The Hubert Davis gets unofficially underway tonight in the Smith Center, as Carolina will face Elizabeth City State in their second, and final exhibition before the regular season starts next week. UNC traveled to Florida a couple of weeks ago for a “secret scrimmage” against the Gators. Teams have the opportunity to hold at least exhibition games, and Carolina has continued the tradition of hosting at least one in-state school to help them out financially while giving them the opportunity to play inside the Smith Center.
The Vikings didn’t compete last season, as the pandemic really set back the smaller athletic conferences. Elizabeth City is a member of the CIAA, and the last time they played a full season they went 12-17 back in 2019-20. Carolina will become the second Triangle school they will play against before the season, as they played against NC State earlier this week, dropping the game 87-68.
Tonight marks the first time we see North Carolina play basketball under Hubert Davis, which will add a sense of excitement and anxiousness. Davis has been adamant he’s not going to overhaul the way Carolina plays basketball, but it’s his program now, and he’s going to run with it with his personality. We get to see what that looks like tonight.
This game won’t count in the record books, but it’s the first step for the Tar Heels this season. Davis has stressed every day to his team to get better, and they have a chance to do that against an overmatched opponent. Here are our keys to a victory tonight:
Playing With Energy: It’s safe to say there won’t be many Tar Heel fans in the building for tonight’s game, which means Carolina will be responsible to create their own energy in the building. Elizabeth City will enter the game excited to play in one of college basketball’s most storied venues, and won’t be afraid to compete for 40 minutes. It’ll be on the Tar Heels to play with the energy and emotion necessary for this team to reach its fullest potential.
Playing Through Armando Bacot: Elizabeth City only has two players 6-10 or taller, which means they don’t have the depth or the size to play with Armando Bacot, Carolina’s best player. Despite leading the team in scoring and rebounding last season, there were too many times, UNC didn’t run its offense through him. This game is all about creating good habits that will carry into the regular season, playing through your best player, and establishing interior dominance is a great habit to start off with.
Set the Tone Defensively: Lastly, Carolina needs to be able to overwhelm the Vikings, and make it difficult to run their offense. UNC is clearly the superior athletic team, and shouldn’t have any issues dictating the way Elizabeth City has to run their offense. Not only is Hubert Davis tweaking the way Carolina will play offense, but he’s also doing the same on the defensive end, and this will be the first time we get to see that.
TV Info: Tonight’s exhibition will be live-streamed by ACC Network Extra starting at 7:30 PM.
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