* "In general, I wish that the show that the Euroleague represents continues to the enjoyment of thousands of fans throughout Europe. For my team, I wish we would be able to go further than Euroleague's Top 16," former Tar Heel Ed Cota told Euroleague.net recently when asked for his 2004 basketball wish list.
For that to happen, Cota's Lithuanian team -- Zalgiris Kaunas -- will have to qualify for the Top 16 round when eight of 24 teams are eliminated and then advance to Euroleague's Final Four, which will be held in Tel Aviv, Israel this year from April 29 to May 1.
Zalgiris is looking good for the Euroleague Top 16 at the midway point of the regular season with a mark of 4-3 in Group B. Cota is currently third in the EL in assists at 5.1 per game.
HOLMES ENJOYING PRO BALL IN ENGLAND
* Jonathan Holmes has been over in England for the past month playing point guard for the Leicester Riders (3-12) of the British Basketball League. Holmes has informed Inside Carolina via e-mail from the UK that "things are going really well. It has been quite an experience thus far, it being my first pro job and all, so i am enjoying it all very much."
"A week ago [the Riders] avenged a loss to one of the league's top teams, the New Castle Eagles, by beating them 105-78. It was probably my best overall game as a pro -- 7 points, 12 assists, 6 steals. Then, this past Sunday, we lost a close game to the defending league champions, the Sheffield Sharks, and I had 9 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds," Holmes added.
Since being overseas, Holmes has checked insidecarolina.com "quite frequently" to keep up with the current Tar Heels, and to see how his former teammates are doing. He also has access to the North American Sports Network (NASN) in England and got to see the UNC - Wake Forest triple-overtime classic. "It was amazing!" said Holmes.
The Leicester schedule lasts through May and Holmes noted he would keep IC updated on his season with the Riders.
LANG STARS FOR ASHEVILLE IN NBDL
* On Friday in Asheville, Kris Lang led the Altitude to a 108-92 romp over first-place Huntsville with 21 points (8-10 FG, 5-10 FT), 6 boards and 4 blocked shots. That ended Asheville's five-game losing skid and gave them their first home win of the season.
"Kris Lang was tremendous. With Brandon Kurtz out (ankle injury), Lang really stepped up," said Asheville coach Joey Meyer following the game.
Lang continued his impressive play on Saturday when the Altitude traveled to Huntsville, Alabama. Lang hit 8-of-13 from the field and made 4-of-5 free throw attempts on his way to 20 points, 11 rebounds and four assists as Asheville (4-8) edged Huntsville (10-5) 109-105 for a weekend sweep.
Lang has been bothered by a lingering ankle injury during the season and is averaging 9.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 27.6 mpg in 11 games played.
Asheville has a game at Fayetteville on Friday (Jan. 10) where Lang will meet up with former Tar Heel teammate Jason Capel of the Fayetteville Patriots (8-8). Since returning to the NBDL from overseas, Capel has played in six games (two starts) and is averaging 26.8 minutes, 11.0 points and 4.0 rebounds. He has a season-high of 20 points and is fifth in the D-league in free throw accuracy at 85.7% (24-28).
SOME TAR HEEL JANUARY BIRTHDAYS ...
* Max Owens: 1/1 (26) ... JamesOn Curry: 1/7 (18) ... Jennifer Thomas: 1/12 (23)... Jason Capel: 1/15 (24) ... Julius Peppers: 1/18 (24) ... Damion Grant: 1/18 (22) ... Lennie Rosenbluth: 1/22 (71) ... Kenya McBee: 1/23 (21) ... Vince Carter: 1/26 (27) ... Nikita Bell: 1/26 (21) and Tony Shaver: 1/28 (49).