by David Cassilo / @dcassilo
The season officially kicked off on Monday, but the real start seemed to be on Friday night when the top-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels took on Michiigan State on the USS Carl Vinson off the coast of San Diego in the Carrier Classic. Playing in front of President Barack Obama and the first lady, North Carolina easily defeated the Spartans 67-55.
While many will talk about the tremendous scenery and novelty of playing in the ocean, Roy Williams will be much happier about the defense that his team played. It was clear that the Tar Heels could score with any team in the nation but after holding Michigan State to 30.2 percent shooting, opponents have one more thing to worry about.
Keying that defense was John Henson. The junior had 12 points, 7 rebounds and a career-high 9 blocks. Harrison Barnes, who like Henson decided to come back to Chapel Hill for another season, tallied a game-high 17 points.
But back to playing on an aircraft carrier. North Carolina Head Coach Roy Williams has a few national titles under his belt, but even those might not top Friday night for him.
From The San Diego Union-Tribune:
“I had no idea what to expect,” said North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who wore cargo pants tucked into beige combat boots. “I thought it would be something that would be great, and it was. It was a thrill for me. One of the neatest things I’ve ever done. … Hopefully I’ll coach another 10 or 15 years. It will be hard to top this.”
The Tar Heels will follow a rare season-opening test with a string of games against teams from lesser conferences. Their No.1-ranking should be safe until they host Wisconsin on Nov. 30.