For the record this is the first time I have attended Late Night with Roy. It is also my first time attending any kind of "midnight madness" event except for the one I went to at UNC Greensboro while I was in school there. So as I headed to the Dean Dome tonight with my two oldest children in tow, I sort of expected it would be some skits, some basketball and that is it. As it turns out, it was that but there was also a revival meeting or political convention feel to it.
ESPN personality and UNC graduate Stuart Scott was the emcee for the evening and after the band played a rousing rendition of "Here Comes Carolina" and "Tar Heel Born", Scott kicked the event off with an interesting "speech" about the greatness of UNC in athletics and athletics. He pontificated briefly on how if you were a student there then it was special and being an alumnus of UNC was also special. It was a foray into "Carolina Exceptional-ism" on Scott's part which is fine. This was an audience of UNC partisans and Scott serving the "red meat" like he was a chef at the Angus Barn. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it was interesting considering the cloud hanging over UNC right now. If I were to speculate, it appears Scott was responding a little bit to that cloud. I also doubt Kentucky or any other school kicked off their event in such a way.
Anyway, there seemed to be a concerted effort to leverage the popularity of the basketball team to spotlight the Olympic sports at UNC. Representatives of those teams marched into the arena. It was nice nod to those teams. However in addition to these introductions, all through the evening were were shown videos of the men's and women's basketball team competing against members of these other athletic teams in their chosen sport. Needless to say the basketball players failed miserably which was a nice illustration of how specialized athletes are and how, despite their prowess as being some of the top players in the country, they are worthless against the women's volleyball team.
After the women's basketball team was introduced and participated in a relay that netted a regular student a new iPad, the men's team was introduced to the expected fanfare. Of note during the introductions? Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald were announced together. Now this is probably a trivial thing but then again it is a statement of sorts. Strickland is technically the sole senior on this team and according to UNC tradition is recognized as the team leader. That being said, McDonald and Strickland came in together but are now a year apart due to McDonald's redshirt last season. The fact they chose to be introduced together is a statement they both consider themselves the "senior" leaders of the team even though only one of them actually is.
As is tradition, the men's team came out in three groups of four to do dance routines. If anyone thinks hazing is dead they would be sorely mistaken after watching the four UNC freshman do a ballet routine wearing tights and tutus. The other dance routines were salsa and broadway followed by a full team dance which included the coaches.
Then(finally) came what everyone showed up to see which was the twenty minute Blue-White scrimmage. Overall it was pretty uneventful. J.P. Tokoto did do a 360 windmill dunk in warm-ups and Brice Johnson threw down a halfourt alley-oop. Outside of that, there wasn't much to report. Blue won 37-27 with P.J. Hairston leading the way with 12 points and two made three pointers. Marcus Paige and Joel James played well. James Michael McAdoo did not. Leslie McDonald and Reggie Bullock were mostly non-factors. Dexter Strickland was held out for precautionary reasons. He will fully practice on Saturday with the rest of the team which is when the real work begins.
The big takeaway from this event is the outpouring of support for Roy Williams. In the wake of Williams' recent health scare, a huge reaction from the crowd was fully expected. When Williams came onto the court he was greeted by the raucous crowd. During the team introduction, the announcement of Williams led to an extended ovation. This was an emotional moment for Williams and touching addition to an overall entertaining evening.