To say this has been a spring and summer of change for UNC basketball is an understatement. Between Roy Williams’ retirement, the one time transfer rule leading to several departures and arrivals, NIL becoming the rule across college sports, and, oh yeah, coming out of a pandemic, it’s easy to forget that it’s been about four months since the Tar Heels took the court playing actual basketball.
They took one step closer to getting back to normal on Thursday.
The first official practice of the summer occurred on campus, which meant it was the first time the new iteration of the Tar Heels-complete with new head coach Hubert Davis-took the court as one and fans get to have an idea of how things will compare to the old regime.
As if to try to highlight the both the “more things change” and the “more they stay the same” aspect of Carolina Basketball, the social media team put out a five minute clip of this first practice. It included Davis mic’d up where you could hear him as he addressed his full team for the first time:
Mic'd Up ➡ Coach Davis— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) July 8, 2021
First official day of practice as head coach, and Coach Davis was wired up #CarolinaFamily pic.twitter.com/nzB048P3jD
If you listen to nothing else, listen to Davis’ speech to start with the team about being thankful that the current players chose him. With the aforementioned coaching change and transfer rules, everyone on the court had the ability to make a choice to attend UNC under Davis, either by staying once Roy retired, or coming in as a recruit via transfer or first year. The speech gives you a hint as to what likely convinced each of them to be on that floor Thursday.
The rest of the clip is typical basketball practice items, but one note to see is the layup drill where everyone on the floor is supposed to get five lay-ups in a very short amount of time, without misses. It’s clear that while some aspects of the program may change-namely three-point shooting and stretching the court-the vaunted Carolina break is going to stay. Also, the time Davis spent emphasizing the point to the passer, a simple act of unselfishness that will be key with a team full of players fighting to be on the floor.
Keep in mind that this isn’t even the full team. One day after this clip posted, Dawson Garcia announced he’s going to transfer to Carolina. With so many tantalizing storylines to look for in Davis’ first season, this peek at the first team practice is a great way to whet the appetite for what will be fascinating season, one like few other in Carolina basketball.