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'A really different vibe': How UNC reserves experienced iconic moments against Duke

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Senior forward Charlie Everett (15) holds against Duke's junior forward Shavlik Randolph (42) in the Smith Center on Sunday, Mar. 6, 2005. UNC beat Duke 75-73. DTH File/Laura Morton. 

You know the moments and the players who made them happen. Jeff Capel’s half-court shot. The Jerry Stackhouse dunk. Austin Rivers’ game-winner. Bloody Tyler Hansbrough. Bloody Eric Montross.

Such iconic scenes have defined the madness of the North Carolina-Duke men’s basketball rivalry, which begins its 2020 iteration on Saturday night in Chapel Hill.

But what about the players who didn’t make those moments happen? After all, for every Tar Heel star who made his mark on the rivalry, there’s another eight or so teammates who watched it from the sideline.

To figure out that answer, The Daily Tar Heel spoke with two former UNC basketball players, both of whom witnessed a moment of UNC-Duke lore, and posed a simple question: What was the experience like from the bench? Turns out, they had a lot to say.

‘It was deafening’

Walk-on Charlie Everett did more than just watch an iconic game in 2005. He started in it.

After two years on the JV team, Everett made UNC’s varsity roster as a senior. And since March 6 was UNC’s final home game that season, he found himself on the floor at tip-off against a Duke team featuring J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams.

Talk about a rivalry debut.

Everett’s older brothers, Jim and Joe, both played for the varsity team in the early 2000s, so he had attended his fair share of Duke games. But when the 6-foot-3 forward experienced one as a player, running out of the Smith Center tunnel to a raucous crowd, he was still blown away.

“The atmosphere is just ridiculous,” he said.

Everett played the opening minute of the game; he registered no stats but, 15 years later, flawlessly remembers the charge he tried to draw and the “nasty forearm shiver” he took from Williams while they fought for a rebound.

Once on the bench, he watched the game like he often had as a fan or spectating JV player — with one key twist. As a member of UNC’s scout team, or blue team, Everett spent extensive time learning and running opponents’ offenses. And of course he knew North Carolina’s game plan, too.

“You look at it with a whole different perception,” Everett said. “I guess you know more about what’s going to happen, or what you expect to happen. It’s a really different vibe when you’re watching it from that perspective.”

With three minutes left, the Tar Heels trailed by nine points in the Smith Center. But a furious comeback found Raymond Felton on the free-throw line, his team trailing 73-71 with 19 seconds left.

He made the first. Missed the second. Then first-year Marvin Williams skied up for an offensive rebound, corralled it, banked in a shot and drew a foul. UNC had the lead, and Everett — along with everyone around him — went ballistic.

“You never in a million years expect that to happen,” he said. “Marvin was obviously a star player, but to be a freshman and make a play like that and hit the free throw was just insane. You’re dumbfounded, but so excited at the same time.”

After Williams’ and-one, UNC led 75-73 and got a final defensive stop. The team finished a perfect 15-0 at home that season and went on to win the 2005 national championship.

“It was a pretty sweet deal, to say the least,” said Everett, who appeared in 22 games that year.

Since graduating from UNC, Everett, 37, has made a career in the wine business. He’s currently a general sales manager for Johnson Brothers Mutual Distributing in Charlotte, where he lives with his wife and son. He holds many a memory from that comeback win — and, perhaps, some still-aching eardrums.

“There is no way that it has ever been louder in there,” Everett said. “Ever. It was deafening.”

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‘Doing full 360s in air’

Jack Wooten remembers the play, sure, but he just as well remembers Roy Williams’ frustration in the half-second before it happened. 

First, a scene setter: UNC traveled to Durham that day — March 8, 2008 — with plenty at stake.

Duke had used a balanced scoring effort to beat UNC at home in February. The Tar Heels and Blue Devils were both 13-2 in ACC play entering the game, setting up a winner-take-all scenario for the ACC regular-season title.

As Wooten somberly noted, it was also the team’s first game since the heart-wrenching March 5 murder of UNC student body president Eve Carson. North Carolina players wore an “EVE” patch on their jerseys, and Cameron Indoor Stadium observed a lengthy moment of silence pregame.

“A lot of emotion surrounding that game for a lot of different reasons,” Wooten said.

As a junior reserve, Wooten gladly accepted the role of hype man for a roster featuring Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Danny Green and Wayne Ellington.

Walk-ons go into every game “with some ownership of what’s going to happen,” he said, but there’s a “heightened sense of importance” leading up to Duke games.

Ahead of this one, Wooten spent extra time with the scouting report and imitated Gerald Henderson, the athletic Duke slasher and future NBA lottery pick, in practice. (The contrast still makes him laugh.)

“They were good, they were skilled,” he said of the Blue Devils. “The atmosphere, again, you run out there and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ From my perspective, I better not miss a layup in warmups.”

In the first half, UNC led by as many as 14 and entered the break ahead 42-31. But none of those points stood out more than two that came with about 2:40 left.

That’s when Green rose up for a rebound around the free-throw line, squeezed through three defenders and ignited a three-on-one fast break. After four dribbles, he hit guard Marcus Ginyard streaking down the left wing. That, Wooten said, is when the play almost went awry.

“Coach (Williams) probably wasn’t too happy with Marcus,” he said. “If you’re on a numbers-up advantage and pass the ball backwards, especially against Duke, that guy’s going to try to take a charge. So Marcus passing the ball back to Danny behind him kind of put Danny at risk for a charge. We’ll obviously take the results, but I guarantee Coach was a little bit like, ‘Yeah, that wasn’t the right basketball play.’”

The result, if you haven’t deduced it by now, was Green dunking on Duke’s Greg Paulus — a play that’s since been memorialized in many a highlight reel and T-shirt. On the bench, a joyful Wooten broke out into jump-spins, “doing full 360s in air,” and celebrated with Mike Copeland and Will Graves.

North Carolina ultimately won that game, 76-68, and advanced to the Final Four, where it lost to Kansas. The loaded Tar Heels won the 2009 national championship the following season, with a senior Wooten on the roster.

After graduating, Wooten, 32, joined the men’s basketball staff at Elon. He spent 10 seasons with the Phoenix and now lives in Greensboro, where he works for Scott Insurance as a benefits consultant.

In a career that featured a national title and, memorably, playing some scrappy defense on then-Sen. Barack Obama when the future President scrimmaged with UNC, Wooten said Green’s dunk is still among his top North Carolina memories because of what it did to Duke’s crowd.

“That’s the best sound in Cameron: quiet,” he said. “It’s so awesome. There’s nothing like it.”

@chapelfowler

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com