UNC Basketball: Theo Pinson’s Injury Impact

Theo Pinson is out indefinitely. What does this mean for the the Heels?

As Keeping It Heel reported earlier, Theo Pinson is out indefinitely after suffering a fracture in his foot.

This is a big blow to UNC. Pinson was to be a key cog to a team that was trying to show that championships can still be won with juniors and seniors and not just five-star freshmen.

So what does this mean for the upcoming season?

Well if you read my earlier article on UNC Potential Starting Five, and I know you all did, you know that I, as well as everyone else, pegged Pinson as a likely replacement for the irreplaceable Marcus Paige. So the first thing this does is it creates a hole in the starting lineup.

But it also creates holes in other areas. First, there is the hole it creates on the bench. Whoever steps in for Pinson, be it Nate Britt, Kenny Williams or freshman Seventh Woods will vacate that position on the second team. This gives UNC less depth, which is something the team has used in the past to overwhelm other squads.

Secondly, it creates a hole in flexibility. In our first mailbag, I was asked what I thought the best lineup was? I went small with Pinson at the three. This lineup is still doable, just without the same intangibles that Pinson brings. Those intangibles are the other hole created. Look at what Roy Williams said about the injury:

Theo’s our energy guy, he defends, he’s our best passer, a threat on the offensive boards, he can play four different positions, and he gives our team personality, and I mean that in a good way.

Those are big words coming from coach Roy Williams. That is not a player a championship team wants to lose. It usually takes the work of several players to cover for a guy like that. So it is hard to say who will take his spot because it will probably take the collective work of Britt, Williams, Woods, and maybe even Brandon Robinson to get back what the team has lost.

Apr 4, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Theo Pinson (1) reacts in the locker room after the game against the Villanova Wildcats in the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Men

So the next question is how long is Pinson out?

Indefinitely is kind of vague right?

Well, one they wont know for sure until further tests are done. However, this is the third time this has happened to Theo.

It happened once in high school and again his freshman year. His freshman year he missed ten games, rushed back, and then missed four more to end the regular season.

The thing was he was not the same after the injury. In the seven games before the injury he was averaging 16 minutes a game and was a spark plug off the bench. In the five games he played after the injury he averaged less than five and was never of much of a factor.

In other words at best, Pinson would be functional around the start of the ACC season. To get his full value back, the Heels may be waiting til closer to tournament time. Of course that is not all bad as that is a great time to get a good player back.

So to sum things up. Is the injury a good thing? No.

Though it will give others a chance to play which in turn does create greater depth, think Berry last year with Paige out. Are the Heels doomed? No. Unlike Kentucky and Duke that need their star freshmen in order to dominate, Roy has built a team of balance that can survive the injury to one player.

This isn’t the Kendall Marshall situation of 2012. UNC can survive this and in fact may be better for it.