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The Daily Tar Heel

M. Basketball: Henson stars in exhibition

In between all of the dancing, acting and video montages, there was actually some basketball played Friday at Late Night with Roy.

The annual event was the first official practice for North Carolina’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.

And sure, it’s always a little sloppy. But it’s a first look at the upcoming year’s team, as well as a first glimpse at the incoming class of freshmen.

One of those newcomers didn’t disappoint on Friday. John Henson, who is a long, ultra-athletic 6-foot-10, led the white team with 10 points.

He didn’t wait long to get started, dropping in the scrimmage’s first four points on an acrobatic drive and a second-chance dunk. He showed an ability to run the floor in transition later on a fast-break one-handed dunk.

And he can jump out of the gym, as he demonstrated with his hand about halfway up the backboard as he goaltended later in the game.

“That was actually probably one of the guys that I really didn’t like to guard this summer during pickup,” senior Marcus Ginyard said. “He’s just so tough to defend.

“You take away his inside game and push him outside, he’s very comfortable on the perimeter, can shoot the ball. And if you force him inside, he’s just got that size advantage over you.”

But Henson’s white team eventually fell victim to the blue squad, which was led by the game’s leading scorer. Will Graves, who sat out most of last season after being suspended from the team, has been touted as having the best range on a team that’s desperate for a 3-point shooter.

He showed why Friday night. He made his first three 3-pointers and went on to score 12 points in the scrimmage.

Sophomore Ed Davis added eight points for the blue team, while freshman Travis Wear dropped eight of his own on the white side.

Even in the very first scrimmage of the very first day of the 2009-10 season, winning was still important. With about a minute to go, it was a two-point game. Ultimately, the blue team sealed it with a couple free throws.

But that didn’t stop Davis and Larry Drew II from getting on the floor for a loose ball as the buzzer sounded.

For the women’s team, senior Trinity Bursey led her pink team to a 10-7 victory with seven points.

A freshman impressed for the women, too. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, a 5-10 guard, led the blue team with four points.

But for both squads, Late Night just represented the start of the season they’ve been waiting for since springtime.

“Tomorrow’s the real day that we’re celebrating,” Ginyard said. “And like I said, we’re just really excited to get back to work.”

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