He'd been warned before, but when freshman Rashad McCants was fouled with 3.3 seconds left with North Carolina leading No. 6 Connecticut by one, there was no room for restraint. McCants threw the ball down, whirled around to the screaming, sell-out crowd in the Smith Center, and raised his hands with clenched fists to make an "X" with both arms. The fans went wild as McCants and freshman center Byron Sanders held their crisscrossed wrists up in the air and bumped chests.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Freshman Damion Grant grinned as he got dressed in the locker room after the North Carolina basketball team's 79-72 loss to Virginia. He shifted his weight and tried to get out of the way of the group of reporters surrounding his fellow freshman teammate, Rashad McCants. "Nobody wants to be next to him in the locker room," Grant said, gesturing toward the crowd encircling McCants to explain why UNC's leading scorer is not a fun person to have your locker beside.
NEW YORK -- The youngest team in major college basketball just can't seem to grow up any quicker. North Carolina showed that any growing pains it is experiencing aren't hurtful enough to keep them for winning, as the Tar Heels marched into Manhattan and grabbed the Preseason NIT Championship from Stanford on Friday night with a sound 74-57 victory. "It's a great feeling," freshman point guard Raymond Felton said.
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If Kansas coach Roy Williams had his way, he would avoid playing North Carolina. But today at 9 p.m., Williams will be forced to face Matt Doherty's Tar Heels in the Preseason NIT semifinal game in New York City. And Williams' hesitance to play UNC has nothing to do with what players are taking the floor.
At the tender age of 16, a boy from the backwoods of Black Mountain enrolled in school at North Carolina. He couldn't wait to get out of the small town he grew up in and suit up in the famous powder-blue uniform to take to the court in Carmichael Gymnasium for UNC's 1982-83 basketball season. The bright-eyed freshman had no intentions to return to his hometown. But now, after four successful years as a Tar Heel, eight seasons in the NBA and stints living on the beach and in Atlanta, Brad Daugherty relishes settling his family where he grew up.
Matt Doherty admitted he was especially anxious before the game. Fortunately for the North Carolina men's basketball team, three freshmen weren't worried in the least. For the first time in school history, three freshmen started for UNC in its season opener. But Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants certainly didn't give the impression of inexperienced players against Penn State at the Smith Center.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- North Carolina isn't usually a highly anticipated opponent for the Florida State football team. But the Seminoles haven't ever had a score to settle with the Tar Heels before. Last year's 41-9 upset at Kenan Stadium gave FSU plenty to stew about in the past year. "We've been looking forward to this since August -- since the season was over last year, really," said FSU quarterback Adrian McPherson. "We have these two dates circled on the calendar."
Saturday's game between N.C. State and Virginia promises to be possibly the best ACC shootout so far this season. The Wolfpack-Cavalier matchup pits the accurate long arm of State's Philip Rivers against the comeback king from UVa. Matt Schaub. Both teams are vying for a share of second and third place in the conference, and the performance of their respective QBs is critical. Rivers has thrown for 2,718 yards and 18 touchdowns and is sixth in the nation in passing efficiency. Schaub is ninth in the nation in passing efficiency.
North Carolina coach John Bunting's headset flew off, and he threw his playbook onto the ground late in the first quarter of Saturday's game against Clemson. Another penalty, another shoddy defensive performance and another loss for the Tar Heel football team. Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, whose team became bowl eligible for the fourth time in four years with Saturday's 42-12 win against UNC, also removed his headset during the course of the game.