An upset loss at Northern Iowa on Saturday caused the UNC men’s basketball team to slip from first to ninth in the AP Top 25, but the Tar Heels recovered nicely on Monday—defeating the Northwestern Wildcats 80-69 in the semifinals of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic played in Kansas City.
UNC improves its record to 4-1 this season, while former Duke assistant coach Chris Collins saw his Wildcats lose their first game of the year—dropping to 3-1.
Leading the way for head coach Roy Williams was 6-foot-8 sophomore Justin Jackson, who poured in 21 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds.
Jackson—expected by many to have a breakout campaign–has now led the team in scoring for two straight games after struggling to show a killer instinct over the past couple weeks.
“I told you guys if [Jackson] was my biggest worry, what a great situation I was in,” Williams said after the game. “I do know a little bit about the game, and I was not concerned with Justin Jackson.
“But we’ve talked about the aggressiveness—a lot,” the coach added.
The sophomore was one of six UNC players to finish the game in double figures, as all five starters hit the mark–along with junior forward Isaiah Hicks off the bench.
Northwestern put up a fight throughout, and led by as many as six points in the first half—but the Tar Heels went on a 14-1 run before the break and never looked back, leading by as many as 20 during the second half.
All this despite the team making just 7-of-25 three-point attempts against Northwestern’s 2-3 zone, and getting only five points from sixth man Nate Britt.
“Needless to say, we haven’t shot the ball well the last two games—particularly from three,” Williams said. “Nate [Britt] was hot as he could possibly be early, and he’s really struggled the last two games.
“It’s the first time all season we’ve played against a zone the entire game,” he added. “Down the line I think that’ll really help us.”
Senior forward Brice Johnson had 10 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double in five games, but the big story of the night was definitely Jackson stepping up into the role many expected him to take by the horns this season.
It’s these kind of performances Williams has been looking for while he allows star point guard Marcus Paige to recover from his broken hand.
“The bottom line is if we had to have [Paige], we could have played him last week,” Williams said. “But we don’t have to have him. We’re trying to be very cautious. If it had been an NCAA Tournament game, I’d have played him.
“But I said we’re gonna be very careful,” he continued before adding in a little joke. “I may not play him until February—probably will though.”
Northwestern received a big contribution from guard Tre Demps, who tallied 21 points and hit four shots from beyond the arc in the game. Guard play dominated the night for Coach Collins’ team–as Demps, Bryant McIntosh, and Scottie Lindsey combined for 46 of the Wildcats’ 69 points.
“Northwestern’s got some guys that can shoot the basketball,” Williams said. “Nine-for-20 from the three-point line is not what we want to give up, but you got to give them credit too. Chris [Collins] does a nice job, and they know their roles. And they played well.”
Now UNC will have to turn right around and get ready for another late night game without Paige on Tuesday, as they’ll face a tough Kansas State team—a squad that defeated Missouri 66-42 in the first semifinal game on Monday.
Last Sunday’s sluggish performance against Fairfield left UNC head men’s basketball coach Roy Williams wanting to see his team’s effort level finally match its talent level.
After a 78-58 victory over the Wofford Terriers in the Dean Dome on Wednesday night, Williams was much happier with what he saw from his No. 1 ranked Tar Heels.
“I think our team was better today than we were Sunday,” Williams said after the game. “I think we were more attentive. We gave better effort. Defensively, we talked more. We were more consistent with it.
“[Wofford’s] a hard team to guard,” the coach added. “They do a great job with their motion, with a couple of big guys setting screens and handoffs, and it’s hard to keep getting through that.”
The Tar Heels are now 3-0 this season after taking out the Terriers, who drop to 0-2 after going 28-7 a year ago.
Senior forward Brice Johnson posted his third straight double-double for UNC, with 16 points and 14 rebounds, as fellow forward Kennedy Meeks also added 16 points of his own. That came as the result of an adjustment made when it was clear the team’s outside shooting was struggling in the opening minutes.
“It was definitely more of an emphasis [to go down low] because [the guards] weren’t knocking [three-pointers] today,” Johnson said. “They went a little cold there at the start, so Coach was like ‘Hey, we need to get the ball inside because we have a size advantage on both ends.’”
At halftime UNC led by just five points, despite the Terriers not having a single starter taller than 6-foot-7.
That lead shrunk to just 50-47 with 13:11 to play, before going on a 14-3 run over the next five minutes.
The key was that Wofford’s deep shots finally stopped falling. On the night, the visitors hit nine three-pointers—including three by guard Jaylen Allen, who led the Terriers with 15 points.
Only once in the game did the Tar Heels sink one from beyond the arc.
Sophomore guard Theo Pinson, UNC’s go-to perimeter defender, was confident that once the threes stopped going for Wofford, his team could pull away.
“I saw it a little bit in pregame, when [Wofford] was shooting the ball–you could just tell they’ve got the confidence,” Pinson said. “They shoot it great, actually. We knew they were going to make tough shots, but we knew that we were going to wear ‘em down at some point.”
Sophomore guard Joel Berry also contributed 16 points to the effort, matching Meeks and Johnson for the team lead.
Off the bench, junior Isaiah Hicks continued the big-man dominance, adding a season-high 12 points—while no other Tar Heel scored more than seven.
“I honestly feel like today was big,” Pinson said. “It shows what we can do if we play defense for 40 minutes. I mean, Wofford is a really good team. I mean, really good team. They’re gonna get some people.
“It just showed that we can defend at a high level, he added. “Their offense, they’re moving all the time—we don’t see many offenses like that. We did a really good job today, and I’m ready for the stretch.”
The stretch Pinson referred to begins with Saturday’s road game at Northern Iowa, and will continue into Monday and Tuesday when the Tar Heels compete in the CBE Hall-of-Fame Classic in Kansas City.
Friday, UNC took on Temple to tip-off their 2015-2016 season. The Tar Heels beat the Owls by a score of 91-67. See photos from UNC vs. Temple below.
No Marcus Paige, no Justin Jackson, no problem for the nation’s number one men’s basketball team on Friday night.
“I feel pretty good to play, do some nice things, without Marcus, without Justin, without Brice [Johnson],” UNC head coach Roy Williams said after the game. “[Johnson] did [play well] the second half, first half I don’t know where he was.
“A lot of kids got a lot of minutes, and I think it did help us. And I think getting in front of a crowd helped us.”
Paige, the team’s star point guard, broke his non-shooting hand in practice on Tuesday and will be out for three to four weeks. Jackson–the 6-foot-8 sophomore wing expected to have a breakout campaign–sat out the game with an illness.
Starting in place of the sidelined stars were sophomores Joel Berry and Theo Pinson. Each looked impressive in this one, showing that depth is clearly a strong point for this team.
Berry looked extremely promising filling in at point guard. The Florida native finished with 12 points and 7 assists while in control of the offense–a good sign for a team that will need someone to step up in Paige’s absence.
“He’s had a good preseason,” Williams said. “Other than Marcus, I’m not sure anybody’s played better this preseason than Joel Berry has. And so we need him to continue doing that.”
Pinson had 10 points in the game, all in the first half, while also contributing five rebounds and five assists as he continues to get healthy himself after a broken foot ended his season a year ago.
He displayed a much-improved shooting stroke as well, hitting a pair of three-pointers.
“The game’s slowing down for me,” Pinson said after the game. “Before as a freshman, [I learned] it’s different from high school. You just gotta go out there, and I’m not thinking about, ‘What play are we in?’–and stuff like that.
“I’m just out there playing basketball,” he added.
A main focal point of Williams’ criticism for four years now, Johnson–the 6-foot-9 senior forward–was quiet early on, posting just two points in the first twenty minutes. He ended up finishing with nine points and seven rebounds.
Six players finished in double figures for the Tar Heels, including 14 each by junior forward Kennedy Meeks and classmate Nate Britt–tied for team lead in that category. Britt enters the season as the team’s go-to option off the bench, and he proved more than capable, also dishing out nine assists.
Guilford roared out to an early 2-0 lead on a jumper by Will Freeman just 30 seconds into the game–bringing its entire bench to its feet.
But a pair of three-pointers by Pinson and junior Nate Britt gave the Tar Heels a lead they would never relinquish–as their size, speed, and strength simply overwhelmed the Quakers, a Division III school that plays in something called the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
Freshman Alston Thompson–at 6-foot-6–was the tallest player to see the floor for the Quakers on Friday–something exploited early and often by UNC.
Leading the way for the Quakers was junior guard Zachary Houston, who tallied 14 points as the only Guilford player to reach double figures.
The Tar Heels shot an astounding 62 percent from the floor and finished the game with a 47-25 rebounding advantage.
In what turned into essentially a playground pick-up game, UNC led the Quakers 52-24 at halftime.
The crowd was a little lifeless in the second half–until an alley-oop jam by Brice Johnson woke everybody up with just under nine minutes to play, and the home team up by 59.
From that point on, Williams rotated his entire bench in-and-out, getting everyone some valuable early season playing time as the team now turns its attention to starting the games that really count–minus Paige, the face of the squad.
“Everybody’s gotta try to play closer to their potential,” the coach said. “We can’t have any sloppiness. We’re gonna play next Friday night [and] it’s a different level team.
“We talked the other day about everybody picking their play up and doing a better job themselves, whatever job it is, regardless of how little they may think it is, or how unimportant they may think it is–they’ve got to do a better job of that.”
The regular season officially begins for the Tar Heels next Friday, November 13th at 7 p.m. UNC will travel to Annapolis, Maryland to take on the Temple Owls in the Veterans Classic Basketball Tournament.
The North Carolina Tar Heels landed on top of the 2015-16 ACC preseason poll.
Media members made their selections at ACC Media Day on Wednesday. The Carolina basketball team received 60 out of the possible 89 first-place votes. The Virginia Cavaliers were picked second, followed by Duke, Notre Dame, and Miami.
In the 47-year history of the ACC preseason poll, the Tar Heels have been selected a record 21 times (20 times outright and 1 tie). This is the sixth time Carolina has earned the top spot under head coach Roy Williams.
Since joining the ACC in 1953, the Tar Heels have won 29 ACC regular season titles and 17 ACC Tournament championships.
Earlier in the month, the Tar Heels landed on top of the USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll with the Kentucky Wildcats.
Last season, Roy Williams and the Tar Heels reached the finals the ACC Tournament and made it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. They return four starters.
One of those starters, Marcus Paige, landed at the top of another ACC preseason poll. The Tar Heel guard was named the Preseason ACC co-player of the year. He shares that honor with Virginia’s senior guard Malcolm Brogdon. Both players received 36 votes on that ballot.
However, Paige did receive the most votes for the 2015-16 Preseason All-ACC Team. The Tar Heel pulled in 86 votes to Brogdon’s 77 on that ballot.
Paige’s teammate, Brice Johnson, landed on the All-ACC Second Team list.
Williams has previously made note of the high expectations of this team. “In ’05 I thought we were if not the best, one of the two best teams in the country,” Williams said. “In ’09 I thought we were the best. I think this year we’re one of the best. And if we play the best down the stretch, then we could be the best,” he continued. “But there’s a big difference there.”
The Tar Heels officially kicked off the 2015-16 season with Late Night With Roy on Friday night. Their first game is November 13 against Temple.
Basketball season officially began in Chapel Hill on Friday night, as UNC hosted its annual “Late Night With Roy” event.
Hosted by TNT’s Kenny Smith, a Tar Heel and a two-time NBA champion, the event showcased the dancing and singing skills of the nation’s preseason No. 1 team, and even featured a little bit of basketball.
The annual Blue-White scrimmage, the grand finale, saw the White team pull out a 41-32 victory behind 14 points from junior forward Isaiah Hicks. Senior Brice Johnson led the Blue squad with eight points of his own.
Head Coach Roy Williams wore a crowd-pleasing pink blazer and watched the night unfold from his familiar seat on the bench. Despite offseason knee surgery Williams even busted out his own moves, albeit just for a second.
A special tribute to UNC alum and former ESPN anchor Stuart Scott brought a strong emotional moment to what was otherwise a light-hearted affair.
Scott’s daughters, Taelor and Sydni Scott, accepted a Tar Heel Trailblazer award in their father’s name from UNC Chancellor Carol Folt at center court. That followed a moving story from Sage Steele, a colleague of Scott’s at ESPN who fondly recalled the one time she got to host SportsCenter with him.
During that episode, which she said was back in 2007, Scott began by saying, “Welcome to SportsCenter, along with ‘S-Squared’, I’m ‘S-Squared.'”
In honor of that moment, Steele was presented with her very own UNC basketball jersey with “S-Squared” on the back.
Ten times in previous years Scott was the host of “Late Night With Roy.” Smith last hosted the event in 2005, which he pointed out by telling the crowd the last time he hosted the Tar Heels won the national championship. He said he came back to do it again this year because, “Coach called.”
The basketball itself was just a 20-minute scrimmage with a running clock. The White team featured a starting lineup with the night’s leading scorer, Hicks, along with Marcus Paige, Justin Jackson, Nate Britt, and Joel James. The Blue team consisted of Johnson, Kennedy Meeks, Joel Berry, Theo Pinson, and freshman Kenny Williams.
Perhaps tired from of a night consisting of numerous dance routines of all different styles, defense was not too much of a focus in the scrimmage.
It was a night for the fans. And there were plenty of them packing the Smith Center, each ecstatic that the long wait is over.
Basketball is back.
See more photos from Late Night With Roy.
Former UNC basketball star Ty Lawson has reportedly been arrested in Los Angeles for driving under the influence.
TMZ and Yahoo Sports are reporting Lawson was pulled over on the 101 freeway at 2:30 Tuesday morning, initially for speeding. This is Lawson’s second DUI arrest this year; he was also arrested for underage drinking and driving in 2008, while still at Carolina.
Lawson also backed out of a scheduled commitment to a youth basketball camp in Denver this week, citing a conflict with his “traveling schedule.”
Lawson plays for the Denver Nuggets in the NBA.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/lawson-arrested-for-dui-second-time-this-year/
Basketball season will be here before you know it.
UNC has just announced this year’s edition of “Late Night With Roy” will take place in the Smith Center on Friday, October 23.
“Late Night With Roy” is the traditional start to UNC’s basketball season – a free event for fans complete with scrimmages, music, dances and skits by the Tar Heel men’s and women’s basketball teams.
More information available at GoHeels.com.
The event is free – but you can make sure to reserve seats NOW by purchasing tickets to the UNC-Virginia football game, which will take place the following day, October 24, in Kenan Stadium. Visit this link for more details about that promotion.
The late Stuart Scott will be honored prior to Late Night With Roy. Scott, the iconic ESPN sports broadcaster and 1987 Carolina alumnus, will be inducted into the N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame on October 23. Stuart Scott died at the age of 49 earlier in 2015. Scott hosted Late Night With Roy 10 times.
Jones Angell, journalism alumnus and the “Voice of the Tar Heels,” will emcee the induction ceremony, which will also feature speakers UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt, Carolina soccer legend Mia Hamm and UNC School of Media and Journalism Dean Susan King.
The Hall of Fame ceremony will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Alumni Hall in the University’s George Watts Hill Alumni Center. Tickets are $75, and space is limited. For more information and to register, go to: mj.unc.edu/stuart.
“Stuart Scott was an original who defined his brand of sports reporting,” said Susan King, dean of the UNC School of Media and Journalism. “He challenged the generation after him to be authentic and to find their voices as broadcasters. That may be his strongest professional legacy.”http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/mark-your-calendars-october-23-is-late-night-with-roy/
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) will be bestowing an annual award that honors the late Dean Smith given “to an individual in college basketball who embodies the spirit and values represented by Smith,” according to the official release Wednesday.
What a marvelous idea, akin to what has been proposed by various people since Smith retired in 1997. UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham told Media Relations Director Steve Kirschner two years ago that such an award should be initiated. Sports Information Director Emeritus Rick Brewer, perhaps the closest person to Smith outside his personal and basketball families, suggested it to sportswriter and former USBWA president John Feinstein at the 2015 ACC Tournament.
When brought up at the organization’s next meeting, it passed “in 30 seconds,” according to current President Pat Forde, who with Feinstein and ESPN.com columnist Dana O’Neil were in Chapel Hill Wednesday to make the announcement. The USBWA has since worked with Kirschner, Cunningham and the Smith family to frame out the parameters of the award that can go to a coach, non-coach, presumably a former player, “both male and female, from all divisions of the NCAA and NAIA.”
There was a lot of joy and sincere sentiment at the press conference, also attended by Smith’s widow Linnea and son Scott. There was also a touch of hypocrisy.
Apparently, any writer with a regular column in print or on-line who pays dues can join the USBWA, which has had hundreds of members since being founded in 1956 and names an All-American Team each year and also gives out annual national awards for Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Courage.
The USBWA has no control over what its members write, and many of them have had UNC in their gun sights for years over the academic scandal. Some have refused to believe the scandal is an aberration of what was long hailed as a model athletic program, the problem started in the old African American Studies (AFAM) department and was taken advantage of by a relatively small percentage of Tar Heel athletes over an 18-year span.
Forde has been one of Carolina’s harshest critics, banging out columns with sweeping accusations and indictments, suggesting that UNC might before due process self-impose penalties like vacating a national title. He was the headline subject of one Tar Heel blog entitled, Pat Forde Can’t Stop Talking About North Carolina’s Academic Scandal. In that piece, Forde said of Marcus Paige, the Academic Player of the Year in college basketball:
“And the brainiac junior also is tasked with being the erudite face of a program that has become a national laughingstock because of an 18-year academic scandal that undercut the school’s previously strong reputation.”
At the time of Forde’s quote, “an 18-year scandal” went back to 1996-97, when Smith was still coaching the Tar Heels. So Forde was asked if getting behind the Dean Smith Award somehow exonerates the Hall of Fame coach from any involvement in the eyes of the USBWA.
“This is independent from the scandal,” Forde said. “It is everything Dean did away from basketball.”
Asked again if this particular honor absolves Smith and we may never see his name mentioned in another story about the scandal (after this one), Forde said, “We wouldn’t put Dean Smith’s name on an award if we did not feel his character deserved it.”
Frankly, the rush to judgment from the ABC posters is to be expected. But from an organization of the best basketball writers in the world, well, that speaks to the sometimes unhealthy competition of the 24-hour news cycle. And it isn’t likely to stop whether the NCAA throws the Tar Heels in jail or says it’s “all good” and let’s P.J. Hairston come back and play his last two years. Either way, the reactions will be strong.
What the scribes say about Carolina Basketball, good and bad, will always go back to Dean Smith because he took a team in rubbles when no one else wanted the job and created a paradigm that every other program in the country, including Duke, sought to emulate. And now it is coached by one of his deepest disciples, a man who credits everything he knows about life and college basketball to his mentor.
So while UNC and the Smith family should be thrilled about this off-the-court recognition, and its charitable association with their Opening Doors Fund, I am happy it is another step in restoring a reputation that Dean Smith helped build.http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/arts-angle-does-honor-absolve-smith/
If UNC extending Roy Williams’ contract through 2020 – with a hefty compensation bump – doesn’t speak to the confidence Carolina has about men’s basketball avoiding serious sanctions from the NCAA, then what else can it do?
The Tar Heels don’t want another washout recruiting year while the NCAA process grinds to an interminable conclusion. That Williams and any of his players were not cited in the recent Notice of Allegations and the basketball program was not charged with “academic fraud” has left experts who have studied the NCAA for decades convinced any sanctions against UNC men’s hoops will be light.
In other words, no past victories or championships vacated and no future post-season bans coming. There is no way on God’s green earth that Carolina would have extended Williams if it believed anything to the contrary. Remember, Butch Davis was whacked because he hired John Blake who violated NCAA rules galore.
Williams already lost one 5-star recruit, Kinston’s Brandon Ingram to Duke, over the uncertainty before the NOA came out. Three of the top ten seniors from the high school class of 2016 are from North Carolina – 6-10 Harry Giles (#1) from Winston-Salem; 6-1 Dennis Smith, Jr. (#4) from Fayetteville; and 6-8 Edrice Adebayo (#8) from Pinetown – and all have been offered scholarships by Williams, who can now walk into their homes with more confidence than he had last year when he could barely get anyone to come visit the campus.
Of course, Williams can’t guarantee any of the recruits anything before the Committee on Infractions passes judgment, but Ol’ Roy will be armed with enough documentation that compares Carolina’s NOA to, say, Syracuse’s and NCAA precedent in similar cases that should offset rival recruiters who spend more time talking trash about the Tar Heels than they do pushing their own programs.
That, and his long-term contract extension, should help convince recruits who have UNC high on their list to at least wait until the spring signing period (as Ingram did), by which time the whole NCAA mess should finally be over and done with.
UNC has until August 20 to respond to the Notice of Allegations, and the NCAA has 60 days to respond to the response. That moves us into late October. Then the Committee on Infractions hearing must be scheduled, after which it takes 6-8 weeks for the COI to render its decision. So Carolina should know its fate before the end of the 2016 season and well before the April signing period commences.
Williams has said he would like to coach “6 to 10 more years” and this contract extension brings him to a month shy of his 70th birthday. So he could go even longer. That is not old for coaches these days. Jim Boeheim is already 70. Mike Krzyzewski is 68 and, of course, the ageless Larry Brown is 74 and still fielding contending teams at SMU.
The contract itself, not counting bonuses, looks to be worth more than $2.5 million right now, including what Williams gets from Nike and for his radio and TV shows from Learfield. Keep the team’s APR (Academic Progress Rate) above 975 and just make the NCAA Tournament and that’s another 100k. Win it all and ol’ Roy’s cumulative bonus could max out at $925,000. Including escalators through 2020, Williams will be making well north of $3 million by then, plus bonuses.
If this makes you want to vomit, it is about half of what John Calipari and Rick Pitino earn and not even one-third of what the King of the World takes home from Duke. I agree, it’s an obscene income for the profession, but it’s also the market value for Hall of Fame coaches and, believe it or not, Williams is still at the low end of that particular scale.
As we all know, Ol’ Roy is a good old boy from the mountains who, upon getting the head job at Kansas, kidded that he was making more money than he thought they printed. When he returned to UNC, he told Dick Baddour that he did not want to go backward, meaning just pay him what he was making at KU. That was 12 years ago, and coaches salaries have really gotten out of hand since then.
Making two million and living a pretty frugal lifestyle, Williams only paid attention to his competitors when their deals were all printed up in a USA Today chart or some of his coaching buddies told him he was way behind guys who have never been to a single Final Four (Roy has seven), let alone won two national championships. The Memphis coach, Josh Pastner, was making more than Williams before this latest raise. I know, Josh who?
So as I’ve debated with some people, including faculty members, who believe the whole college athletic thing is out of control, we’re not sure how we got to where we are in Division I. But we’re here, and to be competitive on the field and court, you have to stay competitive in every other way, as well.
[NOTE to the Wolfies who read this site more than their own: Before you start upchucking about taking easy classes to stay competitive, check what kind of cow-dung courses some of your jocks take.]
A friend said recently that last year Williams was recruiting with both hands tied behind his back, and this year it will be only one hand tied. Hopefully, if the timing works out and the recruits agree to wait, not-so-poor Ol’ Roy will be free at last in plenty of time to reload for his next run.http://chapelboro.com/columns/sports-notebook/arts-angle-not-so-poor-ol-roy/