North Carolina coach Roy Williams said during his Monday night radio show that X-rays on Marcus Paige’s injured left shoulder were negative, and he is hopeful the point guard can play this weekend.
A few more notes from “Roy Williams Live”:
ZONING IN: Williams was not pleased with his team’s defense during Saturday’s win over UAB. So that has been a concentration over the last couple of days, as he tries to figure out which defenses this team plays -- and can play -- best.
“I’ve already practiced zone twice this year, and we’ve had years before where we never practice zone; we might play it in a game just to stand up there and look different and see if we can screw up the other team,’’ he said.
“But this team, if you think about it, if we go small, how are we going to handle the other team if they have two big guys? It’s difficult for J.P. Tokoto or P.J. [Hairston] , who would be the guy who would come in to play our, quote, 4 spot. So if you go zone, you have a chance to help each other inside a little more if they post you up. We probably are going to start changing defenses a little more like I used to do.”
CONDOLENCES: Williams said he was saddened to hear of the passing of Utah and Saint Louis coach Rick Majerus, who died of heart failure over the weekend.
“Rick and I go back a long way, being associates," Williams said. “... I loved him, he was awfully nice to me many, many times. We had fun together when we were together; he was a fun-loving guy. When I think of Rick Majerus, I think of a guy who loved ball -- let him coach a little ball, he’s really, really happy. He loved getting out on the court and trying to coach, and make his team better to coach against your team. He was one of the great tacticians that we’ve ever had. He was able to do unusual things, and get his guys to buy into it.
“He was a wonderful personality; he was a big-time personality. He was a funny guy. I walked into Mother’s Restaurant in New Orleans, and he’s sitting there, and I knew he would know the answer. I said, ‘Rick, I need some help, should I get the jambalaya, the et tu fe or the gumbo?’ He handed me a spoon and said, ‘Here, I have all three, go ahead and try.’ ... A wonderful personality, a great tactician and a guy who truly cared.”
CENTER BATTLE: Freshman Joel James made his first start Saturday, but Williams still doesn’t know who will get the nod at center next.
“Yeah, we’ve started Desmond [Hubert], we’ve started Brice [Johnson], we’ve started Joel. I have no idea who I’m going to start on Saturday," Williams said. “... No one has stepped forward and said, ‘This position is mine.’ And I don’t make those decisions, players do. If I want to play, I want to beat your butt out. It’s pretty simple: I want to play the guys who are playing the best, and no one has stepped forward yet.”
D-LEAGUE: The Phoenix Suns recently assigned first-round draft pick Kendall Marshall to the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA's Development League. Williams said it’s been a tough transition for the former UNC point guard.
“I’ve spoken to Kendall a couple of times, I’ve spoken to the people in Phoenix. They really still -- and I’m convinced they’re being serious -- have tremendous dreams and hopes for him," Williams said. “It’s just right now, it’s a tougher situation, and they want him to get more playing time on a professional level, instead of staying there and playing two or three minutes or not playing in a game.
“It’s a different path ... when you leave college early to go to the NBA, you would like for it to be smooth, to have some playing time immediately. But it hasn’t happened that way for Kendall, and it’s just something he’s got to fight through. I think he’s going to be there [in the D-League] for nine games, and hopefully it will help him.”