‘Green Makes The World Go Around'

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Danny Green has stepped into the North Carolina limelight only nine games into his junior season. Gone are the days when he was confused about his role on this Tar Heel squad, because he's finally found one as arguably the top sixth man in the country.

Green is averaging 14.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game this season, while leading the team with 13 steals and eight blocks on the season. His contributions can also be found at the free-throw line, where he's connected on 20-of-23 attempts for a team-best 87 percent. That success from the charity stripe is one of the reasons that Williams decided to play his junior at the No. 4 spot for stretches this season, in an effort to get better free-throw shooters on the court in late game situations.

"He can always surprise you by something he does, whether it's get a deflection, get an offensive rebound, block a shot, or pull up on one of those little floaters and it goes in," head coach Roy Williams said during his Friday press conference. "He's a little unusual, a little unorthodox in a lot of ways."

And while Williams is unsure whether Green's increased confidence level and production is due to more playing time or vice versa, he does point to summer development as a factor in his 6-foot-5 wing's emergence this fall.

"I do believe that he worked more intelligently in the offseason," Williams said. "He worked on the things that were more important. I think the things that we discussed in the spring that he had to do – I think he has done those things. The way that we challenged him as to how important he could be with the team if he would do those things. I think he worked on it more with a purpose as opposed to just going in a gym and playing pick-up games."

Green has grown to enjoy being the first man to sub into the Tar Heel lineup. Not only does it allow him to add to the celebrity status built through his pregame dance on the sidelines, but it also gives him a chance to prepare for the opposition by learning the flow of the game.

"Just being able to watch the game play out," the junior said, who has a chest tattoo that reads "Green makes the world go around." "[Seeing] how the refs are calling the game and the strengths and weaknesses of the guy that I'm going to be guarding, watching Marcus [Ginyard] play against him and just coming off [the bench] for energy."

That spark was needed when the North Carolina offense bogged down against Kentucky earlier this month. Green scored 12 of the Heels' final 14 points to give his squad a 37-32 halftime margin during a stretch where junior Tyler Hansbrough was providing the only other point production.

The New Yorker's early season success begs the question as to why he's not in the starting lineup, but Williams is quick to remind you that Marvin Williams never started a game during the 2005 national championship season, either.

"It's extremely important to play," the fifth-year UNC coach said. "It's not extremely important to have your name introduced."

The North Babylon, N.Y. native will return to the Northeast for a pseudo-home game on Sunday against Rutgers (7-3) in Piscataway, N.J. Green is looking forward to seeing his family members, because with the full schedule of a collegiate basketball player, he only gets to see his mother and relatives for a short time during Christmas and then during the offseason.

But one person who will not get to see Green play live is his father, Danny Green, Sr., who is currently serving a prison term for drug trafficking charges.

"I put it aside," Green said when asked about dealing with the unfortunate circumstances. "When I'm playing, I don't think about it. I just play. In the past, it has been a factor. It was something that I would think about when it was fresh in my mind and it had happened recently, but after awhile, I got over it and got used to it and just put everything behind me."

Until recently, Green was able to talk to his father twice a week. But the elder Green has since been moved to another facility, and their only communication now is through writing letters to one another.

"No one knows what the youngster's gone through, but he's handled it really, really well," Williams said.

With first semester exams over and this brutal six-game road trip drawing to an end in New Jersey on Sunday night, the Tar Heels can begin to look forward to the ACC season knowing that Green will serve the role as a vital weapon off the bench – a necessity for a run deep into March.

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