When Tyler Hansbrough grabs the mic for his Senior Day speech after North Carolina's game against rival Duke on Sunday it will mark a celebration of the rarest order. A once-in-a-lifetime player Hansbrough holds nearly every record of substance at UNC.
BLACKSBURG Va. — For two minutes North Carolina looked like a defensive team. Then for five minutes. Then for three. It wasn't a perfect defensive performance by any standard. But Wednesday" it was enough. Simply: ""We guarded"" coach Roy Williams said.
It's finally over. The doldrums of the season — the period from December to February that makes the season seem to drag out— is done. Now it's March and No. 2 North Carolina's 7 p.m. game today at Virginia Tech marks the official beginning of the final sprint to the NCAA tournament.
With more than 14 minutes left in Saturday's game against Georgia Tech North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson streaked down the floor at his usual breakneck speed. Scanning his teammates filling the lanes around him Lawson threaded a bounce pass to Danny Green on the right for a layup to put UNC up 66-41.
UNC defeated Georgia Tech on Saturday with a 30 margin of victory" and Tyler Hansbrough set the NCAA's career free-throw shooting record with a career total of 907.
Parents send their kids to college so they can become — as the cliché goes — ""well-rounded individuals."" The same goes for college basketball stars. Sort of. Just as it took Joe Kegstand three semesters to understand what's meant by ""liberal arts curriculum"" it took Wayne Ellington three years to understand what's meant by non-shooting star.""
In almost every conversation on North Carolina's hopes for a prolonged NCAA Tournament run the topic eventually settles on one issue — defense. Do the Tar Heels have what it takes to shut down a high-octane offense? Or will their propensity to let opposing guards score in bunches come back to bite them in the end?
COLLEGE PARK Md. — For almost four weeks now the North Carolina Tar Heels have played the Ty Lawson card when games go down to the wire. But in Saturday's 88-85 overtime loss against Maryland someone finally trumped it.
COLLEGE PARK Md. — In the final moments of North Carolina's matchup at Maryland on Saturday UM guard Greivis Vasquez couldn't help smiling. With the score tied at 81 and the clock ticking down to less than 90 seconds remaining in overtime Vasquez curled around to the left corner and fired.
On any other night — or from any other player — those stats wouldn't demand anything more than a passing glance. But given the fact that they belonged to North Carolina's Tyler Zeller the numbers carried a little more meaning. They marked Zeller's return from a broken left wrist suffered Nov. 18 against Kentucky.
The last time North Carolina hosted N.C. State in the Smith Center it ignited a blowout by holding the Wolfpack scoreless for 10 minutes. This year the run was split in two but still just as effective. No. 3 UNC first reeled off 14 straight points before Wayne Ellington went on a personal 9-0 run a few minutes later to put Wednesday night's game away.
CORAL GABLES Fla. — If the statistic existed North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson likely would have broken the record for number of shots that almost iced a game in Sunday's matchup against Miami.
DURHAM — Right before the opening tip North Carolina's starting five sat side by side on the bench as Duke introduced its lineup. No one said a word. No one expressed any emotion. Just blank stares as they readied themselves for the prime-time fight set to begin.
Though North Carolina's defensive effectiveness in Wednesday's 101-87 win against Duke changed drastically from one half to the next the offense went through a slightly different transition. Rather than bad to good UNC's scoring efficiency went from quite good to nearly unstoppable.
With a spread offense that makes extensive use of the drive-and-pitch maneuver it's usually the Duke Blue Devils who are associated with 3-point shooting when this rivalry rolls around.
DURHAM — Mounted within the underbelly of Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium rests picture after picture commemorating different aspects of Duke's storied basketball program. But one photo forces a double take.