Juniors Drew, Zeller must play big role on UNC's road to redemption
While the Smith Center undergoes renovations, North Carolina coach
It's as if
The 20-17 record is the worst in Williams' career, which consists of coaching two of the nation's three winningest programs. The Tar Heels wrapped up the forgettable season with a loss to Dayton in the NIT championship game. And the UNC coach certainly wasn't pleased to play in the
"I took a great deal of pride in playing in 20 consecutive NCAA tournaments," Williams said. "Not only played but won a game, and nobody else had ever done that. There was a lot of thinking introspectively. I think I'll carry that disappointment all summer until we get out on the court and erase it this year."
UNC doesn't look drastically different from last year's squad that had to replace its top four scorers from the 2009 national championship team.
Drew started all but one game for UNC last season. The junior point guard averaged 5.9 assists per game on a team whose leading scorer averaged just 13.7 points (graduated
But the growing point guard has plenty of room for improvement. Both Williams and Drew pointed at one category in particular: turnovers.
"Larry's just gotta make better decisions with the ball," Williams said. "He had a lot of assists last year without a great offensive team around him.
The comparisons to Lawson have been endless for Drew. In the immediate shadow of yet another great Tar Heels point guard, Drew has dealt with the expectations that come along with following a guy who had a 3.48 assist-to-turnover ratio in a title-winning season.
"I wasn't necessarily trying to fill his shoes," Drew said. "I'm all about being me. It was definitely challenging to not play as much as a freshman and watch a guy like Ty, and then start as a sophomore and people kind of throw these expectations at you. The things that he brought the program, I definitely want to be like him in that sense. But I don't want to
Without the four would-be NBA draft picks Lawson was blessed with, Drew will have to rely on players like superfrosh
Zeller has worked on both his hook shot and face-up game this offseason, but is still not where he wants to be coming off his second injury in two years. Zeller has yet to enjoy a full ACC season; a wrist injury sidelined him for 23 games his freshman season and a foot injury last year kept him out for 10 games.
"They've definitely made me physically stronger," said Zeller, who pointed to the weight he gained from his lethargy after both injuries. "But the other part of it is, I don't have the experience I should have as a junior. I don't have the game time. And then taking long periods of time off like that, you can't really develop your skills."
But fellow slim big man
The addition of Alabama transfer
"In the tournament we should be in -- the NCAA tournament," Drew said. "We weren't delivering last year, so I don't really blame the people for not wanting to pay the money to come see us get whupped out here."