College Hoops: Late Night With Roy
By Aaron Beard
CHAPEL HILL ó North Carolina offered the first glimpse of the talent and experience that has made it seemingly everyone's preseason pick for No. 1.
Tyler Hansbrough, the reigning national player of the year, and Danny Green turned in big scoring efforts in the Tar Heels' intrasquad scrimmage Friday night, part of the annual "Late Night with Roy" show that serves as the ceremonial kickoff to the season.
But North Carolina also got a strong performance from lanky 7-foot freshman Tyler Zeller, who paired with Hansbrough up front and seemed to find himself around the ball just about all night.
Zeller unofficially finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds in the scrimmage, showing a good shooting touch from about 15 feet while pulling down five defensive boards in the first 31/2 minutes.
"Tyler really runs the floor well," senior guard Bobby Frasor said. "In practice, he just gets out and he can beat some of the guards down the floor, and that's an amazing quality for a 7-footer to have."
This was one of the last pressure-free moments for a team widely picked to win the national championship. The 20-minute public scrimmage followed a 40-minute show complete with jokes, dancing and skits by the players, and pyrotechnics ó all while Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams and his assistants watched and laughed from the bench.
The show included the team's five seniors ó wearing Carolina blue graduation caps and gowns ó sitting at midcourt and reminiscing about their playing careers while showing video clips of highlights and bloopers. The entire team donned blue suits and danced to Sammy Davis Jr.'s "Hello Detroit," site of this season's Final Four.
The highlight: Frasor's taped spoof of Williams continually falling on NCAA logos in the driveway of his home, at the Smith Center and on the golf course ó a reference to Williams' irritation with the midcourt logos that he said were dangerously slick during last season's tournament.
That's not to say it was all fun and games once the ball was tipped. Frasor ended up with a bloody nose when he took a flailing elbow from Hansbrough, his roommate.
Hansbrough played with his typical determined style, finishing with 22 of the Blue team's 48 points. On the White team, Green finished with 23 points, including three 3-pointers from behind the longer-range arc.
The Tar Heels return the top six scorers from a team that won a school-record 36 games and reached the Final Four, with Green, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington deciding to withdraw from the NBA draft after declaring as underclassmen during the offseason. They are joined by one of the nation's top recruiting classes in Zeller, 6-10 forward Ed Davis, point guard Larry Drew II and guard Justin Watts.
Davis finished with six points and found himself bodying up to Hansbrough several times.
The Tar Heels' experience "helps (the freshmen) come along a lot faster and learn little tricks of the game," said Green, a senior. "When we came in, we were just thrown into the fire and had to be welcomed by playing in games. But for a lot of those younger guys, it helps them a lot for when they get in the games. We have some of the best guys in the country on our team. They won't face guys much better than they face every day in practice."