Friday was a day of awards and recognition around Tar Heel basketball while preparation for the biggest game in the history of the Carolina-Duke rivalry.
Retired head Roy Williams was the first Tar Heel to receive an honor on Friday when he took home the Gene Bartow Award. The award is given out annually to a current or former coach for his win-loss record and the impact he’s made on his players, school and his community. Oddly enough, the award came on the same day as the unexpected announcement of his retirement a year ago. The Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer finished his career with a 903-264 career record, a 79-27 record in the NCAA Tournament, nine ACC regular season titles, three ACC Tournament titles, nine Final Four appearances and three national titles. Williams will be in attendance this weekend in New Orleans for the program’s 21st appearance in the Final Four.
Williams wasn’t the only Tar Heel head coach to take home an award earlier today. Current head coach Hubert Davis was awarded the John McLendon Award which is presented annually to the top collegiate head coach including Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA and NJCAA. After much criticism from both national and local media and even fans, Davis has changed the fortunes to make the Final Four and turn in one of the best first seasons for a head coach in program history. Davis became the first coach in college basketball since Bill Guthridge in 1998 to make the Final Four in his first season as a head coach and has the Tar Heels at 28-9 heading into tomorrow night’s game as he looks to officially close the book on Mike Kryzezwski’s career.
He won’t be the only person that will be looking to end K’s career on Saturday.
Senior forward Brady Manek will also be hoping to do that after taking home the Riley Wallace Award which is presented annually to the top transfer in Division I college basketball. Manek for the season is averaging 15.2 points per game, shooting 49.5% from the field overall, 61.0% from two and 39.8% from three, all of which are career highs. He currently leads all remaining players in the tournament in points per game with 21.0, a number that would likely be much higher if he wasn’t ejected on the controversial flagrant that was called on him in the Round of 32 game with Baylor.
Davis, Manek and the rest of the Tar Heel team took the court for open practice on Friday in front of the fans on the eve of what might be the biggest game in the history of college basketball. The game is scheduled to tip off at 8:49 PM on TBS from the Big Easy tomorrow night.
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