St. Louis Kendall Marshall. Kendall Marshall. Kendall Marshall. Stilman White. Stilman White. Stilman White.
There, now you don’t have to watch Roy Williams’ news conference today. You just heard all the questions, and Roy won’t have any answers. If he knows the odds of Marshall, North Carolina’s gifted sophomore point guard coming off wrist surgery, participating this weekend in the Edward Jones Dome, he won’t share them.
While the police-interrogation lamp shines on the coach, the spotlight of speculation zeroes in on Marshall and the more mysterious White.
The fascination with the Carolina point-guard uncertainty enabled Kansas to arrive quietly at its downtown hotel Wednesday night with all the Jayhawks’ attention trained on North Carolina State, Friday night’s opponent.
On the other hand, nothing in Roy’s world is quiet at the moment. Williams faces difficult decisions that go beyond how to exploit Ohio University in Friday’s regional semifinal. Should Roy put the ball in the hands of smooth sophomore wing Harrison Barnes, a better scorer than facilitator? Or should he let the untested White take on the challenge of getting his first shot at running the Heels?
If Dexter Strickland had not been lost for the season in mid-January, Marshall’s wrist injury wouldn’t be as big a deal. Other than Strickland and Marshall, Carolina doesn’t have a player on the roster averaging more than 1.3 assists.
A 6-foot, 160-pound freshman out of Wilmington, N.C., White is scheduled to leave for two years on a mission for the Church of the Latter Day Saints.
It’s tempting to liken Carolina needing to play White at point guard to Kansas needing to play Naadir Tharpe at the point if Tyshawn Taylor suffered an injury, except that Carolina doesn’t have an Elijah Johnson to slide over to lead guard.
Otherwise, the Tharpe-White comparison does have some relevance. Tharpe was more highly recruited than White, who drew interest from Brigham Young.
Tharpe played 175 minutes, shot .289 from the field, .273 from three, .500 from the line, attempting just two free throws. He scored 29 points, had 21 assists and 22 turnovers. White played 136 minutes, shot .283 from the field, .200 from three, .500 from the line with 20 attempts. White had 19 assists and just five turnovers.
Williams said Justin Watts, a 6-5, 210-pound senior from Durham, N.C., also will spend some time at the point, but Watts has just five assists (and seven turnovers) in 246 minutes. He’s no playmaker, no scorer, considered a better defender than anything.
Kansas doesn’t have seven McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster, as does North Carolina, in fact it doesn’t have any, but it does have two guards whose confidence never has been healthier. Should be a fascinating few days in the Edward Jones Dome.