A few hours before the North Carolina women’s basketball team’s 102-49 season-opening routing of Gardner-Webb, head coach Courtney Banghart still didn’t know who she would pick to start.
But, she said her indecision was a good thing.
With so many options, spanning from the five first-years, three experienced transfers and seven returners, she said her hesitation was a testament to the versatile talent the Tar Heels offer this year.
“As a coach, it’s great to have depth,” Banghart said. “It gives you accountability. It gives you more options. It gives you some buffer when you have some injuries.”
Banghart ultimately chose senior forward Alyssa Ustby, first-year guard Reniya Kelly, graduate guard Lexi Donarski, senior guard Deja Kelly and junior center Maria Gakdeng to take the floor first. She chose a total of 11 UNC players during Wednesday night’s victory over Gardner-Webb. The No. 16 Tar Heels put their newfound depth on display, as six players scored in double figures, 45 points came from the bench and 50 points were recorded by non-returners.
Banghart said her roster allows the North Carolina team to play the game in different ways. If the team isn’t knocking down shots around the perimeter, they can pass it inside. If the lane gets a little too crowded, the Tar Heels have talented options who can make an outside shot.
“My game doesn’t succeed if I don’t have great players around me,” Ustby said. “They make it so easy. I’m looking at [my] six assists — I have six teammates who knock down great shots.”
Three new scoring options came in the form of the transfers: Gakdeng, Donarski and sophomore guard Indya Nivar.