Current Date: Sun, 09 Mar 2014 10:46:57 -0400
The freshmen have danced in pink tutus. ESPN’s Stuart Scott, master of ceremonies, has sung the praises of his alma mater. Friday night at the Smith Center, basketball season finally began in Chapel Hill.
Late Night With Roy, North Carolina’s annual kickoff event for basketball season, began with an Olympic-style entrance by many of UNC’s 27 varsity teams. But when the men’s basketball team finally walked onto the court, led by a grinning Dexter Strickland, screaming fans made it known who they were really there to see.
Before suiting up for a scrimmage, the Tar Heels had a little fun, performing dance numbers to songs by Shakira, Adele and Beyonce. And even though it took them a while to get to basketball, senior Leslie McDonald enjoyed providing a different kind of entertainment.
“It shows the fans that we have some other talents,” McDonald said. “It just gets us out of our comfort zones, showing the fans that, you know, there’s another side of us besides basketball all the time.”
For the last show of the night, McDonald and the rest of the Tar Heels wore blue or white and played an intrasquad scrimmage with a 20-minute running clock.
Sophomore guard P.J. Hairston led all scorers in with 12 points and led the Blue team to a 37-27 win. Reggie Bullock was excited to see was the contributions from his freshmen teammates.
“(Marcus Paige is) a good point guard,” Bullock said. “He can shoot, he can find his teammates, he’s athletic. He can get a lot of steals, slide his feet on defense. I think he’ll be great for us this year at the point guard position.”
With every sunk 3-pointer or slam dunk, the Smith Center crowd roared. But perhaps the biggest reaction came when coach Roy Williams was introduced.
Less than a month ago, Williams underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his kidney. The coach, who was declared cancer free shortly after, received an almost minute-long standing ovation from the crowd.
“I know it meant a lot to him,” Bullock said. “Just to know that he can overcome adversity and the fans love him. I know that’s a memory he’s never going to forget.”