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UNC Now is your place for Tar Heel sports. Beat writer Andrew Carter has up-to-the-minute news and analysis. Columnist Luke DeCock also contributes. Follow us on Twitter at @_andrewcarter or @accnow.

UNC coach Roy Williams on what is keeping P.J. Hairston on the bench

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UNC coach Roy Williams wanted to see more hustle out of P.J. Hairston on Saturday at N.C. State. ROBERT WILLETT

CHAPEL HILL — P.J. Hairston has been inconsistent thoughout his sophomore season at North Carolina. But he has been consistently good, at least offensively, during the Tar Heels’ past two games.

Hairston scored 15 points during the Heels’ victory last week against Georgia Tech. And he led UNC with 19 points during its 91-83 loss at N.C. State on Saturday night.

Even more impressive about those scoring numbers is that they came in limited minutes. Against Georgia Tech, Hairston’s 15 points came in 17 minutes of playing time. Against N.C. State, his 19 points also came in 17 minutes.

Given Hairston’s production on offense, I asked UNC coach Roy Williams earlier today on the ACC teleconference what kept Hairston from earning more playing time during the past couple of games.

Williams said:

“Foul trouble I think in the game before – I think he and James Michael both had two fouls early in the first half. That was part of it. The other thing, if you go back the last two games, J.P. Tokoto has played probably his best two games. And so it’s not just P.J.’s right to be out there on the floor.”

Then Williams detailed probably the most important reason Hairston on Saturday remained on the bench in long stretches.

“Saturday, I got so mad at him when he was going after a loose ball and the North Carolina State player runs from behind and then dives for the loose ball when P.J. is trying to pick it up,” Williams said. “And I just can’t stomach those kind of things. And I just keep giving guys chances, even when they do something like that.

“But there is no question that that’s the reason he sat out for a long time Saturday.”

Hairston played just seven minutes during the second half on Saturday but he made the most of those, and scored 10 second-half points. He’s third in the ACC in points per 40 minutes.

During one of Williams’ recent weekly radio shows, he was asked about the possibility of Hairston moving into the starting lineup. Williams said he liked bringing Hairston off the bench, and that he didn’t foresee moving Hairston into a starting role.

Hairston starting sounds like even less of a possibility now.

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blind royalty

This is what always bothered me about Dean and now Roy, blind loyalty. K benched Paulus his senior because he didn't progress and a better player came in. He knows he gave Paulus an opportunity, but more importantly an education at a prestigous university FREE! He is helping Strickland at the expense of the other players on the team that he gave the same commitment to. He did it with Drew, Marcus Ginyard, Deon, and Jackie Manuel! In all those instances a better player was sitting on the bench. I've always felt it doesn't matter who starts it's who finishes. But I also feel that you need to smack the opposition in the mouth right from the start with your best players! Roy always uses the excuse "best defender" to justify playing most of these guys. But if that's the case, then let the other team chase our best players on the defensive end and wear them out, and build a lead. Then put in our defensive players, while the opponents are really worn, and create turnovers and quick, easy transition buckets. Then we're talking about a good working margin to do whatever tradition you care to do.

The Draft

If he starts PJ and he continues to score at a high level then he is gone in April. Roy is hiding him from the draft boards. Trying to keep him around another year, same thing he's done in the past with other players. Mcadoo gave up lottery money to come back this year and has dropped drastically on the 2013 draft board.

clue

You obviously don't have one.

Don't punish the team

I know it is frustrating when a player doesn't get after a loose ball but why punish the team by not playing the guy who is scoring the most points? You reduce your chances of winning to prove a point? Run his @ss off in practice but don't punish everyone.

The problems for this team.....

go wellllllll beyond 1 player here or there......

Should Bullock/Hairston tandem start? ...why not ...but that's not going to make them CONSISTENT shooters.....something neither has been so far in their career....

They still have NO PG that matters..
They still are soft ( had no answers for Howell and Leslie).....

Soft...meh

Having no answer for two of the best players at their positions in the league is not really a team being "soft." I thought heading into that game that UNC was going to suffer some headaches from those guys and Brown. Not surprisingly, at those positions on the floor where the matchups were in State's favor, they were REALLY in their favor.

No answers

There is not really a question about Leslie and Howell, they can be pretty good players, at their positions, and with the minutes that they get, will usually put up good numbers. Their advantage, if they have one, seems due to their maturity, especially for Howell, as shown by his work ethic.

LESLIE AND HOWELL

Howell's success is based on work ethic. Maturity is a word that definitely applies to Richard. He has lead by example and has also become more vocal, even though that goes against his natural tendencies. (The same can be said for Lorenzo Brown).

With Leslie, it's not so much maturity or leadership as it is just flat-out sick athletic ability. When CJ decides to really get after it, he is amazing to watch. The problem is that he has significant stretches where he simply shuts down. There are less of those instances since Gottfried has arrived, but, in my opinion, there are still are too many.

If CJ wants to be a lottery pick in the year's NBA draft (which I have no doubt he is going to enter), he needs to follow Richard's lead with respect to work ethic. That would be good for the team as well, because the Pack will go as far as CJ takes them in the NCAA tourney. For State to advance past the Sweet 16, CJ Leslie has to be firing on all cylinders.

agree

Well put.

Not problems

But the reason this team struggles is because of their youth. This is a young team, with one senior.They are talented and will come around in time with some maturity.

starting

He did start one game, IIRC, maybe when Reggie was out with the concusion?

Correct. He started against

Correct. He started against UNLV when Bullock sat out with a concussion.

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About the blogger

Andrew Carter is the University of North Carolina beat writer for the News & Observer.
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