Heels Like Longer Preseason

Heels Like Longer Preseason

by Emily Fedewa, GoHeels.com

CHAPEL HILL  - For the first time since its start in 2003, Late Night with Roy will not signal the beginning of this year's North Carolina men's basketball season.

The program, which usually kicks off a new season for the Tar Heels by marking the beginning of preseason practices with dancing, skits, a scrimmage and more, will now be held four weeks after those practices start.

The reason for this is a new NCAA rule that creates a more tailored start to the season for individual teams.

Instead of a universal start date of October 15 for everyone, each team can now hold preseason practices 42 days before its first game, which gives Carolina almost ten more practice days with which to establish an identity and a rhythm.

Head coach Roy Williams said that the longer preseason period will allow the coaches to build more rest days into the schedule to help prevent injuries and tiredness leading into the start of the season, while still practicing more.

"We're starting September 27 instead of October 18, so we can space (practices) out more," Williams said. "We will spread it out more and still get those extra practices in."

Sophomore point guard Marcus Paige agreed that a longer preseason allowing for more rest would benefit the health and stamina of the team.

"Coach (Williams) did a really good job," Paige said. "He spread out the days where we're going to go hard with lighter practices and a couple off days in between just to make sure we don't (get tired) before the season."

Although this extra practice time was not what junior forward James Michael McAdoo was expecting coming into his third season in Chapel Hill, he said it has its benefits.

Being able to ease into the season more than ever before is something McAdoo said he thinks will help the team, as well as each individual player.

 "I think definitely it'll be big for us coming together as a team and getting to know each other a lot better," McAdoo said. "For me, personally, I think (more rest) will definitely help."

"Just letting my body acclimate to the two and three-hour practices that it's not used to, and not having practice every day like we did last year, I think that'll be huge too."

The extra time afforded by this new system will also allow the Tar Heels, especially the newest ones, to adjust to Williams' philosophies and the team's energy much faster.

Paige, who didn't have this extra time for his freshman year last season, said the rule change is be a big advantage for this year's freshman.

"I think it'll help a lot just getting the new guys acclimated and getting them a couple more practices under their belt before they play," Paige said.

The added experience will help the freshman to step up when they're needed in games - which may be sooner than they think with the suspension of P.J. Hairston for, Williams said, at least a few games.

Because of Hairston's absence, Williams said he'll be utilizing the extra practice time to not only rest his players more, but also work with different lineups early on.

Williams is unsure what his system will look like for the first few games, but the extra preseason practices will give him time to figure out the identity of this team along with what it can do - and determining that will aid the Tar Heels in the long run as well.

"We're going to do more freelance earlier this year than we ever have," Williams said. "And focus on it even more because, at this moment, I don't know who we'll have for the first game, second game, third game. And I'm hopeful that that'll help us out a heck of a lot down the road too."


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