Chapel Hill, N.C.— In less than a week, the official start of college basketball tips-off. In the meantime, teams are playing exhibitions in order to tune up for their first contest. Also, a theme across our country has been providing support for those impacted by the devastation of hurricanes. Four universities in the UNC system joined the efforts by having a jamboree to raise money to be donated to hurricane relief. The North Carolina Tar Heels, UNC Wilmington Seahawks, East Carolina Pirates and UNC Greensboro Spartans gave us a preview of their teams while giving back to areas in need.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper was on hand as part of the disaster relief fund.
There is a special connection between these four universities: all of the head coaches are from the Carolina basketball family. The tradition created by Dean Smith that was then carried on by Roy Williams is especially meaningful to Wes Miller and C.B. McGrath.
“I can’t even describe in words how much he’s done for me and this is just another example we’re so grateful that we were included. It’s great for our program, great for our team and a great cause”, stated coach Miller. He also added that coach Williams was instrumental in him becoming the youngest Division I coach in the nation.
The jamboree consisted of six periods played at 13 or 14 minutes per period.
Period 1: UNC vs. ECU — 13 minutes
Period 2: UNCG vs. UNCW — 13 minutes
Period 3: ECU vs. UNCW — 13 minutes
Period 4: UNC vs. UNCG — 13 minutes
Period 5: ECU vs. UNCG — 14 minutes
Period 6: UNC vs. UNCW — 14 minutes
Same tempo—different style.
UNC Wilmington has many new parts under new coach CB McGrath, but they were very impressive against UNC Greensboro. Defensively, the Seahawks held the Spartans to just two points in the first six minutes of the 13 minute period. The Spartans kept their poise and flipped the script to claw back into the contest before falling 19-16 to the Seahawks.
Devontae Cacok is looking to be even more of a force, if that’s even possible. On top of dding a mid-range jumper, Cacok is stronger and still punishing the rim from teammate alley-oops.
In their first competition against opponents in a different uniform, Coach McGrath has to be pleased with the effort of returning players in expanded roles, as well as the newcomers. The guards are the biggest question coming into the season with the graduation of Denzel Ingram and Chris Flemmings. The well isn’t completely dry as the perimeter has plenty of depth.
Jordon Talley led the way against ECU as the Seahawks pulled off another close game 24-22. Seahawks faithful should keep an eye on a couple freshmen, Jay Estimè and Jeffrey Gary. Both have the ability to stretch the floor, while Estimè also has the handle to create off the bounce.
UNC got hot in the final contest of the day knocking off the Seahawks 38-22. UNC Wilmington will be in the mix if they continue to develop their young talent and add in JaQuel Richmond, who is currently out with an injury.
Experienced guard play led the way for the Spartans at the Jamboree. As is evident in the results of their games, when the guards were on the Spartans had success.
The Spartans lit up the Dean E. Smith Center in their second contest against UNC. They shot 7-10 from the arc, four of which came from junior Francis Alonso. UNC Greensboro had four guys knock down at least one triple on their way to a 32-24 win.
In their final game of the day, the Spartans finished in a tie with 15-15. The Spartans scored just five points through the first eight minutes of the 14 minute period before mounting a charge late. Malik Massey connected on three three-pointers, including the final three to tie the game.