Previewing Gardner-Webb

A new cast of Tar Heels opens the 2012-13 season on Friday against Gardner-Webb. Tip-off at the Smith Center is set for 7 p.m. and will be televised by the Raycom Sports Network.

North Carolina (0-0) vs. Gardner-Webb (0-0)
Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
Friday, 7:00 p.m.
RSN (Mike Hogewood, Mike Gminski)


"It's a great opportunity for us. We want to play a national schedule. It's our goal every year to have a top-10 or top-15 program on our schedule." Gardner-Webb head coach Chris Holtmann

"We're going to learn a lot about our team. We want to take an attacking, aggressive approach and get what we want coming out of this stretch. I'm proud that the last two years we've had some competitive battles with a lot of people. We led all of Division I in two-possession games last year. We hope will have the ability to stop people more and give ourselves a chance to win more of those." – Holtmann


2011-12 Season Review: Gardner-Webb posted a 12-20 overall record last season, including a 6-12 mark in the Big South Conference. Head coach Chris Holtmann's squad played a trio of major conference teams – all on the road – and lost all three games, falling to Clemson (65-44), Indiana (73-49) and Wake Forest (67-59). Gardner-Webb struggled down the stretch, losing 11 of its final 14 games.

Preseason Poll & Accolades: The Runnin' Bulldogs were picked fifth in the South Division and received the ninth-most votes overall in the Big South's preseason poll. Fifth-year senior guard Tashan Newsome (12.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg) was named preseason second-team All-Big South.

A Complete Returning Starting Five… Newsome headlines the returnees as he enters the 2012-13 campaign as one of the Big South's top returning scorers and rebounders. Point Guard Tyler Strange (4.3 ppg, 2.9 apg) led the team with 87 assists, while athletic wing Donta Harper (5.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg) emerged late in the year with five double-digit scoring games. Post players Kevin Hartley (6-foot-6, 235 lbs) and Mike Bryon (6-foot-10, 245 lbs) have playing styles that seem to complement each other. Hartley has an ability to step out beyond the arc (34-of-104 from 3 in '11-12), while Byron connected on 52.8 percent of his field goal attempts (67-of-127).

… With an Influx of New Talent: Top reserve Max Landis (9.5 ppg) may as well be considered a member of the starting lineup, given his 23 starts last season, but beyond the 6-foot-2 sophomore guard, the Runnin' Bulldogs roster is ripe with new bodies. A trio of freshmen – guards Isaiah Ivey and Logan Stumpf and forward Jerome Hill – join sophomore point guard Jarvis Davis (transfer from Central Florida) and junior forward Onzie Branch (Cloud County JUCO) in adding to the bench. A sixth player – former Texas A&M guard Naji Hibbert – will have to sit out this season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.

Reverse Homecoming of Sorts: North Carolina sophomore guard Luke Davis is quite familiar with Gardner-Webb. After all, the Raleigh, N.C. native earned Big South All-Freshman Team honors after starting 30 of 32 games for the Runnin' Bulldogs in 2010-11. Davis averaged 7.2 points and 4.2 assists per game, while setting a freshman record for assists with 135. After the season, Davis's high school coach at Ravenscroft contacted the UNC staff and the 6-foot, 172-pound point guard was soon in Chapel Hill as an invited walk-on.

Random Note of the Day: Holtmann's 14-man roster represents nearly one-fourth of the nation as the players call 12 different states home. Only two states – North Carolina and Texas – appear more than once under the roster sheet's hometown heading.

Last Meeting: The 12th-ranked Tar Heels defeated the Runnin' Bulldogs, 93-72, on Nov. 23, 2009. Deon Thompson, Tyler Zeller and Ed Davis combined for 53 points and 28 rebounds in Roy Williams' 599th career victory. UNC shot 56.1 percent (37-of-66) from the floor, while holding the Bulldogs to 37.7 percent shooting (26-of-69, 15-of-36 on 3-pointers).

Series History: North Carolina leads the series with Gardner-Webb, 3-0.

Projected Starters:
2 Tyler Strange (5-9, 175, So.) - 4.3 ppg, 2.9 apg
3 Tashan Newsome (6-3, 200, Sr.) - 12.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg
0 Donta Harper (6-6, 185, So.) - 5.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg
24 Kevin Hartley (6-6, 235, Sr.) - 5.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg
54 Mike Byron (6-10, 245, Jr.) - 5.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg

Top Reserves:
10 Max Landis (6-2, 175, So.) - 9.5 ppg
15 Jarvis Davis (6-0, 180, So.) - Univ. of Central Florida
23 Onzie Branch (6-6, 215, Jr.) - Topeka (Kan.) Cloud Co. CC
34 Jerome Hill (6-5, 210, Fr.) - Adel (Ga.) Cook Co.
11 Isaiah Ivey (6-2, 190, Fr.) - Georgetown (Ky.) Scott Co.

Location: Boiling Springs, N.C.
Enrollment: 4,900
Conference: Big South
Nickname: Runnin' Bulldogs
Colors: Scarlet, White & Black
Head Coach: Chris Holtmann (3rd season)
2011-12 Record: 12-20 (6-12)

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(Photos by GWU Athletics & US Presswire)

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