Injuries mounting for Tar Heels
Leading scorer Williams, defensive stopper Manuel may not play Tuesday
Posted: Monday December 1, 2003 6:05PM; Updated: Tuesday December 2, 2003 1:54AM
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- The greatest fear for Roy Williams has come true two weeks into the basketball season.
Injuries have started to pile up for No. 10 North Carolina, a team that already lacked quality depth.
The Tar Heels (3-0) will head into their toughest test of the season against No. 11 Illinois on Tuesday night without Jackie Manuel (knee) and David Noel (broken hand) and possibly missing leading scorer Jawad Williams.
"The biggest thing I've said all along is that we can't stand any of these things," the coach said Monday. "We have seven guys who have been in college games and had some success and we've already lost two.
"One writer asked me what the biggest difference between Kansas and North Carolina was and I said that's easy," Williams added. "In the game the other night their first sub was a guy who got 16 rebounds in the national championship game and our first sub is a walk-on freshman."
The 6-foot-6 Noel suffered his injury in the preseason and hasn't played yet, while Manuel, who has made 10 of 12 shots in three games and is the club's best defender, injured his knee over the weekend in a close win at Cleveland State. He could miss two weeks.
Williams, averaging 21.3 points and 7.7 rebounds, suffered a hip pointer in Sunday's practice. If the game was Monday, Williams said his star junior would not play in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in Greensboro.
"He's got to have some pretty significant improvement to play," the coach said.
Williams said depth has been an issue in North Carolina's first three wins before the recent injuries.
"And we haven't played any top 25 teams yet," Williams said. "We can't draft anybody and we can't call anybody up from the minor leagues so we've got to go with what we have. It's a huge problem for us."
Williams faced such adversity at Kansas in his first season there 15 years ago.
"One game we dressed seven and two guys fouled out and I made a JV player dress out at halftime," Williams said. "I didn't feel very comfortable."
While North Carolina will be short-handed, Illinois (3-0) uses 11 players who average at least 11 minutes a game.
Williams said he may be forced to call time-outs more for rest than strategy.
"We are still going to try to play very fast," he said.
Williams is also concerned about containing Illinois' backcourt, which includes one of the nation's best guards in Dee Brown.
"Dee has a fast pace, a faster pace of a where-did-he-go pace," Williams said. "It's one of those three."