Stroman On Sports: Too Many QBs, Not Enough Fans?

The Carolina football team is riding a three-game winning streak into ACC play, but all is not entirely well in Chapel Hill.

On the field, Mitch Trubisky’s record-breaking performance against Delaware is a bit of a double-edged sword, leaving Larry Fedora with a tougher decision about who will lead the Tar Heel offense. (Though for his part, Fedora insists there’s no quarterback controversy and Marquise Williams is still number one.)

Off the field, Kenan Stadium has seen remarkably low attendance for UNC’s early home games – not just against FCS opponents like Delaware, but also Power 5 opponents like Illinois.

Kenan-Flagler Business School professor and sports analyst Deb Stroman discussed those issues and more with Aaron Keck on WCHL Monday.

Stroman On Sports: If God Is Not A Tar Heel

It was another good weekend for UNC athletics, as the Carolina men’s soccer, women’s soccer, field hockey and volleyball teams all posted impressive wins alongside the football team’s shellacking of Illinois. Meanwhile, the national headlines were abuzz with the latest flap between NFL quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers zinged Wilson’s penchant for praising God after wins after his Packers beat Wilson’s Seahawks.

(Not in the national headlines: the ongoing WNBA playoffs. Which raises its own set of questions.)

UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School professor and sports analyst Deborah Stroman joined Aaron Keck on WCHL Monday to talk about these issues.

UNC Sports Weekend Offered Up Plenty

With fall sports conducting NCAA playoffs and basketball season now in full swing, it was an eventful weekend for Tar Heel athletics. UNC athletes experienced both the thrill of victory and the bitter taste of defeat.

***Listen to the story***

The UNC men’s and women’s basketball teams have hit the road with desirable final destinations. The men are Bahamas bound, while the women are headed to Hawaii.

But the two squads made quick pit stops over the weekend. The men stopped in Charlotte to take on the sharp-shooting Davidson Wildcats Saturday inside Time Warner Cable Arena.

Meeks slamming it down (Todd Melet)

Meeks slamming it down (Todd Melet)

The sixth-ranked Tar Heels used an in-form defense to cool the Wildcats off and emerge with a comfortable 90-72 win to improve to 3-0 on the young season.

UNC head coach Roy Williams says he was pleased with his team’s play, especially on the defensive side of the floor.

“I think we beat a very good basketball team that is a difficult matchup for us. I thought defensively, it was by far our best game of the year,” Coach Williams says.

Sophomore Kennedy Meeks was impressive, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds. But Coach Williams says Meeks is still figuring out how to play in his new slimmed-down frame.

“I think it’s a day-to-day thing. We’ve got to get his mind correct – that he does have a different body and can do certain things. He’s giving me the tired signal, then goes out there, denies the pass 45-feet from the basket and goes down and dunks,” Coach Williams says. “I’ve told him all the time to give me the tired signal when he goes back on offense, not defense. He just doesn’t realize what his body can do right now.”

As for the women, they met up with the Oregon Ducks in Eugene Sunday and after a sluggish start that may have been credited to jetlag; the Tar Heels poured it on in the second half to run away with an emphatic 76-59 triumph and up their record to 4-0.

UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell’s halftime adjustments paid off. With the three-point shots misfiring, the Hall of Fame coach made it simple for her players – just dominate inside. The Tar Heels did just that.

“Offensively, we got the ball inside. I told them at halftime that our advantage is to get the ball inside. They can’t stop us. We’re out there jacking up all these threes. They weren’t going in. Everything we did [in second half] was to get the ball inside,” Coach Hatchell says.

After the game, Coach Hatchell says she received a special compliment from one of the officials.

“We want to just keep getting and better as a team. I really love this team. They’re great kids. In fact, right at the end of the game, one of the referees said to me, ‘It’s such a privilege and honor to call for your team because not only are you skilled, but your ladies are so classy.’ That’s pretty special. The image of how they represent themselves and especially the University of North Carolina, is tremendous,” Coach Hatchell says.

Danielle Butts dives to save the ball (UNC Athletics)

Danielle Butts dives to save the ball (UNC Athletics)

But not all UNC’s teams came out on the right end of the scoreboard over the weekend. There will be no 22nd national championship this year for the Carolina women’s soccer team.

The Tar Heel women were upset 1-0 by South Carolina in the third round of the NCAA Tournament Sunday afternoon at Fetzer Field.

UNC head coach Anson Dorrance says despite the setback, he was proud of his team’s accomplishments this season that included a share of the ACC regular season title.

“I’m proud of my senior class. We had really good leadership. If you look at our season overall, we certainly overachieved. We were conference co-champs with Florida State and a No.2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That’s pretty good for a team that was without ten starters from the previous year. But the day obviously goes to South Carolina,” Coach Dorrance says.

For the seniors, the loss was especially tough to take. Senior Satara Murray, though, says she couldn’t have asked for a better four years as a Tar Heel.

It was a disappointing day for the UNC women's soccer team (UNC Athletics)

It was a disappointing day for the UNC women’s soccer team (UNC Athletics)

“All in all, I had a fantastic year. I had fun. It was an amazing four years. I’m excited to see what the future has in store, but I love playing with this team every minute, every game. These girls fought for one another, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that. Credit goes to my team for making this an unforgettable and memorable four years,” Murray says.

In other action, the UNC men had better luck on the soccer pitch, defeating tenth-seeded Charlotte 2-1 in rainy conditions Sunday to survive and advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Tar Heels will face the winner of the Clemson-Coastal Carolina match to be played Monday.

And last but certainly not least, the Carolina volleyball team continues to serve up a storm. This time, the No. 7 Tar Heels bagged a 3-1 win over the Louisville Cardinals Sunday afternoon in Cardinal Arena.

UNC head coach Joe Sagula’s 24-2 team will wrap up the regular season this week with a pair of home matches – a rivalry encounter against No. 21 Duke and an ACC matchup with Wake Forest.

Worth Brings the Tar Heels to Victory over Buffs in Overtime

unc women's soccer

The North Carolina women’s soccer team took down Colorado 1-0 in overtime Friday night in front of a sold out stadium at Fetzer Field.

Colorado ends the season with a 14-7-1 record and UNC earns a spot in the Final 16 while improving to 14-3-2.

“Obviously we’re very excited to be advancing in the NCAA tournament,” UNC coach Anson Dorrance says. “Although the score doesn’t indicate it, I’m very proud of the way our kids played. We’re starting to move the ball quickly, we’re keeping the ball very well, we’re playing a great possession game and we’re changing the point effectively.”

Dorrance started the first 10-minute session of overtime with six reserves on the field. Carolina employed much of this strategy throughout the game with 21 Tar Heels seeing the field and all of them playing double-digit minutes.

“We have a deep roster and we have no issue playing our bench and of course they rewarded us. I think almost half the goals have been scored by reserves,” Dorrance says.

Sophomore Maya Worth scored her first career goal in the 94th minute to bring the Tar Heels to victory.

The goal transpired after Katie Bowen served the ball into the box on a corner kick. Sophomore Danae O’Halloran sent a cross into the middle of the penalty area and Worth was there to head the ball, which was deflected by a Colorado player. Worth rebounded and powered the shot with her right foot into the back of the goal.

Courtesy of Jeffrey A. Camarati

Courtesy of Jeffrey A. Camarati

“I was borderline in tears,” Worth says. “I don’t normally get nervous but I was really nervous before going into the overtime. And then after I scored I was trying to keep it together. I was trying to run to our bench to meet the rest of the team but as soon as I hit Bruder we just collapsed and everyone met us there and it was great. Wonderful feeling.”

Worth’s goal guaranteed the Tar Heels a spot in the Final 16 and marked the 120th overall NCAA Tournament victory in Carolina history.

“We weren’t really expecting much this season we were kind of looking at ourselves as underdogs but week by week we’ve improved. This past week we’ve had a fantastic week of training and it just showed tonight,” Bowen says.

UNC will play South Carolina Sunday at 1 p.m. at Fezter Field for a spot in the NCAA quarterfinals next weekend.


UNC Women’s Soccer to Host Colorado Friday in NCAAT

Megan Buckingham (Courtesy of

Megan Buckingham (Courtesy of

The sixth-ranked UNC women’s soccer team will compete in Chapel Hill Friday at 7 p.m. in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Tar Heels will take on the 36th-ranked Colorado Buffaloes. UNC’s record stands at 13-3-2 after a 2-0-victory over South Dakota in a first round game.

UNC head coach Anson Dorrance says the team can be better and is going to have to be better to continue advancing.

“I think what I have to do a better job of going into next weekend’s games—I don’t think I tapered my team very well into this game,” Coach Dorrance says. “I think we were a little leg weary and maybe that was a part of the problem. I have to do a better job this week tapering them into a two-game weekend against two teams that could beat us. I think I have to do a better job of that come this training week.”

Coach Dorrance says due to sickness on the roster last week, three starters will be back on the field this weekend.

Carolina has qualified for each of the 33 NCAA Tournaments ever held, the only school in the nation to do so.

“I’m very proud of what our kids have done this year,” Coach Dorrance says. “Our ambition going into the NCAA tournament is we have a good season going, and now based on how far we go we can turn this season into a great one. So that’s our goal now.”

UNC will host a pair of second round games Friday night in Chapel Hill. Seattle will meet South Carolina and the winner of the two games will face off in an NCAA third round game on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Fetzer Field.

UNC WBB, WSoc Battle at Home Friday

Friday marks a new beginning for two Tar Heel women’s teams as women’s basketball begins its regular season at home against Howard at 4 p.m. and UNC women’s soccer begins the first round of competition for the NCAA title at Fetzer Field.

UNC women’s basketball is coming off of two blowout exhibition wins over Carson Newman and Wingate University. Sylvia Hatchell’s Heels will take on the Howard Bisons on Friday at 4 p.m., who finished 11-20 in last year’s season.

Coach Hatchell has seen many pros and cons from her team so far, praising freshman guard Jamie Cherry and preseason All-ACC selection sophomore Allisha Gray, after impressive scoring performances in Monday’s win over Wingate.

Allisha Gray (Courtesy of

Allisha Gray (UNC Athletics)

“These guys did a great job and everybody played – I thought a lot of people came off the bench and played well tonight,” Hatchell said. “For a freshman, Jamie just keeps getting better and better out there as she relaxes and becomes more comfortable with the game. Allisha’s got great numbers but her (three-point shot) isn’t falling like it always does, I think she’s saving that.”

Even though the Tar Heels came close to scoring triple-digits in both contests, Hatchell expects even more out of her team’s offensive power – and more points from perimeter shooting.

Coach Hatchell will lead her Tar Heel women's basketball team (WUNC)

Coach Hatchell will lead her Tar Heel women’s basketball team (WUNC)

“We’ve got a lot of really good three-point shooters, I think a lot of (the problem) is nobody’s playing a zone. And so most of our scoring is either on fast breaks or off drives.”

North Carolina will also host the No. 23 UCLA Bruins Sunday at 2 p.m. in Carmichael Arena.

After a heartbreaking 2-0 loss in the ACC Tournament semifinals to the Virginia Cavaliers, women’s soccer head coach Anson Dorrance is looking ahead to beating South Dakota State Friday, and continuing the program’s strong tradition of national championships.

“Even though we’ve been knocked out by a very good Virginia team, we think we’ll have an opportunity to compete in the NCAA tournament. We’re hoping to be placed as a number two seed and we’re hoping this game will show us what we need to work on a bit, so we can continue to improve.”

In their first loss since August, Carolina now sits at a 12-3-2 record. The Tar Heels are in the running for a national title as the No. 2 seed, their eighth recorded time at the tournament spot.

South Dakota State finished atop the Summit League conference with a 10-7-2 record.

North Carolina has been in the NCAA tournament competition every year since its start in 1982. If the Tar Heels are to beat the Jackrabbits Friday, they will host the NCAA second and third round games in Chapel Hill at Fetzer Field.

The game starts at 5 p.m.

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.

WSoc Bows Out of ACC Tourney In 2-0 Loss to UVA

The North Carolina women’s soccer team, crowned the conference regular season champions,  has been eliminated from the ACC championship tournament after falling to the Virginia Cavaliers in a 2-0 shutout loss in the semifinals Friday night at UNC-Greensboro Soccer Stadium.

With the loss, the Tar Heels fell to 12-2-2 on the season while the Cavaliers improved to 18-1.

Greensboro’s 46-degree weather didn’t stop the speed or intensity of the rivalry game as UVA forward Makenzy (muh-KEN-zee) Doniak  scored her 14th goal of the season in the first ten minutes of play. A long-range shot in the 29th minute by Virginia sophomore forward Morgan Reuther sealed the last goal of the game. The goal was assisted by the conference midfielder of the year, Danielle Colaprico.

Three impressive saves by Carolina junior keeper Bryane Heaberlin spared the Heels from a blow-out deficit after the first half.

Megan Buckingham is the first Tar Heel to be named ACC Freshman of the Year since Lindsay Tarpley in 2002. (UNC Athletics)

Megan Buckingham is the first Tar Heel to be named ACC Freshman of the Year since Lindsay Tarpley in 2002. (UNC Athletics)

The Tar Heels’ best chance to start a run against the Cavaliers was a last minute kick that was stopped by a header from UVA freshman Megan Reid to keep Carolina off of the board going into halftime.

Even with solid scoring position and a penalty kick in the 21st minute of the second half, the Tar Heel offense failed to convert on its opportunities.

UNC is now 59-4-4 all-time in the ACC Tournament.

During the night’s halftime interview, UNC head coach Anson Dorrance praised Virginia as having the best midfield in the country. Their dominant midfield and offensive presence leads the conference in goals scored with 65.

The fourth-seeded Cavaliers will face top-seeded Florida State on Sunday in Greensboro for the ACC title.

Soccer Showdown: #2 UNC vs. #3 UVA In ACC Semis

The North Carolina women’s soccer team, 12-2-1 on the season and 9-0-1 in ACC play, is set to begin postseason play. The Tar Heels will take on the 17-1 Virginia Cavaliers Friday night at 8 p.m. in the ACC Tournament semifinals held at UNC-G Soccer Stadium.

***Listen to the story***

This year, only the elite arrive in Greensboro for the ACC Tournament. For the first time, the field competing for the title has been narrowed down to a mere four teams, all of them in the top ten nationally, out of arguably the toughest soccer conference in the nation.

Florida State and Carolina tied for the regular season crown with 28 points, just ahead of Virginia, last year’s regular season champion. Those three squads are joined by always dangerous Notre Dame in the ACC bracket.

Anson Dorrance (UNC Athletics)

Anson Dorrance (UNC Athletics)

UNC head coach Anson Dorrance, who boasts a mind-boggling 91.7 overall career winning percentage, obviously wants to win every game, but his eyes are always fixed on the end goal at Carolina – winning a national championship.

The Tar Heels already have 22 of those trophies to their name, but Coach Dorrance knows the importance of postseason seeding to securing the hardware. With that in mind, this weekend provides an opportunity for his squad to lock up a No. 1 seed.

“I’m excited to be where we are in the ACC. This also puts us in great position for our RPI. What all of us are trying to do right now in this final stretch before the NCAA bid is to collect RPI points. If we can go in as a high seed in the NCAA Tournament, that’s going to make our route a lot easier. I think this season has put us in that position,” Coach Dorrance says.

Senior midfielder Brooke Elby says she’s thrilled to accomplish something she’s never done before at Carolina – skating through the ACC gauntlet unscathed.

“It’s a season solidifier [OT win at Syracuse]. We’re undefeated still in the regular season. That’s never happened to me in all four years. That’s one of the most exciting aspects,” Elby says.

But this year’s team is not one of Coach Dorrance’s most talented. The Tar Heels have no explosive players who can take over a game like past greats Crystal Dunn or Kealia Ohai.

In fact, Coach Dorrance says there’s little to no reduction in talent from his starters to his bench players.

“In 393 minutes, a starter hasn’t scored until today. That tells you something. Also, I’ve been saying this all season and this just confirms it – the difference between player No. 11, my last starter, and player No. 20, is nothing,” Coach Dorrance says.

Megan Buckingham is the first Tar Heel to be named ACC Freshman of the Year since Lindsay Tarpley in 2002. (UNC Athletics)

Megan Buckingham is the first Tar Heel to be named ACC Freshman of the Year since Lindsay Tarpley in 2002. (UNC Athletics)

With that said, UNC isn’t likely to run away and hide from any of its postseason competition. Instead, these Tar Heels will have to win it with their legs.

Coach Dorrance is hoping his team’s depth will wear down opponents.

“Why not invest in player 20 and invest in her legs and wear the other team out? That’s been a very effective strategy for us. I think it’s put us in this unique position. We’re not an incredibly talented first 11 roster, but we’re an amazingly deep roster. I think that’s contributed to our success this fall,” Coach Dorrance says.

The Tar Heels and Cavaliers will be meeting for the first time this season Friday night with a trip to the ACC Championship game on the line. UNC leads the all-time series with UVA 35-3-3, but UVA took the last matchup in 2013 by a 2-0 margin.

Friday night’s semifinal action will be broadcast via live streaming right here on at 8 p.m.

Weekend Game Preview

Carolina sports are in full swing this weekend with a host of games here in Chapel Hill for Tar Heel fans to enjoy.

Volleyball hosts Miami in Carmichael Arena at 6 p.m. The Tar Heels are 11-14 all-time against the Hurricanes – who are one of the ACC’s top performers with a conference record of 7-2.

Fans are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes as they cheer Carolina on to victory. There will be a trick-or-treat costume competition with the volleyball team after the match.

Men’s soccer will be taking Fetzer Field in a match against the Virginia Cavaliers Saturday at 7 p.m. This is the last regular-season match for the Heels before the ACC championships begin Wednesday, November 5.

Carolina is now ranked at No. 3 after a 6-2 victory over Georgia Southern Tuesday. Andy Craven tallied a hat trick in the match, naming the senior as the leading scorer in the ACC with 11 goals.

Women’s soccer travels to New York Sunday to face Syracuse at 1 p.m. This also marks the last regular-season match before the team makes its first appearance in the conference championships on Friday. North Carolina is ranked second in the ACC behind the Florida State Seminoles, who they share an identical 8-0-1 record with in the conference.

UNC has not lost a match since August 31st.