With its campus in Wilmington, N.C. still closed due to extensive Hurricane Florence damage, the UNC-Wilmington men's and women's basketball teams will open practice for the 2018-19 season at UNC.
In a joint announcement between the two schools on Saturday, UNC has agreed to share its practice facilities at the Smith Center and Carmichael Arena starting next week. The move will provide some normalcy for the Seahawk basketball programs while they are away from home for another week.
“We’re very grateful to the North Carolina staff for their generosity and hospitality in allowing us to conduct practice in Chapel Hill,” UNC-W athletic director Jimmy Bass said in a statement. “It’s been a difficult two weeks for all of our coaches and student athletes. This will give them an opportunity to be together again and prepare adequately for the upcoming season.”
UNC-W basketball players could be on campus holding practice for up to a week. On Friday, officials at the Wilmington campus announced classes wouldn't resume until Oct. 1. Most buildings on campus — including residence halls — will continue to be closed to students and the public until Sept. 29, locking out the Seahawk athletic programs from home facilities.
Instead of missing out on lost time, the basketball programs will remain in Chapel Hill until campus is officially reopened.
With a common basketball connection in second-year UNC-W men's head coach C.B. McGrath, a former UNC and Kansas assistant under Roy Williams for 14 seasons, UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham said the Tar Heels were quick to help out.
"The storms had such a devastating impact, and the relief efforts are rightly focused on financial assistance and necessary supplies, but we all know their seasons are important to them, too, and the rest of the country gets started next week," Cunningham said. "We’re just glad we can help the UNC-W student athletes and coaches begin their practice schedules on time.”
Last season, the Tar Heels and Seahawks were also brought together by disaster in an impromptu basketball jamboree that also included UNC-Greensboro and East Carolina University to raise money for disaster relief. In a scrimmage between the schools, UNC came out with a 38-22 win.
On Monday, the Seahawk men's team will hold a brief workout in the Smith Center practice facility. Practice for the men's and women's programs from Wilmington and Chapel Hill will begin on Tuesday.
This time around, sharing the practice facilities, particularly for the men's teams, might get a bit dicey by the end of the week. The Charlotte Hornets will also be coming to campus this week for training camp and a preseason game against the Boston Celtics in the Smith Center on Sept. 28.
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