Starting 5 for North Carolina Tar Heels Without Kendall Marshall

Tyler SmithContributor IIMarch 19, 2012

Season-ending injuries seem to be easier to take the earlier they occur.

When Leslie McDonald went down during the summer of 2011, Roy Williams knew his team had taken a blow.

During the Virginia Tech game on January 19, when Dexter Strickland went down, it was another case of shifting the lineup to adjust accordingly.

The situation was different this past weekend, when Marshall drew a hard foul from Creighton on the way to the basket. 

There didn’t seem to be much worry after Marshall strode to the charity stripe and knocked in two free throws.

That hypothesis changed when the trainers began tending to Marshall on the sideline during the next timeout.

The confirmation is now that Marshall is due to undergo surgery on his right wrist (via CBSSports' Jeff Goodman on Twitter).

The verdict was a broken scaphoid bone, one of the smallest bones in the wrist region.

As someone who has had the same surgery, I can attest that the pain is not very high during the break. To be honest, there isn’t much pain at all, making it very easy to continue playing and increasing the chances of further injury.

It is safe to assume that Marshall will be out for the remainder of this season’s NCAA tournament.

So what next for Roy Williams and his coaching staff?

First, the next game is against University of Ohio on Thursday. This can be looked at as experiment time for the offense.

Ohio has had a good run and possesses an incredible point guard in DJ Cooper…but that’s about it. The team is very small on the interior and doesn’t have a go-to shooter that’s been consistent.

The front line of Henson, Zeller, McAdoo and Barnes should dominate the boards and paint.

Secondly, Harrison Barnes spent basically the entire summer of 2011 expanding his PG skills. He did so at the Chris Paul camp, arguably the top PG camp in the nation.

The starting five could very well look like this come Thursday: PG Barnes, SG Hairston, SF Bullock, PF Henson and C Zeller.

Hairston, Bullock and Barnes all have great size for their position. Barnes can play lock-down D in man-to-man situations, and stopping DJ Cooper should be an easy task for the 6’8” G/F.

This adds a depth hurdle to the mix. Now the bench for Carolina gets smaller, leaving Watts and McAdoo as the only experienced players to bring into the game.

Watts is definitely not a liability. He brings strength and rebounding ability to pair with his basketball IQ and leadership. Meanwhile, McAdoo has been playing tremendously so far this tournament and is getting better by the game.

UNC should be fine against Ohio. It’s times like this where players like Harrison Barnes takes over the rest of the tournament.

Barnes’ work ethic is unmatched throughout the rest of college basketball. I expect Williams to slide him into the PG spot during practice this week.

This would also give Carolina two outside shooting threats on the court at all times in Bullock and Hairston on the wings.

This Carolina team should be very exciting to watch down the stretch, even if it's without Marshall.