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UNC Basketball vs. Loyola (MD): Three to Watch

The games now count, here’s what we are looking for.

Elizabeth City State v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

On the...Heels...of a great football weekend, it’s time to go a little further south on campus and turn our eyes to the Smith Center. That’s right, folks, it’s time to...

The 2021-22 basketball season tips off tomorrow night! Here’s three things to watch for as we embark on yet another basketball season

Hubert Davis

I mean, this one is pretty obvious isn’t it? For months since he was hired, we’ve heard about how the new coach at UNC is going to modernize the offense with spacing and three point shooting. It’ll still be the UNC style, fast paced, but more space to bring it in line with most modern college programs. His early success in the transfer portal plus success at recruiting for beyond this season has brought a ton of optimism to Chapel Hill, but in the end most of us just don’t fully know what all of this is going to look like. With all of the roster turnover, we are looking for clues as to how the future of UNC basketball will look like. We may not know everything after one game, but considering the roster rotations only went about eight deep the majority of the time against Elizabeth City, it’ll be curious to see how that changes when the game actually counts.

Most importantly, Davis is only the fifth coach to sit in the head coach’s chair since 1961, so it’ll be interesting to see how much he wants to stay tied to UNC tradition and how much he wants to inject some new things into the culture.

Point Guard(s)

It sure seems like that Coach Davis has settled on playing both Caleb Love and RJ Davis at the start of the game, giving the team two ball handlers, and the first time Carolina will have that true look on the floor since the 2017 National Championship team. It creates a dynamic that is really difficult to defend, as either player could run the floor and call out the plays, while the other spaces out to take three point shots. That both were named a team captain, an honor voted on by the team, gives you a sign as to just how much the two have become trusted by their teammates.

Ultimately, no matter how many different rotations the team uses and how much Davis wants to shoot the three, a UNC team is still going to run through its point guard(s). We’ll see how a full offseason with in person coaching, summer scrimmages, and full practices have improved both of their games.

Fans

Just as awesome as it’s been to see fans and students back in the stands at Kenan, tomorrow night will mark the first time that the Smith Center will have the ability to have full capacity in the regular season since March 2020. That means students in the risers, the band belting “Here Comes Carolina” as the team runs out of the court, and cheers with every made shot. It’s going to be fun to see, even if those fans will have their faces covered with masks. It’s yet another sign we are inching back to normal life during the COVID pandemic, and it’s hopefully a site we’ll see all season.