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Posted: Thursday February 5, 2009 11:18AM; Updated: Thursday February 5, 2009 2:58PM
Seth Davis Seth Davis >
COLLEGE BASKETBALL MAILBAG

Why UNC will miss Ginyard, Georgia's coaching options, more

Story Highlights

Marcus Ginyard's redshirt is a blow to UNC's already questionable depth

Possible choices to replace Dennis Felton at Georgia do not include Bob Knight

More on the Duke-Wake game, Oklahoma and Dayton's tourney chances

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The loss of Marcus Ginyard will hurt North Carolina's depth and defense, but the Tar Heels are still a title contender.
AP
Seth Davis's Mailbag
Seth Davis will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his Hoop Thoughts column.
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Greetings, Hoop Thinkers. Got a lot of great 'Bag questions to get to, so let's start with a significant, albeit not entirely unexpected, bit of news that came out of Tobacco Road this week:

How big of a blow is Marcus Ginyard's redshirt this season to the Tar Heels? Are their championship hopes done?
-- Ted, Charlotte, N.C.

Ginyard broke his foot last October and underwent surgery that was supposed to keep him out 8-12 weeks. Roy Williams tried bringing him back in December, but then shut him down after just three games when it was apparent Ginyard wasn't ready. As the injury took longer to heal and the season dragged on, Williams was faced with the question of whether to do what was best for Ginyard or what was best for this year's team. If Ginyard had played in just one more game, he would not have been able to apply for a medical redshirt. Not surprisingly, Williams did right by his player, electing to shut him down for the remainder of the season so he could have a full year next season. Even if Ginyard did come back, he had missed so much time that it's doubtful he would have been that effective.

The significance here is that Ginyard was going to be this team's best defender. In fact, he would have been the only player in North Carolina's rotation whose primary focus was defense. So this is no small setback. I will say, however, that even though everyone talks about North Carolina's deficiencies on defense, that is not borne out by the numbers.

Check out where the Tar Heels are ranked nationally in the major defensive categories: rebound margin, ninth (+7.7); blocks, 12th (6.0); turnover margin, 16th (4.0); steals, 20th (9.0); field-goal percentage defense, 35th (39.8 percent); three-point percentage defense, 97th (32.5 percent). According to kenpom.com, they're also ranked 21st nationally in defensive efficiency, ahead of such defensive stalwarts as Pittsburgh (26), Arizona State (31), Clemson (32), UCLA (38), Michigan State (42) and Oklahoma (47). The Tar Heels might not be as good defensively as they need to be, but they're not as bad as you think.

The one saving grace with respect to Ginyard's injury is that he has not played for most of the season, so the Tar Heels don't have to adjust to something that they've lost. The same cannot be said, however, for the more surprising (and less noticed) announcement Tuesday that sophomore forward Will Graves was being suspended for the rest of the season for, according to a school statement, failing to "maintain the standards we expect of a Carolina basketball player." Graves was only averaging 4.0 points in 11.2 minutes, but his departure is yet another blow to this team's depth -- which was suspect to begin with. Remember, North Carolina also lost promising 7-foot freshman Tyler Zeller to a broken wrist in the second game of the season. That means they're now down three guys. With 6-3 guard Bobby Frasor having a disappointing senior season (he is averaging 2.4 points on 23.9 percent three-point shooting), the only other contributing reserves are a pair of freshmen, 6-10 forward Ed Davis and 6-1 point guard Larry Drew.

Of course, North Carolina is still 19-2 and ranked No. 3 in the country, so it is certainly not time to panic. To answer Ted's question, no, its national championship hopes are far from done, but they are clearly operating on much less margin for error.

Moving on to the rest of the 'Bag, I got not one, but two, good questions this week about the mighty Dayton Flyers:

Could the Dayton Flyers be the best unranked 20-2 major conference team in history? Admittedly, the A-10 is having a down decade and the Flyers haven't exactly played a tough schedule, but how can a 20-2 team who crushed Marquette and St. Joes still be unranked?
-- Andrew Zucker, Sandusky, Ohio

The Dayton Flyers have a great record and a decent RPI in a mediocre conference. How much will their poor strength of schedule hurt them on Selection Sunday?
--Vic Crainich, Monroe, Ohio

First of all, I know I'm going to disappoint a lot of people by saying this, but I have to take exception with Andrew's characterization of the Atlantic 10 as a "major" conference. I know we go through this debate every year, but I like to keep it simple and define "mid-major" as any conference outside the six that comprise the BCS. So yes, that means Xavier, Gonzaga and Memphis are technically mid-major programs.

As for Dayton, the Flyers' win over Marquette on Nov. 29 in Chicago is going to carry them a long, long way -- provided they don't lose too many games in the conference. Because the reality is, that win is their lone game against a team ranked in the top 50 of the RPI (though their victory over George Mason is holding up nicely). Overall, Dayton's nonconference strength of schedule is ranked a respectable 165th, so I don't think that will hurt them too badly. It would help their cause if they could beat Xavier at home on Wednesday, which is obviously their most important game of the season. I'd like to see the Flyers get into the tournament because this is a very athletic, deep team with a budding star in sophomore forward Chris Wright, who is leading this team in scoring (12.9 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg). But they've got to win to get in.

I got two really good questions about that classic Duke-Wake Forest game:

With respect to Duke's comeback to make it oh-so-close at the end, you wrote that '[Gerald] Henderson also hustled downcourt on Wake's ensuing possession and pulled down a tough defensive rebound, but when he landed, he fell down and committed a traveling violation.' When Henderson landed, he didn't fall down on his own; he fell down only because he came down on top of a Wake player on the floor, causing him to fall. How can he get called for traveling when the Wake player caused it?
-- Andrew Jones, Falls Church, Va.

Which stood out more in your mind after the Duke-Wake Forest clash: Duke's relative lack of size and scoring inside, or Wake's relative youth showing up in the final minutes when they coughed up a 13-point lead?
-- Clint Oftedahl, Westminster Station, Vt.

The question about Henderson is salient because one of the "absolutes" that the NCAA's new supervisor of officials, John Adams, has issued is that if a defender causes a player to fall down and travel, then it should be called a foul. That, however, mostly applies to a dribbler. In Henderson's case, he jumped up to grab the rebound and then landed on Wake guard Jeff Teague, who was lying on his back after missing the shot. You can't foul a guy if you're lying on your back and he lands on you, so in that case, traveling was the correct call.

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