7 North Carolina Tar Heels

Nov. 23, 2009
Nov. 23, 2009

Table of Contents
Nov. 23, 2009

  • Feeling good and finally content with a reduced role in the offense, LaDainian Tomlinson is rediscovering the joy of running as San Diego makes its move in the AFC West


7 North Carolina Tar Heels

In his early teens, Ed Davis would tag along with his father, Terry, to Virginia Union's Barco-Stevens Hall for pickup games. At times the temperature in the gym reached 110°, but that wasn't the worst of it for young Ed. His opponents on the block were often Charles Oakley, Ben Wallace or dear ol' dad—all former Virginia Union power forwards, each with at least a decade of NBA experience. Says Ed, "I had to learn to not back down."

This is an article from the Nov. 23, 2009 issue

As the sixth man on North Carolina's championship team last season, Davis was similarly stout. Despite playing only 18.8 minutes per game, the freshman led the Tar Heels in blocks, and he averaged an ACC-best 14.0 rebounds per 40 minutes. "I wish I had his long arms and jumping ability," says Terry Davis, 42. "I'd probably still be in the NBA."

Those qualities—and his impressive NCAA tournament performance, including 11 points and eight rebounds in 14 minutes of the title game—prompted draftniks to project Davis as a lottery pick. But he returned to Chapel Hill because he didn't think he was ready for the pros. "It was an easy decision," he says. Now comes the hard part: morphing from supersub to superstar.

Like the last time they won the championship (2005), the Tar Heels lost four key players to the NBA and will rely heavily on a freshman class loaded with McDonald's All-Americans, headlined by forward John Henson and towering twins David and Travis Wear. Returning with Davis are senior forward Deon Thompson and 7-foot sophomore Tyler Zeller, who missed most of last season with a broken left wrist.

Last year North Carolina stretched opposing defenses with its three-point shooting, but 94% of that production is gone. To compensate, says coach Roy Williams, "we need inside scoring." The onus falls on Davis, who added 15 pounds of muscle this summer, worked on his low-post and face-up moves, and learned to hit an intermediate jumper—"like his dad could," says Terry. No longer a backup, he's still not backing down.



Roy Williams (7th season)

2008--09 record



13--3 (1st)

NCAA tournament

National champions

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PGLarry Drew II6'2"Soph.1.4 ppg1.9 apg
SGMarcus Ginyard6'5"Sr.1.3 ppg2.7 rpg
SFWill Graves6'6"Jr.4.0 ppg2.6 rpg
PFDeon Thompson6'9"Sr.10.6 ppg5.7 rpg
PFEd Davis6'10"Soph.6.7 ppg6.6 rpg
FJohn Henson*6'10"Fr.17.6 ppg6.1 bpg

Returning starter

* High school stats


Nov. 15 Valparaiso

Nov. 19--20 Ohio State*

Nov. 23 Gardner-Webb

Nov. 29 Nevada

Dec. 1 Michigan State

Dec. 5 at Kentucky

Dec. 12 Presbyterian

Dec. 19 at Texas†

Dec. 22 Marshall

Dec. 28 Rutgers

Dec. 30 Albany

Jan. 4 at Coll. of Charleston

Jan. 10 Virginia Tech

Jan. 13 at Clemson

Jan. 16 Georgia Tech

Jan. 20 Wake Forest

Jan. 26 at N.C. State

Jan. 31 Virginia

Feb. 4 at Virginia Tech

Feb. 7 at Maryland

Feb. 10 Duke

Feb. 13 N.C. State

Feb. 16 at Georgia Tech

Feb. 20 at Boston College

Feb. 24 Florida State

Feb. 27 at Wake Forest

March 2 Miami

March 6 at Duke

*2K Sports Classic in New York City (also California, Syracuse)

†Cowboys Stadium


During a 19-day span in December the young Tar Heels play three top five teams: Michigan State, Kentucky and Texas. The national-title-game rematch against the Spartans is the only one in Chapel Hill, giving UNC its best chance to prove it still belongs among the nation's elite.

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PHOTOBOB ROSATOED DAVIS The future lottery pick put off the pros; now his young team needs him to morph from supersub to superstar.PHOTO