CORRECTION: A previous version of the article incorrectly stated that UNC had not fallen by more than seven points this season, apart from a 14-point away loss to Florida State. The Tar Heels have actually not fallen by more than eight points. The article has been updated to reflect the change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
RALEIGH — In her first season at the helm, through the upset wins, the valiant efforts against conference juggernauts, the few slip-ups to inferior opponents, UNC head coach Courtney Banghart’s message to her team has been consistent.
“I’m in heels. I can’t do nothing for you,” she’ll often tell her squad.
As junior center Janelle Bailey stood at the edge of Kay Yow Court in N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum, about 30 minutes after the Tar Heels (14-6, 5-4 ACC) fell 76-68 to the No. 8 Wolfpack (19-1, 8-1 ACC) on Sunday night, she couldn’t disagree more.
“She does everything she can,” Bailey said. “... There’s just an impact on the game when you know that your coach is behind you. You feel different. It’s almost like you have another sixth man.”
This was on full display Sunday as Banghart roamed up and down the sidelines, giving referees an earful over what she felt were questionable calls and matching the same energy that got her bench a technical late in the first half. It’s why UNC was able to hand top-10 N.C. State it’s first loss in Chapel Hill earlier this month, barely come up short to No. 5 Louisville after a 16-point halftime deficit and put up a fight on the road against the Wolfpack.
And it’s why the Tar Heels have more than enough reason to be optimistic as they sit at the midway point of their ACC slate.
“We got through the tough part of the conference,” senior guard Taylor Koenen said, “and we’re sitting pretty good. We played those top-ranked teams pretty close …
“We’re hoping to win out. We don’t have anymore ranked teams on our schedule.”