Marshall questionable for UNC-Kansas game

ST. LOUIS — If Bill Self is a little gun-shy when it comes to broken scaphoid bones among Roy Williams' players, it's hard to blame him.

In 2001, Kansas forward Drew Gooden broke the scaphoid bone in his right wrist late in the season and missed five games, but returned in time for the Big 12 tournament — and played against Self's Illinois team in the round of 16. (Illinois won.)

So as far as Self is concerned, he expects North Carolina's Kendall Marshall, who has the same injury, to play today against his Kansas team.

"I know that when Roy was at Kansas, they told me that Drew Gooden had the same injury and they put a screw in and he was out about a week, if I'm not mistaken," Self said. "So I think that I would anticipate him playing."

Gooden actually missed five games in two weeks, but the point remains the same: Kansas is preparing as if Marshall will play for the Tar Heels.

Whether Marshall actually does or not remains uncertain a week after he fractured the scaphoid bone in his right wrist in a win over Creighton. His participation in Saturday's practice was limited, and he still has significant pain catching and passing the ball.

Marshall's status will be determined after the team's shootaround today morning, but both Marshall and Williams left the door open for a return. A day ago, Marshall couldn't make a fist without pain. Saturday, he showed off for reporters. Who knows how much progress he can make overnight?

"I'm not sure if they switch up how they play or if they do things different because Kendall is not playing or if he's playing," Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor said. "But our defensive principles stay the same."

Without Marshall, North Carolina struggled at both ends of the court, needing overtime to dispatch 13th-seeded Ohio. Stilman White and Justin Watts had decent stats — White played 32 minutes and had six assists without a turnover — but the team lacked coherence without Marshall's steadying influence.

And while Marshall's defense tends to be the weakest part of his game, White was twice taken to the basket for by Ohio's guards at key moments, giving up the bucket and the foul.

"There was so much stress without our engine, without our driver, without the head of the thing," Williams said. "I mean it mentally was really draining for us last night."

That was apparent to anyone watching, Kansas included. While Self was at pains to make the point that the Jayhawks would prepare to defend against North Carolina as a team, not any particular point guard, he did go over a laundry list of tactics that might be used against a less-than-full-speed Marshall.

Clearly, he has given it some thought.

"We could do a few things differently," Self said. "Do you trap ball screens, how you guard certain things, where do you pick up, how do you take him out of certain sets, do you back off, do you play passing lanes, do you overplay right? I mean, there's a lot of things that you could certainly do."

That's all if Marshall plays; if he doesn't, Self ruled out pressing North Carolina, expressing concern over his team's guard depth and the short turnaround between games to prepare for such a philosophical shift.

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