If there were ever a basketball season that could not get here soon enough, it’s this one. After a magical run to the NCAA title game in 2022 that included retiring Coach K in the Final Four, Carolina entered the 2022-23 season with lofty expectations. Things obviously didn’t go as planned, as the Heels became the first team to miss the tournament after being preseason #1.
Thankfully, we are another step closer to getting the 2023-24 season tipped off as UNC had its first official practice this past Monday.
First *official* practice ️ pic.twitter.com/zUhbGlXEvP— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) September 25, 2023
The Heels experienced lots of turnover throughout the offseason with seven players transferring out, five transferring in, one player reclassifying, and another decommitting. The final result is a roster, while unproven playing together, appears more than capable of competing in the ACC. After being under a microscope last year, it could be beneficial that this group is flying under the radar a bit.
In the clips above, you can see newcomers Jae’Lyn Withers and Cormac Ryan, as well as returnees Seth Trimble and Jalen Washington, making some nice shots/plays. Withers and Ryan are both proven shooters who arrive with lots of experience. Trimble and Washington, meanwhile, are coming off very promising rookie campaigns and look to make that sophomore leap.
Hubert Davis wants to get back to playing Carolina Basketball. During a reportedly promising first practice, he stressed the importance of getting out in transition, communicating defensively, and dominating the glass on both sides of the ball. This group has a very nice blend of talent and veteran leadership, and the guys appeared to understand the message.
Towards the end of the practice, though, Coach Davis had to stop play despite a highlight reel dunk. After a couple players got a wide open fast break and executed an alley-oop off the backboard, Davis intervened to emphasize another message which was that they practiced for banners and not cell phones. In other words, make the simple play exactly as you would in a game, something last year’s squad struggled with at times. The players responsible took accountability and practice continued.
As these Tar Heels get further into the grind and closer to the season opener against Radford on November 6th, we’ll continue to find out more about this group. So far, there seems to be a heightened sense of urgency and a commitment to developing chemistry. The majority of these guys understand how tough it is to win in college basketball. With so many dudes that haven’t played together before, making sure everyone is on the same page is paramount. If this squad is able to find that cohesion, it could be a fun year for Carolina hoops.