By Brian Barbour
Prior to Roy Williams' Thursday press conference, associate athletic director for communications Steve Kirschner said that both P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald would not play against Oakland on Friday night. There is an ongoing process with compliance and the NCAA which has not been fully resolved yet.
This is not a surprise. The even money was that both Hairston and McDonald would be given some sort of suspension. Them not playing in this game is essentially part of a yet to be named penalty from the NCAA. Since UNC's next scheduled game isn't until November 15th, it gives UNC and the NCAA another week to hammer out some sort of final decision on the two players. In reality, there is no rush. If you assume both players will sit X number of games then until you reach that point, no final decision is really necessary since NCAA penalties include time served.
Other press conference notes:
- Williams acknowledged the NCAA issues were frustrating and the uncertainty has made preparing for the season "erratic."
- As for his involvement in the process Williams only said he is not other than "waiting for someone else to tell me what's going on."
- When asked about his previous assertions there would be a decision by now, Williams said he stated what he believed at the time based on what he knew.
- Hairston and McDonald have been practicing and Williams said Hairston was playing as well as anyone. For the past week both have been on the Blue Team since it was assumed neither would be able to play in the season opener.
- Speaking of the season opener, Williams said the starting lineup will be Nate Britt, Marcus Paige, J.P. Tokoto, James Michael McAdoo and "whoever brings me the best dessert after practice." In other words the center position is still up in the air and it would not be surprising to see either Joel James or Kennedy Meeks out there. Undoubtedly both will get plenty of playing time as the season progresses.
- James Michael McAdoo also spoke with the media and said the issues with Hairston and McDonald have not been a distraction.
- McAdoo said he was looking forward to simply playing the "four" and it feels like "forever" since he could focus on it solely. He did say he was more comfortable with the "three" rather than the "five." The assumption is he will spend some time at the three since UNC is still really thin on the wing.
A purely observational note Roy Williams looked and sounded tired. Normally Williams is fairly upbeat prior to the first game but in this case it is evident the NCAA process with Hairston and McDonald has zapped some of his enthusiasm.