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Tar Heels In The Bahamas

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Kendall Isaacs Gym is where UNC played exhibition games four years ago and where it will again this weekend.

North Carolina’s basketball team is in the Nassau, Bahamas for a quick vacation and to play a pair of exhibition basketball games.

The Tar Heels will play Friday and Saturday evenings, tipping off Friday at 5:30. The game was originally slated to air on YouTube, but was removed. As of this writing, we are't certain it will be avaiable or not.

]The NCAA allows teams to participate in an exhibition away from American soil once every four years, so as the Heels did four years ago when they also played a pair of games at Kendall Isaacs Gym, which is where they will play this weekend.

This trip suits UNC Coach Roy Williams just fine. The place, the distance, the cuisine, the Bahamas has it all.

“I don’t want to get on a plane and fly seven hours and bring them back (prior to the trip) for 10 days of practice,” Williams said. “It’s an easy flight, it’s a great place to go, everybody enjoys it – some of our alums go and they enjoy it. Great food, and so it’s a vacation but you get some basketball done.”

The NCAA also allows teams to practice 10 times in preparation for their summer exhibition games, but the Tar Heels will only work out five times – twice while in the Bahamas – before playing Friday night. Williams said it was important to not take all of the players’ summer vacation before classes begin Aug. 21.

This is a business trip, though. After all, Carolina’s season-opener is 80 days after Friday’s exhibition. So the Heels aren’t that far away from playing games that will matter. So, they hope to get something out of this weekend’s action.

“We want to get our freshmen used to playing at a faster tempo than they’ve ever played seeing how they fit in,” Williams said. “And it gives us an early indication of how fast we may be able to go when we start preseason.”

Competition

UNC will take on the Bahamas All-Stars on Friday at 5:30, and Saturday at 3:00 it will face StarSports Basketball. But it should be noted that the last time the Heels were down there, they split two games, falling short to a team that included DeAndre Ayton, who had a big game versus the Heels. Ayton was the top pick in the NBA Draft this past June.

“We were introduced to DeAndre Ayton at a very young age at 15 or 16 years old and he had like 21 and 15 against us,” Williams recalled. “I think we lost one game down there in the three previous trips and it didn’t hurt us.”

What To Look For

It’s not January, so don’t expect to see the Tar Heels in mid-season form. Williams has no clue what his rotation will be this winter, but this visit will help him get a better idea of some things.

The thing most people will want to see is the freshmen trio of Nassir Little, Coby White and Rechon Black. How good are they and how well are they already meshing with a very experienced returning group?

Also, what do sophomore big men Garrison Brooks, Sterling Manley and Brandon Huffman look like? They will be very important to this year’s team if the Tar Heels are to seriously contend for the national championship. Manley, in particular, will be interesting to see play.

Cam Johnson won’t play, but Kenny Williams and Luke Maye will. Most UNC fans have a good idea of what to expect from them. But what about Seventh Woods? Is he a legitimate contender to win the starting point guard job? This weekend might offer some insight there.

What about Andrew Platek and Brandon Robinson?

This is an exhibition, so it’s wise to not read too much into what happens. But it’s important at the same time, otherwise Williams wouldn’t do this.