Ladies, gentlemen, enbies, and Tar Heels altogether not bound by the constraints of gender, it’s finally time for basketball season: Or, at least, it’s time for the first ritual of basketball season, which precedes the actual season by a month but does enough to get us excited for what’s to come this winter: The event formerly known as Late Night With Roy, which is now apparently being called Late Night ‘N HD, will tip off at the Smith Center at 7:30 PM Eastern, and we will get our first look at both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, both of whom are looking to rebound from first-round exits in last year’s NCAA Tournaments and make deep runs with revamped rosters.
An underrated aspect to this year’s late night event specifically is that it will be the first time since March 2020 that the teams will be able to play in front of fans, and home fans at that. For this year’s sophomores, like Caleb Love, R.J. Davis, Kerwin Walton, Deja Kelly, and Alyssa Utsby, it’ll be the first time they’ve ever seen a UNC crowd, after a season of playing to empty stadiums and their only interactions with their fans being through the toxic filter of social media. Actually, between the women’s team’s youth and having a few transfers, 11 out of its 14 players have never played in front of a UNC crowd. The same is true for 8 of UNC’s 15 players: 3 sophomores, 2 first-years, and 3 transfers. I, for one, am glad for them to finally get an opportunity to experience being Carolina players with a community of people supporting them in real time, not just basketball players happening to wear Tar Heel Blue.
The event will apparently be seeing some changes under Davis’ first year as coach. In an attempt at outreach to the fandom, the event will be emceed by Brian McLaughlin, or @BDAHT, a local comedian, radio host, and UNC influencer. BDAHT absolutely bleeds Tar Heel blue, and I think his combination of youth and deep knowledge of the program’s legacy are exactly the kind of energy Davis is looking for around the program, and I’m sure Banghart welcomes it as well. The agenda has changed, too: Roy Williams thought the best way to get to know people was to see them doing embarrassing things, so he planned dances and skits and that sort of thing to endear his players to their student peers. Players had been noticeably more checked out of that kind of thing towards the end of his career, making it less fun for the audience as well, and so it looks like that idea has more or less been scrapped. Instead, we’ll see the players be introduced and go through skills challenges, including a three-point contest, and probably pay homage to the program’s basketball history — InsideCarolina doesn’t get much more specific than “a focus on basketball.” And of course, we’ll end with women’s and men’s scrimmages, which we will doubtless overanalyze in the coming weeks.
How to Watch:
If you’re not able to make it to the only free event the Dean Dome holds each year, Late Night will also be streamed via ACC Network Extra, available through espn.com/watch or the ESPN App, or directly through this link. A cable subscription with ACC Network access will probably be required. Marcus Ginyard, the former UNC guard, will be providing color commentary for the scrimmage.
Sound off below on what you’re seeing!