1 North Carolina

Nov. 19, 2007
Nov. 19, 2007

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Nov. 19, 2007

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College Basketball Preview

1 North Carolina

The Tar Heels' merriest prankster is highly serious about getting them to the Final Four

During lastseason's NCAA tournament, Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said that his startingpoint guard, Tywon Lawson, was the team's Dennis the Menace. The comic-stripcharacter is a renowned tornado of trouble, and Lawson is a 5' 11"whirlwind who averaged 10.2 points and 5.6 assists as a freshman. But the realsimilarity, insists Mr. Wilson--er, Williams--is that Lawson "is like alittle kid who does things just to see your reaction."

This is an article from the Nov. 19, 2007 issue

Indeed, life as aTar Heel offers Lawson the opportunity not only to run an elite basketball teamat breakneck speed--the Heels were the fastest team to make the NCAAs,averaging 73.1 possessions per game--but also to wreak havoc behind the scenes."I don't like people to be bored in the locker room," he says. Saysbackup point guard Bobby Frasor, whose pale arms Lawson likes to slap so he canadmire the resulting handprint, "If you were to just scratch Ty, he'dprobably break something on you." Coaches aren't immune from Lawson'spranks--he has hidden Williams's Sprite during film sessions--and neither arefans. At a team banquet in April, Lawson announced he was leaving for the NBA,then paused before telling a silenced crowd he was kidding.

There was aserious reason for Lawson to return to Chapel Hill. With him at the helm, theHeels are well-positioned to win the national championship. Williams thinksLawson played his best basketball at the end of 2006-07; over his final 16games Lawson had a brilliant 3.5-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. Coming out ofOak Hill (Va.) Academy in '05, Lawson wanted to play alongside fellow Marylandnative Kevin Durant and even briefly considered withdrawing his commitment toUNC. Instead he happily ended up with this year's preseason Wooden Awardfavorite, 6' 9" forward Tyler Hansbrough, who Lawson says is "thehardest worker I've ever seen--ever."

With forward DeonThompson poised to have a breakout year in place of departed lottery pickBrandan Wright, Williams has already said the Heels can play faster than theydid last season. This year Lawson should lead the sprint to San Antonio."Anything less," he says, "and it'll be a wasted season."

[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]


PGTy Lawson


5'11"Soph.10.2 ppg5.6 apg
SGWayne Ellington


6'4"Soph.11.7 ppg2.1 apg
SFMarcus Ginyard6'5"Jr.4.1 ppg3.2 rpg
PFTyler Hansbrough


6'9"Jr.18.4 ppg7.9 rpg
FDeon Thompson6'8"Soph.4.7 ppg2.4 rpg
FAlex Stepheson6'9"Soph.2.1 ppg2.2 rpg


Nov. 14 Davidson(in Charlotte)

Nov. 18 Iona

Nov. 20 SouthCarolina State

Nov. 23-24 LasVegas Invitational (vs. Old Dominion; plus BYU, Louisville)

Nov. 28 at OhioState

Dec. 1 atKentucky

Dec. 4 atPenn

Dec. 16 atRutgers

Dec. 19 NichollsState

Dec. 22 UC SantaBarbara

Dec. 27Nevada

Dec. 30Valparaiso

Jan. 2 KentState

Jan. 9 UNCAsheville


Fingers arecrossed for a possible matchup with Louisville--a good bet to meet the Heels inthe Las Vegas Invitational. A matchup with Kentucky in Lexington a week latergives Carolina a chance to make fans in the Bluegrass State feel truly blue.Five other 2007 NCAA tournament teams lard a slate that's deceptivelytough.

Grade: B+


Coach RoyWilliams (5th year)

2006-07 record31-7

ACC record 11-5(T-1st)

NCAA tournamentElite Eight

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PHOTOJOHN W. MCDONOUGHOVERDRIVE With Lawson's foot on the gas, UNC will again be one of the nation's fastest teams.ILLUSTRATION