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Heel Tough Blog: There's Always Pressure at Carolina

Every coach has their fair share of sayings that they use from time to time when talking to their team or about their team. For Hubert Davis, one of those sayings quickly became to “block out the noise”, and “ignore all sideshow distractions. Those sayings came to light during his first season, as after back-to-back blowout losses to Wake Forest and Miami, there weren’t a lot of positive things being said about him, or his basketball team. Those sayings were relevant last season, when his team was preseason ranked #1, and was being told how great they were going to be. Instead, the team went 20-13 and became the first team to miss the tournament since it expanded in 1985, after being preseason ranked #1. While the Tar Heels aren’t going to be the preseason #1 team, or picked to win the ACC this year, Davis wants his players to know that expectations are still high in and around Chapel Hill.

The start of the college basketball season is officially under a week away, and on Friday, the program held its annual Media Day activities, to get us ready for the upcoming season. That meant that the head coach of Carolina Basketball was busy meeting with the media, talking about his team, before this Friday’s annual kick-off event, to celebrate the unofficial start to the season. One of the many things he was asked about, was if the pressure was off him, and his team, a year removed from making it to the national championship game, and according to Davis, there is no such thing, “I think it’s unavoidable here, this is Carolina. The expectations of this team, and this program, never change. You’re going to have to thrive in this type of atmosphere, where everyone is looking, everyone is talking, everyone is paying attention, and you have to be able to put yourself in a position to be successful.”

One of the more noticeable things that is different this preseason, as compared to last, is that Davis is much more comfortable demanding more from himself, and his players. Of course, we didn’t know the dysfunction that existed in the program this time a year ago, but it became apparent as the season moved along, that it wasn’t a team that played for one another and was bought in on competing to win a national championship. As much as Davis stresses to his players to block out the noise, he also knows and understands that they won’t be able to escape it, considering the beast, and the attention that comes with being associated with Carolina Basketball.

The Tar Heels will be led by Armando Bacot and R.J. Davis this season, as both returned to make amends for how last season went. With both having been a part of the program for at least four years now, they know what is expected of them, both from the coaching staff and a demanding fan base. Carolina added veteran guards Cormac Ryan and Paxson Wojcik, along with talented wings in Harrison Ingram and Jae’Lyn Withers, both of whom are capable of elevating Carolina to the top of the ACC, and into the national title conversation. And as their head coach has stated multiple times, that is the expectation in Chapel Hill, and it’s up to the players to either embrace it or run from it.

The Tar Heels will hold their annual Live Action With Carolina Basketball event this Friday in the Smith Center, starting at 7 PM. For those who can’t attend the event in person, it will be streamed over the ESPN platform, and we’ll have a recap of the Blue/White scrimmage for you as well.

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