The news that UNC point guard Larry Drew is leaving the team and planning on transferring to another school comes as quite a shock. The No.23 Tar Heels are playing their best sustained basketball in the past two years -- their 32-point win over Boston College this week was the sort of whipping UNC really hasn't laid on people since the Hansbrough-Ellington-Lawson-Green quartet left with a national title in 2009.
The timing for this seems very strange to me. Yes, Drew had finally lost his starting job -- and rightfully so -- to Kendall Marshall. But he was still playing a lot as a reserve, and seemingly playing better without the pressure of starting (he had won the Tar Heels' "Defensive Player of the Game" award in two of the past four games). Drew was becoming a fine relief pitcher for the Tar Heels and still was a valuable part of the team.
Was Drew that upset? Does he -- and his NBA alum father -- have an inflated sense of his own skills (I'd vote yes on this one)? Did he not see the film from the Tar Heels' 17-loss season of 2009-10, when they so frequently struggled as he led the offense? Reading the official press release doesn't really answer those questions.
And why not stick around with the Tar Heels until this season ends? This really sticks it to his teammates, for Drew will get to another program no faster if he went ahead and played these last 6-8 weeks with UNC than if he simply left now. He could transfer in the summer of 2010 or now and he's still not playing at any Division I-A school until the fall of 2012.
I was talking to a couple of pretty well-known former UNC basketball players not long ago whose names I won't mention. They thought that the Tar Heels' biggest problem for most of the past year-and-a-half was Drew -- that he was such a big step down from point guards Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton. They blamed both Drew for his play and also coach Roy Williams for wanting Drew that much in the recruiting process and entrusting him with such a big role (rather than finding a point guard who could run his system better).
Drew has his limitations and Williams stuck with him too long as a starter. He was no Felton or Lawson. Then again, he was no Adam Boone, either. The guy can pass and he can drive -- he just wasn't much of a finisher or a shooter. The Tar Heels will miss him the rest of this season -- Marshall will now have to shoulder a huge load. (The media will miss him, too -- Drew was known as one of the best "quotes" in the UNC locker room).
-- One unrelated note: for those of you who have asked about my Super Bowl pick, I made it the day after the NFC and AFC title games and won't change it now... Pittsburgh, 20-16.