(Read part 1 here.)
“Tobacco Road” was set ablaze when Roy Williams was named North Carolina’s head coach on April 14th, 2003.
Just one week after leading the Kansas Jayhawks to the National Championship game, the former Tar Heel assistant returned to his alma mater to become the head honcho. Athletic Director, Dick Baddour finally got the man he wanted to coach his basketball program.
Every college basketball fan across the country knew the Tar Heels were approaching greatness with the sophomore class of the 2003-2004 squad. It was difficult for the young team to adapt to Williams’s coaching style of playing as a team. Carolina failed to win 20 games in 2003-2004 for the third straight season. Tar Heel fans knew the program was headed in the right direction.
In the spring of 2004, Coach Williams was heavily recruiting J. R. Smith and Marvin Williams. Both players were high school All-Americans and sought by many universities. Smith decided to take his skills to the NBA, and he was drafted with the eighteenth overall pick by the New Orleans Hornets. Marvin wanted to be a Tar Heel. He knew going into the season that he would not be a starter, but he would receive a significant amount of playing time. He would make the most out of his playing time this year.
To begin this season, point guard Raymond Felton was suspended by the NCAA for playing in a summer league tournament. The tournament had been sanctioned by the NCAA up until this past winter, and tournament organizers failed to inform everyone of the change.
UNC traveled to California to battle Santa Clara in the opening game of the season. The Broncos battled hard and the Felton-less Heels were upset. North Carolina then went on a 14-game winning streak, beating a talented Kentucky team and destroying a gutsy Maryland team by 35 points.
With what many sportswriters call “the most talented team in the country,” the Heels have five players averaging more than ten points per game. A very deep bench allows them to keep players fresh and allows the whole team to get involved in the game. Sean May is having another monstrous year and Rashad McCants is looking to pass the ball to his teammates before he shoots. Seniors Jawad Williams, Jackie Manuel and Melvin Scott are stepping up to be leaders on and off the court. Freshman superstar Marvin Williams, whom many believe would be a lottery pick if he entered the NBA draft after the year, is averaging double figures and is constantly making SportsCenter for either stepping out beyond the three point range and knocking one down or making a flashy dunk. Either way, Marvin deserves the Freshman of the Year award.
After a shocking loss to Duke last week, Carolina went up to UCONN and pulled out a tough victory over a good Husky team. Right now the Tar Heels are 24-3, and they are my pick to win this year’s NCAA Tournament.