LAHAINA, Hawaii – The Chaminade Silverswords were hoping to channel their 1982 team who beat top ranked Virginia in what some have called the biggest upset in college basketball history, when they took on the 4th ranked Tar Heels in their opening game of the 2016 Maui Invitational, but North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks were having none of it. The two combined for 42 points and 16 rebounds – shooting an impressive 75% from the floor – leading North Carolina to a 104 – 61 victory. And although Roy Williams’ disgust from the Tar Heels first half struggles against Hawaii Saturday was motivation enough, it may have been the threat of reduced minutes that fueled UNC’s big men to have the best combined game of their careers.
“He threatened us by saying, you know, we can’t outguard them or score in the post,” Hicks said after the game. “Being 6’8″ and somebody 180, I’m 230, like not being able to score, he would go small. No point of having us in the game if we can’t provide anything.”
Roy Williams added that his game plan was to work inside out and that starts with getting the ball to Hicks and Meeks.
“If they play like that, if you look at 7-of-7, 8-of-13, and 5-for-6, if our big guys play like that offensively, shooting the ball, it’s going to be hard for other people to handle.
There’s so many different ways to win in basketball and I’ve always stressed I want to have good balance. I want to be able to score inside first, because I believe that the best way to get an advantage is to get you in foul trouble.
So we always emphasized go outside first. Now against a team we played tonight, they really didn’t have very much size, not a true post player. So it was emphasized even more.”
Division II Chaminade held on a long as they could against the bigger, stronger, faster North Carolina in the first half, trailing by only 4 points with a little over seven minutes remaining before the break. But the Tar Heels ended the period on a 17-4 run and took a 16 point lead into the locker room, all but ending the Silverswords hopes of pulling off the ultimate upset.
“It’s pretty obvious to everybody, the size and the strength was the overwhelming factor of the game, Chaminade Head Coach Eric Bovaird said after their defeat. They had 23 offensive rebounds. And what did we have? A total of 23 rebounds. So that was a major factor of the game. But it doesn’t take a coach or a rocket scientist to figure that out.”
If UNC can get this type of production consistently from Meeks and Hicks, they’re going to be VERY dangerous come league play.
The Tar Heels advance to play undefeated Oklahoma State, who defeated UConn 98-90, in the second round the Maui Invitational.
- Chaminade’s Rohndell Goodwin had an impressive night for the Silverswords scoring 18 points on 7-13 from the field and had no problem letting us know he could hang with the likes of North Carolina and if it weren’t for eligibility he’d be playing D1 ball.
I feel like I can play with anybody. I just wasn’t eligible to go to Division I. That’s why I’m here with Chaminade. I just go in the same game with the same mindset.
- Isaiah Hicks had a career high 22 points for the Tar Heels.
- Although the game was played in Chaminade’s home state, Tar Heel faithful were out in full force making up nearly two thirds of the game crowd.