Drew leaves himself, Carolina in bad spot
Posted February 4, 2011
By now, it’s clear that Roy Williams, Kendall Marshall, and the rest of the North Carolina basketball program were shocked by the sudden departure of backup point guard Larry Drew II.
Even those that weren’t shocked by the end result were certainly caught off guard, so to speak, by the timing.
With the meat of the conference schedule looming?
It seems that everyone was stunned by the decision – everyone other than the Drew family, that is.
Before his team’s game Friday night, Larry Drew Sr., the head coach of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, stated that the decision to leave the program was actually one the family had arrived at before the season.
Rumors swirled towards the end of the 2009-2010 campaign that the younger Drew, then the team’s starting point guard, was contemplating a change of scenery. The buzz had gained so much momentum that Drew found himself having to address the claims during a number of postgame interviews.
The team was in the midst of a season that would ultimately end with an NIT finals loss to Dayton, and Drew was one of the fan base’s favorite scapegoats.
Those who had become accustomed to the wizardry of Felton and the pace of Lawson were eager to take their rage out on someone - and that someone was Larry Drew, the California kid that rarely showed his emotions on the court.
Despite the denials from the coaches and players, everyone thought a transfer was in the making.
When it didn’t happen after the season, the impression was given that whatever fence was broken had been mended.
By waiting until February 4th to make his wishes to leave the North Carolina basketball program known, Drew and his family ensured that there would be no winners in this transaction.
Sure, the Heels rid themselves of someone who clearly didn’t want to be there and with that gain valuable “us-against-the-world” team chemistry.
But in terms of X’s and O’s, one would have to imagine the Tar Heels will suffer.
Out of necessity, Dexter Strickland will likely return to the backup point guard spot that he manned with little success last season. Kendall Marshall has proven to be a very capable ACC point guard, deserving of the starting role coach Williams bestowed upon him four games ago, but he can only play so many minutes.
And while Carolina won’t see much of a decline (if any) on the offensive end of the floor, the loss of arguably the team’s best on-ball defender will make Marshall’s struggles in that area tougher to mask.
Of course, that’s just this season.
The ramifications of Drew’s deliberate decision will also spill into next year.
All of the Carolina-worthy Class of 2011 point guard recruits have signed on with their school of choice by now, meaning that unless the Heels pull another Justin-Knox-like rabbit out of the hat, or sign a junior college player, the team is staring at a 2011-12 campaign that once again features a singular point guard.
As for Drew, his options are incredibly limited. His late-season change of heart means that he will only take one year of eligibility with him to his next school instead of at least one and a half.
“Sometimes things come to a point where a decision has to be made,” the elder Drew said Friday night.
But because he didn’t take his own advice and act on the decision when it was originally made, both parties are going to suffer the consequences.