The North Carolina basketball team played Memphis last Saturday, but don’t bother wasting time scanning the internet looking for statistics or a result. They aren’t anywhere to be found. That’s because the game was a “secret scrimmage,” a closed-door matchup between Division I teams designed to help coaches prepare their teams for the regular season under game-like conditions. Other than players, coaches, trainers, officials and other essential support personnel, no one is allowed to attend the scrimmages. NCAA rules also prohibit scores and stats to be publicly announced — although word of mouth suggests that the Tar Heels won Saturday’s game and that junior guard Joel Berry was the best player on the floor. Teams are allowed to play up to two preseason games each, whether they’re “secret scrimmages” or traditional public exhibitions against overmatched Division II opponents. Although a growing number of coaches are opting for the more controlled, competitive environment of the closed-door contests, UNC’s Roy Williams still sees the benefits to playing an old-fashioned dress rehearsal — beyond the obvious financial windfall that comes with having a paid crowd in attendance. That’s why his Tar Heels are scheduled to play UNC Pembroke at the Smith Center on Friday night. Game time is 7:30 p.m. “Our business manager would like us to do two exhibition games because you make more money,” Williams joked recently when asked about his preseason preparation preference. “I’ve talked to coaches who do two scrimmages and think that’s the best. I like a little bit of a mix. “The scrimmage you can control things, you can correct them right at that moment. You get a different look in a practice scenario. The exhibition game gives you a chance to see how your kids react with people in the stands. I think you gain benefits from both of them.” While Berry and the rest of UNC’s veteran nucleus probably gained more from last week’s scrimmage in Memphis, Friday’s game at the Smith Center figures to be more important for the freshman class of big man Tony Bradley, shooting guard Brandon Robinson and point guard Seventh Woods. It will mark their first appearance in a Tar Heel uniform under the bright lights against a hostile opponent. Their rapid development is more important than ever now that junior Theo Pinson, the projected starter at small forward, has been sidelined until at least late December with a broken foot. UNC opens its regular season a week from Friday with a road game at Tulane. “It’s here,” Williams said. “We (scrimmaged) Memphis this weekend there’s an exhibition game then the next weekend we start. I really believe you don’t know that much about your team until you really get into the season.” Tar Heels meet ObamaPresident Barack Obama stopped by the Smith Center on Wednesday to meet with Williams and his players before addressing a rally on the Chapel Hill campus. Obama made several references to basketball in general and the Tar Heels specifically during the speech on behalf of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.This isn’t the first time the President has spent some time with the UNC basketball. In 2008, during his first campaign for the White House, Obama played a pickup game with the Tar Heels.
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North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams is “hopeful” that junior sixth man Theo Pinson will be ready to return to action soon. But it won’t happen tonight when the Tar Heels play Pittsburgh at the […]