Late Night With Roy Recap
Tar Heels looking special.
What better place for a die-hard college basketball enthusiast to kick the season off than the home of whom most consider to be the early front-runner for the chip, North Carolina. Roy Williams has put together perhaps his most talented team yet in Chapel Hill, with two players (Harrison Barnes and John Henson) turning down the cash to bounce to the League in return for another chance at a National Championship. They won’t be alone, though.
Kendall Marshall is coming off of a freshman campaign that has led many to believe that he’ll be the next great point guard out of UNC. Tyler Zeller could have been a first-round pick, but didn’t want to risk a lockout (wise choice) and had unfinished business to settle. Wings Dexter Strickland, Reggie Bullock and Leslie McDonald all made considerable strides in their game from when we watched them at the NC Pro-Am. Even though it’s looking like McDonald is going to be down for the year after tearing his ACL, Bullock and Strickland both look like they’re ready to get buckets in his spot.
McDonald’s All-Americans James McAdoo and PJ Hairston both should get considerable burn as frosh and while 6-10 Desmond Hubert may not receive as much hype initially, he could easily be a guy who you’re talking about as a potential NBA player a few years from now.
The festivities at Late Night With Roy popped off with the UNC/Virginia women’s volleyball game. While I’m personally not much of a volleyball fan, the crowd was pretty hyped and UNC came away with the dub in two matches. On the bright side for the fellas in the Dean Smith Center, the ladies on both teams were quite easy on the eyes and had a higher vertical than 95 percent of the people in the arena.
By the time the basketball got ready to get going, the arena was in full capacity with glow sticks so bright that they literally hurt my eyes. Things were pretty typical during the start, with women’s introductions and pretty solidly choreographed dance routine. The Late Night talk-show followed for the girls and then came the men’s introductions. We’ll let top-25 player TJ Warren tell you about the atmosphere in a few words.
“It’s crazy out here!’ Warren texted while sitting courtside next to UNC recruits JP Tokoto and Marcus Paige at the Dean Smith Center.
The fellas had a legit dance that they put on for the fans, though it’s quite debatable whether or not they topped the performance that the ladies gave. A little freshman hazing in which the fresh meat performed to “Rock The Boat” in disco outfits and life preservers followed. A few more videos and some banter by Stuart Scott led to an old-school dance off between two Tar Heel seniors.
Justin Watts brought his crew against Tyler Zeller’s unit. Stuart Scott named Zeller’s boys the champs after the 7-footer gave the crowd a nice flex following his interesting dance routine. A few more videos followed by what absolutely sent the crowd into a frenzy: The introduction of Vince Carter.
Not gonna lie, the video that they showed of VC from his collegiate days did straight up give me goosebumps. I remember the days in middle school lowering the rim and doing my best impersonations of the Raptors’ swingman. The crowd had just as much love for him, too. Little did I know, they had quite the reason. Vince just donated $7 million to his alma mater, which is the third largest donation ever made by an athlete to his former college. If 7 large doesn’t show appreciation, I don’t know what does.
Shortly thereafter, the hoops actually popped off. The Blue team boasted a starting five of John Henson, Desmond Hubert, Harrison Barnes, Justin Watts and Dexter Strickland. The White Team countered that nasty five with a group of PJ Hairston, Tyler Zeller, Kendall Marshall, James McAdoo and Reggie Bullock. With the game being a mere 20 minutes, the fans only received a sneak peek of what the ’11-12 Tar Heels look like, but it was a good one.
Harrison Barnes straight up stole the show and showed everyone in the building why most feel he’s going to be the Naismith Player of the Year. The 6-6 sophomore was posting up every wing thrown at him, gracefully slashed to the rim, and hit a number of pull-ups that remind you why he would have likely been the No. 1 pick had he entered the 2011 NBA Draft. Fellow Blue team big man John Henson continued to build off of what was an amazing summer for him at the NC Pro-Am. Sporting a frame 20 pounds heavier than last season, the junior big man blocked a handful of shots and showed off a flurry of jump hooks with either hand down on the blocks.
For the victorious white team (who won 39-31), Kendall Marshall led the way with his crafty style of play. Not the fastest guy on the planet, he had no problems getting past guys off of the dribble with his unique change of speeds. It was a thing of beauty to watch the sophomore run the pick and roll, as he threaded the needle on a number of bounce passes to big men for finishes. One of those recipients was freshman James McAdoo, who gave fans glimpses of why many feel that he could have a Brandan Wright, one-and-done type of freshman season.
The event served as an amazing spectacle for the fans, who clamored the court for nearly an hour afterward hoping to snag an autograph from their favorite UNC player. For basketball die hards like myself, sure, we would have like to have seen a little more run. Either way, it was a great night of hoops and there was a reason that TJ Warren picked UNC’s midnight madness over any other one in the country.
“I just wanted to come out here and see what the atmosphere was like,” the 6-8 shooter said of his decision to fly back for Late Night With Roy. “It was ridiculous. It’s amazing how the tradition is carried on and on.”