CHAPEL HILL– Tonight is the night Tar Heel fans have been looking forward to since the Carolina was bounced in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by Kansas in March.
The regular season opener for Carolina basketball will tip off at 9 p.m. against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in the Dean Smith Center.
And with P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald still on the bench due to NCAA compliance issues, the Tar Heel lineup will remain intriguing.
Head Coach Roy Williams says McDonald and Hairston have been practicing with the team as they await a resolution for their situation.
“They’ve been practicing and they’ve been practicing really well. The last week I haven’t had them on the first team at any point. I’ve had them on the blue team. P.J. has played about as well at this point in the season as any player I’ve ever had,” Coach Williams says.
Coach Williams says he is comfortable with having both Marcus Paige and Nate Britt out on the floor at the same time. He says he played three point guards while at Kansas to roaring success.
“I think playing two point guards and a hundred years ago in 2002 I started three point guards, and we went all the way to the Final Four. It was one of the most comfortable teams I’ve ever coached, because we didn’t turn it over. I’m comfortable with that,” Coach Williams says.
Coach Williams says Carolina’s success this season will likely hinge on the ability to dominate around the rim and collect rebounds to earn second-chance opportunities.
“Guys got to rebound the ball. If you’re going to play five, you got to rebound the ball and be a factor around the rim,” Coach Williams says.
Free throw shooting has been a bit of an issue for the Tar Heels in recent years, and that’s why Coach Williams says the players have been shooting their fair share of them in practice.
“We’ve had some teams that shot it poorly. We had some teams that shot it great. ’09 we had five guys shoot close to eighty percent. I like that. When you shoot it poorly, it’s not good for you. Everybody on the team shot over 200 free throws last weekend recorded by a manager. One guy shot 67 [percent], and one guy shot 69 [percent]. Everybody else was above 70 [percent], so we just need to keep doing that,” Coach Williams says.
WCHL’s coverage of tonight’s game begins at 7 p.m. with Countdown to Tipoff. In addition, WCHL and Chapelboro.com’s Tar Heel Take team will be on hand to give you an inside look at all the energy and excitement in the Dean Dome.