Berry to miss next game, Pinson gets good news on road to recovery

While Theo Pinson is hoping to find out how much longer hell be sidelined as the broken bone in his right foot continues to heal, teammate Joel Berry is hoping the ankle injury he suffered in Sundays win against Radford isnt serious

Christine T. Nguyen—North State Journal
North Carolina forward Theo Pinson (1) looks to pass around Villanova forward Daniel Ochefu (23) during the first half of the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship at the NRG Stadium in Houston

CHAPEL HILL — Today was already scheduled to be “a big day” for one North Carolina basketball player. It became even bigger when injured guard Theo Pinson unexpectedly got some company for his x-ray appointment. While Pinson was hoping to find out how much longer he’ll be sidelined as the broken bone in his right foot continues to heal, teammate Joel Berry was hoping the ankle injury he suffered in Sunday’s win against Radford isn’t serious enough to keep him out of action long. Berry suffered what is being called a sprained left ankle when he stepped on another player’s foot early in the second half of the Tar Heels’ 95-50 victory at the Smith Center. Although coach Roy Williams expressed optimism afterward that the injury isn’t serious and the precautionary x-rays were negative, UNC has announced that the team’s second-leading scorer will not play in Wednesday’s game home against Davidson. He is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Tennessee. Berry averages 14.8 points per game and leads the Tar Heels in assists, steals, 3-point field goals and free throw percentage. “Joel is tough. He’s going to be all right,” Williams said. “We don’t have to baby him a lot.” Pinson, the Tar Heels’ projected starter at shooting guard before his injury during the second week of preseason, was expected to miss between 8-12 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a fracture to his fifth metatarsal on Oct. 21. His rehab has gone so well that his x-ray appointment was moved up two days. The 6-foot-6 junior got good news on what he called his “big day” when his x-rays showed that the bone is healing as expected. He will now undergo a CT scan that will help determine when he can resume impact activities such as running and jumping.Pinson said he hopes to be ready to return at least by the time the ACC schedule begins on New Year’s Eve at Georgia Tech.”Once I get the CT scan,” he said, “if everything looks good in the next couple of days, it’s on and rolling.” Pinson said his current injury is different from the one he suffered to his left foot, causing him to miss 10 games as a freshman. He said he probably could have continued to play with the stress fracture, but that it was better in the long run for both himself and the team to have the problem fixed so that he could be at 100 percent when he returned. “It was one of those things where it was going to gradually get worse,” Pinson said. “I could have played on it. I could have practice that day. But it was like, just get it done now and see what it does. My left foot’s been great, so I was like, let’s just go ahead and get the right one done.” Pinson shed the walking boot he’d been wearing during UNC’s recent trip to Hawaii and has gradually begun increasing his level of physical activity. He’s spent a considerable amount of time working on ball handling, riding a stationary bike, working out in the weight room. He’s even begun shooting again — although he’s still not able to leave his feet while doing so. His dance moves are also still strong, as he shows on the bench when the song “Jump Around” before the opening tip of every game at the Smith Center. “I’m always going to be good at that,” said the fun-loving Tar Heel, who became famous last spring for crashing his coach’s press conferences during the NCAA tournament. Pinson said that while a timetable for his return has yet to be determined, he “firmly believes” that he’ll eventually play this season and plans to be “ready to go as soon as possible.” But he also said that he knows his limits and isn’t going to do anything that might cause him to suffer a setback that might extend his absence. “I’ve done this too many times, so I know when I’m pushing it too much and when I need to slow it down,” Pinson said. “It’s been going good so far.”