North Carolina did not practice Monday, but if the Tar Heels had played a game, John Henson would have it sat out because of his sprained left wrist, coach Roy Williams said during his Monday night radio show.
“I did not see John today,’’ Williams said. “He came and saw Chris [Hirth], our trainer, and Chris came and told me: We’ve got to wait until he can grip the ball, and he can catch the ball without any pain. And not just grip the ball … he’s got to be able to grip the ball by holding it where somebody can’t knock it loose. If we’d have had to play today, he would not have played today, either.”
Henson, UNC’s starting power forward and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, sprained his left wrist trying to break his fall after he was fouled in the ACC tournament quarterfinal game on Friday. He did not dress Saturday, and was available only for an “emergency situation” during Sunday’s title game (when the Tar Heels lost to Florida State).
Williams said it was not a tough decision to sit Henson, because the junior was not comfortable with how the injury felt.
“He said ‘Coach, if you want me to, I’ll try.’” Williams said. “I said, ‘No, John. No. 1, you’ve got to feel like you can be successful, and then I get to watch you warm up, and I get to determine whether I think you’ll be successful, also.’ And it never really got to that stage, because he didn’t feel comfortable even when I put him back into the game [Friday], the first pass he caught hurt. So I turned around and said ‘Let’s get him out of there,’ because you could tell that.
“He did get better from one day to the next. Yes, if we were playing for the national championship, he would have tried to play [Sunday]. If we had made the field goal at the end to give us the lead with five seconds to play, and they would have taken it down the court and had a play out of bounds with one second to play, and it would have been out of bounds underneath the basket, I would have put John in the game to put pressure on the ball out of bounds, just like he did against Washington [last season]. But that’s the only scenario he would have played.”
Asked if Henson will be able to play Friday, when the top-seeded Tar Heels open the NCAA tournament in Greensboro, Williams said: “I have no idea. You can say it’s a day by day thing, and that’s exactly what it is. If we had played today, he would not have played, and we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Williams and players will meet with the media before practice this afternoon, so there will likely be an update later today.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.