Displaced by Florence, UNCW to begin preseason practice in Chapel Hill

The Seahawk men's and women's basketball team will practice at UNC until their campus reopens, possibly as early as next Monday

UNCW's men's and women's basketball teams will begin preseason practice on Tuesday in Chapel Hill (Eamon Queeney/North State Journal)

  With classes still at least a week away from resuming and their campus still closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, the men’s and women’s basketball teams at UNC Wilmington will begin their preseason preparations in Chapel Hill.

  The announcement was made in a joint statement issued this weekend by both UNCW and North Carolina.

  “We’re very grateful to the North Carolina staff for their generosity and hospitality in allowing us to conduct practice in Chapel Hill,” UNCW athletic director Jimmy Bass said. “It’s been a difficult two weeks for all of our coaches and student-athletes. This will give them an opportunity to be together again and prepare adequately for the upcoming season.”

  The Seahawks men, coached by former Roy Williams assistant C.B. McGrath, are scheduled to go through a brief workout in Chapel Hill today before officially starting fall camp at the Smith Center’s practice facility on Tuesday. Coach Karen Barefoot’s women’s team will also begin practice Tuesday at Carmichael Arena.

  Both teams will return to Wilmington once their school’s campus is reopened to students. That could happen as early as Saturday, when residence halls are expected to be reopened according to a statement issued by UNCW chancellor Zito Sartarelli. The statement indicated that classes are likely to resume as early as next Monday, “subject to the status of ongoing repairs.”

  This isn’t the first time the basketball programs at UNC and UNCW have collaborated in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

  Last October, the two schools — along with East Carolina and UNC Greensboro — held a preseason jamboree at the Smith Center to raise money for the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund.

  “The storms had such a devastating impact and the relief efforts are rightly focused on financial assistance and necessary supplies, but we all know their seasons are important to them, too, and the rest of the country gets started next week,” UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said. “We’re just glad we can help the UNCW student-athletes and coaches begin their practice schedules on time.”