- Israel, White House say Obama phone call to demand cease-fire was fake
- Nancy Pelosi: Deporting kids un-Christian, sends them ‘into a burning building’
- Islamist militants seize special forces base in Benghazi, Libya
- Feds sue Pennsylvania State Police over women’s fitness tests
- Israel accused of striking U.N. school, killing at least 15
- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Middle Eastern firm’s deal to manage U.S. cargo port raises security concerns
Carolina blue has turned to green
Question of the Day
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Marcus Ginyard relishes the prospect of his first high-profile game at North Carolina, an NCAA title game rematch tonight against visiting No. 12 Illinois in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
And just how long has he been looking forward to it?
“I’ve been thinking about it since I saw the schedule,” the freshman guard replied with a grin late last week. “That’s just one of those games that you never have to worry about getting fired up for.”
Excitement is not a problem for the Tar Heels (3-0), who nearly tripped in their opener against Gardner-Webb but since have pummeled Cleveland State and UC Santa Barbara before less-than-capacity crowds at Smith Center. Neither is shooting; the Tar Heels have topped 50 percent from the floor in all three games.
Instead, the biggest question is the same as it was more than a month ago, when the team opened practice: Can a program withstand the departure of its top seven scorers and still make a postseason run?
Reminders of the Tar Heels’ 75-70 victory in last year’s NCAA final are everywhere at the Dean Dome, from replays of big plays on the video board to fans wearing T-shirts celebrating the program’s first national title in a dozen years.
And then there’s the enormous championship flag hung at one end of the arena, almost literally a white elephant amid scores of modest Carolina blue banners that matter of factly tout the program’s tournament berths, Final Four trips and decorated players.
On the floor, though, there is no Raymond Felton to run the offense, no Rashad McCants to drive in from the wing or hit a clutch 3-pointer. There is no Sean May to average a double-double and handily control the post, no Marvin Williams to come off the bench yet still become the second overall pick in the NBA Draft, no Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel or Melvin Scott to add a timely basket or make a critical stop.
But there is hope because of a freshman class that has been asked to contribute immediately. Ginyard, forward Tyler Hansbrough and point guard Bobby Frasor have started every game, and swingman Danny Green is one of the first options off the bench. All have provided glimpses of their talent in the season’s opening moments.
Hansbrough, a 6-foot-9, 235-pound bruiser who doesn’t back down from bigger, more experienced foes, already is emerging as Carolina’s best player. The McDonald’s All-American has led the Tar Heels in scoring every game and has displayed a knack for taking quality shots even when defenders clog the post.
“We have to do a better job of teaching him about how crowded it can get inside there,” coach Roy Williams said. “It helps us to make more shots outside and keep people off of him. For a freshman, he’s about as aggressive going after the ball as anybody I’ve ever seen, and he has a great touch around the basket.”
Yet there also are sobering reminders of the risks of using so many young players, such as surrendering an average of 18 turnovers and eight 3-pointers. A surprising pass or move to the basket can be followed by a careless possession or a defensive breakdown just as easily as by another fine play.
“We have to have the energy and the passion, and I think this team has to bring that every night,” Williams said. “It’s not like Raymond and Sean and Marvin and those guys that were so gifted, and when they really brought it we were really something.”
During Friday’s 83-66 defeat of UC Santa Barbara, a handful of students just behind the final row of press seating spent part of the evening watching the score of the Duke-Memphis game update on a reporter’s laptop. The group groaned when the Blue Devils eked out a three-point victory.
There won’t be any out-of-zip-code scoreboard watching tonight while the revamped Tar Heels face the Illini (5-0), their first ranked opponent of the season. It is the first real barometer Carolina — and its legion of fans — has to gauge what this year’s team might be capable of accomplishing.
- Patent workers paid to exercise, shop, do chores: report
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- CARSON: Rudderless U.S. foreign policy
- Ticket me Elmo? NYC mulls law for impersonators
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- Obama mum on where illegal immigrant children are sheltered
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- Government OKs Arab-owned company Gulftainer to operate U.S. cargo port
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world