For the first time all season, Coach Sylvia Hatchell will watch her team play in person.
Hatchell, who will watch from the lower media box about 20 feet above the court, has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment for leukemia and isn’t supposed to get near big crowds.
In her absence the Tar Heels have been led by Hatchell’s 27-year veteran assistant Andrew Calder.
Today’s opponent is High Point, which actually leads the series 3-1 but hasn’t played the Tar Heels since the Carter Administration. The Panthers have a couple of local players on the squad in junior Ashante Richard from Northern Durham and freshman forward DeAnneshia Jackson from Harnett Central.
UNC is ranked No. 14 in the AP poll, and barring disaster is going to move up Monday following Wednesday’s 74-66 win over No. 10 South Carolina in Myrtle Beach.
The No. 2 Blue Devils had a very tough night less than 48 hours ago when they took an 83-61 drubbing in their long-anticipated meeting with No. 1 and defending national champion Connecticut.
Tonight’s opponent is Albany, a nice team from the America East Conference that suffered its first loss in nine games this season on Sunday at home against Quinnipiac.
The Great Danes’ coach is Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, who was on Joanne P. McCallie’s staff when the current Duke mentor was at Michigan State.
Duke plays an awful first half but recovers easily, rolling to an 80-51 win.
DEAN E. SMITH CENTER/ CHAPEL HILL—The Tar Heels continued their topsy-turvitude last night, losing at home to unranked Texas, which won't be unranked anymore. The 10-1 Longhorns, kind of a discount Kentucky in many ways, just needed a win over a respected program to prove their worth. After the game, their head coach, Rick Barnes, whose infamy in Tar Heel lore has faded over time, pulled the old coaching trick of saying he pays no attention to the rankings but then recalling how he told one of his assistants that Texas was not only unranked; they probably didn't even have a single vote in the polls. (He was right; they didn't). That thing he supposedly wasn't paying attention to may in fact have been motivation for him, and perhaps transitively for his team.
Motivation. Drive. The knack and how to get it. Whatever you want to call it, it's a foundation of coaching young athletes. How do you get players to play hard, anyway? Texas is a very young team, as UNC-Chapel Hill is, even with senior Leslie McDonald reinstated last night. (McDonald immediately became Carolina's no. 2 three-point shooter this season by hitting four of them in 22 minutes. That's how anemic Carolina is as a three-point shooting team.) Still, the Longhorns took it right to Carolina early. They played harder, got nearly twice as many first-half rebounds, controlled loose balls and drove to the lane repeatedly, resulting in either easy baskets, fouls, or second-chance offensive rebounds. At halftime, they had scored a staggering 53 points, and led by 11.
Carolina tightened the rebounding margin, and the score, in the second half—somehow they had a chance to send the game into overtime on the final possession, despite their poor play—but their return to horrific free throw shooting doomed them. (Carolina couldn't overcome one of these failures against Belmont and Alabama-Birmingham; how could they have expected to overcome both?) At home against Belmont a month ago, they missed 26 of 48 free throws and lost by three points. At home against Texas last night, they missed 23 of 47 free throws and lost by three points again. Take away Marcus Paige, who is the only dependable player on the team in any facet of the game, and the Tar Heels shot a combined 37-82 (45 percent) from the free throw line in the two losses.
After the game, Roy Williams said: "You've got to be tough enough to step up and make the dadgum thing or go play soccer." No discussion of form, practice, hands, nothing like that. It's not about execution. Free-throw shooting is mental. You've got to be tough enough. Williams said that twice: tough enough.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM The seniors on the Duke women’s basketball team get one more shot at this tonight — at least during a regular season.
The game they may have been dreaming about is here, since they’re undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the nation heading into their battle with No. 1 and defending NCAA champion Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic.
Connecticut has won six straight in the series and leads it 9-3. Duke’s best showing against UConn under seventh-year coach Joanne P. McCallie was a 61-45 loss here two seasons ago.
It’s the first time a No. 1 has visited a No. 2 since Connecticut’s 88-58 romp over UNC in 2009.
And once again it isn’t really close, as the Huskies are never challenged in the second half in rolling to an 83-61 win.
N.C. State has been able to coast through its first four women’s basketball games of the season, beating outgunned opposition by an average of 32 points.
The Wolfpack won’t likely win like that today.
This time first-year coach Wes Moore plays for the first time against a major opponent when Tulane (4-0) visits.
Wake Forest alum Lisa Stockton’s team, like the Wolfpack, was in the WNIT last season. But Tulane won 25 games.
This is the schools’ first meeting in women’s basketball. If State wins today, it could be considered one of the school’s best athletic victories since the baseball sub-regional last spring.
This time State establishes control in the first few minutes and holds a working margin throughout, cruising to a 59-46 victory.