basketball Edit

Ryan's Perimeter Surge a Boon to Heels

CHAPEL HILL – North Carolina is in the heart of a season where stakes and spirits soar, Cormac Ryan, UNC's seasoned sharpshooter, is hitting his stride at this crucial juncture.

Standing at 6-foot-5, Ryan's journey through the collegiate ranks—spanning Stanford, Notre Dame, and now Carolina blue—has culminated in a final year where every shot, every game counts more than ever.

Good thing for Ryan and the Tar Heels, as his season-long slump shooting from the perimeter appears over after he was 4-for-7 from outside in a 96-81 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday at the Smith Center. It followed a 4-for-9 effort from beyond the arc in a loss at Syracuse earlier in the week.

Despite starting the season with a shooting percentage (31.7 percent) barely above his career low (31.6 percent), Ryan's recent performances signal a return to form. He is 10-for-21 from theee in UNC’s last three games, and 36 percent in its last seven.

Ryan is dispelling doubts and affirming his role as a critical offensive weapon for the Tar Heels. With 141 career games and 256 three-pointers to his name, his volume of experience is unmatched, offering a blend of reliability and sharpshooting that UNC desperately needs.

“Cormac with being more in rhythm from three now adds another combination with his reputation as an elite shooter and that just opens up our offense even more,” UNC coach Hubert Davis said after the win over the Hokies.

Ryan's knack for elevating his game when it matters most, evidenced by his 52 percent shooting from three during NCAA tournament play, highlights a player who thrives during the right time.

"Just continue to believe in myself,” he said Saturday. “That is one of the most important qualities in a basketball player and person is just to never doubt yourself, when things get tough you gotta keep going.”

UNC's Cormac Ryan was 8-for-16 on 3-pointers this past week and is 10-for-21 in the last three games.
UNC's Cormac Ryan was 8-for-16 on 3-pointers this past week and is 10-for-21 in the last three games. (Kevin Roy/THI)

Ryan's shooting not only contributes directly to the scoreboard but also plays a strategic role in UNC's game plan. UNC's record speaks volumes about his impact: in wins Ryan shoots 39 percent, yet UNC is 1-4 in games when he attempts more than 12 field goals. This delicate balance underscores Ryan's importance not just in scoring but in making the right decisions on the court.

Beyond statistics, Ryan's leadership and work ethic stand out. Known for his meticulous preparation, Ryan follows a pre-game credo.

"No shooting shirt, always tucked in,” he said, describing his shootaround. His commitment to improvement and confidence in his abilities resonate throughout the team.

"I believe in myself, the team believes in me, and I'm going to continue to take shots and make shots."

Hubert Davis recognizes Ryan's evolving role.

"With the combination of him, Harrison (Ingram), and RJ (Davis) now, you got three guys that are shooting at a high level,” he said. “And that does give more space for Armando, give space to our guards.”

As UNC (20-6, 12-3 ACC) gears up for the end of regular season, particularly a critical face-off against Virginia up next, Ryan's narrative of overcoming adversity will be tested as he hasshot very poorly against UVA in his career, hitting 3 of 14 from beyond the arc.

His journey is one of belief, resilience, and timely resurgence, underpinned by the unwavering support of his coach and teammates.

"My whole life, I always worked on my jump shot," Ryan reflected.

Ryan rolls into his last month and half of his collegiate career with all of his game experience, made shots, missed shots, wins and losses. His focus remains steadfast.

“Make, miss, continue to be aggressive, and try to win games,” Ryan said with confidence.

At the end of the day, shooters are going to shoot. Ryan just happens to be a really good shooter.