Matt Paul

Ex-Heel Neal Excels As Apex Coach

David Neal will never forget the time he walked into his college basketball coach’s office for a chat. “We need you to be a great teammate,” Neal remembers the coach telling him. “and be REALLY enthusiastic.” The words from nearly two decades ago stuck with Neal due to who they came from: legendary former Tar Heels basketball coach Dean Smith, who recently turned 83 years old. Neal, a walk-on at UNC after starring at Sanderson High in Raleigh, heeded Smith’s advice and even earned playing time in 26 games for the varsity squad in the 94-95 and 95-96 seasons....

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Giving A Hoots For Tar Heel Hoops

Rising through the ranks to an important position can still be achieved, as Eric Hoots can attest. Hoots, the Assistant to the Athletic Director for Men’s Basketball and Director of Player Development for the UNC men’s basketball team, served as the Tar Heels varsity manager a decade ago (when he roomed with now-UNCG-coach Wes Miller). Not that there’s anything wrong with that. There’s plenty right with it, in fact, as Hoots used that valuable experience to become a master multi-tasker who now keeps up with the players’ academics and their apparel and equipment needs while also managing the team’s...

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Taking Shots At Tar Heels Offense

Seven straight wins, including several of the double-digit variety, with a few come-from-behind victories sprinkled in and all seems well again in Tar Heel country, right? Well, not quite. As UNC coach Roy Williams will tell you, there’s ALWAYS room for improvement, and that’s true for this squad as well. Despite a now impressive 18-7, 8-4 ACC mark and “relatively comfortable NCAA Tournament credentials” (as a USA Today article surmised prior to Monday’s win over Florida State), the Tar Heels still have work to do. Take their shooting, please … as the old joke goes. From the field, the...

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Brice Is Simmering For Tar Heels

With a talented and deep pool of players emerging for the Tar Heels, reserves in particular must make the most of their minutes to consistently take the floor. Sophomore forward Brice Johnson has done just that, scoring 10 points with four rebounds (three offensive), three steals and two blocks in Sunday’s 73-62 win over Notre Dame. Johnson’s most impressive stat in his 21 minutes of action may be zero: as in turnovers. It wasn’t a fluke, either, as Johnson was even more potent offensively in the previous contest, hitting all eight of his field goal attempts for 19 points...

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The View From The Risers

Passion, pride and patience … plenty of patience. That’s what it takes to be among “The Risers,” the student cheering section at UNC basketball games at the Smith Center. Just ask UNC students and friends Jane Zorowitz and Marta Case. The pair waited about four hours, mostly in biting cold temperatures on a recent Sunday for a chance to cheer on the Tar Heels from just a few feet away when they took on Clemson. They were rewarded by making the cut for a Phase 1 ticket for the closest position with a few dozen other students. Others settled...

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Meeks Makes The Most Of His Minutes

Looking for a bright spot when it comes to the Tar Heels poor play of late? Well, there is one (and a big one literally and figuratively, at that) in 6’9″ freshman forward Kennedy Meeks. Meeks scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Monday’s disappointing 76-61 loss to Virginia, which dropped the struggling Tar Heels to 11-7 overall and 1-4 in the ACC. Don’t blame Meeks, however, as he made the most of his 21 minutes by also dishing out a pair of assists and recording a block and a steal, with only one turnover. Head coach Roy...

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