PRESS CONFERENCE AUDIO
When junior Leslie McDonald underwent meniscus repair and reconstructive surgery on his right anterior cruciate ligament on Aug. 3, the team doctors projected a 7-8 month rehabilitation timetable. After four and a half months, his recovering is on schedule, according to a UNC official.
Roy Williams told McDonald before the season that they wouldn't discuss his options until December. That discussion is drawing near.
"We're waiting for the next doctor's appointment - could be today, I don't know, it's pretty soon," Williams said Friday. "I told him I need to have some idea of what they say next. He's been released to shoot, he's been released to do dummy offense. I think the next step -- I think - is release to practice, but I don't know when that will be. When they release him to practice, we'll start talking."
During the team's practices thus far, McDonald has worked off the court with strength and conditioning coordinator Jonas Sahratian, doing drills and weight room exercises.
Kendall Marshall said McDonald does join the team for spot moments on the court, though he's got a ways to go to get his endurance into game-ready condition.
"It's hard to see because the only thing he does with us is if we're going over secondary break he'll get in two or three times, but then we have to get him out and get him on the oxygen tank because he gets tired," Marshall joked. "Other than that, he looks good when he's out there and moving well from what I've seen.
"Off the court everything is the same. ... He's always around us, he's upbeat. Mentally he's with us as if he's still on the team."
McAdoo Learning to be Aggressive
James Michael McAdoo didn't realize it at the time, but his dunk in the final minutes of the game against Evansville saved his teammates from some extra running in practice.
"I turned around to the bench and said 'If he doesn't dunk the ball before this game is over, I'm going to run every one of you extra sprints,'" Roy Williams recalled during Friday's press conference. "'And I'm going to get him a lawn chair and some lemonade to watch you guys run.'"
Kendall Marshall was on the bench at the time of the coach's message.
"I think the part that frightened me the most was he didn't tell McAdoo that - he just told us on the bench," Marshall said. "Thankfully on the next play he went baseline and dunked it, so that was a relief."
Williams's frustration stems from wanting to see more aggressive play out of the 6-9 freshman.
"Stronger moves, stronger rebounds - just stronger play," Williams said. "Not just the muscle part, but more aggressive, more forceful and if he does that it'll really help him."
It's an opinion shared by McAdoo's father, Ronnie, who was a dominant - and forceful - college player at Old Dominion three decades ago.
Williams added: "I turned around and looked at his dad, and I said, 'I wish he'd dunk the daggum ball.' And he said, 'Me too!'"
Through the first ten games of his college career, McAdoo has averaged 5.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals. Those have been valuable contributions off the bench, but his head coach wants - and expects - more.
"He needs to be more aggressive, but can't be a better kid and is going to be a big time player. He's going to be a big factor in some big wins for us this year."
Marshall sees McAdoo's learning process as part of the typical first-year hurdles.
"Once he gets more comfortable, I think we'll see a completely different McAdoo," Marshall said. "He's very talented and very strong, but when you're out on the court and not sure what to do, it'll take away from some of your talents. Once he gets comfortable knowing the system, he'll be able to concentrate more on making plays on the court. That's something all freshmen go through and it just takes time to adjust."
Williams sees the comfort issue holding McAdoo back on the defensive end as well.
"(He's got) wonderful feet, he can slide his feet and cover somebody out on the court," Williams said. "He hasn't felt comfortable yet to get more involved defensively, because he's a good shotblocker, but he just has to get more comfortable where he can get more involved on the defensive end of the floor."
Three Games, Five Days
After a week of exams -- and limited practice -- the Tar Heels will play three games over the next five days: Appalachian State on Saturday, Nichols on Monday and Texas on Wednesday.
"It hasn't been the greatest week for us trying to get better as a basketball team, to say the least," Williams said. "It's just survive and try to get a little better, survive and try to get a little better."
Marshall noted that the players, while a bit rusty, were glad to get out of the classroom and back onto the court on Thursday.
"It's definitely going to be a challenge for us," Marshall said. "I'm excited about tomorrow, because I know we felt it in practice yesterday. We took two days off, then we had two days of run and shoot. We're excited. There was a lot of enthusiasm (in practice)."