Lucas: Late Night Stakes
Earlier this week, nearly 150 Carolina students lined up at the Smith Center with one resolute, noble purpose: to take money out of the wallet of Roy Williams.
Fortunately, the head coach was there to help them.
As part of this year's Late Night with Roy festivities, staff members passed out wrist bands to students at various points on campus. The approximately 125 students who received a wrist band assembled at the Smith Center on Tuesday night to attempt a half court shot. Those who made the shot would advance to take a similar half court shot in front of the Late Night crowd, with big stakes: for every shot that's made at Late Night, Roy Williams will donate $1,000 to the Lineberger Cancer Center.
As you might expect from a randomly selected sample of students, some of Tuesday's shots were...slightly errant. Others, however, were more accurate, including two students who nailed the shot.
The first was Caleb Waters, a Winston-Salem native who is pursuing a journalism degree. His swish even earned him a high five from Williams himself, who stopped by to watch most of the proceedings.
The coach's presence added an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging task. It's fairly difficult to make a half-court shot. But make a half-court shot...on the floor of the Smith Center...while the head coach of the Tar Heels watches from the sideline? That's tougher than beating Tyler Hansbrough in ping-pong.
"It was an honor to take the shot in front of Coach Williams," Waters said. "What he is doing to raise money for cancer is a great cause and it speaks volumes to his character."
And then there was Jon Tostoe, a junior from Asheboro, who had absolutely no intentions of participating in the halfcourt challenge. He was merely playing basketball on campus when he was approached by Late Night staffers.
They asked him if he wanted to shoot a halfcourt shot at the Smith Center, and although he doesn't particularly consider himself a trick shot expert, he agreed. And that's how he became the other student who drained the shot that earned him a spot on the Late Night program.
Tostoe, who managed to convert his Duke fan mother into someone who, he says, "at least can act like a Carolina fan," is a longtime Tar Heel. "I've been watching Carolina basketball since I was little, so this is nuts," he said.
It's likely to be a little more nuts next Friday. The No. 11 Carolina volleyball team plays at 5 p.m., ensuring an early and rowdy crowd, and then the Late Night festivities--including the return of the Blue/White scrimmage--commence at 7 p.m. In addition to Tostoe and Waters, a dozen other students were randomly chosen on Tuesday night to participate in the Late Night shooting contest, all in an effort to get an even bigger donation for UNC Lineberger via the wallet of the Tar Heel head coach.
Tostoe, for one, says he won't obsessively practice over the next week, despite the fact that he'll be attempting a high degree of difficulty shot in front of 20,000 of his closest friends. "I've got to keep it light," he said, "or otherwise it won't be fun."
Adam Lucas is a GoHeels columnist and the editor of CAROLINA.