The No. 14 North Carolina men’s basketball team, 23-7 on the season and 13-4 in ACC play, will take on No. 4 Duke, 23-7 overall and 12-5 in conference, Saturday night at 9 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and as usual in this Tobacco Road Rivalry, there’s a lot on the line.
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Ahead of the Duke showdown, Head Coach Roy Williams says he’s seen some mental and emotional fatigue out of his team lately, but the coaching staff is encouraging the players to get excited for postseason play.
“I think mentally you just, ‘Gosh, you have to take a deep breath.’ You realize now is when we really get to start having some fun. So we try to talk about that a little bit, but they’ve got to handle it,” Coach Williams says.
Coach Williams says more than any other team they face, the Tar Heels have to make guarding the three-point shot a priority against Duke, an historically elite perimeter shooting program.
“They shoot so many and have been so successful – just look at their percentages. We pay more attention to that and try to emphasize it. You hope that when they miss that you can get something going on the offensive end and capitalize on that,” Coach Williams says.
When asked the best way to go about defending Duke’s Jabari Parker, a hot favorite for national rookie of the year, Coach Williams implied it was a nearly impossible task.
“You hope he sprains his ankle going up the steps. That’s the best way. I don’t mean that in any derogatory way, but that’s one way to guard him if he’s sitting over on the bench. He’s got the complete game,” Coach Williams says.
All jokes aside, it was Carolina’s defensive intensity that made the difference in the second half against Duke in the Tar Heels’ 74-66 home win on Feb. 20.
Sophomore point guard Marcus Paige says Carolina will need to reach their maximum potential Saturday night and play a complete 40 minutes of high-level basketball.
“We might have a little bit more of a margin of error than maybe earlier in the season. But at this time of the year against a team like Duke in Cameron, the margin of error is not very big. We understand if we play the way we have the past couple games, that’s not going to get it done,” Paige says.
This year’s Tar Heel squad seemingly relishes the big-time games against elite national programs. Carolina’s game has shown brightest in the crucible of the national spotlight.
Senior Leslie McDonald says the toughness and cohesiveness of the team is put on display in the biggest games.
“We just have a mindset. If it’s a big-time team, we just come together closer. We have a mindset that we’re not going to back down. We’re going to give it our best shot and see if we can come out with the victory,” McDonald says.
With a victory Saturday, Carolina would assure itself of a three seed in next week’s ACC Tournament. A win coupled with a Syracuse loss in Tallahassee would mean UNC would snag the No. 2 seed next week. Few would have thought these scenarios possible just a few short weeks ago.
Carolina leads the all-time series with Duke 133-104 and is looking to complete a season sweep of the Blue Devils. That will be no easy task. Duke hasn’t lost back-to-back regular season games since Feb. 2009 and is a perfect 16-0 at home this season.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-duke-round-two-cameron-indoor/
The No. 13 UNC women’s basketball team snuck into the third round with a 69-65 defeat of Wake Forest Wednesday night in Greensboro.
The Demon Deacons opened the contest with a 7-0 run shooting 3-3 from the field, including 1-1 from behind the arc. The Tar Heels answered with a 5-2 run, but then with the help of Dearica Hamby’s 19 first-half points shooting 9-11 from the field, the Deacs pulled away again and jumped out to a double-digit lead.
At halftime, Carolina was down 12 shooting 32 percent from the field in the first half, while Wake Forest connected on 59 percent of its attempts.
The Tar Heels hit the final basket of the first half and scored the next 14 points unanswered to take the lead at 41-39. In the middle of that run, though, there was a nearly 25-minute break in the action as all the lights went out in the Greensboro Coliseum.
Wake Forest stormed back to take the lead again, but finally play settled with Carolina in the lead. UNC was 3-4 in free throws in the final 30 seconds to fend off Wake and hold on for the four-point win.
Hamby only had ten points in the second half finishing with 29, but she still led all players. Wake’s Chelsea Douglas also tallied 20 points in her final contest as a Deac.
Diamond Deshields led the Heels with 17 points She also pulled down eight rebounds. No other Tar Heels hit double-figure scoring.
Each team turned the ball over more times than the number of field goals it hit. Carolina turned the ball over 22 times; Wake Forest had 26 TOs.
With the win, the Tar Heels improved to 23-8; the Demon Deacons finished their season 15-16.
Carolina faces No. 3 seed Maryland in the quarterfinals Friday with a scheduled tip time of 8:00 p.m. Maryland got first- and second-round byes with its 24-5, 12-4 regular season finish. The Tar Heels lost to the Terrapins 79-70 in Chapel Hill on January 9.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-womens-basketball-survives-advances-def-wfu-69-65/
The No. 14 Carolina men’s basketball team takes on No. 4 Duke Saturday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Tar Heels defended their home court against the Blue Devils earlier this season, but a season sweep would be even sweeter.
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Carolina point guard Marcus Paige speaks on the need for the Tar Heels to regain Coach Williams’ famous “sense of urgency” as the Duke game and postseason play draws near.
“It meant more to them [Notre Dame] for the majority of the game. That can’t happen, especially because we’re a team close to the top of the ACC fighting for a third seed and a high seed in the Tournament. We can’t have that kind of effort,” Paige says.
Paige says Carolina’s level of play has dropped off a bit in the last couple games despite the victories. He says if the Tar Heels want to accomplish their big goals, they need to ratchet back up the intensity.
“That’s three or four in a row against teams we are capable of beating by a better margin than we have. That’s no knock on them, but we’ve been playing really well lately. If we have big goals and dreams, we can’t have all these sluggish games,” Paige says.
Despite Duke’s shocking loss to lowly WakeForest in Joel Coliseum Wednesday night, Carolina can expect the Blue Devils’ best to come out at Cameron Indoor Saturday night in primetime. After all, Duke is a perfect 16-0 at home this season.
With that being said, junior James Michael McAdoo says he doesn’t feel like he needs to go out there and “be Superman”. He says Carolina’s 12-game winning streak has given all the Tar Heels more confidence, loosening his scoring burden.
“I feel like all these last games have been important to us, especially starting the way we did in conference play. We realize the importance every time we step out there […I think the biggest thing for me personally is going out there, playing in my game and not trying to be Superman,” McAdoo says.
Senior Leslie McDonald says this lull in game activity after the Notre Dame win Monday comes at just the right time for the Tar Heels. He says it helps some banged up players recover and be primed for the Duke showdown.
“We’re going to be able to rest our bodies a little bit, go back to practice, evaluate ourselves and have hard practices to prepare us for Duke. I think it’s a wonderful time,” McDonald says.
With a win on Saturday, Carolina would claim not only a season sweep of their bitter rivals, but also claim a top three seeding in the ACC Tournament next week.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolinas-paige-mcadoo-paige-reloading-duke-finale-postseson/
Carolina football is back in action. The team is busy with their preparations for the 2014 season with high expectations surrounding them.
Head Coach Larry Fedora says it feels great to get back to the grind of the football field accompanied by old and new faces.
“It’s fun to be back out there on the football field doing something football-related. It was a lot of fun. I think it was fun for all the players and all the old and new coaches, everybody together,” Coach Fedora says.
And how are those fresh faces handling it? Coach Fedora says the new coaches, like offensive coordinator Seth Littrell, are still learning some things on the fly.
“I think the transition has gone really well. I think the guys have done a nice job. They understand what’s going on. Two of them today were a little wide-eyed, moving and getting from drill to drill. But their players know what’s going on,” Coach Fedora says.
There were some positives to senior signal caller Bryn Renner going down with an injury last season. Coach Fedora says the extra in-game snaps for Marquise Williams were beneficial heading into 2014 spring ball.
“Marquise got a lot of reps. He started some games. He’s got some live action under his belt, which made him a lot more comfortable today. You could see that when you’re looking at all the quarterbacks as they’re competing. He’s just a lot more comfortable than the other two,” Coach Fedora says.
Williams says he is taking on even more of a leadership role now. He says he’s trying to build his teammates’ belief in him and encouraging them to strive to be the best they can be each and every practice.
“To be a leader – that’s the main key. Don’t sit in the back. I’m taking the keys to the Porsche this time. It’s about business and making these guys believe in me. That’s one thing I do – keep pushing these guys to be great. I preach every day to be great,” Williams says.
The annual Blue & White Spring Game is scheduled for April 12 at Kenan Stadium.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/spring-ball-coach-fedora-managing-transition-qb-williams-embracing-leadership-role/
The Tar Heels come into the matchup on a roll, winners of seven straight. The Panthers enter the contest off a tough extra innings loss to Western Kentucky.
Right-handed ace Trent Thornton will start on the mound for Carolina Friday. Thornton currently boasts a 3-0 record and a 1.33 ERA with 22 strikeouts.
Benton Moss has registered a 2.49 ERA this year and is coming off of a complete-game performance against North Florida on March 1. Moss will get the start on Saturday.
The freshman bats will need to continue to stay hot this weekend against the Panthers. Freshman Wood Myers is leading the team offensively with a .390 average in the leadoff spot.
Last season, Pittsburgh was 4-3 against nationally ranked competition, but Friday will mark the first career game between the Tar Heels and the Panthers.
First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday afternoon in Chapel Hill.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heel-baseball-opens-acc-campaign-pittsburgh-weekend-series/
The UNC baseball team is on a seven-game winning streak after starting the season 1-3. Ahead of the ACC-opening Pittsburgh series, head coach Mike Fox spoke with Ron Stutts on the WCHL Thursday morning news.
***Listen to the Interview***http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/mike-fox-joins-ron-stutts-diamond-talk-ahead-pittsburgh-series/
With the loss, the Wildcats fell to 3-6 on the season.
UNC sophomore Reilly Hovis earned his second win of the season with three scoreless and hitless innings, striking out five.
The Tar Heels blew the game open in the bottom of the sixth when Davidson struggled to find the plate with its pitches and Carolina scored four runs off an Adrian Chacon RBI, a sac fly, wild pitch and a Wildcat error.
Carolina led 6-1 and would go on to tally four more runs to secure the comfortable midweek victory.
Skye Bolt went 1-2 for UNC with a trio of walks and a run scored. He also made a diving grab at the wall to steal extra bases from Davidson in the eighth inning.
Next up for the Tar Heels is an ACC opening series against ACC newcomer Pittsburgh. First pitch is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m.
Associate Head Coach Andrew Calder says he understands the depth and talent in the ACC. Carolina’s No. 6 seed in the Tournament says it all, but Coach Calder says his team knows it can beat “anybody, anywhere.”
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“The conference, as we know, is very strong. With the addition of Notre Dame, it’s even stronger. We’re just trying to get better every day. We’ve been up and down, and I accept responsibility for the down parts there. We’re talented. We feel like we have a chance to beat anybody, anywhere. We’re looking forward to getting better, playing in the Tournament and showcasing our skills,” Coach Calder says.
Coach Calder says the extreme youth of the Tar Heels is overcome by their immense talent. He says the coaching staff doesn’t even consider them to be freshmen.
“Obviously they’re very talented. As coaches we know, in the end, players win games. They’re playing very well together. We never considered them as freshmen. We never gave them a bail-out that we’re young. […] We give them no excuses. They’re talented, and we’re trying to get better,” Coach Calder says.
The Tar Heels have been one of the most up-and-down squads in the country with exhilarating upsets coupled with shocking losses. Coach Calder says his team has been working on being more patient with its shot selection to become a much more consistent unit.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well some of those games. We had some good looks that didn’t go. Also, we didn’t defend as well as we could. We settled for a few more jump shots because they were available. We’re working on improving that,” Coach Calder says.
Coach Calder says Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell is undergoing her final round of cancer treatment this week and has designs on being back patrolling the sidelines with her Tar Heels for the NCAA Tournament.
Freshman sensation Diamond DeShields, who recently became the first UNC freshman to ever eclipse the 500-point mark, will need to save some of her best stuff for the ACC Tournament if Carolina wants to be holding up a trophy Sunday night. But ESPN’s National Rookie of the Year says she’s just happy to fulfill her role on the team.
“I guess I’m proud to score that many points. I just do what I got to do. Everyone has roles on the team. Stephanie [Mavunga] is a great rebounder and inside scorer. I think scoring is a role too. I think I’m good at having that role as scorer,” DeShields says.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/talented-carolina-women-looking-build-consistency-acc-tournament/
***Listen to practice***
That was Carolina wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer and those were some sounds from Carolina football’s annual ‘Blue Dawn’, an intense early morning workout routine held in February that can come as a rude awakening for any unsuspecting new UNC football recruits.
With Blue Dawn behind them, the Tar Heels open up spring practice Wednesday at Navy Fields. After a solid recruiting class that seemingly shored up a few holes on the squad and with a bunch of returning athletes, especially on the offensive end, Carolina football appears to be primed for a run at an ACC Championship in 2014.
ESPN has Carolina in the Top 20 in the latest preseason projections. But the hard work continues for the Tar Heels.
***Listen to practice***
The Blue Dawn practices could be misconstrued as army basic training by some, but Coach Fedora says there’s still a lot more room for improvement for this group during the spring season.
“I thought our kids came out here with a lot of energy, excited to get out here this morning to start the new 2014 season. We got a long way to go. This is day one. We got guys that finally understand what we want. We got a lot of guys that still got a long way to go,” Coach Fedora says.
In addition to regular practices in Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels will conduct practices in Charlotte and Greensboro. The annual Blue & White Spring Game will be held at Kenan Stadium April 12.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/back-grind-spring-football-officially-hits-carolina-amidst-high-hopes/
Carolina comes into the contest off a series sweep of North Florida, where the Tar Heel pitching staff carried the day. Sophomore ace Trent Thornton threw 7.2 scoreless innings while freshman Zac Gallen recorded his first career collegiate win.
WCHL will chat with UNC’s Thornton Friday morning at 7:20 a.m. during the Morning News.
Davidson is coming off a 2-1 series loss to Miami (OH) and will be looking to rebound in Chapel Hill. The Wildcats narrowly missed out on an upset victory over No. 8 N.C. State earlier in the season.
Wednesday’s game will be the final tune-up for the Tar Heels before embarking on their ACC campaign against Pittsburgh this weekend.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heel-baseball-takes-davidson-wildcats-final-acc-tune/