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Column: Davis points to new era for UNC men’s basketball

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I’ve attended more press conferences in my life than I can remember, not because the numbers are so high, but because it’s usually pretty boring business.

I don’t want to bemoan the folks who make sure this sports reporting industry exists (if they never spoke we would have a lot less to write), but you can usually predict most of what will be said before there. arrive.

I don’t think I could have ever predicted and I probably won’t soon forget Hubert Davis’s introductory press conference as the head coach of the UNC men’s basketball team. The level of emotion and sincerity he brought to this moment caught me completely off guard.

For years, Roy Williams has brought a certain level of cheeky sarcasm to the job that made the few times he really made himself vulnerable, like after losses to Clemson and Duke last year, all the more remarkable. But by the time Davis was there, speaking of his trip up to that point, he immediately made it known that he was going to wear his heart on his sleeve while in the head coach chair.

What exactly this means for the program, I couldn’t tell you. I’m not a Division I basketball player, and I don’t think I could ever have the mentality of a player, but at least things will be different.

After two mediocre years where talent looked better than North Carolina’s results, maybe different isn’t such a bad thing.

Williams has made it clear that he no longer thinks he is the right man for the job, and I don’t think it’s out of his turn to say that college basketball, with both on and off the field, was going to pass it completely as soon as possible.

Davis has previously joked on ESPN about the need for tall men who can shoot, which at least means he plans to move UNC in a modern direction. Carolina’s offense, while not static, is at least very similar to the same thing Dean Smith was directing 60 years ago, it’s also a style of play that’s really hard to deal with with a group of youngsters. guys.

Williams has proven he can still coach really great teams (the Tar Heels were a No.1 seed in the NCAA tournament two years ago), but it was led by talent and experienced players. This combination is rare these days, especially if you’re chasing top-notch leads who won’t stick around every four years like UNC has.

Will Davis go in on day one and reject the principles the school has relied on for decades? Absolutely not, and he said it himself, “The foundation is established here in Carolina.”

But he also knows that the game has changed. You don’t have to tell the best statistical three-point shooter in school history that shooting matters. Davis watched firsthand off the bench last season as his team shot an abysmal 31.8% out of three. You can’t play the game swapping three for two, especially not when UNC’s best offensive advantage might not even be here next year with most of the frontcourt possibly gone.

I would expect North Carolina men’s basketball to look more modern next year. The transfer-palooza that could come means it’s impossible to predict what the UNC roster will actually look like, but I’d be surprised if Davis didn’t target a modern tall man who can stretch the floor.

Davis said all the right things in his introduction, but college basketball is a cruel world where the everlasting saying is’ what have you been doing for me lately? If Davis’s team starts out slow or looks like an outdated attack with poorly equipped players, a good-humored sincerity will only keep him in the coach’s chair for so long.

@bg_keyes

@dthsports | [email protected]

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