NCAA BK

Tar Heels open season of high expectations

Share This Story

   
 

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP)

Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes look ready to pick up where they left off last season. If their North Carolina teammates do the same, the Tar Heels might just meet those lofty expectations.

The Tar Heels opened a season in which they'll be among the favorites to win the national championship, drawing more than 21,000 fans to the Smith Center on Friday night to watch the mix of veteran talent and touted newcomers in an abbreviated first practice.

''It's a little pressure, but at the same time, I think that's why we're a great team,'' junior guard Dexter Strickland said. ''We have high expectations and we just have to play hard and match it.''

The annual ''Late Night with Roy'' event included a 20-minute scrimmage in addition to players performing dances and showing taped skits in a night of fun before things get serious. Zeller scored 11 points to help White beat Blue 39-31 in the scrimmage, while Barnes - whose second-half tear helped fuel UNC's surge to the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season title - scored 11 to lead the Blue, according to unofficial stats.

A year ago, North Carolina was coming off a 17-loss season and hoping Barnes would live up to preseason expectations as the first freshman named preseason All-America by The Associated Press. He got off to a slow start and the team looked lost in January, but Barnes got rolling with a series of clutch late-game shooting performances as the Tar Heels won 17 of 19 to end the regular season and chase down Duke for the ACC crown.

The Tar Heels ended the season with a loss to Kentucky to fall a game short of the Final Four.

Among the five returning starters from that 29-win team are Barnes, Zeller and John Henson, three players who returned to school instead of entering the NBA draft. The Tar Heels added two of McDonald's All-Americas in James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston, making UNC a popular choice for No. 1 in numerous preseason publications.

McAdoo tipped in his only basket for the opening score of the scrimmage, while Hairston managed four points and struggled with the outside shot that is expected to open things up for Zeller and Henson inside. But Zeller, a senior 7-footer, pointed out that the youngsters likely won't have to take on such prominent roles as in the past two seasons.

''I think probably the biggest thing is we do have enough veterans that we can just put them up against the veterans and they can kind of pick up the speed as they go,'' Zeller said. ''They're going to struggle for a couple of weeks, but that's kind of part of being a freshman. You've got to learn quickly and hopefully you catch up to speed.''

In addition to the intrasquad scrimmage, the Tar Heels played taped spoofs of ESPN's ''This is SportsCenter'' ads. The clips gave a nod to the Tar Heels' title hopes, with NBA player Marvin Williams from the 2005 NCAA championship team teaching McAdoo how to clip down the nets in one. In another, a pickup game between current and former players got a late start when the former players - including Tyler Hansbrough, Raymond Felton and Wayne Ellington - from the 2005 and 2009 title-winning teams simply pointed to the banners to make the current group fetch the ball to begin the game.

The Tar Heels required their freshmen to prepare for the opener against Michigan State in the Carrier Classic game on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson by dancing a routine while wearing life preservers.

The event was hosted by ESPN anchor and alumnus Stuart Scott. It also honored former UNC All-America and NBA all-star Vince Carter, who donated $2.5 million to the Carolina Basketball Family Fund which paid for renovations for the Smith Center basketball offices in 2010. With the gift, the brick walkway beside the Smith Center bearing the names of every varsity player, coach, trainer and manager in program history was named for Carter.

Tagged: Tyler Zeller, Harrison Barnes, North Carolina

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



NCAA BK Videos

Georgetown, Syracuse to renew CBK rivalry Posted: Jun 10, 2014
Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III on the renewal of the rivalry betw...

Cuonzo Martin new head coach at Cal Posted: Apr 16, 2014
Cuonzo Martin is introduced as Cal's new head coach.

UConn tops Notre Dame in women's final Posted: Apr 09, 2014
Hear from Geno Auriemma and his players after their National Championship victor...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/885881/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_885000/ff_885881_xl.jpg&w=100 74.95 Nike Florida Gators #1 Replica Elite Basketball Jersey - Black
    Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Georgetown_Hoyas/browse/featuredproduct/1030243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1030000/ff_1030243_xl.jpg&w=100 119.95 Nike Georgetown Hoyas #22 Hyper Elite Road Performance Jersey - Navy Blue
    Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Duke_Blue_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/1032710/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1032000/ff_1032710_xl.jpg&w=100 27.95 Nike Duke Blue Devils #5 Tourney Takeover Replica T-Shirt - Duke Blue
    Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oregon_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/1052002/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052002_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Oregon Ducks X-Ray Ball T-Shirt - Green
    Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/1052645/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1052000/ff_1052645_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Ohio State Buckeyes Road Warrior Tri-blend T-Shirt - Scarlet
    Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Indiana_Hoosiers/browse/featuredproduct/1124528/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1124000/ff_1124528_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Indiana Hoosiers 2013 NCAA Men\'s Basketball Road to March Madness T-Shirt - Cri..
    adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Louisville_Cardinals/browse/featuredproduct/1127200/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127200_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Louisville Cardinals 2013 March Madness #10 Premier Swingman Jersey - Red
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/1127218/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1127000/ff_1127218_xl.jpg&w=100 89.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2013 March Madness #45 Premier Swingman Jersey ..
    Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Gonzaga_Bulldogs/browse/featuredproduct/1155821/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1155000/ff_1155821_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Gonzaga Bulldogs March Madness Bracketville T-Shirt - Navy Blue
    Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Champions Adjustable Hat – Green http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Miami_Hurricanes/browse/featuredproduct/1177723/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1177000/ff_1177723_xl.jpg&w=100 25.95 Top of the World Miami Hurricanes 2013 NCAA ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Cham..