When No. 9 North Carolina visits UNC Wilmington on Friday evening, coach Roy Williams will reacquaint with one of his former assistants in C.B. McGrath, who is in his third season as head coach with the Seahawks.
Williams offered McGrath a walk-on position on the Kansas basketball team in 1994 when he was the head coach of the Jayhawks. For the next 22 years, McGrath was by Williams' side as a player and an assistant coach at both Kansas and North Carolina.
The visit to Wilmington is another chapter in Williams' basketball annals, where he schedules road games against in-state mid-major competition. The games are a boon for those schools, as the 5,200-seat Trask Coliseum is sold out for the contest.
Both coaches picked up wins in their season openers, and for North Carolina, it was the coronation of another five-star talent in point guard Cole Anthony. He set the school record for points by a freshman in his debut with 34 and also grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out five assists in the Tar Heels' 76-65 win over Notre Dame on Wednesday night.
"Cole carried us tonight," Williams said. "We cannot depend on him being the only guy that's tough enough to get a rebound, tough enough to make a shot, but that was pretty impressive to say the least."
Anthony scored 21 points in a 32-13 second-half run that saw the Tar Heels lead by as many as 16 in the second stanza.
"His toughness is something that I've really appreciated since the first time I watched him play as a high school freshman," Williams said. "I think he's one of the toughest. Between those lines during conditioning, during the simplest little things. He is one tough nut."
The Tar Heels are looking for multiple players to consistently score besides Anthony. Garrison Brooks was the only other Tar Heel in double figures with 10 points, and no one else took more than seven shots.
Defense and rebounding are major concerns for McGrath, as UNC Wilmington had issues in both categories in a 103-83 win over Johnson & Wales NC on Tuesday.
"We work on ball-screen defense more than anything, and I felt pretty comfortable that we could get to our spots," McGrath said. "We were really inconsistent, and they took advantage of it."
Preseason polls placed the Seahawks in the second half of the Colonial Athletic Association after opponents scored 80.9 points per game and shot 47.3 percent from the floor last season.
The Tar Heels, who are usually among the top rebounding teams in the nation, amassed a 51-31 advantage on the boards against the Fighting Irish.
UNC Wilmington lost rebounding dynamo Devontae Cacok to graduation, so McGrath is looking for a more aggressive and assertive rebounding effort from everyone on the floor.
"We have been working on making contact early trying to keep guys off the offensive boards," McGrath said.
The Tar Heels took a 97-69 win over UNC Wilmington last season in Chapel Hill, and they have won all four games in the series.
--Field Level Media
Williams, McGrath reunite as No. 9 UNC visits UNC Wilmington
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