Whether you are heading to the beach, the big city, or another country overseas, the summer is a great time to travel.
A summer vacation might be your opportunity to recharge the batteries, or it might be a chance to visit that one place on your bucket list where you always dreamed of going. You may choose to relax by the pool and do nothing for an entire week, or you might decide to stay busy by taking in the sights and sounds around the area.
If you are one of those people that likes to be on the go, vacations can be a great opportunity to go on tours and explore the region. You may travel to an area in order to try the local cuisine, see where your favorite television show/movie was filmed, or tour a national park/historic site/landmark.
If you are a UNC Basketball fan and still looking to make last minute plans for a summer vacation, let me be your travel guide.
Here are some travel destinations in which you can relive some of your favorite Tar Heel moments from the 2016-2017 basketball season while visiting some pretty cool places at the same time.
Head south to the place where it all started for the Tar Heels in 2016, as the team opened up the season on the road at the Smoothie King Center against the Tulane Green Wave. New Orleans has historically been a special place for UNC Basketball, and the first game of the season gave fans a glimpse into what might be another special season for the Heels.
The game also was a precursor of what was to come throughout the season for a number of individual players. Justin Jackson and Joel Berry each started off the year with new career highs in points, while Kennedy Meeks had a new career high of 15 rebounds in the game. Jackson’s performance especially gave fans hope that he was going to be the scorer the team ultimately needed if it was going to be a successful season.
The long flight to Hawaii is well worth it when you arrive in paradise. Not only is it a beautiful part of the country, but it is also the site to one of the best early season tournaments in college basketball.
Going into the season, UNC looked like it was one of the 10-15 best teams in the country. After the Maui Invitational, the Tar Heels very much looked the part of one of the best teams in the country and one that could contend for a National Championship. They defeated a decent Oklahoma State rather easily going up-and-down the court, and then turned around and defeated a ranked Wisconsin team at a much slower pace.
Historically, UNC has had a lot of success in the tournament and the 2016 tournament was no exception. There were a number of parallels to the past, in that he last two times that the Heels won in Maui (2004, 2008) they went on to win the National Championship. Also, North Carolina got stellar play in the tournament from their point guards, who each won the Tournament MVP (Berry, Ty Lawson, and Raymond Felton). It wouldn’t be the last tournament MVP that Berry would win this season.
Head back west to Las Vegas, which was the site of the CBS Sports Classic and one of the most exciting/entertaining college basketball games of the year.
It was certainly not the result or the lights out 47-point performance from Malik Monk that UNC fans will want to remember; however, knowing what we know now, this game would help prepare and motivate the team later down the road in the NCAA tournament.
This game showed that the Tar Heels would be able to compete with the best teams in the country, even with one of their better players (Theo Pinson) on the sideline injured. Also, for all the hype that Monk received after this game (and rightfully so), it also propelled Justin Jackson into the national spotlight as an elite scorer as well (another career high of 34 points), as he went back and forth with Monk.
Not only will you get to visit one of the best college towns in America, but you will also be visiting one of the most historic places in college basketball history. After dining at one of the fine establishments along Franklin Street and walking through one of the most beautiful college campuses, head on down to the Dean Smith Center.
There have been numerous historic events that have taken place in that building over the years, but in just this past year alone it witnessed Roy Williams’ 800th win, another home victory over the Blue Devils securing an ACC Championship, and Michael Jordan proclaiming that “The ceiling is the roof.”
Note: If you wait to travel to Chapel Hill until later in the summer, you might even get to see some additional hardware in the Basketball Museum.
After chowing down on some great barbecue and listening to some good music, you can head over to the FedEx Forum to see where one of the greatest shots in UNC Basketball history took place. If they will let you walk to the spot on the court where Luke Maye hit the game winning shot over Kentucky to send the Tar Heels to the Final Four, you can recreate the shot over and over again.
This game was not only a very entertaining back and forth battle between two of the most decorated programs in college basketball history, it also showed how great of a coach that Roy Williams is, as pointed out in this Jay Exum piece. Coach Williams and the team learned from their earlier season loss to the Wildcats, and they game planned to where Monk and De’Aaron Fox were not going to have big games like they did earlier in the season in Las Vegas. Again, as pointed out in the Exum piece, the late game coaching and preparing his team throughout the season for that moment enabled the Tar Heels to execute the game winning shot effectively.
To be honest, I don’t know exactly what there is to do in Glendale, but I am sure it is a very nice city. All you ever hear about Arizona in the summer time is in reference to dry heat.
Since it will probably be extremely hot outside, head over to University of Phoenix Stadium, which is home to the Arizona Cardinals and the site of UNC’s 6th NCAA Championship. Somewhere around the 50-yard line you can re-enact Kennedy Meeks’ big block, Justin Jackson’s finishing dunk, any number of big shots hit by “the guy with not one, but two bum ankles” Joel Berry, Isaiah Hicks’ clutch shot in the paint, and Theo Pinson’s heaving of the basketball high into the air, as the team celebrates their championship victory.
Along with Kansas City, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Detroit, you can now add Glendale to your list of sites that any Tar Heel fan should visit to see where UNC National Championships were won and history was made.