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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC JV basketball team mimics fast play of varsity counterparts

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the name of the opposing school. The UNC junior varsity basketball team played Wake Technical Community College. The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

Hours before the tip-off of the North Carolina men's basketball team's game against Florida State on Saturday afternoon, hours before thousands of fans jumped around, hours before the noise after Theo Pinson’s massive dunk just about took the roof off the Smith Center, the junior varsity team took the floor in a slightly more tranquil setting. 

The silence throughout the arena is what stood out before the opening tip. There were no crazed fans, no band. In the second half, the ribbon scoreboard that displays stats during varsity games read, “There are unused icons on your desktop.” 

Instead, all the fanfare of a varsity game was replaced by two basketball teams playing hard and for the love of the game.

The UNC junior varsity basketball team faced off against Wake Technical Community College in its second game of the 2017 season. During UNC's 91-77 win, the emptiness would be filled with head coach Hubert Davis’ screams. Two of his favorite expressions were “Take a charge!” and “Get on the floor!”

It’s clear how Davis likes his junior varsity team to play — hard and fast. The team takes after its counterparts at the varsity level by pushing the ball every chance it get.

“These guys have been willing to run,” Davis said. “And we’ve got guards who look up ahead and pitch ahead and we get easy buckets in transition.”

Sophomore forward Devin Dukes, even at 6-foot-7, fits the mold of what Davis is looking for in a big man.

“That’s a huge thing that Coach stresses, playing fast, getting up and down the court,” he said. “So we could definitely play way faster. I think the main thing is he says push but push under control, so when we play fast, make sure we’re not turning it over and making dumb plays.”

The junior varsity team has only played two games so far. Davis said the season started later than usual because of the difficult travel schedule for the varsity team. But if Saturday’s double-digit win is any indication, he’s building a solid team.

North Carolina jumped out to a 16-3 lead early, helped by guard Kane Ma’s shooting touch. UNC took a 54-31 lead into the half and despite a little bit of a letdown in the second period of play, a Tar Heel victory was never in doubt.

“It was exciting to get back on the court and play,” sophomore guard Caleb Ellis said. “We’ve been on Christmas break, (so) we played two days ago. It was a little taste, but I thought we did well today.”

Ellis provided some of the biggest highlights of the day with his dunks, including an alley-oop in the first half. Joel Berry, who watched parts of the game from press row alongside Justin Jackson, Kenny Williams and Pinson, seemed impressed.

Dukes said the team’s goals for the rest of the 15-game season are clear-cut.

“We think we can win every game,” he said. “You know, we push ourselves in practice hard enough, we feel like we can come out here and compete every game no matter who we play.”


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