I may have seen the ghost of Tyler Hansbrough.
The Tar Heels had a herky-jerky start to the college basketball season against a game College of Charleston team. The comfortable margins at half-time (+9) and the final whistle (+19) belie the difficulty Carolina had scoring for stretches of the game. Five minutes into the second half, Charleston actually took a 1-point lead.
With senior ACC preseason Player of the Year Garrison Brooks struggling to find the bottom of the net, it was the team’s freshmen that provided the buckets. Point guard Caleb Love led all scorers with 17 points (8-8 free throw shooting), and R.J. Davis had 11 points, some of them through hard contact. But the most impressive player for UNC was the 6’11” center from Greenville, NC.
Day’Ron Sharpe was a heat-seaking missile hurtling towards the ball. He had a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 boards, using his size and bounce to snatch rebounds from the undersized Cougars. He was a menace on defense, hedging and retreating well, collecting two steals and a block.
Day’Ron also made slick passing plays, getting two assists; the first a beautiful high-low post pass to Armando Bacot for a dunk; the second, a slippery pass to a cutting Leaky Black for an easy lay-up. He was relentless in attacking the basket, and hit lay-ups from odd angles, utilizing more strength than finesse. He even hit his free throws, going 5 for 6. Sound familiar? This is the type of player that wins four straight games in Durham.
Ignoring 6’11” center Keegan Harvey (who did not appear until the second half), the tallest post that Charleston threw at the Tar Heels was 6’9”. Things will get more difficult for Sharpe as we get into ACC-play, but the grit, strength, and savvy shown by the freshman center should translate easily. There is an assuredness to his game that is quite comforting.
Enjoy watching Day’Ron Sharpe punish opponents on his way to the basket. This may be the only year you get to see it in Chapel Hill.