By Adam LucasThe head coaching personality of Hubert Davis continues to take shape over the last two weeks. The Tar Heels had their first fall practice on Sept. 28, and have been on a regular in-season practice schedule since then.
A Davis-led practice begins with player-selected music during pre-practice shooting and stretching and is very high energy. The head coach accepts absolutely zero short cuts. As players have consistently said, Davis is a player’s coach. That sometimes carries a connotation of being willing to accept less than maximum effort. That is unquestionably not the case with Davis.
On one occasion at Wednesday’s practice, a player drew a charge while most of his teammates were at the other end of the court. Davis stopped practice and firmly told his team, “The next time I see someone on the floor, I want to see every other guy helping him up. You can’t stand there and go, ‘Oh, good hustle.’ We are a team.”
Davis also places a premium on defensive communication, an area where graduate transfer Brady Manek excels. But it isn’t just basic talking that the Tar Heels are requiring this year. Instead, Davis is emphasizing communication that is “early, loud, clear and constant.”
Notes: The Tar Heels practiced with Atlantic Coast Conference officials on hand earlier this week to ensure they are getting in game rhythm with someone blowing the whistle other than the assistant coaches. The session also gave players the opportunity to ask questions of the officials about certain calls and get instruction on how and why specific calls are made…
A practice day never goes by that Davis’s Tar Heel background doesn’t shine through. On Wednesday, the head coach was instructing Kerwin Walton on a defensive nuance—Walton’s defense has been a preseason emphasis—and told him, “You can’t be cool getting over to that spot.” He didn’t quite say that he “hates cool,” as Roy Williams often did, but the meaning was the same. The Thought for the Day on Wednesday’s practice plan was attributed to Bill Guthridge, one of several Thoughts that have been credited to Dean Smith, Williams or Guthridge…
After almost an entire season with zero fans in attendance, there’s even more excitement about Late Night this year from the players. Asked what he’s looking forward to most this year, Dawson Garcia said, “The fans, 100 percent. I can’t wait to bring them back. The last time I played in front of fans, I was in high school. This is on a way bigger scale, and I perform the biggest on the biggest stages.” More information on Friday’s Late Night festivities is available here…There’s been plenty of time devoted to Caleb Love possibly making the sophomore jump after an uneven freshman season. Don’t forget that R.J. Davis, who has had some impressive practice moments, is also capable of making that leap. Davis’s shot has looked more consistent and he understands the tempo Hubert Davis is requesting from his point guards. Just like last year, managing turnovers at the point guard position will be very important and has been a constant preseason emphasis…
Yes, this year’s team will have better spacing. And yes, this year’s team most definitely will have more weapons who can score from the perimeter (part of Friday’s Late Night festivities will include a three-point shootout and it will be interesting to watch Walton and Manek go head to head). But that doesn’t mean Carolina will abandon a focus on inside scoring. An offensive emphasis at practice this week was dominating points in the paint, whether by posting up, dribble penetration or offensive rebounding. Armando Bacot has been extremely impressive around the basket and has made noticeable progress from his first two seasons…Keep an eye on GoHeels.com and Carolina Basketball social media channels on Thursday for an exclusive story and The Intro video on Dontrez Styles.
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