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 GoHeels.com’s Jones Angell to discuss what prompted the change, as well as his expectations for the next season.
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“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.
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.
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.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-switch-shoote-britt-relishing-summer-preparations/
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.http://chapelboro.com/sports/professional/heat-choose-hairston-trade-hornets/
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.”http://chapelboro.com/news/unc/jay-bilas-believe-roy-williams/
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.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/drug-case-delayed-ex-unc-player-graves/
CHAPEL HILL – Marcus Paige led the UNC men’s basketball team to an 82-71 win against Boston College Saturday for the Tar Heel’s first win in ACC play, avoiding the first 0-4 start in the ACC in Carolina history.
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Out of the first media timeout, Carolina went on an 8-2 run to set the tone and force a timeout from Boston College and head coach Steve Donahue.
***Listen to the Call by Jones Angell of the Tar Heel Sports Network***
The run was extended to 15-4 before the less than 12-minute official timeout.
James Michael McAdoo opened the game 3-3 from the field with eight points. After the game he said strong play early established a base on which the team could build.
“Just getting off to a quick start in the first half, I feel like we really got things in our momentum,” McAdoo said. “Whenever you’re able to do that, it builds a lot of confidence, especially throughout the rest of the game.”
The Eagles chipped their way back into the game with three consecutive threes before the eight-minute mark. The game remained close throughout the rest of the first half, but the Tar Heels never relinquished the lead.
Carolina took a 36-32 advantage into the locker room.
The margin remained between two and six points in favor of the Tar Heels for most of the second half.
Half of the Eagles shots came behind the three-point line, and they knocked down 48 percent from three.
Head Coach Roy Williams said the outside shooting kept BC in the game.
“Boston College is really a hard team to play,” Coach Williams said. “They’re really very well coached; their kids do the things that Steve asks them to do. (When they) make those threes, they’re hard to guard like that. (They’re) good ball handlers; they put the ball on the floor and break you down. And yet, I thought we were, at times, really good.”
***Listen to Roy Williams’ Complete Postgame Press Conference***
With 4:30 left in the game, Marcus Paige found Leslie McDonald to give Carolina its largest lead of the second half at ten.
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UNC shot 4-12 from behind the arc. Coach Williams said that’s just about where he’d like to see the attempts.
“Four for 12, I’d like to make more,” Coach Williams said. “I don’t care if we shoot more than 12 threes, but I’d like to make more than four.”
Paige hit 6-9 from the field including 2-4 from three in the first half and hit his only attempt in the second for the team-leading 21 points. He also tallied four assists, two steals, and two rebounds.
With 1:31 left in the game, Coach Donahue couldn’t hold back his unrest with the officiating. The referees allowed him to continue yelling during a timeout after Olivier Hanlan was fouled out. After the timeout, Coach Donahue received his first-ever technical foul, and Paige knocked down both free throws. The coach found it hard to describe his emotions of that moment after the game.
“I think more frus…I was frustrated,” Coach Donahue said. “I didn’t even know it was Olivier’s fifth. First technical foul of my career. And I did not use any language.”
The Tar Heel defense held while Carolina went 6-6 from the free throw line from that point to take the 11-point win. As a team, UNC shot 20-30 from the charity stripe.
With the win, Carolina improved to 11-6, 1-3 in the ACC; BostonCollege fell to 5-13, 1-4.
UNC travels to Charlottesville, Virginia Monday night to take on the Cavaliers. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m., and our pregame coverage on WCHL begins at 5:30 p.m.
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UNC vs. Boston College
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Continuing the theme of playing to the level of the competition, UNC surprised no one when it found itself in a tough battle with Wake Forest. Scoring droughts and turnovers doomed the Tar Heels on the road against a determined Demon Deacon squad hungry for a signature win.
Wake Forest’s Travis McKie finished his stellar evening with 16 points while Tyler Cavanaugh chipped in 11 points of his own.
UNC’s Marcus Paige fouled out for only the second time in his career and finished without scoring in double digits for the first time all season. James Michael McAdoo led the Tar Heels in scoring with 13 points on the night.
Carolina shot just 39 percent as a team from the floor and failed to take advantage of its 51-36 rebounding advantage.
With the loss, Head Coach Roy Williams is now 11-6 against Wake Forest as a head coach while with the victory, the Demon Deacons improved to 11-3 on the year.
The Tar Heels won the opening tipoff, but failed to score when a Kennedy Meeks shot bounced off the rim. The perimeter pressure on the defensive end for Carolina resulted in a Nate Britt steal, but UNC was unable to get on the scoreboard yet again.
The first points of the game went to Miller-McIntyre on the charity stripe. He staked the home team out to a 1-0 lead with 18:35 left on the first half clock. Paige responded right back with a beautiful floater to get the UNC lead.
McAdoo knocked down an open jumper and then followed that up with a nice athletic run to the basket to pick up a foul. The junior made both free throws.
Britt drove inside for a nice make as the Carolina offense was rolling early on the offensive side of the floor, shooting at 50 percent clip from the floor . And sloppy Wake Forest turnovers were aiding the Tar Heel cause.
Brice Johnson slammed one home off a Paige assist to give UNC the 15-12 lead with 14:20 to play in the first half.
Leslie McDonald scored on a long-range jumper as the versatile Tar Heel offense was proving a tough one to contain for the Demon Deacons.
Meeks fought himself to the free throw line by going up strong to the basket. Meeks missed the second foul shot, but an offensive rebound kept the ball in the hands of Carolina.
Wake Forest nailed a three-pointer to ignite the Joel Coliseum crowd and Arnaud-William Adala Moto scored inside to close the Demon Deacons to within a single point of UNC at 20-19 with 9:30 left in the half. And the home team got its first lead of the game at 21-20 soon after.
A McDonald three reclaimed the Tar Heel lead, 23-21, at the under-eight timeout.
The Demon Deacons kept battling for the home crowd. A bank shot fell through the nets to tie the contest at 25 points with 5:56 remaining in the first half.
Some solid work by Meeks around the basket coupled with a Johnson slam dunk staked Carolina to the 29-27 lead at the 4:12 mark.
Wake’s Tyler Cavanaugh earned his way to the foul line and made both charity throws to knot the game back up at 29 points.
The back-and-forth affair continued in the waning minutes of the first half with Wake Forest getting the 34-32 halftime lead against North Carolina.
Paige was struggling for the Tar Heels, only managing three points while Demon Deacon Cavanaugh was leading all scorers at the half with nine points.
As a team, UNC was shooting 32.5 percent from the floor. Wake Forest shot an impressive 48 percent. Carolina held a 34-16 edge in the rebounding department, but Wake Forest got the free throw line on ten more occasions than UNC.
Britt slashed inside to come up with a score for Carolina to open the second half, tying the game at 36 with 18:49 left in the game when timeout was called.
Wake Forest came out of the locker room with plenty of intensity, but the shots weren’t falling early on.
Turnovers continued to plague the sloppy Tar Heels, but a nice follow-up by J.P. Tokoto tied up the game at 38 all with 15:30 on the second half clock.
The tide had turned swiftly in favor of the Demon Deacons with some nice work on the offensive boards to give the home team its largest lead of the night at 48-40 with 12:30 remaining in the contest. Moto was making his presence known.
The Tar Heels went cold from the floor midway through the second half, and the crowd had come alive with the spirited play of the Demon Deacons. The score was 51-40 on a 13-2 run when Coach Williams took a timeout to attempt to rally the Tar Heels.
Tokoto added a spark to UNC’s offense with the nine minute mark to close Carolina to within ten points, but Wake Forest responded with a McIntyre make. With 7:49 to play, the Tar Heels trailed the Demon Deacons 56-46.
Meeks scored off a beautiful pass from Paige to cut the deficit to eight with 6:10 to play in the contest. UNC was gaining momentum with a 8-2 run.
A contact technical foul was called on McDonald to halt UNC’s momentum, and Wake Forest took full advantage to push the lead up to 59-50 with 5 minutes to play.
Cavanaugh made a clutch shot with just under four minutes remaining as the Wake Forest offense kept clicking in the crucial closing minutes. McDonald’s jumper was good to keep Carolina alive down 64-56 with 3:05 to go.
Paige’s first three-pointer on the night followed and trimmed the lead down to five points. The shooting suddenly went cold for Wake Forest, but with 1:03 to go, McKie stopped the skid with a three-point play that gave Wake Forest a 66-61 lead.
Paige exited the floor with his fifth foul. It was his first game all year not scoring in double figures. To the delight of the Wake Forest faithful, the Demon Deacons trotted off the court with the hard-fought victory.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a return to the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill for a Wednesday meeting with the 8-6 Miami Hurricanes.
For the game box score, click here.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heels-fall/
CHAPEL HILL – UNC Basketball scored a 15-point win over Northern Kentucky on Saturday, but head coach Roy Williams wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance—especially after a lackluster first half.
“My staff did a great job, because what I wanted to do was stay out at halftime and run sprints the entire frickin’ half,” he said after the game. “They thought it was not the right thing to do, but God, I wanted to do that so badly…
“I’m going to do that one of these days. I know, by God, we’ll make SportsCenter then.”
Williams changed 80 percent of his starting lineup between the first and second halves on Saturday in order to send his players a message. It paid off, as the second team pulled away in the first few minutes of the half—but Carolina still had to settle for an unimpressive victory over an unheralded opponent, with ACC play now just a week away.
At his postgame press conference Saturday, Williams singled out a few players—including Brice Johnson, who scored 9 points on 4-8 shooting against Northern Kentucky but has struggled since he led the Heels in scoring three weeks ago against UNC-G.
“I (was) just straightforward: I told him, you’ve got to get playing basketball again,” he said. “Brice is another one that’s going to be a really good player–he’s just got to get the mojo going.”
But with ACC opponents just around the corner, Williams is ready to move on. (And he’s also ready to move on from the PJ Hairston debacle, as evidenced by his response to a reporter who asked if Hairston would remain on the Carolina bench. “Guys, I’m trying to coach the guys I have,” he said. “Jesus Christ, he’s not on our team. I love him to death, but he’s not on our team.”)
ACC play begins for Carolina on January 5 at Wake Forest, but the Tar Heels have one more non-conference opponent to face before then, as UNC-Wilmington comes to town on New Year’s Eve. That game tips off at 5:00 in the Smith Center; coverage on WCHL begins with Countdown to Tipoff at 3:30.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/acc-approaching-williams-happy-heels-play/
CHAPEL HILL – The No. 19 UNC men’s basketball team returned from the Christmas holiday break with a win against Northern Kentucky despite a sluggish middle 20 minutes of play.
“The biggest part of the game was we were not very sharp to say the least,” UNC Head Coach Roy Williams said after the game. “I probably gave them too much time at Christmas. We played Saturday, let them go, and didn’t bring them back until seven o’clock (Thursday) night.”
Carolina jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter of action.
***Listen to the Call by Jones Angell of the Tar Heel Sports Network***
But the 24-10 lead slowly faded throughout the rest of the first half. UNC ended the first half shooting 44 percent compared to NKU’s 39 percent.
The game stayed flat in the first ten minutes of the second half as Carolina outscored Northern Kentucky 8-1 in the first six minutes. However, the action back up for the final quarter of play in which the Tar Heels outscored the Norse 22-20.
***Listen to the Call by Jones Angell of the Tar Heel Sports Network***
That rebound by Marcus Paige was one of the nine the 6’1”, 175-pound point guard tallied Friday night, which led all Tar Heels. After the game, Coach Williams wasn’t too pleased with that stat line.
“Who was our lead rebounder without looking down at the sheet?” Coach Williams asked the media. “Marcus Paige, nine rebounds. My gosh, guys. Some other guys have got to rebound the basketball better.”
Paige said, though the long-range shooting style of the Norse lends to long rebounds, he’d like to see the big men show a little more aggression underneath.
“We’ve just got to do a better job of hitting the boards,” Paige said. “We’re too big and too athletic to allow someone like me to lead the team in rebounds.”
James Michael McAdoo led all scorers with 14 points; he also tallied six rebounds.
Paige and Leslie McDonald both tallied 11 points, including three makes each from behind the arc.
In the first nine games, players other than Paige were responsible for four Carolina three pointers. McDonald has made eight since being cleared to play by the NCAA, including the three against the Norse. McDonald led the Tar Heels in scoring through the first 20 minutes with nine.
Coach Williams says McDonald’s return still has more potential to get UNC’s shooting numbers up.
“Making shots, that makes everybody better,” Coach Williams said. “There’s not question about that. He made, I guess, three of them in the first half. Leslie does have the ability to shoot the ball, and that really helps us, and it’s, hopefully, going to help us even more down the line.”
McDonald only shot 4-11 in the game.
As a team, the three-point shooting fell off in the second half. After shooting 5-8 in the first 20, Paige hit the only three for the Tar Heels who went 1-6 in the second.
The fifteen blocked shots Carolina tallied tied the second-most in school history.
And, despite the non-conference opponent and a game between Christmas and New Years, nearly 19,000 fans saw the Carolina win inside the 21,750 seat arena.
With the win, Carolina improved to 9-3; Northern Kentucky fell to 4-8.
The Tar Heels return to the Dean Dome Tuesday to host UNC Wilmington for a 5:00 p.m. New Years Eve tipoff.
CHAPEL HILL – The UNC men’s basketball team took a quarter of action to get rolling before pulling away for a for a 31-point lead, 81-50.
There was some question as to which Tar Heels team would show up for Saturday’s home game vs. UNC Greensboro.
Would it be the Tar Heels that toppled two of the top teams in the nation in Louisville and Michigan State or the unit that struggled in disappointing losses to UAB and Belmont?
The Tar Heels answered in the affirmative midway through the opening half, building a 19-11 lead on a Marcus Paige jumper.
The Tar Heels went on to remove any doubt about the outcome from there, closing the half on a scintillating 25-3 run en route to an 81-50 win over the Spartans to improve to 6-2 overall.
Things turned so sour for UNCG that it had more turnovers (15) than points in trailing 44-14 at the break.
Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson chipped in with eight points each, while the Tar Heels defense stifled the Spartans with a suffocating man-to-man defense.
Johnson led the Tar Heels with 14 points in all, while James Michael McAdoo added 13 and Paige added 12 . Kyle Cain and Kayel Locke led UNCG with 13 points each.
UNCG (4-5) played better to open the second half, getting three baskets in the first two minutes including a Cain short jumper, but the deficit was far too big to overcome.
Nate Britt saw to that, completing a three-point play four minutes in to put the Tar Heels up 51-27.
James Michael McAdoo later put the Heels up by 30, at 63-33, with a successful drive to the basket with 8:30 remaining.
It was all Tar Heels from there and there would be little drama on this night.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-mens-basketball-dominates-uncg-81-50/
CHAPEL HILL – Check out this behind-the-scenes video of the UNC men’s basketball team celebrating Wednesday following the big win over No. 1 Michigan State!
The team also received a warm welcome home from East Lansing at the Smith Center in the early morning hours.
Video by UNC Athletics: