Key Losses: G Raymond Felton (12.9 ppg, 6.9 apg), G/F Jackie Manuel (5.5 ppg, 1.3 spg), C Sean May (17.5 ppg, 10.7 rpg), G/F Rashad McCants (16.0 ppg, 2.7 apg), F Jawad Williams (13.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg), F Marvin Williams (11.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
Postseason: NCAA: Defeated Oakland 9668, defeated Iowa State 9265, defeated Villanova 6766, defeated Wisconsin 8882, defeated Michigan State 8771, defeated Illinois 7570 for the national title
Blue Island, IL/Brother Rice
Alexandria, VA/Bishop OConnell
North Babylon, NY/Manhasset
Poplar Bluff, MO/Poplar Bluff
The Tar Heels bring in four recruits, all of whom could play significant roles. Hansbrough is the most likely of the four to start immediately, since UNC lost Sean May and Marvin Williams to the NBA Draft. Ginyard, a defensive menace, and fellow swingman Green will find plenty of minutes as well. Frasor likely will lend a hand at the point, but he's far more dangerous as a shooter. The Tar Heels failed to secure a late signee after their pro defections.
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Roy Williams says winning the national championship has not changed him. Williams is hoping this somewhat uncertain season won't change the fan base that heaped so much praise on the coach after North Carolina beat Illinois in St. Louis.
"A guy after our banquet said to me, 'You have no idea how happy we are to have you back,'" Williams says. "I said, 'Meet me right here a year from now and tell me the same blessed thing.'"
Williams' Tar Heels almost certainly will finish short of the Final Four. But the coach who contended for titles year after year at Kansas -- finally breaking through at his alma mater -- would like to keep the engine rolling in Chapel Hill despite a massive talent outage.
"Winning (the championship) legitimizes the 2005 team," he says. "But it doesn't have the program where I want it to be."
Senior David Noel and junior Reyshawn Terry are the only returning Tar Heels who played in the NCAA title game. Noel, a former walk-on, figures to have the green light more often this season after deferring to teammates in the past. Though the team needs him to become one of its primary scoring threats, Williams intends for Noel to stay within his limits.
"We are going to need him to do more, but I don't need him to try to do things he cannot do," Williams says.
No one outside the program is quite sure what the 6-foot-8 Terry is capable of. While spelling high-scoring Rashad McCants, Terry would make as many good plays as bad ones. This year, he gets time to even out his game.
Freshman Tyler Hansbrough seems to have the skills and tenacity to establish himself quickly on the low block. Current and former Tar Heels took note of Hansbrough's work ethic during the celebrated summer pick-up games in Chapel Hill.
"Tyler, he's a horse in there," says Terry.
The Tar Heels are counting on defense and rebounding from senior big man Byron Sanders, who started 12 games as a freshman but was an afterthought last year as a junior.
Speculating on UNC's next point guard was a popular way for Tar Heel nation to kill time while waiting in line to buy championship merchandise. Sophomore Quentin Thomas is the heir to Raymond Felton, but he didn't do much to inspire confidence.
Thomas has the quickness Williams craves for his transition game, but Thomas' struggles outnumbered his successes last season (47 assists, 48 turnovers).
UNC also seeks a shooter, which it could find in freshmen Bobby Frasor and Danny Green. Frasor burst onto the national scene with hot shooting in a spring AAU tournament after his junior season. He also could spell Thomas at the point -- or take the job outright. The versatile Green comes highly regarded from a Long Island private school.
No matter who handles the ball, Williams isn't going to change his up-tempo attack.
"I may try to run faster," he says. "If we're not going to be very good, let's make a lot of mistakes and make 'em quicker so I don't have time to worry about 'em."
Williams challenged his players to treat the offseason as Sean May did the previous summer, when he went from a winded and inconsistent player to the indefatigable Final Four MVP.
Many minutes became available with the underclass exodus in Chapel Hill. The reigning champs' encore may depend solely on the resolve of untested players such as Thomas, Terry and the freshmen.
Pressure will be on Noel, Hansbrough and Sanders to provide an interior presence on both ends of the floor. If the players respond to Williams' challenge, UNC could surprise outsiders who have this team pegged to finish in the middle of the ACC.
There are, however, a couple of things in the Tar Heels' favor. The league lost a gaggle of great point guards, softening the blow of Felton's departure. And, most important, still leading the Tar Heel huddles is Williams, who hasn't won fewer than 19 games in a season since becoming a head coach. He has 470 victories in 17 years at Kansas and UNC.