This installment to the Project 28 series features a mid-week ACC matchup between Carolina’s men’s basketball team and the visiting Demon Deacons of Wake Forest.
Home of the Tar Heels
One of the most storied basketball arenas in the country, the Dean E. Smith Center serves as one of college basketball’s biggest home court advantages. Home to some of the most memorable Tar Heel basketball games of all time, the “Dean Dome” seats over 21,000 fans any given night. The Smith Center features two levels of seating that include student sections as well as season ticket seating. Carolina’s home court features an outline of the state of North Carolina, and the rafters of the gym house a number of retired numbers and honored Tar Heel alumni, as well as the six NCAA National Championship banners.
Currently sitting in third place in the ACC, Roy Williams’s 2013 squad is now 16-6, including a 6-3 ACC record. Williams, who has accumulated 273 wins in his Carolina tenure, has already brought two national championships back to Chapel Hill. Led by vocal leader and sharpshooter Reggie Bullock, the team has bounced back from some early season adversity is beginning to hit their stride. Sophomores James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston are a big part of the turnaround, leading the team on the inside and behind the three-point arc. Freshman Marcus Paige is also playing some of his best basketball of the year. “My confidence is high as its been all year, and our team’s confidence has been really high too, shown through our balanced scoring.” Other key players, including senior Dexter Strickland, sophomores Desmond Hubert, Jackson Simmons and freshmen Brice Johnson and J.P. Tokoto, have also added valuable minutes to the ever-evolving rotation of this year’s team.
Tuesday night’s game against conference foe Wake Forest was a must-win contest for Carolina, who’s NCAA Tournament hopes sway on the bubble. The Demon Deacons, who came in ranked 9th in the conference, has been an enigma of a team, playing well enough to beat NC State at home and losing a close contest to Duke and then turning around and dropping games to Georgia Tech and Maryland by over 20 points. Consistently weak on the road, Wake Forest was simply out-manned and out-executed in their visit to Chapel Hill.
Carolina, who capitalized on a barrage of Demon Deacon turnovers, went into half on a 15-1 run and turned a 6-point battle into a 20 point blowout. “A big emphasis going into this game was to not turn the ball over, and obviously we did a terrible job of that, giving up 18 points off of 13 turnovers in the first half, and when you give a team that many baskets, it shatters the confidence of your team,” said Wake Forest Coach Jeff Bzdelik. The final score of 87-62 accurately reflected the dominance that the Tar Heels exhibited in their final home game before a pair of road games. Shooting over 60% in the first half as team, Carolina pulled away early and held the score out of reach for the remainder of the second half. Statistically, junior Reggie Bullock and sophomore James Michael McAdoo carried the team, scoring 23 and 20 points apiece in under 26 minutes to lead the Tar Heels. Sophomore P.J. Hairston, who sat out Saturday’s contest against Virginia Tech, was medically cleared for Tuesday’s game, and his 11 point performance off the bench help land the knockout punch on Wake.
Despite being a mid-week game against a lesser ACC opponent, the game’s attendance of 19,653 showed up with passion. The mixture of alumni ticket holders and student sections in the lower level got the team helped bring the team much-needed energy during the different scoring runs in Tuesday’s game. Sparked by band led music, Tar Heel traditional chants, and the speaker-blaring “Jump Around” track, the crowd remains active and alive throughout the course of the game. The most notable positive change in recent weeks has been the organized cheering of the student section, commonly during opposing free throws. Tuesday’s game against Wake Forest included a group effort to scream and jump in unison during a free throw, and then all sitting down and having a student in a banana student provide a solo dance distraction during the next. The Smith Center crowd came most alive in the game following a spectacular and-one layup finish by freshman Marcus Paige. “I was expecting to make a pass, but I just took it in and got the roll, all my teammates were excited when it when in, especially James Michael, and we are all just a bunch of unselfish players who love to see each other succeed,” said Paige. Even Wake Forest Coach Jeff Bzdelik commented on the effect the crowd played in the contest by paying Carolina fans a high compliment. “There are a lot of things you can’t simulate, you can’t simulate the athleticism and the quickness, you can’t simulate the bright lights, and you certainly can’t simulate the crowd and the moment.”
Stat of the Night
Eleven different players tallied double digit minutes and twelve different players scored in Tuesday’s game, showing the growing balance of the Tar Heel rotation. Of the eleven players who played double digit minutes, not a single one played more than 26 minutes.
Quote of the Game
“We are a little more mature and experienced, but it helps to have everyone healthy too.” – Coach Roy Williams on UNC’s three game win streak despite team injuries and sicknesses.
Carolina will hit the road for three of the next four games, including back-to-back away games at the top two ACC teams, Miami and Duke. Lacking a number of key victories against elite opponents on their résumé, the Tar Heels will have a great opportunity to come away with some season-defining wins in the next two weeks.
Our Project 28 series continues with a match between Carolina’s 24th-ranked volleyball team and the 16th-ranked Hurricanes of Miami.
Home of the Tar Heels
Home to the Tar Heel women’s volleyball team, Carmichael Arena is one of the most well-known landmarks on the Chapel Hill campus. “Blue Heaven” has served as the home to the volleyball team for the last two seasons since renovations were completed, and its average attendance of nearly 1,200 fans per match that has made it one of the toughest arenas in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Carolina is undefeated at home on the 2012 season with a perfect 12-0 record. The arena stands along South Road beside both Hooker Fields and Woolen Gym, and parking, especially for night games during the week and weekend matches, is available throughout campus along South Road, Stadium Drive, and inside of Cobb Deck.
Carolina’s 11-time ACC Champion volleyball squad has had a stellar 2012 campaign thus far. Carolina’s winningest head volleyball coach of all-time and three-time ACC Coach of the Year Joe Sagula is in his 21st season of coaching the Tar Heels. Sagula has led the volleyball team to five ACC first place finishes, and his team has made the NCAA tournament each of the past two seasons. Carolina’s 2012 squad is headlined by a star-studded returning cast, including 2011 All-ACC performers senior Emily McGee and sophomore Chaniel Nelson as well as 2011 ACC Freshman of the Year, sophomore Cameron van Noy. Carolina’s team is 21-4 and 12-3 in the ACC, sitting behind only Miami and No. 11 Florida State. Over the weekend, the Tar Heels defeated those teams and pushed their win streak to eight straight. “We’re peaking, but now we have to continue to play at a high level over a period of time,” said Sagula, “It’s the strongest I’ve seen our team to date, and we’ve got to keep it up.” With only five remaining regular season games, the Tar Heels are hoping to close out their regular season slate in the top tier of the conference in order to gain a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Friday night’s match against Miami was a redemptive contest for the Tar Heels who lost to the Hurricanes 3-1 in early October. The team came out of the gate ready to fight, as they swept Miami in straight sets 25-18, 25-16 and 25-18. “This team has made great strides, in the last three weeks in particular (since playing Miami), and tonight we looked like we were on in all aspects of the game,” said coach Sagula. Carolina flew out to early lead in each set, and the lady Tar Heels withstood Hurricane rallies after timeouts in each of the three sets to claim their 11th ACC victory of the year. “We tried to focus on every point, last time we let one point turn to two points turn to three points with a whirlwind of confusion, chaos and anxiety,” said Emily McGee, “This time we wanted to stay focused and treat each point like it was championship point intensity and comeback with intensity and fire.” Sophomore Lauren Adkins led the Tar Heel attack with 12 kills on 25 attempts, and senior Emily McGee added 10 kills and a team high 17 digs to lead the Tar Heels.
The actual game of volleyball on the college level is much more complex than the stereotypical backyard hit-the-ball-over-the-net game. A combination of formation changes, positioning and constant movement creates a blur of bodies all over the court. Each point starts with a serve and the average “possession” includes a dig to save the ball from hitting the ground, a set off of the dig, and an attempt at a kill. In general, the type of formations run by teams depends on the size and ability of the teams’ players. “We have such great balance, last year we were two or three hitter oriented, now we have six,” added Sagula. Carolina’s particular personnel featured what seemed to be two primary blockers, very tall players with significant verticals, two primary killers, who offensively attacked with smash hits, a libero, a shorter player who specializes in digging, and an additional shorter player who specializes in setting. The pace of play parallels that of tennis with the back and forth force of action, but with an added emphasis on the diving and acrobatic movements to dig shots and hit kills. The match consists of a best of 5 sets (also known as first to three), and the three set sweep of Miami on Friday featured an exceptionally executed effort by the Tar Heels to control the pace and flow of the game.
Enthusiasm and positivity are the first two words that can be used to describe a sport that may very well be the only sport where players never stop smiling. Volleyball matches are a mix of counter-attacking rallies of serves, digs, passes and kills. Every point seems to be played as if it were the last point of the match, and the constant yells and communication between players combined with the “oohs and aahs” of the crowd make for a tense collegiate athletic environment. “We’ve never an environment like this in my four years here,” added McGee, “It’s a great shout out to the Carolina student body and the great things they’ve been able to do.” The conclusion of each point won by the home team ends with players jumping up in celebration and hurrying into quick huddles as the announcer chants “POINT” and the crowd responds with a resounding “HEELS”. Volleyball is one of the few sports that excessive celebration is almost encouraged, as the benches could be seen doing synchronized cheers and the players on the court would celebrate with cheers of their own. The Carmichael Arena atmosphere was certainly electric for the match against Miami, as the Friday night game time allowed for a great turnout of fans. “Tonight they were psyched when they walked out and to see a crowd of 1600 to support them, we really love it,” said Sagula, “If we can have a crowd like that on a regular basis, imagine what we could keep doing.”
The stands at Friday’s match were filled with a mixture of families, local supporters, and the UNC pep band to spread around the individual seating area. The most surprising addition to the fan-makeup was the presence of several hundred students in the student section, nicknamed the “Block Party”, behind the team benches who stood throughout the entire game. “We have great fans, the most loyal fans we’ve ever had with the Block Party section that follows us and tweets us,” laughed McGee, “It’s great to see we get respect at a school that has a basketball and football focus,” Different sporting events all have certain traditions that are specific to their fans, and the volleyball regulars certainly had their own. Each set that the Tar Heels reached 20 points, the crowd would hold up their hands to count down each point Carolina won until the set-winning 25th point. The final set points were also some of the most entertaining, as the crowd would yell the letters “U-N-C” in progression of the Tar Heel hits, which would usually end in an explosive eruption of noise if the team clinched the set. The impact of the home court advantage has been a true inspiration to the team and their ability to remain undefeated in Carmichael Arena. “They said at the beginning of the year they wanted to go undefeated at home, and we are on pace to do it,” said Sagula, “We are going to fight a lot harder to defend their home court and we definitely draw inspiration from the fans and the students.”
Stat of the Night
Senior Emily McGee finished the three-set match with a .348 hit percentage with 10 kills on 23 attempts, which is an impressive performance. The craziest part of that statistic is that she had 0 attempts in the first set. McGee accumulated all 23 of her attempts in the final two sets after not even attempting one in the opening game. “I told her ‘be patient, your time will come’,” said Sagula, “It came in the first point of the second set, and she fired herself up and fired her team up and that’s exactly what you want from a senior leader.”
After beating both Florida State (3-1) and Miami (3-0) over the weekend, the team will head back on the road to visit Georgia Tech and Clemson on November 8th and 10th, respectively. The Tar Heels are currently sitting in third place of the Atlantic Coast Conference with five regular season games remaining before the NCAA Tournament begins.
Project 28 continues with a match between the Carolina’s fourth-ranked men’s soccer team and the Fighting Camels of Campbell University.
Home of the Tar Heels
Fetzer Field, named for former Tar Heel athletic director Bob Fetzer, is the home to the Carolina’s men’s and women’s soccer teams during the fall. The stadium resides just outside the heart of campus and located just behind Carmichael Auditorium and across from the football practice field and Teague & Carmichael dorms. Fetzer Field is an easily accessible venue, as fans can park nearly anywhere on campus and still be within walking distance, but the parking off of Stadium Drive and South Road is probably the most convenient.
Carolina’s team is coming off arguably their best season in school history, claiming the 2011 ACC regular season championship, ACC tournament championship, and the NCAA national championship. The 2012 team lost five starters from the championship team, including last year’s senior captain Kirk Urso, a four year letterman who tragically passed away in August of this year. The 2011 National Coach of the Year Carlos Somoano is in his second season at the helm of the Tar Heel soccer program, and his 2012 campaign has been equally impressive. The Tar Heels have been ranked among the nation’s top 5 teams all season, and their 12-2-1 overall record and 4-1-1 conference mark has them placed second in the conference. Last week’s battle between No. 1 Maryland and the No. 2 Tar Heels ended in a 1-0 overtime defeat, pushing the Heels definitively in second place in the conference and fourth in the nation.
Senior goalkeeper and Captain Scott Goodwin has continued his dominant collegiate career, setting the school record for career shutouts (35), and his 11 shutouts in 15 contests this season lead the conference. The offensive fire power of Carolina has been led by senior Martin Murphy and junior Andy Craven who lead the team with 5 goals each on the season, but junior Rob Lovejoy has also helped add a spark to the Tar Heel attack. Lovejoy, who scored 7 goals in 2011, has been sidelined since the summer up through mid-October due to an offseason surgery, but he made the most of his 2012 debut against College of Charleston, recording a hat trick that got him named College Soccer News National Player of the Week. Sophomore Mikey Lopez, the 2011 ACC Freshman of the Year, has been a solid midfield player for the Carolina midfield lineup and has helped the Tar Heels to their impressive start.
Tuesday’s contest marked the final non-conference regular season match for the Tar Heels, and they took full advantage of it. Campbell’s team entered with a 10-4-1 record, but the Camels were unable to compete with feisty offense of the Tar Heels. Dominating possession and controlling the ball on the Campbell side of the field, Carolina outshot the Camels 22 to 3 in an almost completely one-sided matchup. Junior Andy Craven showed why he is tied for the most goals on the team as he stole the ball from a defender and slotted it past Campbell’s goalkeeper just 18 minutes into the first half to give Carolina all they needed in the match. “We came out with a lot more defensive intensity all across the field, with the forwards and midfielders especially,” said Craven, “That was able to create a lot of chances on its own and put the other team under a lot of pressure, and they coughed up the ball a number of times.” Senior Martin Murphy wouldn’t allow Craven to take the team goal-scoring lead alone however, as he went airborne over a Campbell defender 20 minutes later and headed a shot into the goal to blow the game wide open. “Getting the 2 goals in the first half really opened things up and gave us a lot more chances to score,” said Coach Carlos Somoano, “We did a better job of pressing on the front six and closing down a little harder, which makes the offense more effective.” The Tar Heels controlled the ball the majority of the second half, and senior goalkeeper Scott Goodwin held his 11th clean sheet of the year and was only forced to make one save in the game. Senior midfielder Cameron Brown converted a penalty in the 75th minute, after a teammate was fouled in the box, to round out the final goal for Carolina as they held on to win 3-0. Campbell, though a smaller in-state opponent, has beaten two ACC opponents this year, including a 2-0 win over Carolina’s next opponent NC State.
The listed attendance for Carolina’s match against Campbell was much lower than usual, with only 418 fans showing up, including a fairly substantial Campbell support group. Generally the men’s soccer games have several thousand fans packed into the stadium with families, students and fans spread across the stands. Tuesday’s game was a more laid back environment, with a week night game against a non-conference opponent that was not sponsored by the Carolina Fever student section. However, the atmosphere of the game was anything but dull. The clear skies and temperature in the mid-60s made for ideal conditions, and the noise level as Carolina approached the opposing goal rose as if several thousand fans were in attendance. “The atmosphere is always great here at UNC,” said forward Andy Craven, “If its 100 people or 1000 people... and you we love to have a lot of people, it’s always fun to play, and whenever our fans are here they are awesome.” Pink pom-poms rained up and down across the stadium for each one of the three Tar Heel scores, and the combination of the beautiful fall leaves changing around the stadium and the weather created a fun environment. Throughout the first half, the Carolina marching band could be seen playing across the field on the football practice fields, and the presence of ESPN3 media cameras and announcers around the stadium created a distinct college athletic buzz. Following the final countdown by the dynamic Tar Heel announcer, the fans and team continued the alma mater singing tradition, and the glowing “3” painted on the field in memory of the late captain Kirk Urso created a feeling of contentment beyond the bounds of a single game victory.
Bet You Didn’t Know
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness, the team warmed up in hot pink shirts centered with a Carolina blue UNC logo. Although the team didn’t wear pink outfits in the game, the team sure enjoyed themselves in the pregame. When asked about wearing the pink warm-ups, junior Andy Craven and seniors Martin Murphy and Cameron Brown all got in a good laugh. “I didn’t really know we’d be wearing pink warm-ups, but we did it for breast cancer awareness,” added Craven.
Carolina will travel to Raleigh on Friday where they will face the conference’s second to last ranked team, NC State. “We’re going down the stretch here with two games left in the regular season and we’re trying to iron out all the little details,” said Coach Somoano, “We are really trying to squeeze ourselves to see if we can hit this last stretch playing our best.” The Tar Heels will return back home November 1st to face the Boston College Eagles before they look to defend their 2011 ACC Tournament championship beginning November 5-11.