For the third straight year, the nation's collegiate basketball team with the wealthiest accumulation of talented depth has seen its riches depleted.
Last year it was point guards Ty Lawson[db] and [db]Bobby Frasor who led the way with serious injuries.
This time it is the loss of senior guard Marcus Ginyard, who announced after Tuesday's 108-91 victory against Maryland that he will be sitting out the remainder of this season as a medical redshirt casualty. In addition, the Tar Heels have lost redshirt sophomore forward William Graves, who was suspended for the rest of the season by Coach Roy Williams for unspecified reasons.
Earlier in the year, freshman 7-footer Tyler Zeller suffered a broken wrist and will more than likely be out for the rest of the season, although that final determination has not been announced.
Ginyard had surgery on his left foot in early October and was expected to return in eight weeks and be ready to go at full force. Instead, he continues to have pain in his foot and his lateral movement is inhibited to the extent that Ginyard, his family and Williams felt that it was in the player's best interest to sit out and return for a fifth year.
"This is the best decision for me as a player," Ginyard said. "At the end of the day, I have to do what is best for me. I almost felt like if I would continue to play on it at this point, I wouldn't be at 100 percent. And to be out there and not be at 100 percent, I would feel like I was cheating my teammates. That would be an even worse feeling than not being on the court.
"Running straight ahead is OK. On the offensive end, I felt I could get through some of the plays without making as sharp as cuts as I usually would. But on the defensive end, there is just no getting around having to move laterally. That was definitely what was causing me the most pain."
As for Graves, Williams would not explain why he felt this disciplinary action was necessary, but he said that he had been thinking about it for the last several days. Graves did not play against N.C. State on Saturday and then sat out tonight's game. Williams said that he decided on the punishment in the last 48 hours.
While there is no guarantee Graves will return to the team this fall, Williams said that he expected Graves will remain with the Tar Heels. Graves will continue to practice with the team the remainder of this season.
"In my mind and in his mind, I think it is 100 percent that he will be with us," Williams said.
Graves played in 20 games this year, averaging 4.0 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. He scored a season-high 10 points against Evansville.
"I dreamed of playing basketball for Carolina as a kid, so I am very disappointed that I am not able to play the rest of the season," Graves said in a release. "But I respect the decision Coach Williams made and apologize to him and everyone who loves Carolina basketball for putting him in that position. I promise to do my best in practice to make my teammates better and will work hard to try and regain my position on the team for next season."
As much as he would like to have Ginyard return this season, Williams said he just did not feel that was in Ginyard's best interest because there was no assurance the senior's foot would heal in time to make a significant contribution. Ginyard should not have a problem getting a fifth year as he stayed within the limited number of games necessary to get a medical redshirt.
"Coach [Dean] Smith told me a long time ago that off the court you have to do what is best for a young man," Williams said. "On the court, you do what is best for the team. I believe at this stage, this is by far what is best for Marcus."