No. 6 Tar Heels Open With Upset-Minded Eagles

The No. 6 North Carolina men’s basketball team opens up its regular season Friday night with an 8 p.m. tipoff against the upset-minded N.C. Central Eagles.

UNC head coach Roy Williams brings a deep squad into the game, but he says he won’t be playing around with the lineup now that the results count toward the win-loss columns.

“We’ll experiment quite a bit, but at the same time, we’re going to try to win games too. It’s important to realize we’ve had two exhibition games where we were far more gifted than the teams we were playing. I tried to experiment a lot in those times. I don’t see us experimenting nearly as much Friday and Sunday,” Coach Williams says.

Junior forward J.P. Tokoto says a more aggressive and bulked up teammate in Brice Johnson could make a huge impact on the hardwood.

Tokoto slam (Todd Melet)

Tokoto slams with authority (Todd Melet)

“In the NBA, when I think about an enforcer, I think about Kendrick Perkins. Around a lot of young guys, you have an old guy who’s out there to wreak havoc almost and be that dominating force and keep everybody going. If Brice [Johnson] truly wants to be that guy, I feel like we could really use somebody like that,” Tokoto says.

Although Coach Williams sees the opportunity for the Tar Heels to develop into a great defensive team, but for now, he says his lanky players have a ways to go.

“We are nowhere near where we want to be, even with changing defenses. We’re not as quick as we have been, but yet we’re longer than maybe we’ve ever been. I think that length helps you a lot too,” Coach Williams says.

N.C. Central battled its way to an appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season and pushed Iowa State, the team that ultimately knocked out Carolina.

Tokoto says playing head coach LeVelle Moton’s Eagles will give the Tar Heels a good indication of where they’re at as a team.

“Looking at their team last year, they were a hard-nosed team. I got to see them before we played Iowa State. I think this will be a great test for us, playing against a higher caliber team like N.C. Central,” Tokoto says.

WCHL’s coverage of opening night will begin at 6:30 p.m. with Countdown to Tipoff.

Tar Heel Sports Weekend A Mixed Bag

With the UNC football team enjoying a bye week this past weekend, other fall sports teams took center stage and experienced different results.

UNC men’s basketball coach Roy Williams says his team’s hard work in practice paid off last Friday night against Belmont Abbey.

***Listen to this story***

“Well we’re much more gifted naturally than that team was and we’ve been working pretty doggone hard in practice.  We’ve been getting after them a little bit and I thought in the first couple minutes we weren’t really in to it defensively and then we were really good defensively,” Coach Williams says.

Although Coach Williams was pleased with his team’s 112-34 win, he did see some room for improvement.

“We look like a Model-T Ford out there compared to how I want them to run.  That’s the reason I took those guys out, we had Nate (Britt) and Joel (James) out there and they looked like pedestrians that’s one of the reasons I jumped on them out there.  We need to run harder, we need to get out big guys running more.  It’s no where near where I want it to be but I think we’re going to get there,” Coach Williams says.

Sophomore forward Isaiah Hicks says the Tar Heels keep the atmosphere light in the locker room.

“(The team) is always together in the locker room playing games like ping-pong.  And then you have Joel (James) and Kennedy (Meeks) who are big goof-balls who keep the team laughing and together,” Hicks says.

Ping-pong is one of the team’s favorite ways to stay loose in the locker room but even in ping-pong the Tar Heels keep it competitive

“Marcus…J.P….we have tiers so tier one would be Marcus (Paige), J.P. (Tokoto) and Hoots (Coach Eric Hoots), that’s it,” Hicks says.

UNC volleyball head coach Joe Sagula was once again impressed by his team’s effort following a 3-0 victory over Virginia Tech Sunday.

“We got a lot of weapons and were able to use them all tonight,” Coach Sagula says.

UNC sophomore tennis player Brayden Schnur captured the USTA/ITA National Indoor Collegiate Championships Sunday with a 7-5, 7-6 win over Vanderbilt’s Gonzales Austin.

But not all Tar Heel athletes tasted success over the weekend.

The UNC women’s soccer team lost 2-0 to Virginia in the ACC Tournament semi-finals Friday night

The men’s soccer team lasted only two days longer as they fell 1-0 to Louisville in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Sunday.  Following the loss, senior forward Andy Craven says he realizes the regular season is over and that there are things to address before NCAA tournament play begins,

“If anything it was a good indication of where we need to be and what we need to work towards and to know that we haven’t arrived and we haven’t peaked yet.  As many goals we’ve scored it doesn’t matter, it’s playoffs now.  It’s important to maintain the good stuff we’ve done in the season and minimize the bad stuff,” Craven says.

Although not every Tar Heel was victorious over the weekend, the ultimate prize of a national championship is still within reach.

AP Preseason Polls UNC MBB No. 6, WBB No. 13

Carolina men’s basketball has once again landed a Top-10 ranking in the preseason as the Associated Press list the Tar Heels at No. 6 in the polls. This is Carolina’s highest preseason AP ranking since before the 2011-2012 season, in which they were ranked at No. 1.

North Carolina comes in behind basketball powerhouses Kentucky, Arizona, Wisconsin, Duke and Kansas, respectively.

The Tar Heels have achieved a Top-10 ranking in the AP poll in 52 of the poll’s 66 seasons. USA Today’s Coaches Poll also named the Tar Heels sixth-best in the nation.

The AP has also released its women’s basketball preseason list, in which Carolina places at No. 13.

Even after the transfer of last year’s scoring leader, Diamond DeShields, and just one incoming freshman this season, UNC has only dropped one spot from the 2013-14 season rankings.

Carolina has been listed in the Associated Press’ Top-25 rankings 12 times in the last 13 seasons.

UNC Men’s Basketball Schedule Released

The UNC men’s basketball team eases into its 2014-15 campaign, but the newly released schedule is highlighted by some high-level opponents.

View the Schedule

The new 15-member Atlantic Coast Conference is stacked with talent bringing Louisville to the mix this year after Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame joined last year. The Tar Heels face the Cardinals in a home-and-home conference series this season; Carolina faces Syracuse and Notre Dame in the Smith Center and will travel to Pittsburgh.

Only one of the UNC-Duke matchups is scheduled to be carried on both ESPN and the ACC Network this year. The rivalry is the only contest carried by two networks. The ACC Network could very well still pick up the season finale in Chapel Hill on March 7.

Out of conference, the Tar Heels travel to Lexington, Kentucky to face the Wildcats in mid-December. Last year, Kentucky traveled to Chapel Hill where Carolina handed out the 82-77 defeat of Wildcats.

McAdoo Emerges as ‘Giant Killer’ Carolina Edges Kentucky 82-77

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, UNC travels to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis. Carolina opens the tournament on Paradise Island against Butler and will face two other opponents out of the group of Oklahoma, UCLA, UAB, Florida, Georgetown, or Wisconsin.

Those dying to get to basketball season, you’ll be happy. Late Night with Roy comes three weeks earlier this year. The unofficial season tipoff is October 3.

Tar Heel Take: Late Night with Roy

The ACC officially announced the 2014-15 schedules Wednesday.

Roy Williams Takes #IceBucketChallenge

The UNC men’s basketball team is competing in a summer basketball tournament in the Bahamas, but the head coach took time out to cool off for a great cause.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, former Kansas player Rex Walters and former Tar Heel and UNCG head coach Wes Miller challenged Coach Williams and his staff. Coach Williams in turn challenged UNC football coach Larry Fedora and the men’s basketball team.

To donate to the ALS Association, click here.

Check out other Chapel Hillians who have taken the challenge.

Additional reporting by UNC Athletics

UNC To ‘Battle 4 Atlantis’

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Final Four teams Florida and Wisconsin could meet in the semifinals of the fourth annual Battle 4 Atlantis.

North Carolina, UCLA, Oklahoma and Georgetown are also in the eight-team field announced Wednesday.

The Gators and Hoyas meet in the opening round Nov. 26, with the winner facing Wisconsin or UAB. Butler will play North Carolina, and UCLA is taking on Oklahoma in the other opening games.

The championship is Nov. 28 at the 3,900-seat Imperial Arena, a ballroom converted to a basketball venue.

From Nov. 14-22, the teams traveling to Paradise Island will host a game on the mainland. The opponents include Louisiana-Monroe, Coastal Carolina, Chattanooga and Robert Morris.

Villanova upset then-No. 2 Kansas in the semifinals and beat Iowa to win last year’s tournament.

UNC Switch Shooter Nate Britt Relishing Summer Preparations

Carolina basketball shooting guard Nate Britt has grabbed headlines this summer with his decision to switch his shooting hand from his left to his right. The sophomore recently sat down with’s Jones Angell to discuss what prompted the change, as well as his expectations for the next season.

***Listen to the story***

“I always played with both hands. In games, I would shoot left-handed and right-handed. In high school, I decided to play with one hand, so I could lock in on one hand and give it more attention. I decided to choose my left hand. I’m naturally left-handed,” Britt says.

Britt’s shooting background is interesting to say the least. But he’s changed his mind on his shooting hand after struggling with his accuracy from the field during last year’s basketball campaign.

But Britt says it wasn’t his decision alone to make the switch. It was a group call made by his father and coaches.

“My dad and I have always talked about how I should shoot right-handed again. After this year, Coach Davis saw me shoot right-handed. Coach [Williams] has seen me shoot with it. We decided to test it out. We’ve liked what we’ve seen so far. I’m sticking with it,” Britt says.

Britt acknowledges that the news may come as a shock to most of the public, but he says it’s no big deal for him personally.

“I’ve always done it that way. It’s very natural to me. I know a lot of people are like, ‘Why would you do that?’ It’s always been something I’ve done. It’s nothing new to me. It’s just a tad bit of a difference,” Britt says.

Britt drives in (Todd Melet)

Britt drives in (Todd Melet)

Last season, Britt averaged a mere 5.1 points and 2.4 assists while averaging 20.9 minutes per contest. But it was a far brighter story from the charity stripe. While a majority of the Tar Heels struggled mightily to find the mark from the foul line, Britt fired down an impressive 28 of 30 free throws in ACC play, a 93-percent clip.

But Tar Heel fans need not worry. At least from the foul line, Britt has no attention to abandon his left-handed ways.

Britt is hoping he’ll really let head coach Roy Williams’ teachings sink in even further in year two at Chapel Hill. He says he’s trying to be less mechanical on the floor and let it flow.

“I would like to better understand the way the coaches want me to play – incorporating it, not being a robot out there and actually playing basketball,” Britt says.

Britt grabs loose ball (

Britt grabs loose ball (

Building up strength in the offseason was a priority for the slender Britt. He says he’s pleased at his progress in that department so far.

“I definitely know I’ve got stronger. Through the weight gains I’ve made, I’ve been able to lift heavier weights with the leg and arm exercises we do. I do feel that I’m bigger. I feel stronger. I’m happy with that,” Britt says.

In terms of goals, Britt is keeping it simple and recycling an old buzz phrase from last season: playing with a sense of urgency.

“I would like for us to do a better job of always playing with that sense of urgency that we didn’t have all the time last year. I feel like if we do that, the sky’s the limit for us,” Britt says.

Tar Heel observers can expect a bit of confusion when the switch shooting Britt takes the floor in the Smith Center this fall. But whether he’s shooting right or left-handed, the goal will be the same: finding the bottom of the net.

Heat Chooses Hairston, Trades To Hornets

Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat selected former University of North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston with the 26th pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft.

The Heat reportedly then traded Hairston in a multi-player deal to the Charlotte Hornets, pending NBA approval.

Hairston scored 707 points in 71 games for the Tar Heels in 2011-12 and 2012-13. He played last season for the Texas Legends in the NBA Development League.

As a sophomore, Hairston led the Tar Heels in scoring at 14.6 points per game and made 89 three-pointers, the second-highest single-season figure in UNC history. In two collegiate seasons, Hairston averaged 10.0 points, shot 34.9 percent from three-point range and 80 percent from the free throw line.

The Greensboro, N.C., native scored a career-high 29 points against Virginia in 2013 and 28 against Miami in the 2013 ACC championship game, making a career-best six three-pointers in each of those games.

Hairston is the 15th Tar Heel to play for head coach Roy Williams and be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft.

Overall, he is the 46th first round pick from UNC and the 107th Tar Heel taken in any round in NBA Draft history.

“I am ecstatic for P.J.,” says Tar Heel head coach Roy Williams. “I think he’s going to be a great addition to the Hornets. I am happy that he will still play in state and for another Tar Heel, Michael Jordan. It certainly will make it easier to see him play. Life has given him another opportunity and he will take great advantage of that chance.”

The 2014 NBA Draft is the first in 22 years in which players from each of the three Triangle schools – North Carolina, Duke and NC State – were selected in the first round. Tonight, UNC’s P.J. Hairston, Duke’s Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood and NC State’s TJ Warren were first round picks. In 1992, UNC’s Hubert Davis was joined in the first round by Duke’s Christian Laettner and NC State’s Tom Gugliotta.

The following is by WCHL Sports

Hairston sat out the first ten games of the 2013-2014 season before the university announced it would not seek reinstatement of the junior guard. He received a traffic citation for reckless driving on July 28, less than a week after charges against him, stemming from a June 5 arrest, were dismissed.

In June, the Greensboro native was arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and driving without a license after getting stopped at a license checkpoint. Those charges were dismissed on July 22 after he completed a drug assessment and provided the court his current driver’s license.

Following the arrest, it was discovered that Hairston was driving a 2013 GMC Yukon rented under the name Haydn Thomas, a convicted felon who has been linked to other college athletes. Hairston was also cited for speeding in May while driving a 2012 Camaro SS rented by Catinia Farrington, a woman who shares the same home address as Thomas.

Jay Bilas: “I Believe Roy Williams”

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas says he believes Roy Williams’ accounts that refute his knowledge of Rashad McCants getting help to remain eligible while at UNC.

“I find him to be credible, and I believed what he was saying,” Bilas says. “The idea, somehow, that a coach—especially when you go back to 2005—would know about the players’ choices in classes and electives when they’re juniors, I don’t believe that’s the case, and I believe Roy Williams.”

Those comments were made on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” Monday after airing a longer segment of the interview between Bilas and Williams, which originally aired Saturday. Bilas joined Andy Katz on the phone following the taped interview, giving his reaction to Williams’ remarks.

***Listen to Bilas’ Complete Reaction***

“I’ve known Roy Williams for a long time,” Bilas says. “I have known him not only to be a coach but a man of the highest integrity.”

On Friday, Former UNC basketball star Rashad McCants told ESPN that tutors wrote papers for him, he remained eligible only because of phony “paper classes” – and that his coaches, including Roy Williams, were fully aware of what was going on. He made those comments – and more – on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines.”

Before the weekend began, 16 of McCants’ former teammates from the 2005 national champion UNC men’s basketball team issued a statement to the Associated Press regarding McCants’ comments. A number of those players, and others, were in the room during the interview between Bilas and Williams to continue to show their support for their coach. Among them were Sean May, Tyler Hansborough, and Tyler Zeller.

Less than 24 hours after “Outside the Lines” aired the McCants interview, Coach Williams responded with the interview with Bilas.

Bilas went on to say the allegation that Williams knew of the specific classes McCants took or any of the players were taking was hard to believe, especially giving the timing.

“The issue really was, McCants declared to go pro in the middle of that (junior) semester and was gone by the time his grades came out,” Bilas says. “So, to expect the coaching staff, somehow, to have their antenna up for that in 2005, I think, is asking a little too much, and I think the context of that time period is very important.”

Drug Case Delayed For Ex-UNC Player Graves

HILLSBOROUGH — The misdemeanor drug case against former North Carolina basketball player Will Graves has been delayed until July.

Graves was scheduled to be in court Monday, but Orange County assistant district attorney Jeff Nieman said the case was continued until July 1 because Graves is playing professionally in Argentina.

Police in Chapel Hill cited Graves with simple marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia on Dec. 6 while he stayed at a residence owned by Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.

A team spokesman said at the time that Graves was paying rent to stay there while working toward his degree and as a part-time video coordinator for the team during the fall semester.

Graves, who wasn’t arrested, issued a statement apologizing to Williams, the school, family and friends.