Updated: Feb 1
The Tar Heels are finally beginning to round into form in the 2019-20 season and they may have some added reinforcement for their return to the Smith Center on Saturday against Boston College. In Roy Williams pre-practice press conference on Friday afternoon, freshman Cole Anthony has “a probability” of playing on Saturday after participating in 5-on-5 drills in Thursday’s practice. Anthony’s return would be a huge boost for a team looking to make a push towards the 2020 NCAA Tournament after some struggles since he went down with the injury in early December.
Anthony’s return to the lineup will give the Tar Heels their leading scorer back, as Anthony’s 19.1 points per game haven’t been topped since he left the lineup. Although his shooting percentages dropped prior to the injury, there is optimism that some of that may have been due to the fact that he was already playing injured. Even with the struggles, Anthony will immediately be one of the Tar Heels best perimeter shooters, something that will help boost the progression of this offense, one that is beginning to find its legs. Anthony’s ability to drive and kick the basketball will give the Tar Heels a chance to open up the guys like Brandon Robinson and Leaky Black for better looks from beyond the arc. Add in Anthony ability to rebound the basketball, something that Roy Williams pegged as the best he had seen in his time as a coach.
This feels like the perfect game to bring him back into the lineup, especially with the struggles that the Eagles have had scoring the ball this season. Whenever you’ve been on the shelf as long as Anthony has, there will be some kinks to work out when you return, so his return comes at the right time with top ten matchups at Florida State and Duke looming on the schedule.
One of the biggest questions surrounding Anthony’s return, though, is how it will affect a team that has adjusted to the way they’ve been playing without him on the floor. Having his presence will undoubtedly make this team better, but it will cause some players to have to once again adjust the roles they’ll be playing.
The biggest concern will be around the play of Leaky Black, who has settled into the role as the teams starting point guard nicely in the past three games. Black has looked much better with the ball in his hands than without and the question will be, how can they add Anthony back into the rotation without ruining the progression that Black has shown.
It looks as if all of these questions will begin to be answered on Saturday evening. If Anthony can be the type of player that he was at the beginning of the season for the Tar Heels, the has a realistic shot to still make the NCAA Tournament, a task that seemed nearly impossible just a couple of weeks ago.
As confirmed about a half hour ago, Cole Anthony will be active for today return to the Dean Dome against Boston College. As of right now, it has not been confirmed if Anthony will start, but the expectation is that the Tar Heels leading scorer will be one of the team's starting five.