As I mentioned, I was in attendance at the UNC-Asheville game which marked the first time in 15 years I had seen the Heels live. Here are some observations:
- Brandan Wright is absolutely the real deal. Yes it was UNC-A but everything about the way he plays is intuitive. He has an incredible touch from about eight feet in and his moves are exceptionally smooth.
- Tyler Hansbrough had a quiet 15 points but the two things that struck me were (A) his ability to take contact and still hit shots. In fact I am convinced because he gets shots off the refs do not call fouls on opposing players as much as they would if he simply lost the ball and (B) he can handle the ball and dribble the ball extremely well to the point he is not limited to stop and find a ball handler on a break, he can bring it up himself and then pass when needed.
- Ty Lawson is scary fast which I already knew but watching it live is highly recommended. Lawson also has great court vision making passes I would not think were there. He is also learning when to push the issue and not which also leads to silly turnovers.
- UNC is young and while I am sure this has happened before this season for some reason it struck me more starkly when I looked down to see four freshman and a sophomore on the floor at the same time.
- Speaking of which, UNC has three freshman in the starting lineup and are they ever good.
- Roy Williams nearly got a standing ovation when he came out during pre-game warmups. It must be nice to have that kind of love coming from the fan base.
- Speaking of Williams, it was fun to be able to watch him. He is animated and intense as well as in a constant teaching mode with the players who come out of the game.
- Those four national title banners(five if you count the Helms Foundation title which is somewhat debatable) look really nice in the rafters. In fact the Smith Center is one of only four arenas in the nation that has at least four NCAA Championship banners hanging up. Only UCLA, Kentucky, and Indiana have more.
- On the other end are the retired and honored jersies which was interesting because in the long, illustrious history of UNC basketball only seven are retired. That says something about those seven given the players UNC has had in it’s history.
- The Smith Center is 20 years old this year and that does show. When it was built it was quite the arena but now lacking amenities like luxury boxes or a nice large scoreboard over the court it shows it’s age. The four screens in the corners is a nice addition.