|North Carolina's Frasor still making impact as Tar Heels push to Final Four|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 04 April 2008 13:54|
He kept miss, miss, missing - one high-arching heave after another bounced off the backboard or clanged off the rim - until one finally rippled the net, drawing chuckles from coach Roy Williams and applause from the Tar Heel faithful looking on from the stands at the Alamodome.
It isn't easy making a shot while sitting on the bench, but Frasor has had plenty of practice. That's where he's been for all of North Carolina's games since a knee injury ended his season in December. Yet the moment illustrated how Frasor is still very much part of the Tar Heels' NCAA tournament run - even if he'll be back in the same seat when his teammates take the court Saturday against Kansas.
``I'm sure watching them play and everything will be fun,'' Frasor said. ``But at the same time, it's hard to watch knowing you could be out there.''
The Tar Heels (36-2) miss Frasor as much he misses them. At 6-foot-3, 208 pounds, he was a proven veteran with the versatility to play either guard spot. Early in the season, he ran the offense when speedy point guard Ty Lawson went down with the first of two ankle sprains. According to the coaches, Frasor graded out as the team's top defensive player in five of the first dozen games.
Tougher still, Frasor hoped this season would be different from the last, when nagging foot problems sidelined him for 10 games and limited him in too many others. more. Instead, his season ended abruptly when his left knee buckled as he went for a steal near the sideline against Nevada on Dec. 27.
Frasor had surgery in January to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Though his recovery is progressing quickly, his souvenir from the operation - a raised, reddish, 3-inch scar - was easy to spot as he relaxed at his locker before Friday's practice.
Frasor has avoided the ``Why me?'' trap, but it isn't easy watching the winningest season in the storied program's history go forward without him. He's one of four members of a junior class that had to step up and play right away after the 2005 NCAA championship team lost its top seven scorers.
``It's tough to look at Bobby because we know what he has meant to this team on the court,'' said Marcus Ginyard, a member of that group, ``and what he continues to mean off the court. It's tough not to be able to watch him participate.''
Tyler Hansbrough, Frasor's roommate and another junior, added, ``It's every player's dream to be here. But Bobby's handled it very well. He's kind of an assistant coach in a way.''
That's a common refrain from Frasor's teammates. Lawson recalled Frasor suggesting a play during the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament that drew the defense to sharpshooter Wayne Ellington and left a teammate open for the shot. Deon Thompson said Frasor will gesture - waving a hand in front of his own face - to remind Thompson not to sulk after a bad play. Alex Stepheson said Frasor is quick to notice tendencies from opposing big men that pay dividends on the defensive end.
``When you're watching the game from the bench, you almost remember all the plays or when something significant happens,'' Frasor said. ``And then at halftime, you go in there and mention it to the guys before the coaches talk to them. Some of the time, it'll be the same thing that coach says and (teammate Danny Green) will look over at me and kind of smile.''
Of course, Frasor isn't all business. When Ellington had to run sprints during practice for getting a technical foul in the ACC tournament, Frasor reminded Williams that Hansbrough didn't run when he picked up a technical earlier in the season. Soon his roommate - an All-America selection who was named The Associated Press national player of the year Friday - was running, too.
Frasor figures lightening the mood is one way to contribute. At least it eases the increasing pressure on his teammates now that they're only two wins away from a national championship.
It also helps ease the pain of not being on the court alongside them.
``It would be nice to have a ring and talk about it the rest of my life, yeah,'' Frasor acknowledged, ``but I'd have to say I wasn't as big of a part of it as I could've been.''