Carolina Basketball Braces For Brutal Gauntlet Next Season

Forget all that you knew about the Atlantic Coast Conference. This is your new-look ACC and get used to it. The Tar Heels will only face two members of the original ACC in their home Smith Center slate. Let that sink in.

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UNC will face a daunting slate of games next season, including home and away games against new member and perennial powerhouse Louisville, as well as Duke, NC State and Georgia Tech.

The ACC released the conference schedules for the next two basketball seasons Tuesday.

Each of the ACC’s 16 member institutions has two regular schedule partners for home and away games. The Blue Devils and the Wolfpack are the two regular opponents for the Tar Heels.

In the 2014-15 campaign, Carolina will host Florida State, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech and travel to league foes Boston College, Clemson, Miami, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest.

The schedule no doubt promises to be an intriguing one for Tar Heel ticket holders. For the first time since 1998, Rick Pitino’s Cardinals will visit Chapel Hill for a showdown in the Dean Dome while Syracuse will be facing off with UNC for the first time ever in Chapel Hill.

The 2014-15 schedule will be the ACC’s third season with 18 conference games. UNC finished with a 12-6 mark in league play in 2012-13 and went 13-5 this past season.

The ACC Digital Network’s Jeff Fischel wonders whether the Tar Heels can get back on track in the upcoming season.

“You didn’t make the Elite Eight the last two seasons. That’s the first two-year drought of the Roy Williams era. Do you make a deep run next year?” Fischel says.

The following year, in 2015-16, UNC will play two games against Duke, NC State, Boston College and Syracuse while tasked with tough away games only at Florida State, Louisville, Notre Dame, Virginia and Virginia Tech.And that’s just the ACC gauntlet. Carolina will be facing an always formidable Kentucky Wildcat team next season and will also be playing in a preseason tournament field in the Bahamas with Wisconsin and Florida – that makes three of the four Final Four teams in 2014 as potential opponents looming for Head Coach Roy Williams’ troops.

But with Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Kennedy Meeks and J.P. Tokoto all returning along with the additions of a trio of highly touted recruits in Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson and Joel Berry, the Tar Heels should be well equipped to take on one of the toughest schedules in the country.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-basketball-braces-brutal-upcoming-gauntlet-next-season/

DeShields On The Market

No one knows where Diamond DeShields will play next year, except maybe her, but many schools are vying to get her.

According to assistant director of athletic communications at UNC, Mark Kimmel, the UNC compliance office has received many requests to speak to the National Freshman of the Year. UNC athletics has not yet responded as to how many schools have asked to speak with DeShields.

This past weekend, a source close to WCHL said that she is headed to Tennessee next season. DeShields’ hometown friend from Georgia, Te’a Cooper decommitted from UNC at the start of this school year and is reportedly leaning towards signing there for the 2015-16 school year.

A compliance officer told WCHL in an email that any further communication about where DeShields will play in the future will have to come directly from her.

Kimmel forwarded information from the compliance office to WCHL explaining the transfer process.

In order for a school to contact a player of another university, that school must get written permission from the player’s athletic director or an athletics administrator designated by the athletics director. Kimmel says rarely do ADs get directly involved; rather the compliance officers take care of it.

Carolina has five people listed in its compliance office, in addition to one graduate assistant. Vince Ille was hired as the Senior Associate AD for Compliance in the summer of 2012 and heads up the department.

Wherever DeShields ends up, she will have to spend one year in residence there before she is eligible to compete. If she is academically eligible, she may receive athletics aid and participate in practices.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/deshields-market/

Upcoming Carolina Basketball Slate Full Of Intrigue

The North Carolina men’s basketball team will face a daunting slate of games next season, including home and away games against new member and perennial powerhouse Louisville, as well as Duke, NC State and Georgia Tech.

The Atlantic Coast Conference released the conference schedules for the next two basketball seasons Tuesday.

Each of the ACC’s 16 member institutions has two regular schedule partners for home and away games. The Blue Devils and the Wolfpack are the two regular opponents for the Tar Heels.

In the 2014-15 campaign, Carolina will host Florida State, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech and travel to league foes Boston College, Clemson, Miami, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest.

The schedule no doubt promises to be an exciting one. For the first time since 1998, Rick Pitino’s Cardinals will visit Chapel Hill for a showdown in the Dean Smith Center, while Syracuse will be facing off with UNC for the first time ever in Chapel Hill.

The 2014-15 schedule will be the ACC’s third season with 18 conference games. UNC finished with a 12-6 mark in league play in 2012-13 and went 13-5 this past season.

The following year, in 2015-16, UNC will play two games against Duke, NC State, Boston College and Syracuse while tasked with tough away games only at Florida State, Louisville, Notre Dame, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/upcoming-carolina-basketball-slate-full-intrigue/

Tar Heels Travel To Pirate Country For Tuesday Tilt

The North Carolina baseball team, 23-17 overall, will be looking to build off a victory over top-ranked Virginia with a solid performance at Lewis Field Tuesday evening in Greenville when the Tar Heels will take on the East Carolina Pirates, who come into the contest with a 24-17 record.

ECU fell to Old Dominion 5-3 Monday night, but have played some capable baseball in 2014, boasting a pair of victories over ACC foes including a 4-2 decision over Pittsburgh and a 7-0 shutout against N.C. State.

Head Coach Mike Fox has been emphasizing the importance of each and every game this time of the year as postseason play draws near. He says he’s hoping his players can juggle the academic stress of final exams with the intense competition on the baseball diamond.

The Carolina offense notched 10 hits Sunday in the triumph in Charlottesville and that’s a welcome development for the unit that’s struggled to find consistency this season.

Following Tuesday’s 6 p.m. tilt with the Pirates, the Tar Heels will return home for a meeting with the in-form Liberty Flames Wednesday at Boshamer Stadium.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-travel-pirate-country-tuesday-tilt/

Diamond Heels Avoid Sweep, Take Down No. 1 Cavs

The North Carolina baseball team avoided a series sweep Sunday afternoon by downing top-ranked Virginia 4-2 at Davenport Field thanks to a two-run home run blast by Michael Russell.

With the win, the Tar Heels improved to 23-17 on the season and 10-11 in ACC action while the Cavaliers dropped to 33-7 overall and 16-5 in conference.

Carolina had a great opportunity to capture game one of the ACC series in Charlottesville as UNC ace Trent Thornton was edged by UVA hurler Nathan Kirby 3-2.

In game two, Tar Heel junior Benton Moss allowed just three hits in 7.2 innings, but the Carolina bats failed to back him up as Virginia secured the series with a 3-1 victory Saturday.

Easter Sunday went to the Tar Heels with sophomore reliever Reilly Hovis closing the door on the mound by dismissing the final 11 Cavalier hitters. It was Carolina’s first triumph over a No. 1 team since a sweep of Virginia in 2011.

Next up for the Tar Heels is Tuesday visit to East Carolina.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/diamond-heels-avoid-sweep-take-1-cavs/

Men’s Track & Field Team Finishes Three Shy Of ACC Title

The North Carolina men’s track and field team came excruciatingly close to winning their first ACC championship since 1999 Saturday in Chapel Hill.

The men’s team outscored all other teams in the final day of competition, finishing with 87 points. The championship came down to the final event of the meet. Heading into the 4×400 relay, Florida State held a seven-point advantage over UNC.

Ceo Ways crossed the finish line first for Carolina in the anchor leg, but the Tar Heels finished three points shy of the title.

“I’ve never been a part of a group of guys that have fought that hard in that situation,” sprints coach Steve Rubin says. “They just did not give up. I think it was partially the desire to win the meet; it was partially the fact that they’re here on their home track and the crowd was there for them, and I think they just have a lot of pride.

Earlier in the meet, Tar Heel athlete RJ Alowonle repeated as the 400-meter hurdle champion, running a new personal best 50.23 to capture the individual title.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/mens-track-field-team-finishes-three-shy-acc-title/

Tennessee A Done Deal For DeShields

Sources close to WCHL confirm that Diamond DeShields is going to Tennessee.

Speculation has pointed to DeShields going with her friend from Georiga, Te’a Cooper, who is leaning toward being a Volunteer. Cooper decommitted from UNC at the start of this season.

DeShields has not said anything about her destination since UNC Athletics confirmed Thursday she was leaving. Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell said she did not know why she made this choice.

With the decision to leave UNC, DeShields has to sit out next season and will be eligible to play at the start of the 2015-16 season.

She led all Tar Heels in scoring and was named the National Freshman of the Year and the ACC’s Rookie of the Year. Carolina was knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the Elite Eight by Stanford.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tennessee-done-deal-deshields/

DeShields Following Friend To Tennessee?

Story originally posted April 18, 2014, 10:19 a.m.

Nearly 24 hours after news broke that Diamond DeShields is leaving Carolina, only speculation of where can be drawn at this point.

The National Freshman of the Year has not yet spoken out about where she’s going to play next year. WCHL tried to reach DeShields again Friday, but her phone was turned off and her voicemail was full.

Her Twitter account, @DDeShields23 has not been a source or information yet as to where she’s headed.

Someone with the Twitter handle @RolandMumford seemed to know something no one else has heard when he replied to that tweet with #rockytop.

espnW reporter Mechelle Voepel wrote late Thursday that she wasn’t shocked when she heard about DeShields’ decision. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if the “perfect” team and situation DeShields thought Carolina was when she was on the outside looking in as a high schooler didn’t turn out to be exactly what she expected. In an interview with DeShields later in the season, DeShields told Voepel that it was very hard leaving Atlanta after the Georgia Tech game because it was so close to home.

With college kids, especially freshmen, you always have to keep homesickness in mind.

Other speculation lends to looking where other star athletes are going. DeShields came in with the “Gang of Four” as the group was deemed (DeShields, Allisha Gray, Stephanie Mavunga and Jessica Washington), and she certainly remained the top player of that group. However, her friend from Georgia, Te’a Cooper looks like she’s headed to Tennessee after decommitting to UNC. She said she had Carolina locked in since a visit her eighth-grade year, but before this season, she announced she opened her recruitment to all schools.

As of 3:30 p.m. Friday, that tweet was no longer on Cooper’s account.

DeShields transfer means she has to sit out one season. Cooper is a rising senior and both would hit the court for the first time in Tennessee Orange for the 2015-16 season if this is the chosen path.

DeShields’ has a connection to Tennessee as well. Her mother, Tisha, was an All-America runner for the Vols.

Another, albeit further far-fetched speculation, looks at this year’s espnW HoopGurls No. 1 prospect, A’ja Wilson. She announced Wednesday that she will play at South Carolina next year. The Columbia native said it was an easy decision to make, staying at home.

DeShields tweeted Wednesday that she, “Can’t wait to see where my dawg @_ajawilson22 decides to go to school. She’ll make ANY program more than happy! I’m tuned in.”

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/deshields-following-friend-tennessee/

Coach Mike Fox Says Tar Heels Will ‘Go Strap It On And See What Happens’ Versus No. 1 Cavaliers

Following a series win over Wake Forest and a ninth inning rally against Elon, the North Carolina baseball team, 22-15 on the year and an even 9-9 in ACC play, will now face a ‘measuring stick’ series for the program this weekend when facing No. 1 Virginia in Charlottesville.

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“It’s not going to get any easier with them. Virginia has built such a great program. They got great starting pitching. We’re going to have to take advantage of any opportunities they give us. We got to pitch well. Friday night should be an unbelievable game,” Coach Fox says.

That was Carolina Head Coach Mike Fox on the formidable challenge awaiting his Tar Heels Friday night.

With a busy slate of games and final exams right around the corner, the Tar Heels have a ton on their plate. Coach Fox says he hopes his players are ready for the juggling act that’s ahead of them this time of the year, especially with postseason play looming.

“Our kids have a lot on them right now academically. It’s just a tough stretch for them right now until the last day of class. That’s my biggest concern at this point. But we need to be ready. Every game is important for us now,” Coach Fox says.

The Virginia Cavaliers sit at 31-6 on the season and boast a powerful batting lineup along with a threatening bullpen that makes for a lethal combo to opposing teams.

The Tar Heels, meanwhile, have experienced an up-and-down season so far; unusual for a program that is a mainstay at the top of the college game. But Coach Fox says he’s been seeing some positive developments in his team lately.

“Our kids are starting to play a little loose and realize we have to play that way. Some of our kids are really starting to play well. Our bullpen was really good. We have to keep moving forward and try to keep playing well,” Coach Fox says.

Despite Virginia’s dominating season thus far, Coach Fox remains confident in Carolina’s chances. He says the Tar Heels can draw upon their past successes against the Wahoos.

“We’ve been there and done that before – had some success a couple years ago. We’ve got to go up there and play well. Everybody in this league is beatable. We’ll go strap it on and see what happens,” Coach Fox says.

Having their ace Trent Thornton on the mound to lead the proceedings Friday night will certainly give the Tar Heels their best chance at grabbing game one of an ACC series that many across the league and nation will be keeping their eyes on.

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/coach-mike-fox-says-tar-heels-will-go-strap-see-happens-versus-1-cavaliers/

Diamond Heels Escape Phoenix With Ninth-Inning Rally

The North Carolina baseball team produced a thrilling rally in the bottom of the ninth inning Wednesday night to defeat Elon 5-4 and improve to 22-15 on the season.

With the loss, the Phoenix fell to 23-14 on the year and dropped their first decision of the season after leading in the eighth inning.

Carolina’s Landon Lassiter served as the hero Wednesday with his bases-loaded single that scored Michael Russell and completed the winning rally.

UNC’s Spencer Trayner retired all six batters he faced to get the win while Elon closer Ryan Pennell recorded just one out in allowing three runs in the ninth.

Carolina returns to Atlantic Coast Conference action this weekend at No. 1 Virginia for a three-game series.

FINAL BOX SCORE

http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/diamond-heels-escape-phoenix-ninth-inning-rally/