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.