Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Young Tar Heels Kept Focused By NBA Alums

The North Carolina Tar Heels will most likely be the preseason #1 in every major basketball poll.  They return all starters to an Elite Eight team that includes three potential NBA lottery picks.

Everywhere they go everybody is telling them they are going to win ANOTHER NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship…Well, almost everybody.

Seems as the fine tuned machine that is the UNC basketball machine includes a cog assembled entirely of humble pie as some hoop’s alumni have taken responsibility for keeping the players' egos in check.
Three times a week this summer, former North Carolina stars like Sean May, Raymond Felton, Marvin Williams and Shammond Williams have roughed up the current Tar Heels in spirited five-on-five pickup games at the Smith Center.

On most days the former pros won the best of five round robins, but on the one day in July when the youngsters prevailed there was no shortage of trash talk.  We aren’t saying the pros lost on purpose to teach 2011-12 Heels a lesson, but the alums promptly won 13 out of 14 games over the next two days…

According to the blog, The Dagger, “It keeps us humble," sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall said. "If all we saw were the rankings that had us preseason No. 1, we might have slacked a little bit, but having the pros here keeps us working hard. When we have players like that beating up on us constantly, it makes us realize we do have things we have to get better at."

The annual summer pickup games have been a staple for some time but things took a turn when Instead of mixing current and former Tar Heels on both teams, the college boys brashly requested the regular matchup be their best five taking on the pros' best five because they relished the chance to defeat their elders.
The vets are happy to do it to keep the kids focuses.  Sean May recalled how his national championship teammates lost their mojo early and dropped their season opener. 

"Us coming back during the summer and beating up on the current guys, it brings them down to earth and humbles them a little bit," May said. "For the most part, we've handed it to them all summer. I think that's a good thing because otherwise their focus can drift and their confidence can get too high."

 In all likelihood the Heels toughest opponent might well be themselves as they return Harrison Barnes, 6-foot-10 Henson,  7-foot Tyler Zeller all of who bypassed the NBA draft in order to make a championship run.  Ol’ Roy has impressive point guard Kendal Marshall to run the ship and has, as usual, added some Hamburger Heroes including 6-foot-8 James McAdoo.

"I think we're a lot deeper than we were a year ago and a lot more confident in our abilities," Marshall said. "Last year, we weren't sure how good we could be. This year we know how good we are and we just have to prove it."

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