Basketball is woven into the spirit of Tar Heel fans. The anticipation and excitement of Wednesday’s season opener runs deep. It will be a night of excitement and anticipation, for many reasons. The excitement of a new season, the anticipation of growth made by returning players, the excitement of the highly touted freshman. More than anything, Wednesday night is an opportunity. It is the Tar Heels first opportunity to compete since last season's 28 point loss to Syracuse, just a short 259 days ago. Wednesday is an opportunity to put last year in the rear view mirror, an opportunity to turn the tough losses and dejected looks, into wins and momentum.
On paper, the Tar Heels boast a force to be reckoned with, roster. The Tar Heels have a plethora of talent, size unmatched by many, and a high level of athleticism. Those attributes are everything a team's fan base desires, however, they do not automatically translate to wins.
The Tar Heels 2020-2021 season begins with the College of Charleston from the Colonial Athletic Association. The Cougars finished last season with an overall record of 17-14, 11-7 in conference play. The Cougars are led by sixth year head coach Earl Grant.
CofC players to note:
*Guard-Brevin Galloway-averaged 11.3 points as a junior, preseason all-CAA candidate
*Guard-Payton Willis-transfer from Minnesota. Averaged 8.9 points as a junior, preseason all-CAA candidate
*Forward-Lorenzo Edwards-graduate transfer from Saint Joseph’s. Averaged 6.9 points as a senior
There will be limited fans in the Dean Dome, players will be getting settled, and Coach Williams will be feeling out different lineups. I anticipate there will be multiple head scratching plays and moments of flashbacks to last year, but with all due respect to the Cougars, I expect the Tar Heels to take care of business.
Things to watch for the Tar Heels:
*Leaky Black-for the sake of his confidence, it is important for Black to get off to a good start. Good defense, crashing the boards, and efficient scoring will be important
*Point guard position-at what pace is Love able to push the offense? Will R.J. Davis see time at the one?
*Lineup combinations-there is plenty of talent on this team. Which combination of size and talent will mesh best?
Tar Heel fans hope this is simply a game of no injuries, the team getting experience playing together, the freshman getting acclimated, players learning their roles, and sound effort on the boards and defensive end. If that is the case, I will consider it a stepping stone for what we hope will be a team playing its best basketball in March. Although the excitement will be high, and it should be, this is only one game of a season filled with unknowns.
TV Info: The season opener will be televised by the ACC Network, with a 6 pm tip time.