Ginyard: The Slim & Trim Version

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The last time Marcus Ginyard suited up in a North Carolina uniform, the senior wing was a hobbled and heavy shell of himself against Boston College last January. Ten months later, a renewed leaner version of No. 1 has emerged for the Tar Heels.

Ginyard underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his fifth left metatarsal on Oct. 8, 2008. After what was expected to a be a rather benign rehabilitation period, the Alexandria, Va. senior returned to the lineup nearly four weeks later than expected in December and played a total of 37 minutes against Rutgers, Nevada and Boston College. Hampered by lingering pain, he sat out the next seven games before UNC announced that he would red-shirt his senior season and return for the 2009-10 campaign.

Ginyard continued to practice with the team, although he was plagued with varying degrees of soreness after workouts through North Carolina's national title run in Detroit last April. So instead of waiting for the foot to completely heal itself, the 6-foot-5 wing decided to do his part in facilitating the recovery process.

When he took the court against Boston College in January, Ginyard checked in at a thick 230 pounds. He is currently playing in the 205-pound range.

"It got to the point when I hit 230 pounds that I said, ‘Something's got to change,'" Ginyard told reporters at Sunday's ACC Operation Basketball at Grandover Resort. "I feel like I really did a great job this summer being disciplined in my eating and working out and just trying to push myself as much as I can to get into the best shape that I can be in. I've been blessed to have another year and I want to do the best that I can and make the most of it."

The change has been dramatic and obvious.

"He's down to where he can move again – he's explosive again," UNC head coach Roy Williams said. "Last year, his weight was up a little bit, but also he had the problem with his foot… I do see him being just as explosive, if maybe not even a little more so, than I saw the year before."

Senior Deon Thompson echoed his coach's sentiments.

"He definitely doesn't get as tired," Thompson said. "At the end of practice when we have to run sprints, he's still running hard like he was at the beginning of practice. So his weight loss has definitely helped him and it's taken a lot of pressure off his foot. He's a lot quicker and even more explosive than he was before."

Ginyard's normal playing weight during his time in Chapel Hill has consistently been around 220 pounds, but with Williams needing his savvy senior to focus more on stabilizing the backcourt with Ty Lawson, Bobby Frasor and Wayne Ellington absent from the roster, he made a concerted effort to get into the best shape of his career to help prevent any further injuries.

"To play at this level and to be at your best, you've got to do anything and everything that you can," he said. "There's no question that I was a lean 220 pounds, but anyway you want to look at it, that's almost 20 less pounds of pounding on your foot which you know has given you problems in the past. And it's another 15 pounds off you to help you move. I still feel very strong and capable with my strength, but there's no question that having that extra quickness and being a little lighter on your feet is a big positive for me."

Williams indicated that Ginyard will spend most of his time at the 2-spot, provided the options at point guard (Larry Drew, Dexter Strickland) and small forward (Will Graves, John Henson) work out. The fifth-year senior is considered third on the depth chart at both of those positions.

"I think I'll continue to be that floater out there that can squeeze in a little bit everywhere," Ginyard said.

When the weight fell away, so did the post-practice soreness in his foot. And while the injury prevented Ginyard from being in uniform and in the final stat book of the national championship victory over Michigan State, it also provided the silver lining of another season in which the team would be rightfully his to lead and direct.

With each passing practice, the reasons why North Carolina could potentially return to the Final Four are becoming clearer for Ginyard.

"I'm not worried in the least bit," he said. "A lot of times in this preseason so far, we've been talking about not really knowing how things are going to unfold and really knowing how things are going to be set for this year, but the one thing that I do know most of all is that we're going to be all right. We've got what we need to get through this year and to be extremely successful."

The first step in being a true leader is in practicing what you preach and walking the walk. On Sunday, his head coach made it abundantly clear just how Ginyard has done in that regard.

"So far, I'm more pleased with him than anybody on our team," Williams said.

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