“This is the last time y’all are gonna see me.”
Those were the first words out of UNC fifth-year center Armando Bacot’s mouth as he spoke to the media at the 2023 ACC Tipoff main room.
If you listened closely, you could probably hear the collective sigh of his conference opponents. Or, in the case of UVA head coach Tony Bennett, it was a sarcastic, “Who’s that? I’ve never coached against him.”
In Hubert Davis’ mind, Bacot’s performance is directly correlated to UNC's success. That’s why the head coach said on the “College Hoops Today” podcast that the big man needs to be dominant. Not simply good or occasionally great — he wants Bacot to dominate each game and be the best rebounder in the country. And if you’re one of North Carolina’s opponents, the key to shutting down the Tar Heels — despite seven new faces — remains the same: stop Bacot.
That's easier said than done. Just ask any ACC big man and his coach.
“I don’t know what it is about that guy,” N.C. State’s DJ Burns said. “Boxing him out is a fun task. I don’t know how he does it, but he’s in a great position every time, so you have to hit him really hard. That’s probably the thing that I would say was a big emphasis for myself — making sure he stays off the boards.”
For ACC preseason player of the year Kyle Filipowski, combatting Bacot’s size was a challenge last year. Per his head coach, Duke’s Jon Scheyer, you “better make sure you put a body on him and block him out” because “he’s one of the best rebounders in college basketball.”
Miami forward Norchad Omier took it a step further: “Don’t let him get the ball.” And if he does? “Take a charge.”
But, for Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga, it goes beyond just Bacot. He said the post player’s supporting cast is the key to his success.