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Kendall Marshall Injury: Is North Carolina Still a Championship Contender?

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 11:  (L-R) Harrison Barnes #40, Tyler Zeller #44, James Michael McAdoo #43, Reggie Bullock #35 and Kendall Marshall #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels sit on the bench during pregame against the Florida State Seminoles during the Final Game of the 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conference Tournament at Philips Arena on March 11, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Gary SuggContributor IIMarch 19, 2012

North Carolina's season has had its share of physical setbacks—Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland suffering season-ending injuries early in the season, John Henson injuring his wrist in the ACC tournament and now PG Kendall Marshall's right wrist fracture in Sunday's victory Creighton that required immediate surgery.  

Any analyst could tell you that now is the worst time for a championship-seeking team to have injury issues, but is it entirely unfortunate? 

There is no doubt that coach Roy Williams and his talented squad would rather have all four of their injured players back on the floor, but what we are seeing from the Tar Heels right now is just what they have been struggling to find all season—their fire. 

Sunday's victory showed the Tar Heel faithful just what they have been looking for: emotion. Playing against No. 8-seed Creighton, who came into the game with a somewhat controversial aggressive gameplan, nothing got UNC's John Henson more fired up than a defender swatting at his injured wrist.

Henson went on to record 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks with his bothered wrist.  Teammates Reggie Bullock and Harrison Barnes fed off of Henson's emotion and finally found the groove from beyond the arc that the Heels have been looking for. James Michael McAdoo also had a stellar game Sunday with nine points and three blocks. 

As for the impact of Marshall's Injury, there is no telling. After injuring his wrist Sunday, he went on to make one of two free throws and play about seven more minutes until being taken out with the comfortable lead. Marshall's father, Dennis Marshall, tweeted Monday (via wcnc.com), as his son was coming off of anesthesia: "all Kendall keeps asking for is his teammates."  

This team is closer than ever and is playing better than ever. Marshall's injury could be a blessing in disguise.  

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