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February 18, 2013North Carolina is coming off a 1-1 week in which they lost to Duke last Wednesday and defeated Virginia Saturday afternoon.
During this two game stretch UNC Head Coach Roy Williams made a move that many UNC fans have been clamoring for him to make for weeks: inserting P.J. Hairston into the starting line-up.
Hairston rewarded Williams by posting a career-high 29 points against Virginia and 23 against Duke. Hairston has also put up decent rebounding numbers seven rebounds against Virginia and eight against Duke.
"I started to do it about five or six games ago," said Williams. "Every time I would think about doing it the match-up was not real good for us. I'm not saying that Duke and Virginia were good match-up's it's just that their four man was a different kind of player than some of the other teams."
"You know P.J.'s been playing well and I've been wanting to get him some more time," said Williams. "All the experts out there wanted me to put him in in place of Dexter (Strickland). They didn't have any idea about putting him in at the four spot. So we had some fun with that too, you know me."
Williams explained that he's been a fan of using this line-up in the past, even if he hasn't made it the full blown starting line-up until recently.
"You know we've played the small line-up quite a bit during certain times this year," said Williams. "I actually thought that that was our best line-up. It's not our best defensive line-up, it's not our best rebounding line-up but P.J. does a good job defensively but it is difficult for him to guard the 6'8, 6'9 scorers and that's something with Robert Carter it's going to be a challenge for him tomorrow night at Georgia Tech. but it's going to be a challenge for them on the other end."
One of Williams' biggest concerns in moving to a smaller line-up was in the rebounding category.
"In the Virginia game we did (well) but not in the Duke game," said Williams when talking about how his team fared on the glass last week. "I don't care what the numbers say, the two biggest plays of the game is when we get them to miss a shot and they get the rebound and score three's during those two possessions. Another time, Reggie (Bullock) was called for a foul basically on the shot clock violation."
"You can't have those kinds of things because to me the rebounding factor is the most important in who wins the game," said Williams.
Former Players Return During All-Star Weekend
When North Carolina took the court Saturday afternoon against Virginia they did so while a host of former Tar Heel's currently playing in the NBA sat courtside.
Tyler Hansbrough, Tyler Zeller, Kendall Marshall and ,John Henson all took in the action as they took a break from the grinding schedule of the pro league during the NBA All-Star Weekend.
For Zeller, it was an especially special day because he joined an illustrious group that has been honored at UNC by having his jersey hung in the rafters.
"He got the Patterson Medal, his jersey goes in the rafters, Mom and Dad were there, John Henson and Kendall Marshall, two of his teammates were there," said Williams about Zeller.
"It was great having all those guys back," said Williams. "Raymond Felton's in the gym today working out. It's good to see those guys and they like the break as well."
"He's (Zeller) an incredible young man," said Williams. "If you're looking for a true student-athlete I think in the Pictionary Tyler Zeller's picture would be right there beside of it. He was a guy that really cared about other people, cared about his team, put the team first all the time and could really, really play."
"There was not a day that I didn't really, really enjoy coaching Tyler Zeller," said Williams.
Meeks and Hicks named to McDonald's All-American Game
Earlier this week Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks were named to the upcoming McDonald's All-American game.
Williams took some time to acknowledge how special that honor is for the future Tar Heels.
"You know that's something that kids dream about," said Williams. "It's a big time deal for those guys. They've had very, very, very good high school careers and hopefully they'll keep developing and do the same thing for us."
Williams also shouted out another future Tar Heel who was not selected for the All-American game.
"We like Nate Britt as well. He's had knee surgery and missed a bunch of the year but he's back playing now and we're anxious to get back out and see Nate as well," said Williams.
Meeks and Hicks are the 61st and 62nd McDonald's All-American's that have gone on to play at UNC, the most of all time.
Previewing Georgia Tech
North Carolina plays Georgia Tech Tuesday night and Williams ended his show by giving a few words about the Tar Heels next opponent.
"They really have played a lot better. Their young, they're doing some good things," said Williams. "They outrebounded us 50-45. They had 17 offensive rebounds. We made some shots. We need that to happen again."
"I feel we're a better team as well but I think they're really a much better team," said Williams about how both teams have progressed since when the two teams met earlier in the year. "We've got to do a good job on the defensive end of the floor because they can score at every position."