never going to end well.

Larry Drew II left the North Carolina program Friday, capping a disappointing tenure for the point guard who failed mostly at two things: running UNC’s up-tempo offense and not being Ty Lawson.

“It is unfortunate my career didn’t meet expectations in Chapel Hill,” Drew said in a statement. “However I do look forward to continuing my collegiate and athletic career in the near future.”

His undignified departure – who leaves a 16-5 team in early February? – will cement his status among Tar Heel fans as one of the most unpopular players in recent memory, but it’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Drew. He was never cut out for this.

And Roy Williams should’ve recognized that long ago. Would’ve saved them both some grief.

Few point guards – let alone untested underclassmen – could’ve stepped into Lawson’s shoes. Drew lacked Lawson’s speed, shot and ability to handle the Tar Heels’ up-tempo offense. Lawson boasted gaudy assist-to-turnover numbers, led the Heels to back-to-back Final Fours and capped his career with MOP during the Tar Heels’ 2009 season. (Not to mention Lawson’ supporting cast was better.)

When the Heels struggled throughout the 2009-10 season and missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003, Drew took most of the blame because of his inability to make that once-sparkling offense hum, though it wasn’t all his fault. But Williams (whose own stubborn refusal to adjust or explore other options sooner bears some of the blame in this) stuck by Drew and handed him the reins again this season despite having talented freshman Kendall Marshall available.

When Williams finally inserted Marshall into the starting lineup four games ago, it seemed like everything would resolve itself nicely. Drew remained one of the team’s better defenders and even dished nine assists during Sunday’s win against Boston College.

Apparently not. Drew’s abrupt departure reeks of selfishness, which is strange given how steadfastly Williams supported him during the last 15 months. That’s how you repay one of the few guys who believed in you? You leave the team in a lurch?

That’s a selfish point guard.

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