Watts, Walker Honored by ACC Ahead of Tournament Tipoff Wednesday

Members of the North Carolina women’s basketball team have been honored by the Atlantic Coast Conference ahead of the conference tournament beginning on Wednesday.

UNC guard Stephanie Watts was selected as the ACC Freshman of the Year, the league announced on Wednesday.

Watts won ACC Rookie of the Week honors four times over the course of the season, more than any other first-year players, and finished at No. 10 in the conference scoring list, averaging 14.5 points per game. The Wesley Chapel native also checks in among the conference’s leaders with 1.3 blocks per game. Watts led the Tar Heels in scoring 11 times, including posting a career-high 30 points versus NC State on February 21.

Watts was also named to the All-ACC second team, on Tuesday. Watts and teammate Destinee Walker both earned selections to the conference’s All-Freshman team.

Walker, from Orlando, Florida, scored in double figures 27 times during the season – the most among ACC freshman – and averaged 14 points per game.

Walker, Watts and the rest of the Tar Heels will be in action on Wednesday in the ACC Tournament matching up against Pittsburgh.

Tipoff is scheduled for one o’clock. The game can be heard live on 97.9 FM/1360 AM WCHL.


ACC Remembers Vicious Rasheed Wallace Dunk Against Duke

In case you needed a reminder, the biggest rivalry in college basketball – which many in this area would argue is the biggest rivalry in sports, period – will be rekindled on Wednesday when the Duke Blue Devils travel to Chapel Hill to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels, assuming there’s no inclement weather.

This game makes everyone feel a bit nostalgic, even those with the Atlantic Coast Conference Digital Network.

The ACCDN shared a video on Monday of a now-famous Rasheed Wallace dunk from the March, 1994, matchup between the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils in Durham.

UNC went on to win that game against Duke 87-77.

The Tar Heels are coming off of an 85-64 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday, while the Blue Devils knocked off Virginia, in Cameron Indoor Stadium, on a last-second shot from Grayson Allen on Saturday.

The next chapter in the rivalry is set for nine o’clock Wednesday night in Chapel Hill. WCHL’s coverage will begin at seven o’clock with the UNC Health Care Countdown to Tipoff.


UNC Soccer Star Named ACC Men’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year

UNC senior defender Jonathan Campbell has been named the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete of the Year, the conference announced Tuesday.

Campbell started all 20 games for the Tar Heels in 2015 and scored one goal and accumulated four assists from his defense position.

Campbell was selected with the number 12 pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by the Chicago Fire.

Campbell earned All-America honors for his play and for his performance in the classroom during his senior campaign for the Tar Heels.

This marked the fourth time Campbell, who graduated in December, was named to the All-ACC Academic Team. He is the only member of the team to receive the honor four times.

Carolina sophomore David October and freshman Alex Comsia were also named to Academic All-Conference team. It was the first selection for both.


James Worthy Named ACC Legend

Former UNC star forward James Worthy has been named to this year’s class of ACC Basketball Legends.

Worthy, along with 13 others will receive their honor during the ACC Tournament March 8-12 in Washington, D.C.

Worthy was the 1982 National Player of the Year and led the Tar Heels to a NCAA title, the first under Dean Smith.

He was a two-time All-American and was the first overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft.

His winning and dominant play continued at the professional level. Worthy was part of three NBA championship teams and was a seven-time All-Star.

The number 52 was retired at UNC, and he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2003.

The legends will be features at the Legends Luncheon, on Friday March 11. See the ACC’s website for more details.

The 2016 ACC Legends Class:

Jim Hooley, Forward, Boston College

Grayson Marshall, Guard, Clemson

Jason Willams, Guard, Duke

Rowland Garrett, Forward, Florida State

BJ Elder, Guard, Georgia Tech

Darrell Griffith, Guard, Louisville

John Salmons, Forward, Miami

James Worthy, Forward, North Carolina

Anthony “Spud” Webb, Guard, NC State

Adrian Dantley, Forward, Notre Dame

Charles Smith, Forward, Pitt

Derrick Coleman, Forward, Syracuse

Norman Nolan, Forward, Virginia

Howard Pardue, Forward, Virginia Tech

Dave Odom, Head Coach, Wake Forest 


Chansky’s Notebook: Best ACC Title Game Ever

The 2015 ACC football champion? Hang on, I’ll tell you.

A few things you may not know, or have forgotten, about the ACC Championship game, which will be played for the 11th time Saturday night, the 6th straight in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, the best home for the battle between Atlantic and Coastal Division winners.

Florida State and Virginia Tech have each been in the game five times, facing each other only twice. The Seminoles have won four of their five appearances, but missed the game for five out of six years between 2006 and 2011. They have won the last three ACC titles, edging Georgia Tech twice and blowing out Duke in between. Virginia Tech earned three championships in its five trips.

Georgia Tech is next with four appearances, winning only once. Clemson has been there just twice before Saturday night, winning one and losing one. Boston College lost its two straight visits back in 2007 and ’08. Wake Forest went once and won once. Duke went once and lost once.

There has never been a true sellout for the game, whether in Jacksonville, Tampa or Charlotte. That all ends tomorrow night, when 100,000 tickets could have been sold to see the Tigers take on the Tar Heels, both unbeaten in ACC play this season and easily the best ACC championship matchup ever. Top-ranked and 12-0 Clemson is a five-point favorite, but 11-1 UNC probably like those odds.

Marquise Williams lets one fly

Marquise Williams lets one fly. Photo via Smith Cameron Photography

Clemson has the best quarterback in DeShaun Watson, undoubtedly ACC Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy hopeful, but don’t tell that to Carolina fans; they love their Marquise Williams who has been even better than Watson the last half of the season. Dabo Swinney edged Larry Fedora for ACC Coach of the Year by six votes, and if they Tar Heels win their first trip to the title game their fans will call for a recount.

UNC has multiple weapons and a slight edge in offensive statistics, Clemson is better on defense and probably the best the Tar Heels have faced this season. If Clemson wins, the Tigers take the top seed into the college football Final Four. If Carolina wins, well, the committee has a mess on its hands. But a conference champion will likely get the nod over higher ranked Ohio State, which did not make the Big Ten title game.

It should be a night to remember, whether watching in person or on ESPN. The winner? On paper, you have to say Clemson, but that’s not where the game is played. That’s why I like the Tar Heels to shock the world. Don’t turn the ball over, guys, and bring home the hardware.


Chansky Notebook: UNC Winning The Hard Way

If champions find a way to win, the Tar Heels must be champions.

Larry Fedora said his team went into Saturday’s game at Virginia Tech facing the perfect storm. Frank Beamer coaching his last home game after 29 years in Blacksburg, the Hokies needing one more win to secure their 23rd consecutive bowl bid, senior day, black uniforms, Metallica revving up an already crazy crowd. The whole schmeer.

Yet, Carolina had to find a way to win to avoid going to N.C. State this week to wrap up the ACC Coastal Division. If the Tar Heels kept playing like they had the last month, it would have been no problem. But they played tight from start to finish and made uncharacteristic mistakes. Fumbling six times and losing three and committing nine penalties, several by veteran players.

With four minutes left, they had found a way, ready to score again and win comfortably by more than two touchdowns. Then Marquise Williams, upon whose shoulders this magical season has rested, lost the ball on two straight possessions, giving him three turnovers for the game. Shades of South Carolina – the last time the Tar Heels lost.

Going to overtime, how confident were you? If you’re into bad karma, the UNC basketball team was blowing a 16-point lead out in Iowa and it looked like a black Sabbath upon Tar Heel Nation. But the UNC defense, which had given up two touchdown passes on fourth-down after near goal-line stands, this time held the Hokies to a field goal and gave the offense a chance to win.

It looked easy when the Heels had a first-and-goal at the three but another false start made it third-and-goal from the 8. They had to get into the end zone or face a second overtime, which would have really been pushing their luck.

Marquise to Quinshad for only the second time this season, and they were celebrating with Fedora, destined to be for ACC Coach of the Year.

Ten straight and going to Charlotte to play top-ranked Clemson, which trust me does not want to face the 11th-ranked Carolina in what will be a wild scene at Bank of American Stadium. Before that comes N.C. State, and as tight as the Tar Heels were Saturday in the foothills, their sphincters should be loose and ready to take on the Wolfpack in the fairgrounds.

Eleven straight wins would be a school record for one season and the first time a UNC team has ever won that many before the post-season. That, and last year’s bad loss to State, should be plenty to play for.


Stroman On Sports: An ACC Champ?

Week one of the college football season was rough for UNC, but Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech all look legit. Can any of them (or another ACC school) break into this year’s College Football Playoff?

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School professor and WCHL sports commentator Deb Stroman weighed in on that question and more with WCHL’s Aaron Keck on Monday.


Chansky’s Notebook: Make Your Own Noise

Larry Fedora hopes his passion will trump pessimism.

UNC’s football coach met the media at Pinehurst Tuesday and was asked immediately about telling recruits what HE thinks about the future of the Tar Heels. Fedora is saying he is confident that the NCAA won’t keep his team from playing as many games as it deserves to play.

Fedora has been getting commitments from kids who are excited about their four or five years in Chapel Hill. Obviously, they think the future is bright or they wouldn’t have committed. Fedora isn’t even talking much about the NCAA, unless asked; he’s leaving that to rival recruiters. He’s going positive about all UNC has to offer on and off he field.

What else is he to do? Well, maybe you should sign at Duke or State because we’re afraid of the big, bad NCAA? The smart money is on no sanctions that affect the current Carolina team. Why would they? These kids had nothing to do with what went on here in the past. Fedora is the new coach looking only forward.

The 2015 Tar Heels actually got three votes to win the ACC championship and even more to capture the Coastal Division. They have most of their offense returning and a defense that only has one way to go under new coordinator Gene Chizik. There is a lot to be optimistic about, and Fedora is an optimist.  He knows only one speed, so why not show confidence and present his vision of Carolina football? Other schools may be trying to dissuade kids from coming – that’s what they are hanging their hats on, Fedora says – but he’s spinning a far more positive story. And succeeding. Imagine what he will do when the NCAA cloud is finally lifted?

Fedora asked for, and received, a seven-year contract when he took the UNC job after his last regular season at Southern Miss. He knew it might be rough sledding at first and it has gotten progressively tougher since going 8-4 and tying for the Coastal championship in 2012. The team bottomed out going 6-7 last year and, frankly, looked like some players quit the last two games. That toasted Fedora.

Until someone says something different, the Tar Heels have everything to play for in 2015. His job is to keep his eye on the ball and beat South Carolina in Charlotte on September 3. If so, it will be hard to hear anything else above all that noise.


UNC Linebacker: “Our Goal is to Win an ACC Championship.”

Atlantic Coast Conference Media Days are underway.

Players from around the ACC were in the spotlight for day one.

North Carolina finished up last football season with a 6-6 regular season record followed by a 19-point loss to Rutgers in the Quick Lane Bowl.

But middle linebacker Jeff Schoettmer says the Tar Heels are looking forward.

“Last year, a multitude of things went wrong,” he says. “We’ve moved past that. We have a new staff, so we’re not even worried about what happened last year. We can’t change it.”

Schoettmer was referring to the new defensive coordinator Gene Chizik, who was brought in to lead the Carolina defense. The linebacker says it didn’t take long for Chizik to make an impact.

“Over the course of the spring, communication that’s what really got better,” he says. “And then tackling, we missed way too many tackles last year.

“Poor tackling angles and tracking angles is one of the things that Chizik associated with that when he came in. He went back and watched every game last year and those are the two things he pointed out, poor tracking angles led to missed tackles.”

While the Tar Heels defense was historically bad last season. The offense, to use the word of Quarterback Marquise Williams, is loaded.

“We are very loaded with all the returning guys. We just have one guy missing, that’s Jack Tabb,” he says recalling the tight end from last year. “With Ryan Switzer, Mack Hollins, Landon Turner, TJ Logan, Elijah Hood, with so many weapons on offense I can’t be any happier.

“I’ve been smiling all day because I have a great opportunity to come out and make some plays with some big-time names.”

Expectations are high in Chapel Hill for the defensive side of the football under Chizik to catch up with the high-powered offense the Tar Heels will sport under head coach Larry Fedora. Schoettmer says there is a lot left for this year’s version of the Tar Heels to accomplish.

“We made a bowl game [last year] with six wins. That’s not something we’re proud of,” he says. “We’re definitely happy we went to a bowl game, but our goal is to win an ACC Championship.

“You don’t do that by winning six games. You do that by winning 10 games, 10-plus games. That’s what we’re looking forward to and focusing on this fall.”

Head Coach Larry Fedora will address the media at the ACC Kickoff on Tuesday.


Clemson Tabbed to Win ACC

UNC has been picked to finish fifth in the always up-in-the-air Coastal Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference at the Football Kickoff at Pinehurst Resort.

The voting media members selected the Clemson Tigers as the favorites to claim the conference championship.

Clemson was picked to finish above three-time defending champion Florida State in the Atlantic Division ahead of Louisville, NC State, Boston College, Syracuse, and Wake Forest.

In the Coastal Division, the media members tabbed Georgia Tech as the favorites followed, in order, by Virginia Tech, Miami, Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Virginia.

Clemson Quarterback Deshawn Watson was voted the ACC Preseason Player of the Year. Tar Heel Quarterback Marquise Williams finished in a tie for third in player of the year voting.

The media preview wraps up Tuesday in Pinehurst.