If North Carolina coach Roy Williams was a little chipper for a day filled with media interviews about a team that had four players taken in the first round of the NBA draft, it’s because he was.
“Compared to 3-1/2 hour surgery, guys, this is a walk in the park,” Williams said Wednesday during ACC Operation Basketball. “I told (ACC communications director) Brian (Morrison), hell, let’s go ahead and do two of them.”
Originally Williams was scheduled to undergo surgery to remove a tumor in his left kidney Wednesday, a month after having similar surgery on his right kidney. But Williams has since learned that both tumors were benign, and his main objective is to continue recuperating from the Sept. 19 operation.
Williams visited the Tar Heels’ first conditioning practice two days after surgery. Four weeks into what’s normally a six-week recovery, he’s back at practice at his near usual strength. Although Williams did say he pushed it too far Tuesday when he reached up to demonstrate a defensive position and felt a pain in his abdomen.
It wasn’t serious, and when his players asked if he was OK, he joked: “Why don’t you do it the right way, so I don’t have to (do this kind of) this kind of thing?”
Williams said he promised his wife, Wanda, he would go easier in practice, but he made it only 10 minutes in his first practice before “going wacko.”
Williams did say that going through such a serious scare has made him rethink how he handles losses.
“Nobody is ever going to remember what we did on our 12th game, but the fact that I’ll be there is something I’m going to remember for a long time,” he said.
Williams said he’ll be checked every six months, and he still might ultimately need surgery on his left kidney, but the biggest scare is behind him.
“I’m going to enjoy the journey a heck of a lot more myself,” Williams said. “I preach that every year to my kids and the fans as well, and my wife tells me I always do the worst job of it. But I’m really going to try to do a much better job of that myself.”
Less than a week into practice, two of Duke’s top six players have gone down with injuries. Senior guard Seth Curry, Duke’s top perimeter player, has a lower leg injury that coach Mike Krzyzewski said could be something that lingers throughout the season.
Forward Marshall Plumlee, a redshirt freshman and the younger brother of senior forward Mason Plumlee, suffered a stress fracture in his foot and will be out for at least four weeks.
Duke holds out hope that both will be back in action early in the season, but the Blue Devils already are thin on the perimeter. Shooting guard Austin Rivers left early for the NBA, and Andre Dawkins took a redshirt season as he continues to cope with the loss of his sister, who was killed in a car accident driving to a game during his freshman season.
“Those two kids were playing great, Seth and Marshall,” Krzyzewski said. “Hopefully they’ll both be back when we start playing. … It shows how fragile any team is. In basketball, you lose one key, and it has an impact on your team. It’s a rippling effect.”
Brogdon not ready
Former Mr. Georgia basketball Malcolm Brogdon is not practicing with Virginia as he continues his recovery from March foot surgery. Coach Tony Bennett said the former Greater Atlanta Christian standout is progressing, but no timetable has yet been set for his return.
They originally hoped he might be ready at the start of the season, but that’s in question.
When Brogdon is ready to return, Bennett has big plans for the sophomore guard. Brogdon’s name was the first one he mentioned when asked Wednesday where the Cavaliers might make up some points for the departed Mike Scott, who was drafted by the Hawks.
“(Brogdon) was a guy late in games at crucial times who you put the ball in his hands you want him at the free-throw line, you want him to break presses, he made big shots. “He can be an important piece as he gets healthy.”
It was at turns clunky and hard to watch, but it was entirely sweet.Georgia Tech played perhaps its most memorable game in the young history of McCamish Pavilion, rallying from 12 points down with less than seven minutes to go and four down with just over a minute left to claim a 67-64 win over Illinois on Tuesday night.