It’s the first season in many years where the UNC women’s basketball team is being led by a different head coach. As the players adjust to new leadership, head coach Courtney Banghart is settling into her new position and school too. Banghart led the team’s first official practice with lots of energy and passionate instruction last month. (Chapelboro.com)
Guthridge retired in 2000 and North Carolina turned to Matt Doherty, the head coach at Notre Dame and a player on the 1982 championship team, to lead the Tar Heels. Doherty had little success while at North Carolina. In his first season, the Heels were ranked #1 in the polls in the middle of the Atlantic Coast Conference schedule and finished with a 26–7 record. The bottom fell out the following year, as the Tar Heels finished the season with a record of 8–20, the worst season in school history. They missed postseason play entirely for the first time since the 1965–66 season (including a record 27 straight NCAA Tournament appearances) and finished with a losing record for the first time since 1962 (Dean Smith's first year as coach). They also finished 4–12 in the ACC—only the program's second losing ACC record ever. The 12 losses were six more than the Tar Heels had ever suffered in a single season of ACC play, and placed them in a tie for 7th place—the program's first finish below fourth place ever. The season also saw the end of UNC's run of 31 straight 20-win seasons and 35 straight seasons of finishing third or higher in the ACC.
While historic Carmichael Auditorium was under renovation, the women's team played the 2008–09 season at the Dean Smith Center to the south of campus. The final game at the old Carmichael was an 82–51 rout of local rivals Duke in front of a sell-out 8,010 attendance, completing an unbeaten home and conference season. Upon reopening, the building's name was changed to Carmichael Arena.
Kerwin Walton, the 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Hopkins (MN), visits North Carolina this weekend for his second official visit. Walton took his first official visit to Arizona last month. Paolo Banchero, the 6-foot-9 forward from O’Dea (WA), visits Tennessee for his fourth official visit. Banchero, who said he will remain in the class of 2021, visited UNC in September. (Zag's Blog)
The following year, the Tar Heels were ranked #6 in the AP preseason poll, having lost Paige and Johnson but retaining 2016 ACC Tournament MVP Joel Berry II as well as forwards Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks. After early season losses to Indiana and Kentucky, the Tar Heels won their 31st ACC regular season title. Despite never being ranked #1 in the AP Poll and losing to Duke in the semifinals of the ACC tournament, the Heels earned a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament, where they advanced to their record 20th Final Four and 11th NCAA tournament title game. They beat Gonzaga 71-65 to give Williams his 3rd national championship, surpassing mentor Dean Smith for most NCAA tournament championships at Carolina, and behind only John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski, and Adolph Rupp for most NCAA tournament championships overall. Just as in the previous year, the Tar Heels finished with a 33-7 overall record and a 14-4 ACC record.
Bryce Thompson and Kerwin Walton could be fighting over the same scholarship. Walton visited UNC last weekend and will head to Miami and Cal next. Thompson is done with visits, and Kansas and Oklahoma may be difficult to beat. Donovan Johnson fits UNC's needs on the wing, and his visit to Chapel Hill this weekend could steer him away from Arizona. (Rivals.com)