Hubert Davis officially started his chapter as the head coach of his alma mater, 1-0, with an 83-67 victory over Loyola Maryland inside the Dean Smith Center Tuesday night. With many of his family, former players and former teammates in attendance, Hubert admitted the historic moment hit him as he walked into the tunnel post-game, causing him to become emotional.
The #19 ranked Tar Heels started the game 2-3 from downtown, with a couple of trifectas from Caleb Love and newcomer Brady Manek – who will be a crowd favorite in the Carolina Blue. Manek, who showed tremendous versatility on the low block, went to work early and often inside the paint against a smaller Loyola squad that had zero answers on the interior.
Brady scored 20 points in his debut, second only to leading scorer Caleb Love who had 22 points and zero turnovers. Coming to UNC out of Oklahoma, Manek was regarded as a consistent deep threat – fitting the mold for the typical stretch four that UNC has historically produced dating back most recently to National Champion Luke Maye.
Davis’ ideal lineup will be able to stretch the floor with all five players – forcing defenses to adapt to UNC’s style of play and not vice versa.
This was Caleb Love’s first game shooting over 50 percent from the field with zero turnovers. Taking the next step as the floor general of UNC requires maturity, growth, confidence and grit – all the characteristics Love revealed on a national stage Tuesday night.
“I came back to UNC to win a National Championship,” Love told to me when I asked about improving his game from year one to year two.
North Carolina had four players in double figures, and surprisingly this didn’t include Armando Bacot, who had a quiet night with eight points and six rebounds. His presence wasn’t needed since Brady Manek imposed his will every chance he touched the rock. Kerwin Walton finished with 11 points – shooting 50 percent from downtown. Dawson Garcia finished the contest with 12 points and 9 rebounds.
Passing the torch
Former UNC head coach Roy Williams was in attendance, but sat away from the team. Roy didn’t want the focus to shift from Hubert Davis, and rightfully so. The reins were handed to Huber to have full control of this UNC team with no disruptions, and UNC did not disappoint on opening night. No
Next for the 19th ranked Heels is a home contest versus Ivy league Brown Friday night, 9 PM at the Dean Smith Center.