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.”

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.

***Listen to the story***

“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.

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.


No. 3 Carolina Women’s Tennis Soaring With Freshman Jamie Loeb

The North Carolina women’s tennis team has risen to No. 3 in the national collegiate rankings with a 22-3 overall mark and an 11-1 record in ACC action.

***Listen to the story***

The Tar Heels owe a lot of their success to freshman standout Jamie Loeb, now ranked the No. 1 singles player in the nation.

The Carolina women are serving up a storm these days. Last weekend, the Tar Heels easily dismissed league rival Maryland 6-1 to send the seniors out with a bang on Senior Day in Chapel Hill.

But it’s young freshman Loeb who has been stealing the spotlight this season. Loeb sports an incredible 43-2 singles record, including a perfect 11-0 mark in the ACC.

A tennis season can be somewhat of a grind, but Loeb says the team is really starting to find its form with each and every match thanks to some intelligent tactics.

“We’ve improved our unity in the team. I think we’ve found our identity and who we are. I think we’re putting that all together, taking care of our bodies and being smart,” Loeb says.

Loeb says the close-knit nature of the team really provides a great working environment for her to compete. Loeb says there is nothing like hearing her teammates voice their support while she’s battling it out in a match.

“We’re basically a family. We love each other so much. I think our closeness helps us on court as well. We’re out there pushing each other and cheering for each other after every point. It’s such a good feeling, especially for me, when I hear my teammates cheering for me,” Loeb says.

Earlier this week at The Rammys, the freshman sensation beat out a star-studded list of Carolina athletes including women’s basketball phenom Diamond DeShields, for the title of Breakthrough Athlete of the Year. Loeb says she was at a loss for words.

“It’s an honor for me to even be nominated for it. I was kind of shaking when I heard my name called,” Loeb says.

Loeb, though, is not alone near the top of the collegiate singles rankings. Her teammate, Hayley Carter, is ranked No. 6 nationally and regularly pairs with Loeb to form a dynamic doubles combo. Loeb says the two are good friends, but push each other on the court – keeping a competitive edge.

Coming into her rookie year, Loeb was once the hunter. Now, everybody is gunning for her. But she says she’s not letting any pressure get to her.

“I use it as  motivation to keep getting better and not look at it as pressure and feeling like I have to stay at No. 1. I don’t have to do it. I just want it,” Loeb says.

Postseason play is rapidly approaching. Loeb says the team is practicing with an even greater intensity these days with an ACC, and possibly even national title on the line.

“We’re practicing with a purpose. We know what we want to get done and what we need to improve on,” Loeb says.

But before the ACC Championship, the Tar Heels hit the road for a Southern swing. A Thursday afternoon meeting with Georgia Tech in Atlanta will be followed by a Saturday showdown with Clemson in South Carolina.

DBAP Duel Postponed, Tar Heels Host Phoenix Wednesday

The Duel at the DBAP between the North Carolina baseball team and N.C. State was postponed due to heavy rains Tuesday night.

The 10,000 fans who purchased tickets have been told to hold on to their tickets for a possible rescheduled makeup game at a date still to be determined.

Next up for the 21-15 Tar Heels is a Wednesday meeting with 23-13 Elon at 6 pm in Boshamer Stadium.

Carolina leads the all-time series 31-9 against Elon and rides a six-game winning streak over the Phoenix into the midweek contest.

The 2014 Rammys Celebration Fused Athletic Excellence With Old Fashioned Fun

The 2nd annual Rammy Awards Show Monday night in Memorial Hall showcased a little bit of everything, from Marcus Paige’s basketball prowess to some dance party moves by Carolina athletes up on stage.

***Listen to the story***

The beats were bumping for The Rammys as athletes from all over Chapel Hill’s campus converged for a night of music, fun and excellence all tied together.

The Voice of the Tar Heels Jones Angell hosted the event and set the stage for the evening of athletic recognition.

“Tonight we have national champions, NCAA record-holders, and rival fan heartbreakers all on display. They are nominated for awards tonight,” Angell says.

But it didn’t take long for Angell to break into fun and games. He had a pizza from popular pizza joint IP3’s delivered on stage. Angell then promptly passed some slices out to the audience, including UNC Basketball Head Coach Roy Williams.

But Angell really brought down the house when he playfully scolded freshman big-man Kennedy Meeks, whose weight was often maligned by Coach Williams during the season, saying, “No, Kennedy, no pizza for you!”

ESPN Sportscenter anchor Stuart Scott, a Carolina alumnus, checked in on the festivities at Memorial Hall to the delight of the student-athletes in attendance.

“We will celebrate excellence in college athletics, and we will do it Chapel Hill style. I wish I could be with you in person tonight, but I got some Sportscenter to get to a little later on. It’s only my job,” Scott says.

Awards were handed out after all with Most Outstanding Male Athlete going to Carolina basketball point guard Marcus Paige and Ryan Switzer grabbing the honor of Record-Breaking Performance of the year with his return heroics on the football field.

Chancellor Carol Folt took the stage sporting a pair of Carolina blue shoes she received from UNC Women’s Basketball Coach Sylvia Hatchell. Chancellor Folt was full of school spirit Monday night, pumping up the crowd with a “Go Heels!” chant.

Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham presented Chancellor Folt with an unexpected Rammy of her own to close out the award slate.

The special night ended with a tribute video documenting the year that was in Tar Heel athletics. ‘Space Jam’ was the tune.

Carolina Collides With NC State In Duel At The DBAP

The North Carolina baseball team will take on N.C. State Tuesday evening in the much anticipated Duel at the DBAP at 7 p.m. at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park in downtown Durham.

Last season, the two programs paired for memorable extra inning affairs in postseason play. Carolina ultimately sent N.C.State home from the College World Series in Omaha last June.

But this year is a different story. Both squads come into the contest with surprisingly mediocre records. The Tar Heels are sitting at 21-15 overall and 9-9 in the ACC while the Wolfpack have a 20-15 mark overall and a 6-12 record in conference play.

But Head Coach Mike Fox says he was encouraged by Carolina’s series victory over WakeForest last weekend.

“We were disappointed we didn’t get the sweep on Sunday, but all in all, it was a good weekend for us. I thought our kids played well all weekend,” Coach Fox says.

Oddly, the Tar Heels and Wolfpack would not have played this season if not for the scheduling of this one-game neutral site event. Coach Fox says the Bulls have been wonderful partners in making the contest a reality.

“The Bulls were very cooperative. We came up with this date. The Bulls got behind it. […] Let’s hope we can play,” Coach Fox says.

The rainy weather in the forecast is casting some doubt on whether the game will even be played, but both teams and the 10,000 fans who have already bought tickets to sold-out Durham Bulls Park, will be keeping their fingers crossed for some baseball under the lights Tuesday night.

Spring Football Game Offers No Resolution To UNC QB Battle

“I would like to get on the field any way possible whether at quarterback or I have to block, whatever it is. I just want to help the Tar Heels this season. If it comes down to splitting time, we’ll see how it goes – whatever helps the team win,” Mitch Trubisky says.

***Listen to the story***

Redshirt freshman quarterback Trubisky has a deep desire to help the Tar Heels live up to high expectations in 2014.

The Blue team on Saturday consisted primarily of the projected starters this fall, but quarterback Marquise Williams split the signal caller duties with Trubisky. Both men staked their claim for the starting job.

Williams says he was pleased with the way he was feeling out on the field.

“It felt good throwing the ball. It felt real good outside. I felt a little velocity on the ball and getting my hips through. I felt very good out there with the guys,” Williams says.

Williams was 22-32 for 135 yards while Trubisky went 20-32 for 183 yards. Neither quarterback threw a touchdown pass, but wide receiver Quinshad Davis flung a touchdown to fellow wideout T.J. Thorpe to thrill the crowd.

Running back T.J. Logan scampered across the end zone for a pair of touchdowns while young Elijah Hood impressed with some grinding plays of his own.

Better known for his abilities as a return man, Ryan Switzer says he’s been working on improving his game as a receiver for the upcoming season.

“I really wanted to come in and perfect my route running. I was able to fine-tune those things. I think I’m a better player for it. I’m looking forward to showing it off during the season,” Switzer says.

But the story of the day might have been the impressive play of the defense, keeping the Tar Heel offense under pressure with aggressive penetration into the backfield. Junior Justin Thomason recorded five tackles and two sacks at the defensive end position.

All in all, Head Coach Larry Fedora says the game served its purpose with Tar Heels on both sides of the ball making plays.

Switzer says he’s confident in the skills of both Williams and Trubisky at the quarterback position and is looking forward to hauling in passes from whoever grabs the starting spot.

“They both bring different things to the table. A lot of people say ‘Quise [Williams] has the experience over Mitch, which he does, but Mitch has been so cool in the pocket in all of our scrimmages. He’s been a cool cat. I’m looking forward to catching balls from both of them. The coaches are going to pick the right guy, and that guy is going to do a great job for us,” Switzer says.

With the quarterback situation still up in the air, there’s still plenty of questions heading into the summer lead-up to the fall season that promises to be an exciting one for Carolina football.

Blue Downs White 38-17 In Annual Spring Football Game

Blue beat White 38-17 Saturday afternoon in Kenan Stadium as the Carolina football team put a wrap on its spring preparations for the 2014 college football season.

The Blue team consisted primarily of the projected starters this fall, but quarterback Marquise Williams split the signal caller duties with Mitch Trubisky. Both men staked their claim for the starting job.

Williams was 22-32 for 135 yards while Trubisky went 20-32 for 183 yards. Neither quarterback threw a touchdown pass, but wide receiver Quinshad Davis flung a touchdown to fellow wideout T.J. Thorpe to thrill the crowd.

The story of the day might have been the impressive play of the defense, keeping the Tar Heel offense under pressure with aggressive penetration into the backfield. Junior Justin Thomason recorded five tackles and two sacks at the defensive end position.

All in all, Head Coach Larry Fedora says the game served its purpose.

“We had a good day. Got a lot done, finished up spring, our 15th practice right there. I thought we had guys on both sides of the ball, on both teams, that made some plays today,” Coach Fedora says.


Plenty Of Questions Remain For Coach Fedora Heading Into Spring Game

The Carolina football team is ready to put on a show for the outside world Saturday in Chapel Hill. The annual Blue & White Spring Game will allow fans to get a glimpse of what is to come when the competition really heats up later in the fall.

***Listen to the story***

The Tar Heel offense, by all appearances, seems ‘locked and loaded’. But will the defense be able to answer the bell? Head Coach Larry Fedora says he’s pleased with the development in the offseason.

“We’re definitely ahead of the offensive line right now. Guys are making some plays for us. We’re finally building up some depth in the defensive line. We’re making a lot of progress there I think,” Coach Fedora says.

Coach Fedora says the transition from Blake Anderson to Seth Littrell as offensive skipper has been rather seamless, but he says the team is still putting together the pieces to the offensive puzzle ahead of the 2014 season.

“We’re still trying to identify who we are personnel-wise as an offense. That’s the most difficult thing. What kind of offense are we going to be? What kind of plays are we going to be able to take advantage of this year?” Coach Fedora says.

Coach Fedora is looking for some pretty basic things from the Tar Heels out in Kenan Stadium this Saturday. And for starters, it all starts with playing hard.

“It’s there opportunity to show out. I want to see effort – that’s the main thing. I want to see these guys play hard and have fun,” Coach Fedora says.

The stable of running backs at Carolina’s disposal is quite impressive. Coach Fedora says the most highly touted, Elijah Hood, is becoming more and more comfortable in the offense with each practice.

“I think he’s come a long way this spring. I think he has a pretty good grasp of what we’re doing offensively,” Coach Fedora says.

Carolina will play four 15-minute quarters Saturday afternoon, but the final two quarters of play will feature a running clock. Viewing this Tar Heel team in a game scenario is sure to answer more questions for both Carolina’s coaching staff and fan base moving forward into the summer months.