Deacs Recap: The First Loss Is The Deepest.

OK, so the Heels took a 57-54 L to Wake in their ACC opener Thursday night. It happened. And it was … let’s be polite and say not pretty. I’m going straight to the numbers here because there is both hope and concern to be found therein.

Shooting splits: Carolina 34.8/11.1/66.7. Wake: 35.0/9.5/81.3. Turnovers: Carolina 15, Wake 14. Assists: Carolina 9, Wake 7. Fouls: Carolina 16, Wake 15. The theme here is that both teams played like absolute trash in basically every aspect of the game. The issue in this one was not the number of shots UNC missed, or how many times they coughed up the ball. It wasn’t even the fouls. All of those were pretty much equal for both teams. It was the KIND of fouls the Tar Heels committed.

UNC went 6-9 from the stripe on Thursday. Wake shot 13-16. Carolina fouled the Deacs much more often either when a player was in the act of shooting or after they were already in the bonus. In such a tight game, those kinds of mistakes have consequences. If those FT attempts are reversed, the Heels leave Winston Salem with a victory.

Let’s pivot to the positive side here. Jen Hoover is a very good coach and this Wake team started their season by doing the following: Hanging tight for a half with #14 Arkansas, beating Davidson, beating #24 Missouri State, and beating Charlotte. None of those games were at home. They have two legit All-Caps BALLERS in Gina Conti and Ivana Raca, both of whom have given Carolina plenty of trouble over the past few years, and they did so again in this game. In other words, this wasn’t a game we should be particularly upset about losing. (Note: this did not prevent me from screaming at the TV plenty on Thursday night.)

A few individual highlights right quick: Freshman Anya Poole made her second start of the year and put up 12 points, 11 boards, a dime, a steal, and two blocks. I want to specifically shout out Poole for some tenacious work on the offensive glass which she converted into put-backs more often than not. Janelle put up 11-8; admittedly below her usual standard, but still one of the better nights anyone in Carolina Blue had. Petra, despite a horrific no-show on three-point attempts, logged 12-3-3 and a steal thanks to some crafty dribble-drive work and nice finishing around the rim.

More positives: UNC should not turn in a shooting performance that poor again this season. I mean, Petra goes 2-6 behind the arc instead of the bagel she put up, they leave Lawrence Joel with a W. Every player on the roster has a ceiling somewhere between over and WAY over what we saw against Wake. Even the best players have bad games now and then, but the odds of Carolina self-combusting en masse like that again aren’t high. And I’ll keep hammering the point: this team is very, very young and even more unfamiliar with each other. Barring something catastrophic (which unfortunately is drastically more likely this year because *gestures wildly at everything*), they’re going to be so much better at the end of the season than they are right now.

As you probably know, tomorrow’s scheduled road tilt with #2 Louisville has been postponed while the Cards go through quarantine and contact-tracing protocols following some positive COVID tests in the program. We wish everyone within the Louisville Women’s Basketball family a swift and full recovery, and hope they remain safe going forward. Sending love and good thoughts from the Thrill to the ‘Ville, y’all.

PLEASE EVERYONE: BE SAFE AND WEAR A F******** MASK!!!!!!!!

Anyway, in far less important news, Carolina’s next game is back home in Carmichael on December 17th against Syracuse. If you’re reading this, I assume you’ll be watching anyway, but make a point to tune in for ‘Cuse PG Tiana Mangakahia. She missed last year while she was battling and then beating breast cancer, and is now back balling out as one of the best pure point guards in the country. We’ll see if UNC can handle her and the rest of the Orange as they look to bounce back. Until next time, be well, stay safe, and as always: GO HEELS!!!

Welcome, Y’all.

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Dearly beloved, friends, neighbors, Tar Heels the world over: this is a website dedicated to the love, coverage, and celebration of all things UNC Women’s Basketball. This being our inaugural post, some introductions are in order.

My name is Travis. Most of the writing you read here will be mine. Basketball has been my favorite sport since I was old enough to know what sports were, and I’ve been in love with women’s hoops ever since I was fortunate enough to watch the 1996 Olympic Team live and in person when I was a teenager in Atlanta. I’ve written a general sports blog since 2011, and last season I covered the ACC for Women’s Hoops World. I’m a diehard Atlanta Dream fan, but I never had a D1 college rooting interest until I moved to Chapel Hill.

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I moved here for my then-girlfriend, now-wife, Aggie. Aggie is pure genius with a camera and all of the photos you’ll see here will be her work. She grew up in a family of rabid Tar Heel fans (and is a third generation Heel herself), and carries an encyclopedic memory of all things Carolina athletics going back nearly four decades. She’s been shooting bands and sports for a long time, and her eye trains on angles and details that don’t so much capture the moment as put you on the stage or the field or the court. She can also eviscerate a ref from the stands more precisely and hilariously than any other human on earth.

Fun fact: the women’s basketball program at Carleton College, where Ags and I met (go Knights!), was literally founded by someone who played in the first game of basketball. Ever.

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How this came to be: we’ve had season tickets since the 2014-15 season. In that time, we have lived and died with this team more completely than any of our other sports rooting interests. We talk about the players like they’re our friends. We’ve cried, we’ve screamed our throats raw, we’ve clocked what felt like whole lifetimes through roller-coaster games in Carmichael. And we wanted to share that passion and heartache and joy with anyone out there who cares to come along with us. In short, this site will be powered by love.

(Note: We meant to have this operation up and humming before the season tipped off, but my grandfather, the last living grandparent either of us had left, passed away shortly before that and things just … spiraled. But we’re here now.)

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What we hope this will be: this is all something of an experiment. We’re going to try and replicate some of our favorite sports internet work here, and the things we gravitate to tend towards the eccentric. If you’re reading this, we assume you already read goheels.com for your previews and gamers and the like. There will be some of that here as well, along with analytics-based pieces (I am a huge nerd) and big-picture stuff about where the Heels are in the ACC and/or the national landscape. If we can wrangle it further down the line, hopefully some features on players, coaches, etc, as well. What we’re really after, though, is something in between Swish Appeal (if you like women’s basketball and don’t read them, you should fix that right now) and what Banner Society is for college football. A way to love this team and process the game that is broad, slightly silly, esoteric, and hopefully insightful and meaningful. We want to bring you good work, but also fun and irreverence. We want this project to amble off in unexpected directions from time to time. We’re going to take some big swings. We’ll probably screw a few of them up, but we beg your forgiveness in advance and hope you’ll stick around.

Welcome to Rally ‘Round The Well, y’all, cheer our Tar Heel teams like hell. Let’s have some fun.